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BethR

Game of Thrones

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I strong disagree with the notion that there's no one to admire and nothing to cheer for. I can think of several admirable characters in the series, but the thing is, they're all deeply, deeply flawed. As such, I think it's quite "cheer-worthy" when a character whom you previously loathed, or who seemed like a total villain, suddenly starts to feel the pangs of conscience, and begins to make those first, faltering steps towards heroism, honor, and sacrifice.

For me, that's the most compelling part of Martin's novels. Sure, there's the epic backdrop, the political machinations, the huge battles, etc., but the real focus of Martin's novels is on the humanity, warts and all, of his characters. That's what I find so fascinating, watching these very human and incredibly well-drawn characters (Martin does an amazing job of giving you insight into characters with just a few words and images) fumble about for their own desires, success, and honor -- and reap the reward for doing so, for good or ill.

All this and, of course, Hot Pie.

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For me, that's the most compelling part of Martin's novels. Sure, there's the epic backdrop, the political machinations, the huge battles, etc., but the real focus of Martin's novels is on the humanity, warts and all, of his characters. That's what I find so fascinating, watching these very human and incredibly well-drawn characters (Martin does an amazing job of giving you insight into characters with just a few words and images) fumble about for their own desires, success, and honor -- and reap the reward for doing so, for good or ill.

Jason touches on something here. The Song of Ice and Fire books have quite a few supporting characters, but Martin breathes life into so many of them with just a few scenes. Our beloved Hot Pie, for one, the Blackfish (maybe my favorite character, even though there's maybe three pages total devoted to him), Thoros of Myr. The list goes on. They read like real people with real motivations, faults, dreams. Sure, Westeros isn't a beautiful place to live — there's still rape and slavery and murder and betrayal. But some amazing things happen to a few characters that "deserve" the worst, something that makes me think of grace.

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A rant about the books that someone posted on my Facebook page:

I struggled through the first three books and then quit. I see this series as the "anti-Lord of the Rings." in other words, there was no joy, no moments of beauty, no one to admire, and nothing to cheer for. It's very well written, but skill alone can't make up for the lack of beauty.

Since I have yet to venture into this series, I'm wondering how you all would respond to this.

I've now only read the first book and half of the second, but so far I certainly wouldn't say there is nothing joyful, beautiful or admirable about the tale. Ned Stark is a pretty damn admirable for one thing, and he's raised his children well. While Martin is certainly a different writer than Tolkien, but he's going for more of a fantasy along Medieval History lines rather than fairyland lines. The magic is there in the background, but it's dark and threatening. The entire world is pretty dark and bleak, but that makes the good characters all the more admirable.

Again, Martin is obviously by no means as good a writer as Shakespeare, but I could see someone making the exact same objections to King John, Richard II, Henry IV (Parts 1-2), Henry V, Henry VI (Parts 1-3), Richard III, and Henry VIII.

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Any thoughts on recent episodes? Haven't seen last night's (penned by Martin himself), but the general consensus among the TV critics I read (Sepinwall, McNutt, AV Club) is that it was among the show's best thus far, if not the best.

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Last night's was another great episode, not as good as last week's perhaps, but still very good. It was kinda plot-heavy, but nearly every scene was great (sans the one "hey, we're HBO, so there must be a penis every now and then, there ya go!") and there were some great lines of dialogue.

All the pieces are moving around the chess board and it is very fascinating. All the people in Westeros are playing the "game of thrones" while there are some serious threats coming from the North and from the East.

I imagine I'll have the books read by the time season 2 begins, I can't wait to see what happens.

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Last night's was another great episode, not as good as last week's perhaps, but still very good. It was kinda plot-heavy, but nearly every scene was great (sans the one "hey, we're HBO, so there must be a penis every now and then, there ya go!") and there were some great lines of dialogue.

I think this is one scene that's lifted directly from the book, as awkward and unnecessary as it might be. ("Hodor!")

All the pieces are moving around the chess board and it is very fascinating. All the people in Westeros are playing the "game of thrones" while there are some serious threats coming from the North and from the East.

I imagine I'll have the books read by the time season 2 begins, I can't wait to see what happens.

Awesome! As I might've mentioned to you on Twitter, A Storm of Swords is incredible stuff. Do yourself a favor and avoid spoilers as much as you can.

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While Martin is certainly a different writer than Tolkien, but he's going for more of a fantasy along Medieval History lines rather than fairyland lines. The magic is there in the background, but it's dark and threatening. The entire world is pretty dark and bleak, but that makes the good characters all the more admirable.

Again, Martin is obviously by no means as good a writer as Shakespeare, but I could see someone making the exact same objections to King John, Richard II, Henry IV (Parts 1-2), Henry V, Henry VI (Parts 1-3), Richard III, and Henry VIII.

How would you say he compares to Tad Williams, who went for a very medieval history/fantasy in his Dragonbone Chair books? Have you read those?

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How would you say he compares to Tad Williams, who went for a very medieval history/fantasy in his Dragonbone Chair books? Have you read those?

Nope. My fantasy/science fiction reading is extremely limited. I've only read George MacDonald, J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Charles Williams, T.H. White, Douglas Adams, J.K. Rowling, and now George Martin. That's about it.

I've tried both Robert Jordan and Terry Brooks but couldn't make it through either.

I've fallen one episode behind on the show, but I'll catch up and comment on things by next week.

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I'm amazed at how much they packed into episode 8. It was both a piece-moving and piece-taking episode. There was set up for the last two episodes, sure, but a ton of stuff happened too. Syrio's final (?) lesson was almost as awesome as it was on the page, Khal Drogo goes for (and through) the throat when defending his wife, and Robb gathers his father's bannermen. A few of the scenes felt rushed — Jon's effectively creepy segment at the wall could've been a tad longer, and Arya's escape felt rushed (and poorly edited). Otherwise, it was a very strong episode. Barristan the Bold's dismissal was another standout.

It was great to see some more minor (but significant) characters pop up: Jon Umber, the mountain clans, Kevan Lannister. Great casting all around, though I was expecting the Greatjon to be...much more great.

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Yes, it is remarkable how... quick... this story can go with some good scriptwriting. It is rushed at times, but they have done a good job moving through the book while maintaining the characters well.

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Let's just say I'm really, really curious as to what the reaction will be after tonight's episode, specifically from the fans who haven't read the books.

Edited by Jason Panella

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FWIW, the audiobook owns me. I find myself rushing to the car in the morning for my morning commute just to find out what happens next.

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Let's just say I'm really, really curious as to what the reaction will be after tonight's episode, specifically from the fans who haven't read the books.

HO.LY.CRAP.

That is the absolute LAST thing I ever expected to happen.

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Finally got around to seeing the last two episodes so that I'm now nine in with one more to go.

I don't know how you can watch this show and not be convinced that we are currently living in the "golden age" of television. The majority of people haven't quite caught on yet. In fact, I think the majority of people don't have HBO.

Just like The Wire, now that all the character introductions and world has been built up, the last couple episodes of the season are moving really, really fast. Richard Madden's Robb is finally being given a chance to shine, and he's doing a good job of it. His youthful but steady control of his army of northmen has suddenly turned him into one of the show's most interesting characters. The guy's got a head on his shoulders, and a mind that thinks quicker and deeper than even that of his mother's. I'm suddenly looking forward to his part in the story now.

I still think Maisie Williams may turn out to be the show's greatest find. She does wonders with the few minutes that she's given in episode 9. If the show keeps getting renewed, we're going to get to watch her (and all the Stark kids) grow up, and I'm getting a feeling that they're going to be easy to love. With their father threatened, they are all being forced to confront the fact that they are separated and yet they all are still ready to act as one. The last episode was the first episode where I really got the sense that Robb, Bran and Jon all love each other. And even though they're all young, you get the impression that together - they are going to be a force to be reckoned with no matter how evil or powerful the enemy is that they are up against. The Lannister family obviously cares for its own, but now we're seeing that the Stark family is not to be underestimated either. This has suddenly added an excitement to the story.

And oh yeah, Jerome Flynn's Bronn is going to be a fun character to watch develop as well. Another guy I'm really starting to like.

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I don't know how you can watch this show and not be convinced that we are currently living in the "golden age" of television. The majority of people haven't quite caught on yet. In fact, I think the majority of people don't have HBO.

The AV Club's Todd VanDerWerff talks about this today, though he does point out that the pendulum might be swinging back the other way.

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Guest Pax

I saw it coming, but it's still a bold move. About 10m into the episode, the thought occurred to me that the character was completely unnecessary at this point and, in fact, might be an obstacle to the development of other characters. Also, the event would propel the development of other characters.

I'm about 1/3 of the way through the book, for what that's worth. (He checks his Kindle: 40% to be exact.)

From reading the book, here's what I've noticed so far:

  • The book is wonderful (but he ain't no Tolkien, either).
  • Largely, the series is a very good adaptation. Strangely, I wish there was more exposition (preferably without using prostitutes).
  • Some things are much bigger in the book (King's Landing--in fact, the countryside and economy in general).
  • Some things are much smaller in the book (the Wall).
  • Most of the young characters--including Dany and the Stark kids--are a few years younger in the book.
  • The Lannisters seem more manipulative, earlier in the book--for example, the idea that they wanted to kill Robert in the tourney wasn't really present in the show (right?).
  • Robert's brother at court isn't gay. (Well, at least not as far as I've read.)
  • Catelyn (Lady Stark) is less likable and far more petty with Jon Snow. She's also more wounded by the attack on Bran and bears those wounds longer. Also, she gets to King's Landing before Eddard--I don't remember a sea voyage in the TV series.
  • Sansa and Arya's relationship feels more antagonistic in the book.
  • The Night Watch feels more depleted and on the edge of collapse in the book.
  • The Hound (Sandor) tells his OWN story in the book (rather than it coming from Petyr Baelish/Littlefinger's gossip). As a result, he is a more complex, even sympathetic character.
  • Tyrion isn't quite so averse to arms in the book as he is portrayed in the show. He handles himself particularly well during the ambush in the pass on the way to his trial.
  • Eddard Stark is an even more wonderful father in the book, especially in his interaction with Arya.
  • The various professions are better explained in the book...maesters and septans, etc.
  • I wish the TV show had included the "friend" scene with Tyrion and Jon.
  • Varys the eunuch is better developed earlier in the book. I think they might even have given one of Varys' major scenes to Petyr/Littlefinger to make the latter more sympathetic.
  • Petyr stands out as miscast among and otherwise wonderfully cast ensemble. I think of The Wire every time I see him, and the actor is playing him too sympathetically. Strangely, in making the character more sympathetic they largely dismissed his backstory.
  • Did I miss the bit about Winterfell being built on hot springs?

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I was shocked as well at the end of the last episode. But what I am impressed with most, as the show goes on, is the consistency of the writing, and the pace at which things build up. Not too much too soon, but accelerating at a proper pace toward the end of the season. The series has honored the books quite well.

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From reading the book, here's what I've noticed so far:

Well, some of the "discrepancies" are actually touched upon in later books (I won't mention what or who, for spoilers sake). For some of the characters, they rolled some of the later character development into early expositions. It's mostly worked, I think.

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Interesting, spoilerish speculation about the final episode. Seems like there's some decent evidence that a certain event from the third book might be moved to the end of the first season. I'm fascinated by this — it kind of drives me nuts, but definitely works for the small screen.

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Interesting, spoilerish speculation about the final episode. Seems like there's some decent evidence that a certain event from the third book might be moved to the end of the first season. I'm fascinated by this — it kind of drives me nuts, but definitely works for the small screen.

I still haven't seen the final episode of the season yet, but I've heard that this speculation was wrong (thankfully).

I've also heard that Hot Pie makes a brief appearance.

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I still haven't seen the final episode of the season yet, but I've heard that this speculation was wrong (thankfully).

I've also heard that Hot Pie makes a brief appearance.

Yep and yep.

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This article uses a descriptive term for female breasts that is likely to stir up controversy among the paper's readers. It's an interesting article with accusations that need to be addressed, but consider yourselves warned. Also, although I haven't watched this series, it looks to me as though the article includes SPOILERS about the season finale. So you've been warned about that, too.

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