Diary of a Necromancer - still holding out for that Glorious Peasant Revolution, BTW
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still holding out for that Glorious Peasant Revolution, BTW
...And a further thought RE Game of Thrones: I think one major underlying issue that I'm having with the material is that it's about a lateral power struggle, for shades of distinction within a relatively narrow band at the very top of a hierarchy. We're focusing on the nobles as they duke it out amongst themselves, at the expense of giving a damn which of them might eventually win because we know that in any case it's not going to be us.

The thought that prompted me to bring this up is the realization that, within actual history, what often breaks up this sort of a lateral struggle is some unexpected external factor: consider the Black Death, which killed so many people that it was impossible to maintain a feudal surplus-labor-based economy and thus skills and knowledge became more vital, or the first World War, which also killed a lot of people and shook up the entrenched (...I SEE WHAT YOU DID THAR) class expectations of the societies thrown into the meatgrinder -- there were other factors at work, of course, but when half the Eldest Sons are dead and the survivors have spent time being ordered around by a baker, because he knows what he's doing, reassessments tend to happen.

There are some thinky-thoughts in that somewhere about Modernity, and the Enlightenment versus Romanticism, and the peculiar phenomenon of American fantasy writers obsessing on aristocracies rather than trying to come up with something more informed by the democratic experience, but I guess where I'm going with that right here is, is the "game of thrones" a red herring? IE, is all the maneuvering and People Behaving Badly really more of a setup for society hitting the fan when winter does come? Because if it is, that's actually pretty cool, but how many damn books of setup would I have to slog through first...?

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feeling: thoughtful thoughtful

Comments
insidian From: insidian Date: April 4th, 2012 07:59 pm (UTC) (permalink this entry)
Three. Three books.

Though there's actually a lot of meaty socio-economic stuff happening throughout that kind of gets run past in the TV series.

As I said earlier, the fourth book is where the "common folk" come to the fore, and that's part of why it's a lot of readers' least favorite. "Not enough intrigue!" they say. Bah.

The series as a whole can be read as a meditation on power; what it means, why certain people have it, how people get it and keep it and lose it, what the consequences are for mismanagement, how people are twisted by it. If you're going to start a meditation on power, you have to start where the power IS, which in this context is the courts. What the books are really, really good at is showing how the actions of the few can direly affect the lives of many, and that those effects can rebound on the original actors in unforeseen ways.

But as I've also said in other places on the internet, it just may not be your bag. There's rape, there's casual violence, there's general awfulness all over the place, but if you don't see the awfulness, what kind of meditation on power would it be? In order to ask the question "How did that awful thing come to pass?" awful things have to happen. But that doesn't mean you have to watch them happen.

Your appetite for awful things can be low, and you DO NOT HAVE TO grit your teeth through things you can't stand. Okay?
robling_t From: robling_t Date: April 4th, 2012 08:36 pm (UTC) (permalink this entry)
I guess my issue with what I've seen so far is that all too often this sort of story isn't going to develop into an analysis or deconstruction of the power gig, it's just an excuse to wallow in it. If there is actually a pony at the bottom of this one, then it might be worth digging down to it...
khavrinen From: khavrinen Date: April 5th, 2012 09:54 pm (UTC) (permalink this entry)
Perhaps, given both your feeling about it and the rather glacial pace at which GRRM is producing them, you may wish to wait until: a). he finishes them ( if, indeed, that ever happens, and b). someone who is either less bothered by the ick, or more skilled at skimming over it until they get to the rest of the plot, can give you a heads up about whether or not the pony is under there somewhere.
robling_t From: robling_t Date: April 5th, 2012 10:39 pm (UTC) (permalink this entry)
It's not so much "bothered by" as simply "bored by" -- as Big Fat Books it's a hell of an investment of time in the parts that don't interest me to get to the theoretical bits that might. Which is kind of why I had sort of been waiting until there was some sort of final verdict on the series one way or another to even start it, it's just that the tv version is at least somewhat less of an undertaking to get into...
ashnistrike From: ashnistrike Date: April 6th, 2012 12:17 am (UTC) (permalink this entry)
The elevator pitch for the series is, "What if Sauron woke up during the War of the Roses?" So yes, herring.

If you don't find the first book interesting, it's not worth getting through the others. But if you don't find the TV series worthwhile, you should stop getting spoilers from it and try the first book. These books are better read spread out than digested in a lump, so there's no reason to feel like you need to spend the next year just reading them if you like it.

One of my TV rule-outs at this point is "nothing on HBO." They can undermine the most awesome premise by totally failing to question anyone's assumptions or stereotypes. It's kind of what they do.
robling_t From: robling_t Date: April 6th, 2012 12:19 pm (UTC) (permalink this entry)
Well, it's kind of what television does, full stop. But it's not as if I'd be seeing any more of the show any time soon anyway; I'll have a go with book #1 and see how it grabs me...
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