A Song of Ice and Fire

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A Song of Ice and Fire

Unread postby Crazedmongoose » Thu Mar 25, 2010 3:08 am

Whose read this series? It's the modern day equivalent of Romance of the Three Kingdoms as far as I'm concerned. Extremely entertaining.


edit: Okay fine I'll put more information for it.


Introduction:

A Song of Ice and Fire is an epic fantasy series by George R R Martin. It's set in a fictional world where seasons lasts for many years and the winter can be cold and cruel. Technologically and socially the progress of this world is around the time of the Middle Ages. Whilst fantasy the book does not have too many traces of the supernatural. The last known dragons have long since died out, and whispers of beings such as the mysterious Children of the Forest and The Others are dismissed mostly as fantasy. For the most part it's a land of knights and castles, cloaks and daggers.

The main setting of the stories is in a continent called Westeros, around the size of South America. Westeros is split roughly into seven "kingdoms" (lands more like since each kingdom is ruled by a lord, not a king, there is only one king) ruled by the Iron Throne. The story follows mostly the fates of certain characters from the great houses as they vie for power.


Setting the Scene:

As the story begins, Westeros is under the rule of Robert Baratheon. Fifteen years ago the Robert lead the great house of Baratheon and it's allies and overthrew the last mad king of the Targaryens in the War of the Usurper, bringing to end the century long Targaryen dynasty. The last descendants of the Targaryens live in exile overseas, hunted and dreaming of glory again. The following are some of the houses and their main characters:



House Stark
Motto: Winter is Coming
Sigil: Grey Direwolf on a Field of White
Holdings: The North
Common Appearance: Pale and gaunt with hair of red, several of the younger nobles take after Tully with hair of auburn
Capital: Winterfell
Power: Medium, with sixteen sworn banner houses, capable of fielding an army of 20,000

One of the seven great houses. In the old days before the Targaryens came they were the king of the north. They're the descendants of the first men, the original inhabitants of the continent and still keep to the old gods of the forest rather than the organized faith of the seven in the rest of the continent. Fifteen years ago the mad king executed Lord Rickard and his first son Brandon Stark and ordered Lord Arryn of the Vale to present the heads of his foster son Eddard Stark. Lord Arryn rose up in rebellion rather than kill his ward and House Stark followed. During the War of the Usurper they were instrumental in the rebel's victory. Memorably, all the Stark children have pet direwolves- monstrous wolves who grow as big as horses.

The southern border of the north lands is a vast defensible marsh known as Greywater, whilst the northern border is marked by The Wall, a wondrous construction built of ice, three times higher than the highest castle, stretching across the whole land, manned by the sworn brotherhood of The Night Watch who guards Westeros from the far north.

Eddard Stark: Lord of Winterfell, skilled warrior and Robert's most valued commander during the war.
Catelyn Stark: His wife, eldest daughter of House Tully
Benjen Stark: His younger brother, serves the Night Watch
Robb Stark: His eldest son of fourteen
Bran Stark: His second son of seven
Rickon Stark: His third son of three
Sansa Stark: His first daughter of thirteen
Arya Stark: His second daughter of eleven
Jon Snow: His bastard son of fourteen (in Westeros, bastards must be named of their land)

Ser Rodrik Cassel: The venerable castellan of Winterfell
Maester Luwin: Their chief advisor


House Baratheon
Motto: Ours is the Fury
Sigil: Black stag on a field of gold
Holdings: The Stormlands, the Kingslands and the Narrow Sea
Common Appearance: Tall, broad and handsome with brown hair and brown eyes, though later children are refined and have gold hair and green eyes
Capital: Storm's End
Power: Extremely High, with over thirty sworn banner houses in three lands. The Stormlands are also quite wealthy. All together House Baratheon may be capable of fielding well over 50,000 men.

One of the seven great houses and currently the ruling line, the Baratheons hail from the southern stormlands. They threw up their swords in rebellion fifteen years ago when the mad king Aerys II ordered Robert Baratheon, then the charge of Jon Arryn, killed. Arryn rose up in rebellion rather than kill his ward, and House Baratheon followed. At the end of the war, with the support of House Lannister, Arryn, Stark and Tully, Robert Baratheon declared himself king.

Robert Baratheon: King of Westeros. A peerless fighter and commander in his youth. Sits the iron throne in Kings Landing
Queen Cersei: His wife, only daughter of House Lannister
Stannis Baratheon: His younger brother, master of ships on the king's council and sits on Dragonstone. Famously stoic.
Renly Baratheon: His youngest brother, master of laws on the king's council, a more than capable fighter embroiled with ideas of romance and beauty. A member of the Kingsguard: a group of seven knights of renown sworn to defend the king.
Joffrey Baratheon: His eldest son and the crown prince
Myrcella Baratheon: His daughter
Tommen Baratheon: His second son





Will do more later.

But for all the fantasy and knights and lords and ladies, this is a very dark series which is famous for being cavalier with it's characters lives. Murder, maiming, torture, rape, incest, fraticide, murder rape, torture murder and any combination of are just the beginning of the uncompromising nature of this novel. A warning: don't get too attached to the characters. There's literally a cast of thousands and they all drop like flies.
Last edited by Crazedmongoose on Fri Mar 26, 2010 1:54 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: A Song of Ice and Fire

Unread postby Sun Fin » Thu Mar 25, 2010 8:28 am

Sounds good, I'm really getting back into fantasy and this looks like another series I could add to the list!
Interested in the history behind the novel? Find a list of english language Three Kingdom sources here.
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Re: A Song of Ice and Fire

Unread postby GuoBia » Thu Mar 25, 2010 8:43 am

Goodness, one of my friends is in LOVE with that series right now and is trying to get me to read it. XD Funnily enough the first thing I asked her was if it had to do with the Three Kingdoms and refused to read it on those grounds.
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Re: A Song of Ice and Fire

Unread postby Crazedmongoose » Sat Mar 27, 2010 2:20 am

GuoBia wrote:Goodness, one of my friends is in LOVE with that series right now and is trying to get me to read it. XD Funnily enough the first thing I asked her was if it had to do with the Three Kingdoms and refused to read it on those grounds.



It's got a lot of the same elements as three kingdoms. ie. heroes and strategy.


But there's a lot more politics and plotting and personal drama.

And of course it's much better written than SGYY. (SGYY is widely considered in China to be the worst written of the great classics. Kinda like the LOTR of China, correspondingly Journey to the West is the Narnia of China.)
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Re: A Song of Ice and Fire

Unread postby SunXia » Tue Mar 30, 2010 7:32 pm

<Moved to LTP>
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Re: A Song of Ice and Fire

Unread postby Dekirh » Fri Apr 02, 2010 1:43 pm

Great series. Not so great waiting for the next book. It'd probably only come out next year at the earliest. Then there is something like three more books to go before the series is finished. I'd highly recommend this to people. I don't read widely, but for what its worth, this is amongst the best that I've read. Most other books that I've read would only fall under good or very good.

By the way, how is LotR badly written? Or what are you comparing it to when you say worst?
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Re: A Song of Ice and Fire

Unread postby Sun Fin » Fri Apr 02, 2010 3:31 pm

So researching this and discovered there going to be films and Sean Bean is going to be Eddard Stark! Sounds good to me just means I need to read the books first!
Interested in the history behind the novel? Find a list of english language Three Kingdom sources here.
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Re: A Song of Ice and Fire

Unread postby Crazedmongoose » Fri Apr 09, 2010 4:07 am

Oh yeah, the worst thing about this series is definitely the fact that the obese lazy author will die of a heart attack before the series finishes.

The fifth book was meant to be out 4-5 years ago and it's still not released. And there's 2 more after that.

But if you treat novels 1-3 as an arc then it's kind of cool. Cos that's essentially the first three acts which are kinda self contained.



LOTR is pretty badly written compared to the other great novels of the west. In terms of literary skill, Tolkien is no where near the levels of say James Joyce or Vladmir Nabokov. Tolkien takes place alongside writers like Ayn Rand and George Orwell, in that they have great ideas, rather than great writing. That's similar to Luo Guan Zhong whose nowhere near a good writer as say, Cao Xueqin (author of Dreams of the Red Chamber) but has great ideas. (Or rather, stringed together great ideas and made it cohesive)
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Re: A Song of Ice and Fire

Unread postby Shikanosuke » Fri Apr 09, 2010 4:25 pm

Crazedmongoose wrote:LOTR is pretty badly written compared to the other great novels of the west. In terms of literary skill, Tolkien is no where near the levels of say James Joyce or Vladmir Nabokov. Tolkien takes place alongside writers like Ayn Rand and George Orwell, in that they have great ideas, rather than great writing.


This must be a higher-level academic scrutiny. I've read all three of the listed authors' works and I don't find any of them of poor literary skill (writing-wise). Then again, I am not a english-grad either, so perhaps I don't see it because of that.
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Re: A Song of Ice and Fire

Unread postby Crazedmongoose » Fri Apr 09, 2010 5:23 pm

Well I'm not an english grad either. It's not so much higher academic scrutiny, but just intuitively seeing one is better than the other in terms of literary skill. Can you honestly tell me LOTR's language is more beautiful than say Ulysses' or Lolita's?

Take the first paragraph of Lolita. There is no bit in LOTR that comes even close to matching the poetry, elegance and sheer brilliance of design of that paragraph. "The tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth, lo-li-ta" is in my humble opinion the greatest line of English committed to paper. Just listen to the sheer rhythm of that thing.

And that was from a guy for whom English wasn't even his first language.


Anyway, to stop getting off track with my Nabokov worship, there's heaps of things I can think of at the top of my head that LOTR does that most novels which aren't so readily embedded into our archetype would never get away with doing. Over the top imagery, superfluous background information which is disruptive to the story line, um, really weird plot structure (oh hey we've just defeated Sauron, whose ready to get worked up over THE BATTLE OF THE SHIRE!), not great pacing (having said that my attention span is uber short, but a few occasions I felt compelled to skip to the appendix to read the timeline instead of the actual text).

And there's the lack of just really exceptional writing. You don't, well I certainly don't, remember any really iconic lines and paragraphs. And the english language is powerful enough that one can construct sentences which just reverberate long past the book. You don't need to have read Call of Cthulhu to know or appreciate the lines "that which is not dead can eternal lie; and with strange aeons death too may die". But there was nothing in LOTR that jumped out at me like that.


But LOTR is still a good book, without a doubt. Because what it lacks in language it more than makes up for in ideas and story. So for me that puts Tolkien firmly in the category of idea based writers. Others include Ayn Rand who can't write to save her life (seriously, Atlas Shrugged reads like a really long blog post by a 14 year old internet libertarian).

On the other hand you have novels which are brilliant from a literature point of view, but take away the immense poetry and Lolita is just a story about a guy who goes around the country trying to sate his pedophilic urges, and Blood Meridian without the sweeping haunting imagery is about a bunch of dudes walking and doing nothing much except sometimes killing some arbitrary group of people.
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