Anatomy of a Throne: “Home”

Balon meets Euron in "Home"

Episode: “Home” (602)
Scene: The kingsmoot is ordered

The death of King Balon Greyjoy happens mostly in the same fashion in A Song of Ice and Fire as in Game of Thrones – though Euron Greyjoy’s involvement is only hinted at and the death is ruled as an accident, thanks to the presence of a bad storm – but its placement is quite different: if showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss had adapted the scene in its original chronology, it would’ve occurred in the fourth season, with its after-effects playing out in season five, alongside Tyrion Lannister’s misadventures in Essos and Brienne of Tarth’s search for the wayward Stark daughters. Attempting to concentrate on only a handful of storylines any given year has, understandably, proven to be one of their biggest priorities (why, for example, the introduction of Prince Oberyn Martell was delayed from the third to the fourth season, to more closely align with the climax of his death).

Of course, the most important element of Balon’s untimely demise is the occurrence of a kingsmoot, and it is here where the divergence between page and screen becomes even more pronounced – though they occur, ironically enough, for the very same reasons as the depiction of Balon’s murder.

Not-Aeron Grejoy in "What Is Dead May Never Die"

The central agent around which the plot of the kingsmoot turns is Aeron Greyjoy, called the Damphair, a religious zealot and literal born-again fundamentalist – 11 years previously, during Balon’s rebellion against King Robert Baratheon, his ship sunk and he was drowned, only to be resuscitated and purged of all his vanity and follies, dedicating himself fully to the Drowned God’s work. He is nearly wholly absent in Game of Thrones – as is, presumably, Balon’s fourth brother, Victarion, who is the captain of the Iron Fleet – though he makes his long-awaited appearance on-screen in “Home,” treating curtly with Yara Greyjoy on the matter of the royal succession. (He also had something of a proxy in “What Is Dead May Never Die” [episode 203], in the long-haired priest that re-baptizes Theon Greyjoy.)

In A Feast for Crows, Aeron is disheartened to learn of his brother’s death, but the thought never once crosses his mind that it was a murder – or, at least, that it was a murder by a mortal man:

“The Storm God cast him down,” the priest announced. For a thousand thousand years, sea and sky had been at war. From the sea had come the ironborn, and the fish that sustained them even in the depths of winter, but storms brought only woe and grief. “My brother, Balon, made us great again, which earned the Storm God’s wrath. He feasts now in the Drowned God’s watery halls, with mermaids to attend his every want. It shall be for us who remain behind in this dry and dismal vale to finish his great work.”

Aeron Yara

Aeron is even more dismayed to learn of Euron Greyjoy’s arrival the day after King Balon’s death, claiming the Seastone Chair for himself. That his timing is incredibly suspicious certainly raises eyebrows, but no more so than his simple, sadistic nature: Euron Crow’s Eye was banished two years previously by Balon, who “swore that it would be his life if he returned” – truly a remarkable feat, given the violent nature of the ironborn to begin with.

It is as clear as day to the Damphair that only a godly man may sit the Seastone Chair, which immediately precludes Euron – since the Crow’s Eye “worships naught but his own pride” – but there is no good solution as to how to deny him the succession. According to the customs of the mainland Westerosi, the throne would pass to Theon, and then to Asha (who has, of course, been renamed Yara in the HBO series), but this solution is riddled with problems: Theon has been corrupted and made soft by his time with the Starks (and this is even before they learn of his transformation into Reek); Asha is a female, and no “scheming woman” has ever led the Iron Islanders; and, finally, the green landers’ laws are primitive and weak and wholly beneath God’s chosen people, at any rate. And should Aeron openly advocate for Victarion, who he believes is the only logical candidate for the coronation, there may be a civil war that follows – and religious law dictates that no ironborn may spill the blood of another (though drowning each other is okay, since every god everywhere has his technicalities).

Balon Greyjoy funeral in "Home"

To complicate matters further, Asha returns from her campaign on the mainland and immediately makes her own claim to her father’s throne, as that was his expressed wish (a wish that was also made clear to Aeron, even though the priest dismissed it then, as well). Desperate to discover the way forward, the Damphair crawls into his makeshift shelter that his drowned men have fashioned for him on the beach and attempts to fitfully sleep. When he cannot take it any longer, he awakens in the middle of the night and goes for a naked swim in the frozen ocean, allowing the waves to push him under the water until he feels that the Drowned God has enveloped and spoken to him.

The next morning, Aeron Greyjoy stands atop a rounded granite boulder three feet from the water’s edge and proclaims the gospel of his god’s wisdom to a small gathering of religious devotees and local lords: it is time for a kingsmoot.

[The local lordling] gaped at him. “A kingsmoot? There has not been a true kingsmoot in…”

“…too long a time!” Aeron cried in aguish. “Yet in the dawn of days, the ironborn chose their own kings, raising up the worthiest amongst them. It is time we returned to the Old Way, for only that shall make us great again.” […] He raised his bony hands on high again. “Listen! Listen to the waves! Listen to the god! He is speaking to us, and he says, We shall have no king but from the kingsmoot!”

A roar went up at that, and the drowned men beat their cudgels one against the other. “A kingsmoot!” they shouted. “A kingsmoot, a kingsmoot. No king but from the kingsmoot!” And the clamor that they made was so thunderous that surely the Crow’s Eye heard the shouts on Pyke, and the vile Storm God in his cloudy hall. And Aeron Damphair knew he had done well.

Yara Greyjoy in "Home"

The introduction of the kingsmoot couldn’t be any more straightforward in Game of Thrones – rather than being an outdated, outlandish custom that must be forced back upon their people, it is presented as an everyday affair, the standard practice of selecting the next monarch (“Your father does not get to choose,” Aeron tells Yara. “The law is clear”). There is certainly much storytelling efficiency to this approach, allowing Weiss and Benioff to focus most of this season’s narrative on what direction the ironborn will take under their new ruler as opposed to concentrating on the nature of the succession itself, but it still does seem to be out of place with the series’s continuity and the world’s mythology: if Balon is the first king to rule over the Iron Islands for the past 300 years or so, when Aegon Targaryen arrived and forged all seven kingdoms into the Seven Kingdoms, how would the kingsmoot be considered so commonplace as to be self-evident? Perhaps the Thrones Damphair has decreed the democratic gathering just as his Ice and Fire counterpart did, and Yara is more angered at the slight than shocked that an ancient tradition is being foisted upon them again; perhaps the nature of this kingsmoot (and Aeron’s identity as Yara’s uncle and Balon’s brother) will be addressed in subsequent episodes, when the event actually takes place.

Regardless, it’s obvious that the dramatic heart of the scene is meant to be Yara herself, one of our familiar faces over the past five years, and not the world-building turn of events that George Martin so prized in his two most recent novels. Just earlier in “Home,” the character was battling with her father over dropping the war against the north – and, in the seasons before that, over using their scant resources to attempt a rescue of Theon – and now she is battling with the rest of her family to preserve his will. What was previously an interpersonal conflict has now been transformed into a societal one, as Yara struggles to convince a majority of her peers that voting a woman into royal office is more an affirmation of their future than a repudiation of their past – what Benioff and Weiss always attempt to do with their various story threads, whether they ultimately prove to be successful in their character-focused endeavors or not.

 

You can view all previous Anatomy of a Throne posts here. Or you can peruse my new column, It Is Known, here.

113 responses

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    1. Whatcha talkin’ bout Wyllis?

      3 days till a certain 20-year-old theory is either confirmed or denied *hypeintensifies*

        Quote  Reply

    2. Will ask here, perhaps someone will now.

      When does the ”beautiful death” poster usually come out?

      Sorry for the off-topic!

        Quote  Reply

    3. I like how Euron says, “What is dead may never die.” It’s almost like a riddle or question itself. His inflection answers Balon’s question about being at the bottom of the sea figuratively

      and perhaps literally

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    4. Mihnea,

      Game of Thrones MVP? May be the the casting director? When I read asoiaf, most characters appear in my head as the actors now.

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    5. Tycho Nestoris,

      Yeah same here.

      I can’t imagine the characters any other way then the actor that plays him.
      Even if the description in the books might be different.

      For example, last time I read ACOK, couple of years ago, I simply couldn’t imagine Asha with short hair. Neither could I see anyone else then Alfie when Theon was described. Same when I read ASOS I couldn’t imagine bald Jaime, I kept seeing long haired and bearded Nikolai.

      Same with Tywin. For me he will always remain Charles Dance.

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    6. Icekhione:
      Whatcha talkin’ bout Wyllis?

      3 days till a certain 20-year-old theory is either confirmed or denied *hypeintensifies*

      No. We’ll get the fight Sunday and the aftermath/reveal in another episode.

        Quote  Reply

    7. Thanks for reminding me why I fell asleep during Aeron’s first chapter in the books… So much blah blah ironborn culture is terrible blah blah.

      I really don’t understand why it matters to you so much that the Kingsmoot is a typical tradition among the Ironborn rather than an old one. This is a difference with absolutely no relavence to anything and was an obvious change. You say something like “if Balon was the first king so it doesn’t make sense that Kingsmoot is the normal tradition” – but the obvious conclusion is that the kingsmoot is used to “elect” the leader of the II, whatever you call him (and that this is how Balon himself was made leader). The name Kingsmoot can be a reference to the fact that at one point the IronBorn were kings.

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    8. Mihnea: Will ask here, perhaps someone will now.

      When does the ”beautiful death” poster usually come out?

      Sorry for the off-topic!

      Saturdays, I believe.

      Tycho Nestoris: Game of Thrones MVP? May be the the casting director? When I read asoiaf, most characters appear in my head as the actors now.

      In Nina Gold, we trust!

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    9. When do you guys think we will be seeing Euron again?
      Kingsmoot is episode 5 I think. Hope we see him sooner than that.

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    10. Mihnea,
      Whoa completely forgot they cut Jaime’s hair. Some of the inseparable ones for me are Roose, Jon (of course), Grey Worm, Tyrion, Tormund (duh) and Varys. Even Ramsay and Renly I see as the actors despite Martin’s descriptions. The only one I really differentiate is Daario and that’s because Martin goes to so much trouble to describe how different he looks from pretty much everyone.

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    11. QueenofThrones,

      Yeah agreed.

      Also I love the idea that Balon took part in a KM. Just imagine badass young Balon taking over.

      Even if they where not ”kings” they could still hold a KM for the Lord, even if this lord will act just like a King..

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    12. Tycho Nestoris,

      Same here! Especially on Renly and Roose.

      With Ramsey, the thing I can’t get out of my head when I read the books is Iwan’s voice. To it’s just perfect for the character.

      Also, while the books mention Jon shaving, I just can’t imagine him without Kit’s beard, I just can’t.

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    13. Joffrey’s Cunt,

      I hope there is some confrontation between Yara and Euron before the Kingsmoot. Besides,

      It looks like Theon will make it to the II before the Kingsmoot too.

      So I am definitely hoping for some scenes between these characters in ep4.

        Quote  Reply

    14. QueenofThrones: Thanks for reminding me why I fell asleep during Aeron’s first chapter in the books…

      I did not even remember that he had a chapter in the books: I only remember him appearing in Asha/Yara’s chapters. However, it’s been 11 years since I read the book.

      But this was another thing that I disliked heartily about Crows: all of the gratuitous world-building. So, the Iron Born have some sort of tanistry system. Huzzah. All it did was make Asha look incredibly dumb: three different uncles tell her that no woman would ever be selected as Queen, and yet she still is stunned when she’s eliminated on the first ballot!

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    15. Marc N. Kleinhenz,

      He was already ”king” of the II, but officially he was still a vassal of the IT.

      He just rose in rebellion and let everyone know that from this day he is king and no longer a vassal of the IT.

      For example, lets say they hold a KM while the Targaryans ruled.
      Officially they would hold it for ”lord of the II..bla bla” but the guy would basically act like a king on the II.

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    16. Wimsey,

      It doesn’t help that Damphair is the first chapter. A long awaited book, introduces a new POV character immediately, after a confusing (but reveal-y) prologue introduces a bunch of minor characters. Starting with a new POV, who turns out to be a religious (zealot?), was prob not the best decision to get readers invested. Feast does focus on the different cultures/religions (I like the world building) so maybe Martin wanted to set the tone. Still, it was a grind and the payoffs are obviously debatable (we are still debating).

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    17. I’m courius to see if they expand on Aerons role. Will he simply be Balons extremely devout priest-Brother, or will some of the nuances from the novels make it to the show, like the born-again-factor or his deep hatred and outright fear of Euron. I guess the molesting-theory (which I wholeheartedly believe and think it’s obvious when you look closely) won’t be a part of Game of thrones simply because show-Euron appears much younger than show-Aeron. Maybe he stayed Young by some magic, but Balon didn’t comment on it, so I just asume Euron is the youngest Brother in the show, and Aeron being a priest is not considered as king potential.

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    18. Damphairintheshowplease!,

      Euron is described as looking young in the books to.

      Also I don’t think they will expend Aeron to much. What conflict there will be I suspect they will give it to Yara, as she is a character that we know.

      and possibly Theon

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    19. ghost of winterfell:
      Joffrey’s Cunt,

      I hope there is some confrontation between Yara and Euron before the Kingsmoot. Besides,

      So Iam definitely hoping for some scenes between these characters in ep4.

      Let us hope so. By Episode 5 some people have already forgotten Euron.

        Quote  Reply

    20. How do you guys know:

      the Kingsmoot is in episode 5?

      Do you have all the episodes mapped out up until the end of season 8? Do you not leave anything to surprise when viewing??????????? I seriously wonder how many of you looked at the leaked summary of episode 2. I imagine 99.9%

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    21. Tycho Nestoris: I like the world building

      Lord of the Rings is the one “world-building” experience for me. Tolkien basically invented it, but I found it to be one of those innovations that immediately exhausted itself.

      One of the things that I so liked about the first three books is that there was no gratuitous world-building. Yes, GRRM developed some different cultures: but that was to create challenges for Jon, Daeny, Arya, etc. The world-building in Crows did not affect any of the major characters: most of it was backdrop for faux protagonists, anyway.

      Ultimately, the fact that elder daughters can inherit titles in Dorne or that they have a tanistry in the Iron Islands is not going to affect what kind of person Jon, Daeny, Tyrion, etc., are on “Der Tag.” Give that the time GRRM wasted writing this stuff greatly increased the chance that we will never read what Der Tag is to which he has been working for 2+ decades, this is (to me) a huge waste.

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    22. Mihnea,

      I remember your hard line : ) I am still in the “wait and see” camp with no real pref either way (except maybe for a combination of both).

        Quote  Reply

    23. LatrineDiggerBrian,

      I did not look at the leaked summary. I need there to be some surprise to it. I believe there is a breakdown somewhere on this site which shows which director filmed which episode. Once you know at what location a director films you can put two and two together. I hope we don’t have to wait for ep 5 until we see Euron again though.

        Quote  Reply

    24. This was a great writeup.

      Honestly I think the show handled the ironborn this season amazingly and have no issues whatsoever.

      Yeah, “Balon is the first king in three centuries” – which means it’s the first time they’ve needed a *royal succession* in three centuries at least.

      But I have no issues: I mean in the novels, Aeron similarly says “there must be a kingsmoot”, HE sure as hell thinks the law is clear….but that’s his *opinion*. Similarly, in the TV show, just because Damphair says “the law is clear, there must be a kingsmoot” doesn’t necessarily mean this isn’t just his *opinion* he’s forcing on everyone else. Yes, for TV-only viewers this nuance might be lost, but that’s superfluous to their understanding of the scene as presented.

      Of course, I am curious about what other details we’ll get on the Kingsmoot in coming episodes, it was only briefly mentioned here.

      Again, really looked forward to this writeup.

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    25. Wimsey,

      🙂

      I was so not a fan of the Iron Islands, but the way they have fleshed out Theon’s character, and his connection to the islands (and why he was at Winterfell) has intrigued me in the show I thought they did a good job in this episode letting the viewer see who was who, and like that they dispensed with a few of the characters. Actually a bit interested in the outcome now, and how that will connect with the rest of the story.

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    26. Tycho Nestoris,

      I’m not a hardliner, at all.
      That’s exactly why I didn’t post in the last thread where people started being sure that warging was part of it.

      At that point, there was evidence that it might be true, so I decided to stay out of it until we get more info on-screen.
      But this, kinda ends it for me.

      Of course if we get information in the next episodes, that contradict my assumptions I will admit I was wrong without hesitation.

        Quote  Reply

    27. Mihnea:
      LatrineDiggerBrian,

      Yup.

      Oh man…just once, take a week off and don’t read anything. Don’t watch the previews, don’t look at any leaks. There is no greater joy than experiencing the surprise of great story telling.

      I think I’m one of the great spoiler avoiders in GoT fandom as I managed to not read any book spoilers, visit any comments sections, trailers, leaks, making ofs, or forums for like 3 years between season 3 and 5 (I started watching right before season 3 aired). And I was like a rabid dog, I was feening so bad for any morsel of GoT info (especially right before season 4). I basically had the series on loop for that whole time, and looked at the HBO map and DVD extras. But it worth it, getting the shock of the red and purple wedding, Oberyn, among many other things. Just try it, just once.

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    28. ash:
      Wimsey,

      I was so not a fan of the Iron Islands, but the way they have fleshed out Theon’s character, and his connection to the islands (and why he was at Winterfell) has intrigued me in the show I thought they did a good job in this episode letting the viewer see who was who, and like that they dispensed with a few of the characters.Actually a bit interested in the outcome now, and how that will connect with the rest of the story.

      Ditto!

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    29. Wimsey,

      Re Patience

      I can understand the frustration and “wasted time” criticism. I am still new to the book (started after season 3 and finished dwd before season 4 couple of read throughs since) so maybe that’s why I am so lenient. Because I started later, dwd feels like it was written a couple of years ago. I don’t have the “greatly increased the chance that we will never read” sentiments (yet). I am living in my own bubble 🙂

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    30. Newbietothegame:
      LatrineDiggerBrian,

      I did not look at the leaked summary. I need there to be some surprise to it. I believe there is a breakdown somewhere on this site which shows which director filmed which episode. Once you know at what location a director films you can put two and two together. I hope we don’t have to wait for ep 5 until we see Euron again though.

      Well that’s good you didn’t look at the summary. I try and avoid stuff like the director list because you can piece so much together from that. You can piece so much together just from the trailers. Even in one of the very first teasers, which unfortunately I managed to see, Ramsey was like “Winterfell is mine”.

      I think there will definitely be a Euron scene on Sunday. We’ll probably see his ship arriving and him talking to Aeron and Yara. They have to solidify the Iron Islands in peoples minds while its fresh since most people probably barely remember Yara or Balon.

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    31. Ser Not Appearing in this Series,

      Exactly! I’m excited for the II only because in the show it’s much deeper tied with Theon!

      I’m more interesed in his relation with these people and how will it affect him then I am in Ironborn history or customs…

      That pointless world-building, that doesn’t have any connection or impact on our ”main” characters just doesn’t interest me. This is a big part as to why I disliked AFFC/ADWD so much.

        Quote  Reply

    32. Mihnea,

      Sorry, you’re not a hardliner. I mean more like you made your position is clear. I don’t mean you aren’t being open-minded (I think you are) just that you had a strong conviction.

        Quote  Reply

    33. Wimsey</strong]

      It’s a sprawling ensemble story. While Tyrion, Daenerys, and Jon Snow are “important” they’re no more than “main characters with arcs lasting through the books” than Ned Stark, Tywin Lannister, and Robb Stark.

      Real life doesn’t revolve around only three important characters – not totally anyway.

      I thought it was great when the story expanded to actually see the Iron Islands and Dorne in the fourth book, after we’d been teased about them for so long in the prior novels.

      It’s been said before that there are two groups of book fans: those who follow the narrative arc of the core seven or so characters, and those who are more into the overall worldbuilding tapestry of history. From a literary standpoint neither is entirely correct of course, and we wouldn’t love the books as much if say, Arya wasn’t in it.

      But….vicariously, it makes the world Arya and Jon Snow live in feel more “real” when they put in parts that don’t involve them in any way whatsoever, only in the broadest sense of world events. I know that sounds counter-intuitive.

      I think Tywin Lannister felt more “real” because the Dothraki were in the first novel, it made the world he lives in feel more expansive.

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    34. Joffrey’s Cunt,

      I’d bet we’ll see him Sunday. His appearance was too short, they would need to show him again, even briefly, to “establish” him before the kingsmoot (especially if this is on episode 5 as you say).

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    35. (Edit timed out for previous comment)

      As I said: two patterns of book fans: those who followed a through-narrative around the original core characters (Jon Snow, Tyrion, Daenerys, Arya, so forth) and those who really enjoy the expansive worldbuilding (because while Renly is interesting, experience has taught us not to get too attached to any one character).

      Yes, I fall into the worldbuilding camp…as a context for characterization.

      But let me make this absolutely clear: I don’t think those who do the opposite, who dislike worldbuilding apart from the main characters……are somehow less intelligent than I am. It’s purely a preference.

        Quote  Reply

    36. The Dragon Demands,

      I disagree on world-building but agree that this is entirely subjective.

      My biggest complaint was the sudden change. I don’t mind if AGOT-ASOS would have had as much world building…because I wouldn’t even have started reading the story then.

      It’s the sudden change halfway in the series that bothered me the most. Because I simply felt I wasn’t reading the same story anymore.

      This in my opinion is a clear consequens of Martin scraping the 5-year timeskip he first planned.

        Quote  Reply

    37. I’m just hoping that the writers learned from the Dorne mistake regarding Iron Islands. Keep the interesting parts (Euron, the Kingsmoot, Yara/Asha’s struggle to be accepted as a leader of the IIers), ditch the pointless world-building aspects (bye bye Vicatrion, and hopefully that sacking of that random town where Euron forced all of the Ladies to strip naked and serve his sailors, then had his sailors rape everybody — we already got to see that in Craster’s Keep, no need to rehash it).

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    38. Josh L.,

      Combine the raping with him taking Oldtown, then the story moves foward and you also get to see Euron’s ”evil” side. Not that I think we need to see more rape…..

        Quote  Reply

    39. Marc N. Kleinhenz:
      Mihnea,

      Then how did Balon crown himself king? =)
      ~M.

      Kingsmoot “elected” Balon to the Seastone chair and Lord of the Iron Islands at some point in time, like Aeron implies is always the case.

      Then, he declared secession from the 7k during the Greyjoy rebellion.

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    40. Mihnea,

      I think we’ve already seen Euron’s evil side: unless regicide/fratricide is considered simply a healthy phase men need to go through 😉

        Quote  Reply

    41. QueenofThrones,

      Thank you for putting it better then me!

      I never really gave this any thought but I can imagine a young badass Balon taking over with promises of war and so on.. And Euron being there along side him.

        Quote  Reply

    42. Mihnea,

      Agreed, and I rolled my eyes when I found out they were including Euron in season 6. I hope the role they have for him is a more constructive one than another rape and pillage merchant.

        Quote  Reply

    43. The Dragon Demands: It’s been said before that there are two groups of book fans: those who follow the narrative arc of the core seven or so characters, and those who are more into the overall worldbuilding tapestry of history. From a literary standpoint neither is entirely correct of course, and we wouldn’t love the books as much if say, Arya wasn’t in it.

      A little bit of world-building is not a bad thing. It enhances the narrative to see more of the world that surrounds the story. But it can be a tricky thing to pull off.

      IMO, Brandon Sanderson is doing this to perfection in his “Stormlight Archives” series. In that epic, he follows a core group of about 5-6 protagonists, then he spaces out interlude chapters that incorporates a great deal of world-building (mainly to flesh out the magic system on that planet). Those interlude chapters are like little seeds that we trust will eventually become important to the overall story.

      GRRM, on the other hand, completely botches this in AFFC / ADWD. He indulges in pointless world-building and introduces us to unnecessary POV characters (Vicatrion! Arianne!). Dorne and Iron Islands would’ve served better to remain in the background, until it became important for the plot that the protagonists we were already following went there.

      That’s why I often say that AFFC / ADWD would’ve benefited from much stronger editors. That whole bloated mess should’ve been trimmed down into one single book and given a proper climax (Battle of Ice / Battle of Fire) instead of ending abruptly on a cliffhanger. GRRM’s meandering around in pointless world-building is a big reason why it’s taking him forever to finish up the last two (or three) novels. By introducing so many pointless filler, he suddenly has a lot more plot threads to tie up and “knots” just become bigger and bigger. He let the story get away from him, and he lost control of the narrative.

      The show, wisely, learned from GRRM’s mistake and the producers were smart enough to mercilessly cut a ton of fat from the AFFC/ADWD story. Was it perfect? No, it wasn’t. Mistakes was made (see: Dorne) and a lot of the subtlety found in AFFC / ADWD was unfortunately lost in the process (especially in Theon’s Winterfell plot, which was probably the best part of ADWD for me). But Season 5 is still heaps lot better than AFFC / ADWD was.

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    44. LatrineDiggerBrian,

      shrug Im approaching 60 and have decided that I should check out spoilers just incase I don’t make it till the next show…..Actually, I’ve really never minded spoilers, they often help me enjoy the story more. But I completely understand and respect those who can’t bear them, its fine. So don’t badger those of us who like it our way.

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    45. The Dragon Demands: Real life doesn’t revolve around only three important characters – not totally anyway.

      True: but stories are not supposed to be like real life! Stories are a form of art, after all: and that means that there is some abstraction that transcends the details of the plot. A story should not be like a documentary any more than a documentary should be like a story!

      And to that end, stories like this always have a small number of truly important characters that create the story. That’s what defines a protagonist: those characters who’s evolution creates a story. Some stories are like David Copperfield and have only one protagonist: everyone else is just a foil. Other stories are like Anna Karenina and have multiple protagonists. Thrones is like that. (I mention Anna Karenina because Faulkner always claimed that this was a huge influence on how he designed stories, and Martin has acknowledged that Faulkner was a huge influence on how he designs stories.)

      In the end, the overall story will be “about” the commonality in how Jon, Daeny, Tyrion, Bran, Arya and maybe Sansa, evolved from Thrones -> Spring. In a very real way, those characters are the story.

      As for the world-building, as I have constantly stated, there is no wrong reason to like a book. That just will never be my reason! However, I do think that most (and very nearly all) of the “purist” vs. “everyone else” discussions of adaptations comes from this difference in why people are fans. Adapters always adapt the story: and a big part of adaptation is figuring out how to make literary fins and gills work on land. If the story is a Great White Shark in a literary sea, then the adapters job is to may a Tyrannosaurus on a cinematic land. If you love the Great White for it’s teeth, acute senses, powerful build and being top of the food chain, they you’ll love the T. rex. However, if you like the shark for the fish, then you’ll claim that the dinosaur is all wrong. And most “purist” vs. “adaptationist” arguments boil down to that: one camp wants to see the fish, the other one wants to see the top-of-the-food-chain predator.

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    46. Tycho Nestoris,

      I marvel at that every season. The only off-notes for me are the ones that got recast-she clearly nailed OG Gregor & OG Naaharis. Giant cuddly-bear mountain is better now that he’s gone Franken, and I’m learning not to miss flamboyant Daario.

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    47. Mihnea,

      I’d rather we see Euron’s evil / crazy side at the Kingsmoot itself. Although I do expect that after the Kingsmoot, Euron will need to get involved in another protagonist’s story, to streamline different plotlines. My money is on either Sam or Danys.

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    48. The Dragon Demands,

      I fall into the worldbuilding camp…as a context for characterization

      So do I, which is why I loved the books as soon as I started them, and why books like Dune and LOTR continue to delight me. My frustration with Martin, esp in book 5/6, was his over detailed descriptions that might be calle world building, but at that point really didn’t add much to the story for me.

        Quote  Reply

    49. Mihnea,

      The thing to remember with the books, is that most of the Stark/Targarean/Lannister kids are much younger than the ones on the show. The adult characters- GOT does a really great job with.

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    50. DC,

      Even with the Stark kids I always imagine the actors.

      Can’t imagine anyone else then Maise as Arya or Richard as Robb.

        Quote  Reply

    51. I loved the ironborn scenes in “Home”. Sadly, I cannot say the same thing for the books (Though I very much liked the kingsmoot chapter, for the life of me I cannot understand why we saw it through the perspective of Aeron instead of Asha). The scenes we saw were a great example of adaptation, and an even better example of how an adaptation can improve on the source material (yes, I’m going there). In the books, first we hear of Balon’s death from a few different sources in ASOS (Arya hears it as a prophecy, Catelyn after it actually happens), but we never get to see it. It would’ve been a great prologue to AFFC, to be honest. This adaptation of the murder is perfect, because it also serves as an introduction to Euron, yet with not too much exposition —those who have not read the books only know he is Balon’s brother and that he’s a bit mad. Otherwise, it’s played as a bit of a mystery, presumably to be paid off at the kingsmoot when he reveals his crazy plans.

      The show made me care about this story in three easy steps:
      1) Have Theon heading to the Iron Islands just before the storyline is introduced, so that we know that what we see will eventually be connected to one of our main-ish characters.

      2) Have Yara, who we at least know, in the Iron Islands from the beginning. At least until Theon comes back, she is the focus of the storyline —not Aeron or Victarion, each of whom has double the chapters Asha has in AFFC, for some reason.

      3) Start strong, actually showing Balon’s murder at Euron’s hands, instead of with a drawn-out chapter all about Aeron’s past.

      4) Have Aeron immediately suggest the kingsmoot, instead of doing so after the above-mentioned drawn-out introspective chapter.

      5) Have the storyline go somewhere within the season. In the books, the idea of the kingsmoot is introduced at the beginning of AFFC… only for it not to be paid off until halfway through the book. Okay then, after the kingsmoot happens it’d be fair to think: “Oh, now it’s when it gets interesting!” Well: There’s just a single ironborn chapter afterwards, involving Victarion in a minor skirmish that doesn’t involve a single character we know anything about. To be fair, ADWD does pick up the storyline… only for it to end before its natual payoff; by the end, Victarion has still not arrived at his destination. And this lack of pay-off wasn’t a stylistic choice by GRRM: the battle in the North and Meereen were supposed to take place at the end of ADWD, and were cut off so that the book could be published. Meanwhile, the show will actually pay this off, which we know from rumors and leaks and the fact that D&D (whatever crticism you may want to throw at them) at least know how to structure a story line’s arc, with a natural beginning and end. I had been saying for months before season five that the season would resolve the Stannis-Bolton conflict, because that’d be the natural thing to do structurally. Still, some book readers were shocked when the Stannis storyline didn’t finish at “stranded in the snow halfway through his campaign”. Shocker.

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    52. Just a quick historical note: most monarchies used to be elective and evolved into hereditary ones. Best known examples, the ancient kingdom of Rome, the Kingdom of Epirus or, in a hybrid way, even the Holy Roman Empire. Maybe Martin was influenced by Rome, Epirus or Macedon in his creation of the Iron Islands. Though I think it is most likely that he had the viking kingdoms most in mind.

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    53. Henry Gordon: I marvel at that every season. The only off-notes for me are the ones that got recast-she clearly nailed OG Gregor & OG Naaharis. Giant cuddly-bear mountain is better now that he’s gone Franken, and I’m learning not to miss flamboyant Daario.

      I’m conflicted about Daario. I do think that Daario 1.0 oozed just the proper amount of sleaze that I could see him piquing Dany’s interest.

      But on the other hand, Daario 2.0 is a much better actor, and more believable.

      The difference between Daario 1.0 and 2.0, however, is rather jarring. It’s probably the only major casting mishap this show has ever done.

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    54. Wimsey,

      Oh shit. I never should’ve said anything…

      Hm… YES. THAT’S WHAT I WAS DOING. I’M SO CLEVER.

      I would love to hear your thoughts on each of my points, Wimsey 🙂

        Quote  Reply

    55. Luka Nieto,

      Yes-

      Ironborn have a chance to be less frustrating than in the books, but only if it goes as you say. Strong performances by Whelan & Allen could keep the ironborn from becoming Sand Snakes 2.0 (sea snakes?)

        Quote  Reply

    56. Ser Not Appearing in this Series:
      Mihnea,

      Agreed, and I rolled my eyes when I found out they were including Euron in season 6.I hope the role they have for him is a more constructive one than another rape and pillagemerchant.

      I am wondering whether he is here to be the show’s villain #1 supposing dear Ramsay bids us farewell this season.

        Quote  Reply

    57. Luka Nieto,

      Very well stated. You beautifully outlined all of the issues that the Iron Islands chapters had in AFFC / ADWD, and what the show is doing right (so far) with this storyline.

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    58. LatrineDiggerBrian: Did you read the episode 2 summary?

      I didn’t. I follow this site but I avoid leaked stuff. The only thing that I got (unintentionally) spoiled, was Trystane’s death. Someone changed his status to “dead” on Wikia, but wrote, that Jaime killed him.

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    59. Luka Nieto,

      All three of them are great!

      Seriously, a big part of what made the Iron Islands feel like filler in the books was the lack of a major character. If they can get Theon there, and set whatever Theon’s contribution to this year’s story is with his nutjob uncles as the backdrop, then it could work out just fine. I agree entirely that Yara is a very good “bridge” character, as she is familiar to the viewers. It looks like they will spare us having Yara being told by multiple people that a queen will never be chosen: and that is a good thing!

      But your third third point is the biggest one: it’s got to be a rapid springboard for something this year. And if that is just to get Yara and Theon to take, say, 92 ships and sail to Essos just in time to pick up Daeny, a Dothraki horde, one band of sell-swords, 4000 unsullied, three dragons, one eunuch spymaster and one alcoholic dwarf, then I think that it will be a job pretty well done. That is the veritable Holy Handgrenade point here, I think!

      Sorry, I’ll stop now: the rabbit is coming!

        Quote  Reply

    60. Wimsey: But your third third point is the biggest one: it’s got to be a rapid springboard for something this year. And if that is just to get Yara and Theon to take, say, 92 ships and sail to Essos just in time to pick up Daeny, a Dothraki horde, one band of sell-swords, 4000 unsullied, three dragons, one eunuch spymaster and one alcoholic dwarf, then I think that it will be a job pretty well done. That is the veritable Holy Handgrenade point here, I think!

      Indeed. The other points are about execution more than anything else (having the storyline revolve around a strong main character whose story we have already been following, starting strong, etc), but the main one is that the storyline must go somewhere in the season in which the arc is introduced.

      That’s exactly what I believe will happen, based on the facts we can see Yara with a Volantene courtesan in one of the trailers, as well as the leak that came before it: that a scene was filmed in the Volantis set with Theon and Yara and an army of ironborn, discussing their next move. They’re taking Victarion’s role, though a bit “simplfied” (i.e. less contrived): In the books Victarion is sent by Euron and predictably intends to betray him… which I assume Euron knows, or he’s an idiot. In the show the leak implied Theon and Yara ran way from the Iron Islands. They are on a mission to directly oppose Euron.

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    61. Lord Parramandas: Someone changed his status to “dead” on Wikia, but wrote, that Jaime killed him.

      heh, there were about 15 posters here who were so confident of that happening that they might have posted it to a wiki.

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    62. Luka Nieto,

      I totally agree with all of your points. Well said!

      Considering how strongly I disliked the Ironborn material in AFFC and ADWD on my first two read-throughs, I was initially OK with the idea that the show might cut that storyline entirely. But once it was confirmed for Season 6, I was surprised by the degree to which I found myself looking forward to it. Through one episode, I’ve been extremely pleased. I thought Euron’s murder of Balon was an excellent scene in every respect (I also appreciate that they didn’t use the book theory that it was a Faceless Man who did the deed. Euron needed to be established in a memorable way). Also, no eyepath or blue lips. Huzzah!

      Furthermore, having a vague idea about how Game of Thrones is going to adapt this storyline for the remainder of the season only increases my sense of positive anticipation. I believe they’re on the right path. It helps that I have a much better idea about how the Ironborn are relevant to the endgame in both media. That stands in contrast to the direction the Dorne storyline is taking in the novels, which strikes me as a blatant red herring in all but the most cursory aspects of the southern kingdom going to war with the Iron Throne.

      I don’t want be reductive after you just outlined the many issues facing the Ironborn already (and how elegantly Game of Thrones has addressed them so far). But at its most basic level, I really think the simple choice to cut Victarion Greyjoy and merge whatever relevant plot functions he serves into other characters (namely Yara and Euron) has already done wonders to cure what ails the Ironborn storyline from the novels … at least for me.

      Before Season 6, I went back and read the POV chapters for Aeron, Asha, and Victarion yet again. As I did, I was struck by just how many of the moments and character beats that I remember absolutely loathing in my first two read-throughs came from Victarion’s chapters. That brutal, obstinate, grotesquely misogynistic dullard really taints my perspective of his entire family (to be fair, since the other Greyjoys are all somewhat unorthodox, Vic’s probably the truest example of what a ‘real Ironborn’ is. But that doesn’t make him any more interesting to me. I really don’t know what’s going on in that guy’s head – which, to be clear, isn’t all that much).

      I honestly think the Iron Captain might be my least favorite POV character in the entirety of ASOIAF (Arianne would be second, but it’s not particularly close). With him gone, things are looking brighter already – at least as bright as they can ever get on Pyke.

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    63. Wimsey,
      Luka Nieto: Indeed. The other points are about execution more than anything else (having the storyline revolve around a strong main character whose story we have already been following, starting strong, etc), but the main one is that the storyline must go somewhere in the season in which the arc is introduced.

      Regardless of Yara/Euron/Theon’s intentions, strategies and motives, I think Dany and her air force will arrive in Westeros significantly before her forced and chaotic navy/army/horde. In ADwD, Vic lost half his fleet during the journey to Slavers Bay…it’ll be an even more difficult return trip. The deluded Ironborn and non-indigenous, regurgitating Dothraki does not a good army make! Her small air force and their shadows over the land will be the heralded difference in the tale.

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    64. One if the ironborn’ biggest problems is gonna be all that black leather in the heat and sun of Slaver’s Bay. Unless book

      Moqorro (sp?)

      can conjure up a cold front, they’ll drop as they run off the boats!

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    65. Before season 5 aired there was an article on this website about the Greyjoys being left out of last season but Dorne would be included. The article had some 700 comments from dissapointed fans of Greyjoys and others who seemed elated the Iron born were omitted. I always liked the Greyjoy’s history, traditions, and characters so I am glad they made it onto the show and are very well cast. A lot of folks post comments saying, the II characters are too 1 dimensional or stereotypical. That may be true to a point but the main thing that matters is the adaptation from page to screen. And this season I like the little I’ve seen so far and hope they are a strong addition to the story even if I don’t get the much anticipated

      Krakken rising from the sea to fuck shit up

      that I have been hoping to see on the show.
      As for Dorne, I held out hope that Siddig could salvage the storyline with some intrigue and plot scheming but that flame was extinguished quickly. Maybe Darkstar will come and save the day.

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    66. Well I guess the show is doing pretty well, I like the II arc in GOT.

      Its is strange that some people bet that Euron could really marry Danny (wtf?)! Well, Pilou Asbaek is an expansive actor and he looks better than the description of Euron, so maybe he will be more important than we are guessing.

      Besides, Asbaek tweeted today:

      “I am sorry, but with all the killing Euron has to do, he needs both eyes”.
      https://twitter.com/PilouAsbaek/status/728147594975698944

      Hype!

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    67. The Dragon Demands,

      First this is not a real life …this is a story that needs a start and an end …

      Second everyone who is a fan of AsoIaf and Got sure will love world building but what martin does is putting it simply he just lost the story and narrative and made a huge mess ..

      For example ,. GrRm before AFFc gave renly and balon a death right ..we had cat a POV who already existed to act as a window to renly .we only get a passage of Balon dying from a fall in Robb’s POV ..

      Grrm in AFFc would have created a POV in renly camp and gave us endless world building to only kill renly after three chapters ..

      Can anyone deny that the first three books didn’t do world building ..it did but it also progressed the storyline which is something AFFCand ADWd fails to do ..

      So to put is shortly World building should not come at the loss of plot progression

        Quote  Reply

    68. ghost of winterfell,

      If that is the case, perhaps we can expect

      to fulfill Vic’s role at the KM as Damphair’s proxy? If we distill the KM down far enough, it’s about the power struggle of Asha/Euron/Aeron Greyjoys, with Vic eliminated. But if Theon returns, it is easy to see him having a religious coversion after all his traumas, and Damphair could even shape him to be the “godly man” he needs, who cares if he can’t produce a heir? If it matered to the Drowned God, there wouldn’t be kingsmoots to determine power.

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    69. Jared, when did you read the books?

      I agree with complaints of AFFC —- but only on first reading. Multiple readings (especially after ADWD — which I adored on 1st reading) are very rewarding. Some of Martin’s very best prose (He’s improving!!)

      But maybe it’s all the dense world building being more enjoyable or grasped on repeat reading?

      Or just the “knowing what to expect” allowing me to relax and “smell the (blue) roses”?

      It does seem to be a common phenemena in the ASOIAF community.

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    70. I don’t particularly mind losing Victarion, I think many of us assumed he’d be cut from the start of the show.

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    71. Js,

      Theon is out of the game, I guess. He can only survive in the II with Aeron or Yara support. Yara is pissed off, he did tons of shit… but I guess she is going to help him to “survive” in the II.

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    72. Wimsey: Lord of the Rings is the one “world-building” experience for me.Tolkien basically invented it, but I found it to be one of those innovations that immediately exhausted itself.

      One of the things that I so liked about the first three books is that there was no gratuitous world-building.Yes, GRRM developed some different cultures: but that was to create challenges for Jon, Daeny, Arya, etc.The world-building in Crows did not affect any of the major characters: most of it was backdrop for faux protagonists, anyway.

      Ultimately, the fact that elder daughters can inherit titles in Dorne or that they have a tanistry in the Iron Islands is not going to affect what kind of person Jon, Daeny, Tyrion, etc., are on “Der Tag.”Give that the time GRRM wasted writing this stuff greatly increased the chance that we will never read what Der Tag is to which he has been working for 2+ decades, this is (to me) a huge waste.

      I came to this story from the show first. I watched seasons 1 and 2 and decided to read the books after Blackwater just knocked my socks off. I finished the books just before Season 3 wrapped. I greatly enjoy this story in both its forms, but I have to agree with everything you wrote.

      I didn’t experience the one-year-turns-into-six-year gap between Feast and Dance, but it still perplexes me that they allowed George to release Feast as he did. “George, you’re telling me you want to release a volume of your series that has zero Tyrion, zero Dany, zero Jon, and devotes pages and pages and pages to Aeron flipping Greyjoy and Areo goddamn Hotah?!?” GRRM, more than any other author I’ve ever enjoyed, absolutely requires a heavy handed editor, and yet from what I understand, his editor has no ability to curtail any of his overflowing world-building.

      The consequence of all this being that we might never see the end of this story as he wishes to tell it. He’s 67 now, and it’s possible that TWOW doesn’t get published until he is 70. If that is the case, I for one would look back on this story and say that characters like Aeron Greyjoy and Quentyn Martell are the reason we never got George’s ending.

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    73. Mitch,

      I read the first three books during the winter of 2010-2011, in the months leading up to the series premiere of Game of Thrones. I had never heard of the series until I saw the promotional material for the show, but I thought it looked and sounded amazing – as indeed it has turned out to be. I’d considered going into the show cold, but ultimately read the books to alleviate the torture of waiting, and wound up loving them as well.

      That being said, the show was and remains my first love. I’ve never envisioned Ned Stark as anyone other than Sean Bean … nor do I particularly wish to. I’ve read AGOT and ACOK from cover-to-cover twice, and ASOS from cover-to-cover three times, plus select chapter re-reads if I need to refresh my memory about something. I love all three books still.

      I read AFFC as the first season was airing (April of 2011, I think). That book was and remains my least favorite in the series – among my many issues, I didn’t like Dorne or the Iron Islands at all, and I found Brienne’s chapters to be torturous to get through (I’ve softened on Brienne’s chapters since, but I remain extremely grateful that the show didn’t adapt them faithfully).

      Still, I thought it was possible that the book was just suffering from having read the first three in such close proximity, and being able to witness the events of the first book depicted on screen. I resolved to re-read it later.

      ADWD was released in July of 2011, about a month after the first season ended. I devoured that too. My initial impressions were that it was far superior to AFFC, and it contains some truly beautiful writing (the Sorrows chapter, in particular, is one of my favorites in the entire series. Even though I despise the fAegon twist and strongly dislike Tyrion’s storyline from Selhorys on, that chapter is spectacular even in isolation).

      However, after I finished it, it sat less and less well with me. I waited about a year, then ended up re-reading AFFC and ADWD again in conjunction. In contrast to what other readers have reported, I liked them even less the second time around. Storywise, they struck me as a fragmented, sprawling mess without a satisfying ending for most characters. Free from the initial wonder of the world-building, I was far less impressed with the travelogue chapters and expanded POV roster. Dorne, in particular, really suffered once I realized just how flimsy Doran’s so-called “master plan” was, and where it was likely headed in TWOW.

      I’ve since re-read most of those books again, using the combined order. On appeal, I’ve come to appreciate what George was trying to accomplish in certain chapters and storylines – like Brienne’s – far more on an isolated basis. Others, like Dorne, are practically unreadable for me now. That’s why I was so willing to give the show carte blanche to do whatever they wanted with those characters and that storyline. Obviously what they’ve done has its own issues, but nothing will ever get me to join the crowd that’s eulogizing Dorne’s book plot. Good riddance.

      I’ve come to accept the core story of AFFC/ADWD as a necessary bridge between greater chapters of ASOIAF. But I still don’t think they entirely work as cohesive novels, and a lot of the narrative expansion and world-building proved to be more trouble than they were worth. I remain glad that the show didn’t attempt to adapt most of them faithfully, and I think that Season 5 is a significant improvement in most respects – a controversial opinion, perhaps, but one I hold quite strongly.

      That was a longer answer than you were looking for, I’m sure. 😉

      TL;DR – In the parlance of the discussion that’s unfolding up thread, I’m definitely a member of the camp that is more interested in the core story of the central 6-12 characters than I am in the sprawling, digressive story of this world. The latter can be beautiful when it serves its purpose, but tighter, character-based storytelling will always be more interesting to me. I think that’s one of the reasons that I prefer Game of Thrones the TV show to A Song of Ice and Fire novels – even though I love them both and respect that the show wouldn’t exist without the novels.

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    74. ash,

      You are still young yet.

      I’m not badgering, I just want you guys to experience stuff spoiler free but I get that some people are just spoiler nuts.

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    75. Jared,

      Great thoughts, all.

      No one will ever convince me that the Dornish story needed as many POV characters as it has. Arianne, Quentyn, and the two most useless POVs in all of ASOIAF, Areo Hotah and Arys Oakheart. There are days I still forget that those last two were POV characters.

      It’s interesting to speculate how much of the flaws in AFFC and ADWD come from the collapse of George’s Five Year Gap. The Meereenese Knot is the most obvious, but given the connections that both the Iron Islands and Dornish plots have to Daenerys, it seems to me like the answer could be, “all of it!”

      We’ll never get it, but I often wonder what this story would look like if GRRM had stuck with the Five Year Gap…

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    76. HousePotterz: No one will ever convince me that the Dornish story needed as many POV characters as it has.

      Exactly. Introducing new POVs and subplots in the fourth book of a seven novel series is strange enough, but to dilute these new plotlines with so many POVs is plainly a bad decision. I get Areo —It’s not really much of a character, but that’s not the point of him: we need a perspective close to Doran without being in his mind, or else his twist would be revealed too soon, before it’s much of a twist because we haven’t formed an impression of him yet. Dorne is just tricky in that way. So, without changing the plot George wrote, I get Areo and Arianne. However, Quentyn’s travels were completely extreneous (We already have a character that can show us what’s happening in Slaver’s Bay: Tyrion! A main character!), and Aerys’ plot could be told from Arianne’s perspective. As for the Iron Islands, why in the hell didn’t we get the whole kingsmoot setup from Yara’s point of view, especially the kingsmoot itself? It’s just baffling.

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    77. LatrineDiggerBrian: Oh man…just once, take a week off and don’t read anything. Don’t watch the previews, don’t look at any leaks. There is no greater joy than experiencing the surprise of great story telling.

      I’m actually planning on doing this next season. I’ve always been a spoiler-hound, but I think I’ll go into the next season with only the trailers, and perhaps into season 8 without any trailers whatsoever. Hopefully I’ll be strong enough to resist for that long 😛

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    78. Jared,

      Yeah, that’s cool. It does seem that you’re one of those fans that although you technically read the books before the show, you kinda came to the books because of the show regardless. If you catch my drift.

      I was kinda “forced” into reading the books not long before ASOS came out (summer of 2000). My friend was a fanatic and bought several copies of AGOT for his circle of friends with instructions — JUST READ IT.

      I was hooked the moment Jaime dropped Bran 🙂

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    79. Wimsey,

      I know the books didn’t provide you with enough material regarding Sansa for you to consider her one of the main protagonists but how about the show Wimsey? And please don’t use the show ultimately follows the books argument, just answer if you would of course based on what is so far represented in the show for her (specially after season 5).

      The way i see it right now she’s in the center of northern plot alongside with Jon obviously and the northern plot IS the center of the entire story IMHO. If this doesn’t make her one of the leads i don’t know what will honestly.

      Edit : this was totally off topic of course so feel free to just ignore it if you want.

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    80. Mitch,

      That’s how I’d characterize myself as well. I know that there are some fans for whom the show was their gateway to the books, and they’ve since developed a fierce loyalty to the source material. But for the most part, I dance with the one who brought me. Being able to discuss Game of Thrones in communities like this one has really cemented my passion for the adaptation over the source material. That being said, I maintain that drawing such battlelines between the two works is foolish (even if we all do it). They’re ultimately telling the same story through different media. The two can operate independently and take different paths when necessary, yet still enrich one another.

      I do wonder if the balance of my affections would be different if I had discovered the books a decade or so before the show premiered, as you did. My guess would be no, because my issues with AFFC/ADWD would likely persist and I’m pretty laid-back about adaptations in general (Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, etc). I understand the different strengths that books and films/TV have, and I think that the latter medium caters more effectively to the things that I find most interesting about the characters in this particular fictional world. Still, it’s an interesting hypothetical to consider.

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    81. Jared:
      Mitch,

      My guess would be no, because my issues with AFFC/ADWD would likely persist and

      Heh, it might have been worse. The 11 year wait for the “big 3” took it’s toll on alot of the original fan community (Just ask Mihnea and Mau 😉

      I’d probably include myself in that group if not for how much I loved ADWD. If only it didn’t have it’s climaxes excised out!

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    82. Jared:
      Mitch,

      I read the first three books during the winter of 2010-2011, in the months leading up to the series premiere of Game of Thrones. I had never heard of the series until I saw the promotional material for the show, but I thought it looked and sounded amazing – as indeed it has turned out to be. I’d considered going into the show cold, but ultimately read the books to alleviate the torture of waiting, and wound up loving them as well.

      That being said, the show was and remains my first love. I’ve never envisioned Ned Stark as anyone other than Sean Bean … nor do I particularly wish to. I’ve read AGOT and ACOK from cover-to-cover twice, and ASOS from cover-to-cover three times, plus select chapter re-reads if I need to refresh my memory about something. I love all three books still.

      I read AFFC as the first season was airing (April of 2011, I think). That book was and remains my least favorite in the series – among my many issues, I didn’t like Dorne or the Iron Islands at all, and I found Brienne’s chapters to be torturous to get through (I’ve softened on Brienne’s chapters since, but I remain extremely grateful that the show didn’t adapt them faithfully).

      Still, I thought it was possible that the book was just suffering from having read the first three in such close proximity, and being able to witness the events of the first book depicted on screen. I resolved to re-read it later.

      ADWD was released in July of 2011, about a month after the first season ended. I devoured that too. My initial impressions were that it was far superior to AFFC, and it contains some truly beautiful writing (the Sorrows chapter, in particular, is one of my favorites in the entire series. Even though I despise the fAegon twist and strongly dislike Tyrion’s storyline from Selhorys on, that chapter is spectacular even in isolation).

      However, after I finished it, it sat less and less well with me. I waited about a year, then ended up re-reading AFFC and ADWD again in conjunction. In contrast to what other readers have reported, I liked them even less the second time around. Storywise, they struck me as a fragmented, sprawling mess without a satisfying ending for most characters. Free from the initial wonder of the world-building, I was far less impressed with the travelogue chapters and expanded POV roster. Dorne, in particular, really suffered once I realized just how flimsy Doran’s so-called “master plan” was, and where it was likely headed in TWOW.

      I’ve since re-read most of those books again, using the combined order. On appeal, I’ve come to appreciate what George was trying to accomplish in certain chapters and storylines – like Brienne’s – far more on an isolated basis. Others, like Dorne, are practically unreadable for me now. That’s why I was so willing to give the show carte blanche to do whatever they wanted with those characters and that storyline. Obviously what they’ve done has its own issues, but nothing will ever get me to join the crowd that’s eulogizing Dorne’s book plot. Good riddance.

      I’ve come to accept the core story of AFFC/ADWD as a necessary bridge between greater chapters of ASOIAF. But I still don’t think they entirely work as cohesive novels, and a lot of the narrative expansion and world-building proved to be more trouble than they were worth. I remain glad that the show didn’t attempt to adapt most of them faithfully, and I think that Season 5 is a significant improvement in most respects – a controversial opinion, perhaps, but one I hold quite strongly.

      That was a longer answer than you were looking for, I’m sure.

      TL;DR – In the parlance of the discussion that’s unfolding up thread, I’m definitely a member of the camp that is more interested in the core story of the central 6-12 characters than I am in the sprawling, digressive story of this world. The latter can be beautiful when it serves its purpose, but tighter, character-based storytelling will always be more interesting to me. I think that’s one of the reasons that I prefer Game of Thrones the TV show to A Song of Ice and Fire novels – even though I love them both and respect that the show wouldn’t exist without the novels.

      That’s pretty much my perspective. The only difference is, that I read books 1 and 2 a couple months before season 1 and only after reading the first book, I found about the TV series. I read book 3 during season 1 and book 4, which was released in 2011 in my country, in September. The Dance with Dragons was released a year after and I read it in summer 2012.

      Then I started doing re-reads in later years, when I really became invested into the storyline (mostly because of the show). And like you said, the more times I read books 4 and 5, the more I disliked them.

      Last year, everything changed. I simply cannot go back to reading because of the encounter with book purists on westeros.org. I still haven’t overcome the trauma they inflicted me with. I had to put westeros.org on ban list and transfer youtube comments to unwanted mail. Now I don’t even enjoy GoT Wikia anymore because of You-Know-Who. It doesn’t even feel like a fansite anymore.

      Thankfully, this site still remains a fansite. I hope in time, things will get better for me…

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    83. Daughter of Winter:
      Wimsey,

      I know the books didn’t provide you with enough material regarding Sansa for you to consider her one of the main protagonists but how about the show Wimsey? And please don’t use the show ultimately follows the books argument, just answer if you would of course based on what is so far represented in the show for her (specially after season 5).

      The way i see it right now she’s in the center of northern plot alongside with Jon obviously and the northern plot IS the center of the entire story IMHO. If this doesn’t make her one of the leads i don’t know what will honestly.

      Edit : this was totally off topic of course so feel free to just ignore it if you want.

      Wimsey probably originated from the fact, that in GRRM’s original outline, there were five main characters and Sansa was not among them. But yes, we can safely assume that at least in TV series, she is definitely among them.

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    84. Luka Nieto,

      Many of A Feast for Crow’s structural and protagonist-related problems with the Dornish and Ironborn storylines are the result of Martin’s belated change of plans. Initially he intended to include all of that material as a multiple point-of-view prologue. He quite clearly didn’t intend to elevate any of those new characters to the status of protagonists and therefore kept the PoVs diffused. Late in the writing process, after having concluded that this prologue would have to be hundreds of pages long, Martin abandoned his initial idea and dispersed the chapters throughout the book. This had an unfortunate, if predictable, consequence that the readers now expected all these new PoV’s, quasi-protagonists, and their stories to be properly addressed.

      I personally think that Martin should have simply rewritten the whole thing once he’d changed his mind. Pick a clear central character for each region (e.g. Arianne and Asha) and build a strong narrative around them with a clear beginning, middle, and end.

        Quote  Reply

    85. Technically Balon’s death would have occurred in season 3, not season 4… as in the books, Catelyn gets a raven informing her that Balon was dead shortly before going to the red wedding.

        Quote  Reply

    86. Daughter of Winter,

      I don’t want to answer for him, but I believe Wimsey has said in the past that Sansa’s elevated focus in the show is what makes him wonder if she will be part of the top protagonists in the books.

        Quote  Reply

    87. Lord Parramandas:

      Last year, everything changed. I simply cannot go back to reading because of the encounter with book purists on westeros.org. I still haven’t overcome the trauma they inflicted me with. I had to put westeros.org on ban list and transfer youtube comments to unwanted mail. Now I don’t even enjoy GoT Wikia anymore because of You-Know-Who. It doesn’t even feel like a fansite anymore.

      Thankfully, this site still remains a fansite. I hope in time, things will get better for me…

      I’m sorry you had to go through that. I never suffered the same slings and arrows that you had to endure on the rare occasions that I visited that website, but that’s probably because I kept my head down, stuck almost exclusively to the more relatively show-friendly threads, and seldom if ever engaged with the worst of the worst. Seeing what happened to people like you who did speak up, however, is what finally inspired me to leave that website behind forever.

      It’s difficult sometimes, but I always try to remember that I shouldn’t hold the books or the author or even most ardent fans of the novels responsible for the sins of the most vocal and despicable hardliners who represent the most hateful segment of the fandom. They can’t be changed. I just hope that they’ll remain in their self-selected, isolated corners to stew in their own bitterness and leave the rest of us in relative peace.

        Quote  Reply

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