Author Topic: ASOS whole book discussion.  (Read 2448 times)  

Offline jason10mm

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ASOS whole book discussion.
« on: July 04, 2012, 03:32:40 PM »
So, we have finished ASOS. I have always considered this to be a complete trilogy. Some may know that GRRM intended to have a 5 year in-book gap from the end of ASOS to the next book, a period for Arya to train, Jon to lead, Dany to rule, etc. But this didn't happen, so instead we got AFFC and ADWD :)

House Stark: Basically ruined, IMHO. Bran and Rickon are fleeing, Arya is leaving Westeros, Sansa is captured by Littlefinger, and Jon is with the Night's Watch, any legitimacy granted by Robb (if he ever got around to it) is moot at this point. The North is in shambles.

House Lannister: Also in shambles. With Tywin and Joffrey dead there is no clear leader as Kevan is more of a supporting man, Tommen is too young, Tyrion is a fugitive, and Jamie is attached to the Kingsguard. Cersei is basically all that is left to hold on against the depredations of the Tyrells.

Dany: Having swept Slaver's Bay she is well positioned to invade, if she can consolidate her army and get free of the responsibility of Meereen. Westeros seems ripe for the plucking with Stannis in the North and the South without clear leadership.

Will the Wildlings be the salvation of the North or yet another threat? Are the Others going to crush the wall or will the infusion of Stannis' men hold it?

Offline DYB

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Re: ASOS whole book discussion.
« Reply #1 on: July 07, 2012, 05:29:18 PM »
So, we have finished ASOS. I have always considered this to be a complete trilogy. Some may know that GRRM intended to have a 5 year in-book gap from the end of ASOS to the next book, a period for Arya to train, Jon to lead, Dany to rule, etc. But this didn't happen, so instead we got AFFC and ADWD :)

In fact, I did not know that!  From the mixed reception the next two books generally receive I guess Martin should have stuck to his original plan, eh?

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House Stark: Basically ruined, IMHO. Bran and Rickon are fleeing, Arya is leaving Westeros, Sansa is captured by Littlefinger, and Jon is with the Night's Watch, any legitimacy granted by Robb (if he ever got around to it) is moot at this point. The North is in shambles.

Yes, I would say "ruined" is a good word to describe House Stark.  It's really quite shocking that Martin did this to the moral center of his entire universe - and to the most sympathetic family in the series.  I don't know what his plans are for the end, but if he intends to elevate them back into any kind of power he needs to start rebuilding fast.  I think he's in a situation where he's so gleefully deconstructing them that he's writing himself into a corner.  He will need another 7 books to build them back up as convincingly as he destroyed them.  Case in point is Jon's elevation to lead the Night's Watch.  That whole section is so over the top and rushed and silly.  Not that I mind the outcome, but the way Martin achieved it really stretches believability.  Of course, perhaps he has no plans to rebuild the Starks.  They might remain marginal to the end.  That would, I will confess, tick me off to no end.

About Jon being legitimized by Robb - aren't there two people out there who were present at the meeting?  Robb sent them out on a mission.  Maege Mormont is one.  There's someone else, but I forget who.  Plus, several others are currently being held hostage by the Freys.  They know about Robb's plans.  The biggest issue, of course, is that only a King could legitimize a [illegitimate person] and, well, Robb is dead and he does not have a supporter on the Throne.  So - would anyone care about his intentions regarding Jon, unless a Stark ally ascends a throne?

It's hard to tell if Sansa being with Littlefinger is good or bad for her.  The change of scenery is good for us as readers!  But we know nothing about Littlefinger's intentions that we will just have to wait and see what happens to Sansa.

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House Lannister: Also in shambles. With Tywin and Joffrey dead there is no clear leader as Kevan is more of a supporting man, Tommen is too young, Tyrion is a fugitive, and Jamie is attached to the Kingsguard. Cersei is basically all that is left to hold on against the depredations of the Tyrells.

I don't think of the Lannisters are being in shambles.  They have won the war, for all intents and purposes.  They have the Throne and they have the armies.  We'll see what Tywin's death means to the realm, but the Lannisters are still very much in control.

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Dany: Having swept Slaver's Bay she is well positioned to invade, if she can consolidate her army and get free of the responsibility of Meereen. Westeros seems ripe for the plucking with Stannis in the North and the South without clear leadership.

That's a good point that politically the time isn't bad for her to jump into Westeros, but I think it'd be a huge mistake.  She's had some victories, but she's not a leader yet.  She needs to grow up a bit.  I think establishing herself as Queen of Meereen would give her the necessary training.

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Will the Wildlings be the salvation of the North or yet another threat? Are the Others going to crush the wall or will the infusion of Stannis' men hold it?

Salvation of the North?  I'm not sure I see how as they have no real interest in saving anything except themselves.  For some reason I'm not that concerned about the North with Stannis on the Wall.  Perhaps that's a mistake, but he seems competent enough!

Offline jason10mm

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Re: ASOS whole book discussion.
« Reply #2 on: July 11, 2012, 05:47:17 AM »
I think a lot of the criticism of AFFC and ADWD is more about the time it took to generate the books and the relative lack of plot progression, for 2 books worth of story it feels like less happens than in just half of one
of the earlier books. For what, 10 odd years if real time waiting, it was a bit of a let down. I still see them as simply bridging novels between the very dynamic first trilogy and what will hopefully be a dynamic concluding trilogy.

I think the Lannisters are in trouble. Tywin kept such a stranglehold on everything I feel his absence will be very noticeable. Can Kevan fill his shoes, Can Cersei? Will there be a new one, kinda of like a Blackfish? They still have the dominant position, sure, but I feel that Cersei will just ride it to the bottom.

Offline VondaZ

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Re: ASOS whole book discussion.
« Reply #3 on: July 11, 2012, 07:38:07 AM »
I was reflecting on how we think of GRRM as being very hard on the Stark family, whom we are set up to root for, but when I look back at all the other families, they haven't really fared any better - so maybe it is more our perception of the Stark family that makes us feel they take such a big hit all the time. I mean, when you sum it up, yes we lost Ned early on in a shocker, and since then we have lost Catelyn (mostly) and Robb. But Arya is still out there and getting tougher and stronger. Jon is advancing rapidly on the Wall. Sansa is still a prisoner, but relatively intact. Bran and Rickon are on the run, but still out there, and we know that they have special powers associated with their wolves. There is even hope that Benjen may show up again in some form. So on the whole, while the backbone of the family has been ripped out, there is still a lot of potential for this family to pull back together.

Then look at the other families:

The Lannisters: Joffrey is dead. Tywin, who had been the controlling fist of the family has been murdered by his own son Tyrion. Tyrion is on the run for a crime he didn't commit - having just committed an actual crime that makes it nearly impossible for him to ever clear his name. Jaime has lost his hand and is struggling to redefine himself. That leaves Cersei, who has always struggled for power of her own, but I am not sure she can actually handle it once she has it - at least not on her own. She has the cruel cunning but not the wisdom. There are her two children whom we know little of, as well as Kevan, who has always just been a supporting character without much dimension. I am not sure this family is doing any better than the Starks. They currently have the power, but the family has been gutted just as badly.

The Barratheons: Robert is dead. His acknowledged children are not his and his [illegitimate persons] have mostly been slaughtered with a few exceptions. Renly is dead. Stannis lives but is following a misguided sorceress that only means trouble. And Stannis has little support throughout the kingdom.

The Targaryens: They were well annhiliated before the saga even began, with only Dany and Viserys left. Viserys is cruel and meets an appropriate end. Khal Drogo dies and his Khal mostly abandons Dany. Her trusted companion turns out to have betrayed her and she banishes him. And she is probably the one person currently in a better position than when she started.

The Greyjoys: They may have won some small battles, but Balon is dead and his rogue brother is stirring up trouble and who knows what has happened to Theon at the hands of the Boltons.

The Arryns: They are all gone but for the sickly boy.

I guess the Freys and the Boltons are better off than when they started, but I somehow don't think they will hold on to their power or ever earn respect from the realm. The Tyrells are weathering the storm okay except that Margaery has now been widowed twice, but they are a relatively new player to me and I don't really know any of them well.

Anyway, I think we perceive GRRM as being hard on the Starks because we relate to them closest so he seems especially harsh on them (and we see the tragedies through their eyes) - but really their fate isn't that out of keeping with anyone else's who is an active player in the game - and there is a lot of potential in those who remain to one day rebuild Winterfell and maybe even Westeros.

Offline DYB

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Re: ASOS whole book discussion.
« Reply #4 on: July 16, 2012, 07:33:22 PM »
I think Vonda makes a good point that every family has been decimated in the books.  But the Starks were set up as the heroes of the story - so their downfall (while many still live (more or less) their entire lives have been destroyed beyond repair) is what plays on our heartstrings most.  We know more about them than any other family in the realm. 

Incidentally, did you see that the new casting for next season of the show has Diana Rigg playing the Queen of Thorns!  And Tara Fitzgerald as Stannis' wife.

Offline jason10mm

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Re: ASOS whole book discussion.
« Reply #5 on: July 18, 2012, 09:13:40 AM »
Well, the Starks certainly got the lions share (bah dum dum!) with Winterfell being burned and no male heir around to take control.

I'm kinda surprised so little about Aryas absence was made, you'd think "proof of life" would have been demanded early on and without it she would have been considered dead. I think that because the readers knew she was alive GRRM didn't feel like he needed to dwell on it.

Is littlefinger unstoppable at this point? While his hold on the Eyrie may be tenuous, it is legal. How well he can deal with the Boltons to enforce Sansas claim over the fake Arya will be interesting, I wonder if the Vale knights would ride against the north.

Offline DYB

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Re: ASOS whole book discussion.
« Reply #6 on: July 18, 2012, 10:25:18 AM »
The question you raise about Arya is actually something I'd wondered about.  Catelyn and Robb never actually had any proof that she was alive.  Catelyn kept talking about her girls, but surely news would have reached them at some point that, in fact, Arya was missing.  And presumed dead.  They knew Sansa was alive because she was seen at King's Landing, but not Arya.  Didn't any red flags ever go up?

Interesting question about Littlefinger.  Is he unstoppable?  Well, maybe by Sansa.  But we won't hold our collective breaths on that.  Surely Littlefinger couldn't have accomplished all that he accomplished without leaving trails of ... I don't know, stuff.  Papers, witnesses, co-conspirators.  Okay, so he disposed of his new wife.  But there must be others.  And now, of course, Sansa.  Which means that Sansa is technically a threat to him.  What is his intent on "rescuing" her from King's Landing in the first place?  It can't be charity and pity.  So what is it?  Of what use is she to him?  He got the Vale through marriage.  Is Sansa then a hostage?  But since the Starks are essentially wiped out, why would he need a Stark hostage?  Is it all about Winterfell and the North?


Offline VondaZ

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Re: ASOS whole book discussion.
« Reply #7 on: July 20, 2012, 09:42:08 AM »
I don't think Littlefinger is unstoppable. His success lies with flying under the radar. No one pays him much attention because no one thinks too much about him. No one knows who he really is and what he really wants, so no one can really stand in his way and oppose him. However, if Littlefinger is to continue to try to rise to some stature, all of that will eventually change. Once he is figured out and recognized for whomever he is, he will lose his power. Littlefinger manipulates and gets people to do his bidding through deceipt and trickery, but he will never instill loyalty in subjects who will follow him. There is a limit to what he can accomplish and as long as his sights stay low enough that he can continue to fly under the radar, he will be okay - but as soon as he tries to extend his reach too far, he won't stand a chance. And I suspect that eventually his grasp is going to exceed his reach.

He is the kind of character who is able to create enormous ripples in the lives of the powerful and significant, but he will never be an openly powerful and recognized figure himself. If he tries to become one, that will be his downfall.

Offline jason10mm

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Re: ASOS whole book discussion.
« Reply #8 on: August 02, 2012, 04:40:37 AM »
Littlefinger is an interesting case because he is one of the few people who got his position based on MERIT, not birth. He is a good economist and businessman. Seems like most positions of power in Westeros are delegated based on birthright or battlefield success which often doesn't translate into competence. Varys is another good example.

Anyway, even if Littlefinger lost his political support he still has his economic resources. Do soldiers follow their general or their paymaster? I think the latter, as Littlefinger has already demonstrated. He does seem to lack the charisma and presence to inspire people directly however, so I don't think he will ever become a significant military leader.

Offline DYB

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Re: ASOS whole book discussion.
« Reply #9 on: August 04, 2012, 01:05:23 PM »
Littlefinger is an interesting case because he is one of the few people who got his position based on MERIT, not birth. He is a good economist and businessman. Seems like most positions of power in Westeros are delegated based on birthright or battlefield success which often doesn't translate into competence. Varys is another good example.

Anyway, even if Littlefinger lost his political support he still has his economic resources. Do soldiers follow their general or their paymaster? I think the latter, as Littlefinger has already demonstrated. He does seem to lack the charisma and presence to inspire people directly however, so I don't think he will ever become a significant military leader.

But he's not the master of coin anymore, right?  So he's not paying the army.  Is he?

Offline jason10mm

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Re: ASOS whole book discussion.
« Reply #10 on: August 08, 2012, 04:26:11 AM »
But he's not the master of coin anymore, right?  So he's not paying the army.  Is he?

You know, I am not sure. Certainly he could still hold the position now that Tyrion is gone. And I imagine most of the organisation beneath the title (which we never even see) might still be loyal to him. GRRM is so noble focused you never really hear about commoners fighting to get ahead, perhaps Littlefingers assistants would sell him out in order to get the post. In any case. I'm sure Littlefinger either has or could get leverage on whomever takes the job while he is away. Besides, the royal treasury is still mostly empty, right? I bet Littlefinger has vaults of embezzled gold under his brothels (though Varys might have kept him honest).

I seem to recall some of these issues coming up in AFFC, I guess we will get there in a few months.