Author Topic: AFFC, whole book discussion.  (Read 2341 times)  

Offline jason10mm

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AFFC, whole book discussion.
« on: November 12, 2012, 06:18:00 am »
I think I enjoyed AFFC much more upon the re-read than when I first read it (in a 2 day flurry back when it first came out). It does pair up with ADWD quite well, giving us some nice lead ins with the goings on in the North and on Essos. I feel like there is a distinct loss of momentum compared to the previous three books however. Here we have Arya sailing to Braavos and beginning her initiation as a Faceless man, Sansa sitting in on a few meetings with Littlefinger, Cersei making a right mess of Kings Landing and plotting herself into a jail cell, Jaime successfully concluding the siege of Riverrun, the Greyjoy succession going to Euron, Sam sails to Oldtown, The Martells acted Martell-ish, and Brienne, well, she rides around a lot :P

I do understand now why GRRM said his planned "5 year jump" couldn't happen (he would spend too much time explaining where everyone was and how they got there). This book (paired with ADWD) isn't really about driving the story of the Others forward or finishing up the tale of House Stark. It is a resetting of the pieces from the first game of thrones (ending with a [IMHO] Lannister pyrrhic victory over the Starks) for the second game, starting with "The Winds of Winter". There is also a loss of publishing momentum that certainly robs the series of some interest.

BUT, AFFC is a treasure trove of character and history. Westeros has never felt so alive, even when reeling from the war of the five kings. The Dorne and Brienne chapters in particular give a lot of flavor to areas not really explored before. Though at this point is seems fortuitous that there is no large, well-organized neighbor near Westeros as they seem ripe for conquering!

So, who was your favorite character? I gotta say, my man Bronn is still kicking ass and taking names, even off stage!

Where is the series heading? It seems to me that with the Church gaining the ability to muster an army that the Others will have a new threat to face, though it is equally likely that poor Jon and Stannis will get squeezed between the two as I doubt followers of The Seven will take too kindly to Melisandre's Lord of Light. The Starks are being prepared to retake power, Sansa is clearly being molded into a ruler herself, and Arya will be unleashing furious vengence! I can't see the ambitions of Doran Martell or Euron Greyjoy amounting to much, nor will the Tyrells stick around. I have a really bad feeling that something horrible is in store for Margaery. But winter is coming and almost no one seems ready for it...

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    Offline VondaZ

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    Re: AFFC, whole book discussion.
    « Reply #1 on: November 12, 2012, 01:34:51 pm »
    I actually liked this book much better than I expected to. I understood going in that this was mainly to fill us in on what happened with the plethora of characters while Dany and her dragons matured, so I didn't expect there to be monumental events like in the first three books. I was prepared for a lot of nothing to happen, but a lot more did happen than I expected. I think I would have been disappointed had I not been prepared for what this books was, but given that I expected little plot development, I actually got a lot more than I thought I would.

    What is "The Winds of Winter"? Is that going to be the next book? I keep waiting for winter to get there, but I haven't seen it yet.

    I am not sure who my favorite character is. I always like Arya - she has always been my favorite Stark, followed by Jon - and she and Jon together, as well - since they had a good relationship. So in this book, Arya is probably my favorite, but that is an easy answer. I am also liking Jaime more. I would like to see his character continue to develop along the path he has been on. That is significant, since I used to not be able to stand him. The Jaime that was so devoted to Cersei was such an empty character - now Jaime without Cersei is almost a blank slate (albeit with a lot of baggage) that can become something new and interesting.

    Offline jason10mm

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    Re: AFFC, whole book discussion.
    « Reply #2 on: November 13, 2012, 04:27:53 am »
    Yeah, I think the transformation of Jaime is one of the strongest characterizations in the series. I wanted to really like Brienne, but alas she never really gets to DO anything and still doesn't really fit in anywhere. With any luck Lady Stoneheart will stay the execution and put her in charge of Beric's men or something. Or word of Littlefinger's "natural daughter" gets out and  she makes the connection and actually saves someone.

    Offline DYB

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    Re: AFFC, whole book discussion.
    « Reply #3 on: November 16, 2012, 08:36:13 pm »
    I must say I liked "A Feast for Crows" quite a bit.  It is different from the previous volumes, but that's not a bad thing in and of itself.  And GRRM couldn't possibly have kept the momentum of ASOS going; just think how many important characters he killed off in that one!  I certainly missed characters like Tyrion and Jon.  I sort of think leaving out Tyrion works - it keeps us all in suspense (just as it does Cersei, who is at the center of this volume) about what he is up to.  But I think GRRM made a mistake leaving out Jon and Bran, and perhaps even Theon.  He really should have made AFFC all about Westeros, which means giving us Jon and Bran and Stannis, but not Arya.  He then should have given us a quick catch-up on Daenerys, Tyrion and Arya at the top of ADWD, before bringing the narratives back in sync.  (Some of the Tyrion and most of the Dany chapters really drag ADWD down.  But that's neither here nor there, I suppose.)  What we did have in AFFC was quite compelling.  Cersei, the long suffering second fiddle of the Lannister clan, finally gets everything she's ever wanted - and doesn't know what to do with it.  Her complete and utter incompetence was a fascinating study in hubris.  Jaime, on the other hand, has moved in the opposite direction.  His growth as a man of honor is remarkable.  I just hope it's sincere.  With GRRM one never can tell.

    Why do you think something awful is in store for Maergery?  I don't get that sense at all.  (I'm not done with ADWD yet; I'm at about 80%).  I actually think Maergery and the Tyrrells will come out on top.  And the Martells.  But I sort of think - or maybe just hope - that the ideal resolution to ASIF is that the Seven Kingdoms is broken up again into individual kingdoms.  Everyone takes back what was theirs before the Targaryens enslaved them.  I'm really not a big fan of the Targaryens in general, and that now includes Dany.  She's really annoying me...  But I don't want to get too much into that right now!   ;)  In general, I just don't think the Targaryens have any kind of divine claim to the Seven Kingdoms.  Or at least no more claim than Robert The Usurper did.  They took the other Kingdoms by force.  They are not entitled to it.  I want to see the Starks Kings of the North.  Martells and Tyrrells can rule their own Kingdoms.  So can everyone else.

    Anyway, of the "new" characters I've gotten quite fond of Brienne.  Her chapters were not the most exciting reads of the novel (she just rides around a lot), but she is a fascinating character.  And now she's even uglier than she was before since Biter ate part of her face.  I wonder what's in store for her.  I hope it's some form of happiness.

    Catelyn/Stoneheart is a waste of immortality.  I hope GRRM gives her something interesting and noble to do.  Right now, she's a waste of a character.

    One thing about GRRM is we can't possibly predict who he will kill off next.

    Offline jason10mm

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    Re: AFFC, whole book discussion.
    « Reply #4 on: November 17, 2012, 06:54:57 am »
    Margaery, so far, is a secondary character. we have not gotten her POV and she isn't impressing me much with having a plan for the rule of Westeros. The Tyrells just don't seem as concrete and fleshed out as the other houses, which is why I don't see GRRM suddenly catapulting them into the limelight. But then again, one or two POV chapters and suddenly they are the coolest house ever :P

    It seems to me that Westeros is already fractured. The North is totally independent at this point (though I guess Ramsey Bolton and his Arya stand-in are going to try to reclaim it), Dorne is semi-autonomous, the Greyjoys are in revolt,  and the Vale is totally off the grid. I'm kinda surprised the Lannisters let the Vale off so easily. They could have really used their forces, why didn't they try to compel Lysa to muster? I guess they figured she might weigh in on the side of the Starks/Riverlords so better off letting her turtle up, but I gotta think some of the other lords there would be more loyal. At least make the attempt, even if you know Lysa would refuse it, so later on you could use it against her.

    Offline DYB

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    Re: AFFC, whole book discussion.
    « Reply #5 on: November 17, 2012, 03:50:58 pm »
    It's true that we know very little about the Tyrells. But personally, knowing more about the Martells doesn't make them cooler or more interesting.  Frankly, I find them kind of boring.  The Red Viper I liked, but he's dead.  The Snakes are ok, but I can't tell them apart and so far they haven't done anything of note.  Arianne has some spunk, but she's back under her father's thumb now.  Doran Martell might have some great long-term plan for the realm, the Lannisters and the Iron Throne, but so far his plan has suffered a few big blows (largely because of his secrecy) via Arianne's attempt to crown Myrcell and Myrcella's maiming.  The Tyrells, perhaps because they are much more of an enigma, strike me as more interesting.  Let's not forget: they dealt a big blow in the game by killing Joffrey and getting someone else blamed for it.  I am surprised we haven't had POV chapters from them, but I'm guessing that will change.  GRRM has given the Martells and the Greyjoys POVs; I suspect we'll find out more about the Tyrells; hopefully in the next book. 

    For Margaery - let's remember she is still a child.  So the fact that she hasn't yet landed any big blows against Cersei (!) should be forgiven.  But she's up to something, she's playing a game, though we don't know what it is yet.  Remember our discussion of what she was doing with Pycelle.  Something's up there - something Cersei is completely ignorant of.  And considering the Queen of Thorns killed Joffrey, I can't imagine she is not playing some games of her own.  If GRRM does not give her a POV - it'll be a huge waste!  Especially considering some silly POV choices he has made.

    Yes, the Kingdom is fractured right now.  But that's where Dany is supposed to come in with her dragons - to reclaim the whole Kingdom she thinks she is entitled to because once her family owned it.  I just don't think she has any rights to that Throne.  And I personally want to see the series end with the Kingdoms remaining apart in their pre-Targaryen formations.

    Offline VondaZ

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    Re: AFFC, whole book discussion.
    « Reply #6 on: November 17, 2012, 05:57:45 pm »
    Yes, the Kingdom is fractured right now.  But that's where Dany is supposed to come in with her dragons - to reclaim the whole Kingdom she thinks she is entitled to because once her family owned it.  I just don't think she has any rights to that Throne.  And I personally want to see the series end with the Kingdoms remaining apart in their pre-Targaryen formations.

    I am not sure I would want to see the series end with the Kingdoms each becoming independent. I'm afraid that would result in an unstable and fractured Westeros that will eventually erupt again in war. It would be nice to believe the separate kingdoms could all get along and work together politically in a civil manner with no single ruler lording over them all, but that is not what we have seen from most of them so far and I don't think there is much that can change the natures of all the current leaders. Heck, the north couldn't even get along with itself.

    I don't believe anymore in the "right" to the Throne. So many people have made a case for their "right" to the throne that it has become a joke. The "right" to the Throne doesn't seem to belong to anyone of any particular lineage. Instead, from an ethical standpoint, it belongs to the person that can take it, hold it, and invoke loyalty from both the common people and the various leaders of Westeros. That doesn't mean just anyone can take the throne (ie, Littlefinger for example), because there has to be enough lordliness about the king/queen that he/she will be accepted. It isn't a democracy after all.

    If Dany can reclaim the throne, it will not be because she is entitled to it. It will be because she has the strength to take it, the ability to inspire the people (both low and high born) to follow her, and the wisdom to rule fairly in the best interest of Westeros. Her lineage is an important part of that, but not the sole factor. Her family line seemingly has produced both great rulers and terrible insane ones. If she can turn out to be one of the great rulers and avoid the family curse, there is hope for her. I see more potential from her than from any other potential candidate on stage at the moment.

    Of course, I am not sure where GRRM is going with the dragons/magic vs science logic story. While my heart is seduced by the magical elements, my intellect would tend to side with science. Can the dragons actually win the future or is Westeros doomed to evolve the way it has been moving - away from dragons and magic and toward a more science-based reality. Is this the last stand for magic or the opportunity to bring it back full force?

    ETA: I think it is no coincidence that the Targaryans are associated both with dragons and with insanity. It is almost like there is a connection there between magic and madness that maybe cannot sustain itself.
    « Last Edit: November 17, 2012, 06:01:58 pm by VondaZ »

    Offline DYB

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    Re: AFFC, whole book discussion.
    « Reply #7 on: November 17, 2012, 11:39:58 pm »
    I am not sure I would want to see the series end with the Kingdoms each becoming independent. I'm afraid that would result in an unstable and fractured Westeros that will eventually erupt again in war. It would be nice to believe the separate kingdoms could all get along and work together politically in a civil manner with no single ruler lording over them all, but that is not what we have seen from most of them so far and I don't think there is much that can change the natures of all the current leaders. Heck, the north couldn't even get along with itself.

    If Dany can reclaim the throne, it will not be because she is entitled to it. It will be because she has the strength to take it, the ability to inspire the people (both low and high born) to follow her, and the wisdom to rule fairly in the best interest of Westeros. Her lineage is an important part of that, but not the sole factor. Her family line seemingly has produced both great rulers and terrible insane ones. If she can turn out to be one of the great rulers and avoid the family curse, there is hope for her. I see more potential from her than from any other potential candidate on stage at the moment.

    That's true - but remember Westeros existed for thousands of years before Targaryens conquered the Kingdoms.  All these families (Starks, Aryns, Greyjoys, Martels, Tyrells) managed to co-exist like independent countries for a long time.  No doubt there were issues and many enmities remain, but they survived without the Targaryens for many centuries.

    Dany might make a good queen.  (Though I've seen nothing to suggest it yet.  She doesn't come through ADWD with flying colors, let's just say...  ;D )  But she has potential.  The problem is that in Westeros (and through our own real-world histories) people believe they are entitled to thrones based on their bloodlines.  Dany believes that too; she believes Westeros is hers even though she has done nothing to earn it.  And the Targaryen bloodline has provided Westeros with very mixed results in the past.  Targaryen loyalists in the books, even if they acknowledge the Mad King was a sadistic despot, shrug off his behavior: they still believe Robert and Ned stole his Throne.  Nobody says: "Hey, he bled the realm for kicks, he killed Ned's father and brother and demanded Ned's head.  Surely Ned and his supporters had some cause for concern!"  I have not seen a single Targaryen loyalist in the book acknowledge that the Mad King was not fit to rule and should have been removed from the Throne. Dany might be an ok ruler, but who's to say her offspring won't be insane?  That's the problem I have with these bloodline claims to the Throne.  And right now Dany feels entitled to it simply because of who her ancestors were.  She might ultimately win the Throne through good leadership.  Or she might win it by force through her dragons - which would make her another despot from the get-go.  Of the current contenders I think Stannis might make the best leader - although Melisandre's presence is a wild card.  While the realm so far has accepted freedom of religions, R'hlor followers are not tolerant of other Gods.  The deeper Stannis sinks into Melisandre's pool of influence - the more dangerous he will become.  Even if Melisandre was ahead of the rest of the realm in recognizing that the Wall needed some help.

    About magic vs. science: I still haven't quite wrapped my mind around this struggle.  Largely because GRRM has only introduced this idea in AFFC and has done it very briefly.  No doubt it's a conflict he'll explore in greater detail later on. 

    Offline VondaZ

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    Re: AFFC, whole book discussion.
    « Reply #8 on: November 20, 2012, 07:32:15 am »
    Of the current contenders I think Stannis might make the best leader - although Melisandre's presence is a wild card.  While the realm so far has accepted freedom of religions, R'hlor followers are not tolerant of other Gods.  The deeper Stannis sinks into Melisandre's pool of influence - the more dangerous he will become.  Even if Melisandre was ahead of the rest of the realm in recognizing that the Wall needed some help.

    The problem with Stannis as a leader is that he doesn't have the ability to inspire others to follow him. That and the fact that he is too inflexible. He can't compromise to find a solution that works, he is stuck in absolutes. He had the perfect opportunity to work out some kind of compromise with Renly. Renly had what he lacked - the ability to make people love and follow him. But he didn't have the blood claim. Together, Stannis and Renly might have accomplished a lot, but neither could see that (or the only way they could see it was if the other bent the knee). Stannis has strong leadership skills and a solid blood claim to the throne, but that is not enough, even without Melisandre in the picture. Maybe I will think differently of him after the next book, but right now, I have a hard time falling behind him.

    About magic vs. science: I still haven't quite wrapped my mind around this struggle.  Largely because GRRM has only introduced this idea in AFFC and has done it very briefly.  No doubt it's a conflict he'll explore in greater detail later on. 

    I think this conflict has been developed subtly throughout the books, although not spelled out so explicitly. There has always been this sense of fairy tale (or monstruous) magical beings that used to exist but no longer. And now, Winter is Coming, and some of these creatures that more modern folk may not even believe in anymore are coming back and are a threat. A lot of people refuse to accept that the threat is even real. It is kind of like a conflict of old ways and beliefs vs new ways and beliefs. In the case of the Others, the old beings are definitely portrayed as the enemy so far. When the Targaryans were first introduced in the first book, I kind of thought they would be another example of this - the old rulers returning, and I thought they would be portrayed as another evil threat to Westeros on par with the Others. With the way Viserys was portrayed, it seemed inevitable. But then GRRM developed Dany into a much more sympathetic, admirable, and strong character than I expected and Viserys was suddenly taken off the canvas. So that kind of puts me in a state of flux and indecision. Is Dany a threat like the Others disquised in a sympathetic character? Does she need to be defeated for Westeros to move forward? Or is she a heroine from the past that is somehow going to save Westeros from itself and the Others. GRRM seems to paint her in this kind of light so far, but thematically, does it line up with the rest of the story? Or is that the point - that not everything can be put into a simple box. Black and white doesn't cut it. We've learned that lesson with Ned.

    Offline jason10mm

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    Re: AFFC, whole book discussion.
    « Reply #9 on: November 27, 2012, 04:33:14 am »
    I think we will see Westeros unite against a common foe, which must be the Others. I can't imagine that just Stannis and Jon will deal with them while the rest of the characters remain blissfully ignorant. Dany coming over would certainly split the realm's loyalties. I could see her being advised to marry Tommen :)

    I almost wonder if we will have a sort of French Revolution style event where the common folk throw off their aristocracy. Cersei on the guillotine is something I'd like to see :) A religious coup is also possible, the Church doesn't have an army for nothing!

    It is a very old concept to have EITHER magic or technology, the rising of one at the expense of the other. But Westeros is a fairly low tech world as it is, so I can't see magic returning doing much, if anything there is a lot of pseudomagic stuff (like wildfire) that seems to be working better and can possibly herald a return to ASOIAFs "Glory days" of Volaryia. Perhaps they will experience a second renaissance of sorts.

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