Kindle Forum banner
1 - 15 of 15 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
31 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
A Game of Thrones

This is a big, burly political fantasy set in a pseudo-medieval world. For some reason, technology has never progressed beyond the making of steel. There is just the possibility that the more advanced technology existed previously (there are references to long spans of time - like 10,000 years) and the planet (not earth, more on that in a minute) was reverted to a more primitive state.

Each chapter is written from the point of view of one of the main characters, of which there are aplenty. Most of the story centers around one noble family, the Starks of Winterfell, and the machinations they go through as they attempt to retain their nobility (by which I mean not their position in the 7 Kingdoms, but their attribute of being noble people).

About the world the story is set on: The seasons are long (they are currently in the 10th year of summer, but "winter is coming," and survival during the hard times probably affects the lack of technological advancement.

In references to the past, there was a time when there were dragons and wizards, but neither has been seen for a long time. There are legends of monsters that lived North of the Wall, though none have been seen for generations.

This is a large, complex story and a pretty satisfying read. I checked the e-book out of my public library, so I had to read the entire thing in 3 weeks, which was hard (given the pesky day job).

As a writer, I wonder why authors make some of the choices they do: In this case Martin has included unnecessarily graphic depictions of sexual situations, limiting the appeal of this book (and, I presume, its successors) to a narrower audience.

Overall 4 stars.

** SPOILERS BELOW **

While some may be bedazzled by the heraldry and setting, the real focus is on the feudal politics of competing, and at times warring, families. However, by the end we have zombies and dragons and the promise of much more to come. The zombies appear in the prologue, but their appearance is mysterious enough and unexplained until the last eighth or so of the book. And I saw the dragon eggs hatching a long way off.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,461 Posts
JimCrigler said:
As a writer, I wonder why authors make some of the choices they do: In this case Martin has included unnecessarily graphic depictions of sexual situations, limiting the appeal of this book (and, I presume, its successors) to a narrower audience.
I don't think they are unnecessary - I think they are essential to understanding some of the characters, as well as the world they live in. Prudish people may not like to accept it but sexuality is a huge part of cultural, society, and humanity.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
10,391 Posts
history_lover said:
I don't think they are unnecessary - I think they are essential to understanding some of the characters, as well as the world they live in. Prudish people may not like to accept it but sexuality is a huge part of cultural, society, and humanity.
I only read maybe 30% of the first book (just didn't float my boat at the time), and I don't really recall any specifics as to whether I found anything unacceptable to my tastes or not, but ... I don't think it's necessarily an issue whether or not the story contains sexual, violent, or other strong/emotional content as it is a case of how graphically such content needs to be spelled out for the reader. If, hypothetically, the plot of a story includes an assassin stabbing someone with a poisoned dagger, how much detail is required to move the story forward? "The assassin stabbed Joe, and Joe died," is probably a bit too lean for most stories. On the other hand, do we need the sort of detail that might be in a textbook on thoracic surgery to describe how the knife penetrated the layers of skin and muscle, the sounds it made, etc., and then all the details of how the poison caused breakdowns in the circulatory system, and then a detailed description of what the victim looked and sounded like as heavy internal hemorrhaging occurred? It's kind of like the difference between the original "Psycho" movie's shower scene, where you know what is happening based on a few visual and audio cues with no actual image of the knife in contact with the victim, versus any modern slasher movie of your choice. (Personally, I'm willing to watch the former, but not the latter, but obviously there are many with different preferences.) Long story short: I think it's a valid issue, and if I were an author I would prefer to be more "Hitchcockian" about it and find other ways to emphasize the emotional content of such scenes, but I also realize it's not a one-size-fits-all situation.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
993 Posts
JimCrigler said:
As a writer, I wonder why authors make some of the choices they do: In this case Martin has included unnecessarily graphic depictions of sexual situations, limiting the appeal of this book (and, I presume, its successors) to a narrower audience.
The books of the series so far have sold over 15 million copies combined and the most recent episode of the TV series was seen by over 4 million viewers just at its original airing. You can say any number of things about the books, but "limited appeal" is not one of them.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,564 Posts
NogDog said:
... do we need the sort of detail that might be in a textbook on thoracic surgery to describe how the knife penetrated the layers of skin and muscle, the sounds it made, etc., and then all the details of how the poison caused breakdowns in the circulatory system, and then a detailed description of what the victim looked and sounded like as heavy internal hemorrhaging occurred
Actually, yes, we might need such detail. I repeat, might. It depends upon what the author is trying to do with the scene, with the story. It's not necessarily just a matter of plot or moving the story along or adding detail or trying to gross out the reader, though it could be. A deft writer could include such details to create a certain tone, to build certain emotions within the reader. And sometimes, yes, a writer might even want the reader to feel revulsion.

I'm usually in the less-is-more crowd when it comes to literary violence, but I have seen it done well from time to time, though I might have wanted to stop reading for a short spell.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
440 Posts
Yeah the affair between siblings might make me reluctant to suggest this book to a younger teen. I was a young teenager when I first read Lord of the Rings - which must have influenced this series and a million others.

My main gripe, like most fans, is that Mr Martin needs to write a little faster. I mean - really?

As an author I know that good things take time. But gee... c'mon. No spoilers, but Whats up with Jon anyway?  ???

 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,627 Posts
MLKatz said:
No spoilers, but Whats up with Jon anyway? ???
Please, don't get me started on Jon...

But - as far explicit sexual content. It's a very old question. Sex in literature. How graphic is too graphic? I've never seen a definitive answer. The sex in these books didn't bother me in the least. It just seemed to fit that the crude world these characters inhabit would include crude sex and its descriptions be equally crude. But, for example, some of those Anne Rice sex scenes in her Vampire Chronicles or Mayfair Witches series just seemed ridiculously unnecessary, bordering pornographic. Which isn't a criticism of pornography - but it always made me cringe reading those scenes in Rice's books. They seemed unnecessary and yes, more crude than Martin's sex scenes though her language is a lot more flowery. I think I remember there was some controversy about the sex scenes in David Leavitt's "While England Sleeps" and I tended to agree, they weren't all necessary. But each reader's reaction will be different, just as every writer's approach to the sex scenes will be.

One thing I do find intriguing about the original question: the book has equal amount of explicit sex as it does violence. And yet it's the sex that was more bothersome to the OP. Not meant to be a judgment of the OP in any way, but it is something that I think reflects our culture very clearly. A movie like "Hostel" and "Saw" is released with an R rating. But a little nudity will get you slapped with an NC-17. One case in point is "A History of Violence," the David Cronenbergh film. There is some graphic violence and that warranted an R. But a very brief glimpse of Maria Bello nude - got it slapped with an NC-17 and the nudity had to be removed. I don't mean to move this away from books, but books don't get ratings (yet?)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
147 Posts
NogDog said:
I only read maybe 30% of the first book (just didn't float my boat at the time)
Hear, hear!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
440 Posts
Ty Johnston said:
Actually, yes, we might need such detail. I repeat, might. It depends upon what the author is trying to do with the scene, with the story. It's not necessarily just a matter of plot or moving the story along or adding detail or trying to gross out the reader, though it could be. A deft writer could include such details to create a certain tone, to build certain emotions within the reader. And sometimes, yes, a writer might even want the reader to feel revulsion.

I'm usually in the less-is-more crowd when it comes to literary violence, but I have seen it done well from time to time, though I might have wanted to stop reading for a short spell.
I think the point is that Martin was trying to be realistic about the excesses of people with absolute power and the true devastation of war. While the story is a fantasy it is probably based upon a study of reality.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
995 Posts
MLKatz said:
I think the point is that Martin was trying to be realistic about the excesses of people with absolute power and the true devastation of war. While the story is a fantasy it is probably based upon a study of reality.
I've heard it said that the books are heavily based on The War of the Roses, a period of succession crisis and civil war in 15th century England. I don't know the details of the history to say anything more, but I don't think there are frost zombies, giants, or mammoths in Scotland, so I think it's safe to say he embellished a little.

And as to the sex and violence, I agree that a big part of it is showing the hedonism and abuse that comes out of huge power disparities between the ruling class and small folk.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
79 Posts
Kathelm said:
I've heard it said that the books are heavily based on The War of the Roses, a period of succession crisis and civil war in 15th century England. I don't know the details of the history to say anything more, but I don't think there are frost zombies, giants, or mammoths in Scotland, so I think it's safe to say he embellished a little.

And as to the sex and violence, I agree that a big part of it is showing the hedonism and abuse that comes out of huge power disparities between the ruling class and small folk.
I agree, you can't depict war and power struggles without keeping the sexual power plays.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,591 Posts
RosanneRivers said:
I agree, you can't depict war and power struggles without keeping the sexual power plays.
And I would add that more often than not (at least on the show) the sexual elements are in a negative light (rape, infidelity, crass innuendo, etc).
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,627 Posts
J Dean said:
And I would add that more often than not (at least on the show) the sexual elements are in a negative light (rape, infidelity, crass innuendo, etc).
Very true; I never thought about it that way. It's the same in the books. There is very little, if any, "love-making." The novels are extremely violent: bodily harm, sexual violence, emotional violence. The violence people - and non-humans - wage against one another is at the core of the narrative.
 
1 - 15 of 15 Posts
Top