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George R.R. Martin again -- what are the criticisms of these novels?

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George R.R. Martin again -- what are the criticisms of these novels?

Old 05-23-01, 04:43 PM
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I see that a lot of people seem to have read George R.R. Martin's fantasy novels and enjoyed them. But I've yet to see any serious criticism of their content or writing style.

Tell me - those who've read the series thus far - is this a case where the book is entirely plot and no description? I truly can't stand novels that zip along on a stream of stand-alone quotations, with little to no time spent establishing place and mood. Is "Clash of Kings" this way? Does the reader really get the sense that this is some far-away place in a far-away land? Or is it simply generic fantasy world trappings with a "barn-burner"/"page-turner" type plot?

I guess what I'm asking is: how close to lyricism does the author come in his descriptions of time and place? How would Martin's writing compare to someone a bit more flowery, like say a Harlan Ellison, a Ray Bradbury or a John Crowley? Is he sparse and serviceable? Or does he approach his writing more artfully?

Speaking of Crowley - does anyone have a recommedation for a novel to read in the style and spirit of Crowley's masterpiece "Little, Big?" I'm dying to read something that expansive, descriptive and "totally in love with the written word" this summer.
Old 05-23-01, 05:40 PM
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Of course, there's a huge difference between flowery/lyrical writing and artful writing. There's plenty of flowery crap out there, and numerous examples of sparse genius. Still, I know what you mean, grunter... I'm hearing great things about these novels, but the discussion seems to be entirely about plot development.

Here's the link to the Amazon excerpt of his latest. But I'd love to hear anyone else's impressions of his prose style, too. (My question: Is reading these three installments enjoyable enough for me to break my self-imposed rule to buy only completed series?)
Old 05-23-01, 09:43 PM
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I'm one of the people that have read the 3 current novels, and (you might have noticed) have been one of the 3 main people discussing him, so I'll pipe in here.

Unfortunately, I haven't read the 3 'flowery' authors you mention; I may have read Bradbury a looong time ago, but can't remember. I feel that Martin falls between sparse and flowery. To me, his writing style is very satisfying, with the right of artful description to give the reader a good feel for his land. I would say it would fall halfway between the extremes, perhaps a little towards the sparse side on the later novels. Perhaps because he's already established most of his world in earlier. I can't imagine how much bigger his novels (now 800-900 pages apiece) would be if he went on and on about how pretty a chalice was...

The main reasons our discussions (and those of the many websites dedicated to him) discuss the plots, is because Martin has created an incredible world of mystery, plotting and intrigue. I can't recall any other series that are this complicated. Judging by perusing other websites, there are tons of things that readers miss on the 1st reading, even 2nd, 3rd, 4th, etc. readings. Seemingly innocent, throw-away events in the first book can be seen to have incredible impact in the second or third.

PS - You mention A Clash of Kings. His first book is A Game of Thrones; A Clash of Kings is the second. I only mention this because this is not a series you want to start in the middle of.


[Edited by p1forest on 05-23-01 at 07:49 PM]
Old 05-23-01, 09:48 PM
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Originally posted by adamblast
(My question: Is reading these three installments enjoyable enough for me to break my self-imposed rule to buy only completed series?)
YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES!

If there's any series to break your 'completed series' rule over, I'd say it's this one. As I mentioned before in another thread, Martin has a notebook with the basic plots of his planned 6 books. As complicated as they are, and as obviously far-thinking and meticulous as he must be, I seriously doubt he will go past his planned 6 books and go one forever, like Jordan has. He's even penned names for the future 3 books, although he may change one because he doesn't like it. Plus, you can re-read them 5 times to catch all the

Don't get too enamored with any character though; Martin kills many of them off. I consider this great; you get a real sense of tension and suspense. In other books, I'm not afraid for any character; you generally now they'll escape anything. Yrth or Feneant aptly called the third book something like a "frickin' massacre."
Old 05-24-01, 08:47 AM
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grunter,

Your mention of Crowley is enough to pull me out of lurker mode (I'll get rid of that "New member" label one of these years...)

I read Little, Big a couple years ago and it immediately shot into my top 10. I've since been trying unsuccessfully to find similar works. George R.R. Martin does not fit the bill. I'm not knocking his writing - I really like the Song of Ice & Fire series so far, but Martin has a more efficient, stark style as compared to Crowley. There is none of the enchantment of Little, BIG in Martin's works. Martin's world is quite brutal, and his writing style fits it well.

Have you read Crowley's AEgypt series? I haven't (I can't find the first books anywhere at a reasonable price), but I think that might be your best chance for more in the style of L, B. From the reviews I've read at Amazon, though, it seems that L, B truly is Crowley's masterwork.

I've read a couple of Crowley's earlier books - Beasts and The Deep, but they only have occasional flashes of the brilliance that epitomizes Little, Big.

Last edited by LarLar; 04-07-03 at 08:14 AM.
Old 05-24-01, 10:09 AM
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I've not read the authors you list, but... Flowery... Martin is by no means flowery... it's gory, raunchy and he writes his story in a way most other authors would probably never think of. This isn't one of those wonderful love story where hero gets woman and live happily ever after, it's the complete opposite of that.
Old 05-24-01, 01:55 PM
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I guess people are getting stuck on my ill-advised use of the adjective "flowery" and not really understanding quite what I meant. I don't want to know if the story is literally a hardcore, no-nonsense slashing swordfest. I don't want to know if this is "fantasy-for-boys" as opposed to "fantasy-for-girls." I want to know if Martin actually takes his time rendering the time and place. Is the setting artfully presented or is it simply your standard, run-of-the-mill, hack-n-slash type writing?

Stylistically is it closer to say, the more inspired works of Dan Simmons (ie. the first two "Hyperion" novels and definitely not the "Endymion" follow-ups), or is it closer to the work-a-day, let's-just-get-to-the-end-of-this-D-&-D-knock-off-quickly writing of someone like David Eddings or Robert Jordan?

I'm looking for something both meaty and stylized, not simply a plot puzzlebox with a bunch of under-characterized swordsmen (and women) chasing around fulfilling prophecies and vanquishing evil.

I think LarLar understands what I'm looking for - since I can't seem to find another fantasy novel that does for me quite what Crowley's "Little, Big" did for me. I want that level of artistry writ on a huge "Lord of the Rings" style tapestry. Is that asking too much from the Martin books?

And incidentally - LarLar - no, I haven't yet read Crowley's "Aegypt" trilogy because I, too, cannot find a reasonably priced copy of the first book. "Love & Sleep" I just picked up from Ebay and "Daemonomania" is still available on Amazon.com, but the first novel "Aegypt" is long out of print and supposedly fetching upwards of $100 a copy for a well-preserved first edition. God how I wish that man would produce more novels. And shame on the copywrite holders of "Little, Big" - letting it go out of print as it is now.
Old 05-24-01, 07:34 PM
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Adamblast posted a link to an excerpt from his latest book. It's pretty long, and fairly representative of his work. Then you can judge for yourself if it's to your liking, especially since everyone has such unique tastes.
Old 05-24-01, 09:52 PM
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Well, Martin is not too descriptive but he does set the mood well and he provides enough detail to immerse yourself in the universe.

Definitely, his writing is not lyrical or poetic. Robin Hobb is much better at that type of writing (although I find the plots in those books to be much less intriguing). LeGuin also writes "fancy;" the kind of stuff one finds in literature anthologies.

Martin is not that.

Old 05-25-01, 04:33 AM
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I am right at the quarter mark of book two A Clash Of Kings.
I rarely read fantasy fiction. I only started because of the threads here.
I am sure glad I did. I am totally enthralled with the series. In fact, I spend more time reading now than I do on the internet, or watching DVD(have I blasphemed?).I can tell you that Martin has put me in the world of the Seven Kingdoms. The characters are mixed bunch. Some I like(Arya, Jon Snow, Daenerys,Tyrion), some I hate (Ceresi, Joffrey),some I wouldn't trust as far as I could throw them(Varys, Littlefinger).It's an incredible series so far. I would highly recommended it.
"Little, Big," could someone give me a synopsis? And, how easy (or difficult) would it be to find.
Old 05-25-01, 10:03 AM
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Originally posted by smokedragon
I am right at the quarter mark of book two A Clash Of Kings.
I rarely read fantasy fiction. I only started because of the threads here.
I am sure glad I did. I am totally enthralled with the series. In fact, I spend more time reading now than I do on the internet, or watching DVD(have I blasphemed?).I can tell you that Martin has put me in the world of the Seven Kingdoms. The characters are mixed bunch. Some I like(Arya, Jon Snow, Daenerys,Tyrion), some I hate (Ceresi, Joffrey),some I wouldn't trust as far as I could throw them(Varys, Littlefinger).It's an incredible series so far. I would highly recommended it.
"Little, Big," could someone give me a synopsis? And, how easy (or difficult) would it be to find.
Welcome to the series! Glad you are enjoying it.
Old 05-25-01, 10:04 AM
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I just finished all 3 of the books and now I'm in withdrawal. It's not fair! Must have more! Must need to know what happens next!!

This is by FAR the best fantasy series I've ever read. No character is perfect and I like it how Martin shows the other character's sides later on. For example, in the beginning I hated Jaime Lannister and the Hound, but now I like them. And as p1forest said, any character can die! Several big and important characters have already been killed, more semi-main characters, and a lot of more minor characters have already died.

Now let me go crawl to a corner and wait for the 4th book
Old 05-25-01, 12:36 PM
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Originally posted by Yrth
Originally posted by smokedragon
I am right at the quarter mark of book two A Clash Of Kings.
I rarely read fantasy fiction...
Welcome to the series! Glad you are enjoying it.
I'm glad too. Another one hooked...

Originally posted by Shamu
I just finished all 3 of the books and now I'm in withdrawal. It's not fair! Must have more! Must need to know what happens next!!
.
.
.
Now let me go crawl to a corner and wait for the 4th book
You want more? You may have seen this link in another thread, but check out this forum dedicated to his books:

http://pub26.ezboard.com/basoiaf

I've spent HOURS there, reading. There is a LOT of analysis of his books, and some details of future ones. The board has actually opened my eyes to a TON of things (foreshadowing, prophecy, characters, etc.) I've missed.

You can even find George R.R. Martin's personal e-mail address, and well as his answers (often cryptic, but insightful) to e-mails directed at him. But don't e-mail him too much; it just slows down his writing .
Old 05-31-01, 11:29 AM
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I just want to say thank you to the people who post regulary in the Book Talk section.
If it were not for so many people talking about George R. R. martin, I would have completely missed the chance to read them.

I am only halfway into A Game of Thrones, and I am completly taken in by it. It is a great read with a nice mix of action, intrigue, romance and everything else the back says it is.

Thank you once again!
Old 05-31-01, 10:57 PM
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Originally posted by Vryce
I just want to say thank you to the people who post regulary in the Book Talk section.
If it were not for so many people talking about George R. R. martin, I would have completely missed the chance to read them.

I am only halfway into A Game of Thrones, and I am completly taken in by it. It is a great read with a nice mix of action, intrigue, romance and everything else the back says it is.

Thank you once again!
Let us know when you get your first shocker!! This series just gets better. If I have to rank the three in order, I would rank them like this:

Book Two - Good
Book One - Better
Book Three -- Bestest

Those who have read them, how would you rate them??
Old 06-01-01, 10:46 AM
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Originally posted by Yrth



Let us know when you get your first shocker!! This series just gets better. If I have to rank the three in order, I would rank them like this:

I'd say, for me at least, one shocker comes quite early in the book. As not to spoil it for ones who haven't read it yet, 2 key words, tower and fall.
Old 06-01-01, 02:47 PM
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Originally posted by Yrth
This series just gets better. If I have to rank the three in order, I would rank them like this:

Book Two - Good
Book One - Better
Book Three -- Bestest

Those who have read them, how would you rate them??
I'd probably rank them like this:

Book Two - Excellent
Book One - Excellent
Book Three -- Most excellent

I agree that the series gets better as you read it. Although I've heard a lot of people didn't like the second book as much as the first; I'm not sure why; I enjoyed it.
Old 06-05-01, 06:43 AM
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Question for anyone that has already read all 3 books.

As to not give away spoilers, I would like the following question answered with a yes or no.

No names needed..

Spoiler:
In A Game of Thrones, when Bran is pushed out of the window, it is noted that he spied the Queen (Cersei) and a man. It seemed, to me, that it was a deliberate attempt to create more suspense so that you are left wondeing who the man was with the queen.
I have my suspicions on who it is and hope that you eventually do find out. Perhaps when Bran remembers more of that day because throughout book 1, whenever he tried to remember, he couldn't.


Anyways, my question is do you find out the responsible party?

Again, please answer yes or no only.

Thanks.
Old 06-05-01, 11:11 AM
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Originally posted by Vryce
Question for anyone that has already read all 3 books.

As to not give away spoilers, I would like the following question answered with a yes or no.

No names needed..

Spoiler:
In A Game of Thrones, when Bran is pushed out of the window, it is noted that he spied the Queen (Cersei) and a man. It seemed, to me, that it was a deliberate attempt to create more suspense so that you are left wondeing who the man was with the queen.
I have my suspicions on who it is and hope that you eventually do find out. Perhaps when Bran remembers more of that day because throughout book 1, whenever he tried to remember, he couldn't.


Anyways, my question is do you find out the responsible party?

Again, please answer yes or no only.

Thanks.
Yes.

I thought Book 1 was quite specific on who the man was. In any event, Book 3 mentions that scene and leaves absolutely no doubt.
Old 06-05-01, 11:32 AM
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Hmm.. I'll have to look through book 1 again.

thanks for the response.

hopefully book 3 comes out in paperback soon.

I read through an interview with the author. There will be 6 books total in the series.
He currently working on book 4
Old 06-05-01, 01:29 PM
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Originally posted by Vryce
Hmm.. I'll have to look through book 1 again.

thanks for the response.

hopefully book 3 comes out in paperback soon.

I read through an interview with the author. There will be 6 books total in the series.
He currently working on book 4
Unfortunately, my experience has been that, in a series with forthcoming books, the paperback version does not come out until shortly before the hardback version of the new book is available.

Try a library. (I'd forgotten libraries existed, really. After years of buying books, I actually remembered that I could check books out.)
Old 06-05-01, 07:44 PM
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Okay. I re-read that section and thumbed through a little of book 1.

Spoiler:
I totally missed the part where the man in the tower says "and whose fault is that dear sister."
so. that can mean it is no other then the Kingslayer.


Sometimes I glance over details without realizing it.
Old 01-28-02, 01:56 PM
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A Word search led me to dig up this old thread.

So I'm sick as hell trying to find some good books to read & I haven't read a good fantasy book in ages. Seeing all the glowing praise about this series I picked up A Game of Thrones last night.

Now maybe my brains is clogged from sickness, but I'm 112 pages into the book & I just don't get it what unbelievable praise is for. From this thread & other's I feel I am wrong for not liking this so far.

Does it get better. I realize I am very early in the book but the pacing of the writing is irritating the hell out of me. There are so many damn characters & every 5 or 6 pages Martin jumps from one group of characters to the next. So far there is not one character I even slightly like & even if they have the potential for me to indentify with them, Martin will jump to another character before one is further fleshed out. I have no clue who is who's(sp?) brother or sister. The book constantly refers to someone's brother or sister but outside of maybe once in the first few pages, never or rarely specifies who is related to who. I feel that this book just throws you into the middle of the live's of a enormous group of people, yet tells you nothing about the land they live in, their histories, or the situation they are in.

Is it just my sickness, is the whole book like this? I really want to enjoy it but so far it is not doing a thing for me & I'm a fan of the genre.

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Old 01-28-02, 02:23 PM
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My problem with this book is that it reads less like a fantasy novel than a soap opera (sorry if that sounds harsh, but it's what kept poping in to my head the whole time I was reading this book). Now that's not necessarily a bad thing, as all the intrigue, double crosses and tragedies can be quite interesting if you care about the characters. But I'm finding not very many people to care about except for Lord Stark and his youngest daughter.

Spoiler:
Of course, Stark's dead by the end of book one. The daughter is the only reason I picked up the second book, but I haven't been able to get myself into it yet. That there is finally a real live magical creature (the dragon) introduced at the end of book one is also nice, but it seems so little so late, that I'm led to believe that there will be very little "fantastical" events happenning in this story.


It ultimately seems less like a "fantasy" story and more like a period fiction novel with some fantasy elements.

-David
Old 01-28-02, 05:29 PM
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<small>
Originally posted by Sessa17
So I'm sick as hell trying to find some good books to read & I haven't read a good fantasy book in ages.
</small>I've seen a fair bit of praise for the guy of late (and even heard him give a talk some years ago at one of my rare attendances of genre conventions) but I'm not sure whether I've actually read anything other than one or two of Martin's short stories!

If you are after fantasy and have not already seen the thread I'd take a look here - Recommend a great fantasy book series to me - because as well as words from Martin fans there are plenty of other recommendations.

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