George RR Martin - when did his writing go downhill?

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Azriel
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George RR Martin - when did his writing go downhill?

Postby Azriel » Fri Apr 29, 2011 4:49 pm

So, I'm reading the fourth book of the Song of Ice and Fire series, A Feast for Crows. It's taking me *forever* to get through this book, and I only recently realized why. It's because I find the book so frustratingly repetitive, slow, and annoying like softcore porn (or, what I imagine such would be like).

I stopped to think about it, and began to wonder just when Martin's writing got so awful. It must have been very gradual for me not to notice until this book, but I think it's been going steadily downhill.
Has anyone else noticed this downward trend or is it just me?
I really enjoyed A Game of Thrones, and liked two that followed for the most part, but this fourth one has really dragged.

In several ways he's gotten quite bad.
~ Writing:
Martin has found some phrases that he seems to particularly like using, and has beaten them to death with a stick. "much and more" "mine own" "little and less" and, yes, "game of thrones" to name a few. They are inserted either so often, or so incongruously as to grate against the reader's brain like a brick rubbed along cement.
A character will be using the word "my" like a normal person until they need to say the word "own" in which case Martin suddenly has them switch into using the strangely archaic "mine own" for no apparent reason other than that he's decided it sounds more medievally.
The phrase "much and more" and its opposite is used EVERY time a character wants to say "a lot" and is over-used to the point of ridiculousness. "do you know how to sing?" "yes your grace I know much and more about singing" or "no I care little and less about music"
It annoys me much and more -_-

~Too in love with his characters and world:
In my opinion, Martin has grown so in love with the political structure and the characters he has created that he enjoys dwelling on every little detail about their actions and thoughts, rather than getting to the point of each scene. Description is good, but spending 8 pages describing nothing actually happening to a character locked up in a room is too boring.
The politics as well have gotten too in depth. Pages are spent talking about Ser so-and-so and lady such-and-such and who is related to whom when these characters never even make an appearance, or if they do it's for one mention on one page. Martin needs to realize when to just *not* mention a character even if it's someone he's thought to include. There are far too many people to care about in these books already. It's a stretch to make politics interesting, moreso made-up politics - and he has only succeeded in making them annoyingly hard to keep track of.

~ Huge focus on sex:
I don't remember the earlier books being quite so sex-focused, but especially in A Feast for Crows it seems *every* character in almost every chapter either has sex/has thoughts about sex/is threatened with rape/witnesses other people having sex/mentions deviant sexual behavior or all of the above. It gets really old, annoying, and frankly extremely predictable.
*Every* bad guy threatens to bugger someone with a *insert object here* or *insert obscene verb for sex* someone up the *insert bodily orifice here*
I don't mind a few mentions here and there in a book when it fits, but I really begin to think that Martin has an obsession. One character only is too young for that sort of treatment (11ish), but Martin has had even she be threatened with rape three or four times.


By this point in the series he has introduced so many new characters and subplots that the original plot is nearly lost and it's hard to find between long-winded discussions of politics and succession, and random stories about unimportant characters. Nearly every chapter is bogged down with dragged out scenes that never quite get to the point. I've gotten to the point where I am skimming the last few chapters rather than reading them.

Other people's thoughts?
"The world of books is the most remarkable creation of man. Nothing else that he builds ever lasts. Monuments fall, nations perish, civilizations grow old and die out, and after an era of darkness new races build others. But in the world of books are volumes that have seen this happen again and again and yet live on, still young, still as fresh as the day they were written, still telling men's hearts of the hearts of men centuries dead."

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Candy Kane
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Re: George RR Martin - when did his writing go downhill?

Postby Candy Kane » Sat Apr 30, 2011 9:49 am

That's why HBO took it on! I get it now.

I've got a bit of a love/hate thing with HBO. On one side it gives us cool historical/fantasy stories to watch, but it just can't help putting all the vilest expletives in and showing the characters as debauched pervs doing it with Mom, Sis, Bro, servants, etc. Consensual married sex is gently glossed over and the characters involved are allowed to get on with it in private, but where there's a brutal **** to show, we get every damn detail. Not that I have a particular hankering to see either, but you get what I'm saying. I hope.

Don't get me started on the nudity. No, we don't flippin' need it. It doesn't make scenes look more realistic -- as Harrison Ford says, we know how the plumbing works.

Roman women did, uh, depilate, it seems, but... I'd better stop there.

Suffice to say that I've been ooparted* out a few times while squirming through an episode of Rome.

I've watched two episodes of GOT, and find that it's basically Rome in furs with Boromir. I don't think I'll bother with it any more.

* I know it's not a proper word, but work with me here.
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Keith
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Re: George RR Martin - when did his writing go downhill?

Postby Keith » Tue May 03, 2011 6:43 am

The fourth book has a lot of detractors - I definitely agree that it was a misstep to introduce a bunch of POV characters in new locations, and especially to use lots of them and give them only a chapter or two each. It's too far into the series to tamper with the narrative structure that worked so well in the first three.

I'm not sure there was much more sex/allusion to sex in AFFC, though. The world is more chaotic/dangerous than it was at the start, so there's more scope for creeps and rapists to threaten people, and a higher proportion of the POV characters are either sexually active adults (the only real child POV in Feast is Arya, Sansa being near-adult by Westerosi standards) or in situations where they're likely to get threatened with sexual violence/molestation. Plus we get *Cersei*'s POV. So there may be a bit more, but not by much. I think if violence and sexual content put you off that much, the first three books were fair warning. :P

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Re: George RR Martin - when did his writing go downhill?

Postby Candy Kane » Tue May 03, 2011 9:46 am

Fair enough. Can't argue with that.
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Azriel
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Re: George RR Martin - when did his writing go downhill?

Postby Azriel » Fri May 06, 2011 3:32 pm

I guess I don't remember being as put-off by the sex in the first three. It didn't seem to dominate the story so much. Now I guess it's just so predictable that EVERY character has some sort of sex life, voluntary or not and it doesn't always have anything to do with the story or the character's development - it's just *there*.
It might just be that I'm getting annoyed at GRRM's writing in general, so the things that I might have glossed over before stand out more.
"The world of books is the most remarkable creation of man. Nothing else that he builds ever lasts. Monuments fall, nations perish, civilizations grow old and die out, and after an era of darkness new races build others. But in the world of books are volumes that have seen this happen again and again and yet live on, still young, still as fresh as the day they were written, still telling men's hearts of the hearts of men centuries dead."

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Candy Kane
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Re: George RR Martin - when did his writing go downhill?

Postby Candy Kane » Fri May 06, 2011 4:36 pm

Stephen King does that. I got turned off him when he started putting perverted sex scenes in for the sake of it -- going off on a random tangent for no reason I could see.
To err is but human, to forgive divine, and to design is AWESOME! :8

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Re: George RR Martin - when did his writing go downhill?

Postby ashbow » Wed May 18, 2011 1:22 pm

I have not read this series, or much by this author. In general, I find that I enjoy the first two books of a series, then my satisfaction starts to taper off quickly. Before long it turns into a feeling that I am obliged to read the rest, just for the sake of the characters, but would prefer the author to just leave them be, and get on with another project.


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