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The Lack of Action in a Song of Ice and Fire.

 
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Orlion
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 23, 2012 11:07 pm    Post subject: The Lack of Action in a Song of Ice and Fire. Reply with quote

Now, I know what ya thinking: "Orlion, surely you haven't gotten to the Blackwater battle yet!" To which I say, poppycock! The idea is not that Martin can not write epic action sequences, but that it seems part of the writing style is his avoidance of most swashbuckling events. I'll try and explain.

In A Game of Thrones... it's mostly that. A game. Involving thrones. It's political intrigue following political intrigue, so much so that some people lose their minds. At this point, I was wondering, "why do people complain about the lack of action in A Feast for Crows when it appears there isn't much action in A Game of Thrones? What's wrong with peoples?"

This continues in A Clash of Kings, except you know there's a war going on. But you hardly ever see the actual war, just the symptoms of it. Anything exciting, like the fall of Winterfell, though it happens in full knowledge of a point of view character, happens completely of screen. Yeah, I took Winterfell with thirty men, isn't that something? Sure is! Moving on. Come to think of it, this happened in aGoT as well when Jaime was captured. Yea, we caught Jaime! That was something! Sure was really exciting, indeed, guffaw!

So, the questions are two-fold: What's the complaints with the lack of action in later books? As far as I can tell, it's just following the formula!

And also, does Martin struggle with writing massive action sequences? Is it so hard for him that he has only the ability to write one per book, so he saves it for the end? I'm thinking mostly in reference to Erikson who seems capable of churning out action sequences like they were Model Ts.

Once again, despite the playful banter, this isn't a critic of Martin. I was riveted by the first few chapters of Against All Things Ending and love Ford Maddox Ford's Some Do Not... where all the action is always off screen.... always.
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 24, 2012 2:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The reason it's good that he leaves a lot of the action sequences out is that if he tried to put them in, he'd still be writing A Game of Thrones.
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 15, 2012 8:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Interesting. I see what you're saying. There certainly are action sequences throughtout the books, but this same story, in the hands of a differernt author, could certainly result in more, well, "in your face" type action. There are several events that we don't see directly, (and events that we are led to believe would be pretty exciting) but rather hear about through the perspective of characters who weren't directly involved. A couple more that spring to mind in addition to the ones you've mentioned are the Rob Stark's assult on the Lannisters outside the Tully caslte, and the appearance of Renly's ghost at the battle of King's Landing. Actually, there are quite a few times where he builds tension to the start of some action opening up, then cuts away from it.

I do think this is just part of GRRM's style, though. It brings to mind some of his other works as well - the one that immediately jumps out to me is the end of his first novel, Dying of the Light. (I suppose I should spoiler this, in case any one thinks I'm ruining something).

Spoiler:
The end of the novel is the start of a duel. We never know who wins.
In other author's hands this would be totally different, but the way the novel is written it's about the character decisions that bring us to that point, not the results of it.

So why does he do this? Well, Ted's amusing answer probably has some truth to it. If he went even more into detail with all the action events, the books would be even longer. But I also think that GRRM is more concerned with the characters than the events themselves. More about how people react than what they're reacting too.

I'm not adverse to reading action oriented stories, but I don't look to Martin for the action. (That's what I have Robert E Howard for Big Grin ). Martin's strength to me, has always been his ability to achieve melancholy, a sense of loss, while creating very memorable worlds and characters.
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 30, 2013 5:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mortice Root wrote:


So why does he do this? Well, Ted's amusing answer probably has some truth to it. If he went even more into detail with all the action events, the books would be even longer. But I also think that GRRM is more concerned with the characters than the events themselves. More about how people react than what they're reacting too.

That was my thought exactly. Arguably the most exciting scene in all the books so far is Jaime and Brienne's fight-- but that had totally to do with their relationship and characters.

I actually appreciate this aspect of his writing. It's really hard to pace an intense action scene so it works for everyone-- it's almost better to sketch it in and leave plenty to the imagination. That's what he did with the Red Wedding, and I thought it worked great.

If you want action, go read a Clive Cussler novel. Lots of action, but it's like action figures going through it. Not so Martin. Smile
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