Monday, 13 June 2016

1st March 1563

My piece on "The Broken Man" is up at Geek Syndicate, y'all. Now featuring already-disproved hypotheses!


darkman said...

I honestly believe that the lukewarm reaction to AFFC had less to do with the exploration of a war torn Westeros (and lets be honest except for the broken men monologue it wasn't much of that either) but more with the fact that that people had waited five years for a resolution to some major cliffhangers. And when the book finally came the majority of it was dedicated to court intrigues (which you have to be a spectacular writer to make interesting).

SpaceSquid said...

I very much disagree that the broken monologue was all we got on the subject of war exhaustion. The whole of Brienne's storyline is shot through with it, from Randyll Tarly's hanging sessions to the brutal remnants of the Brotherhood Without Banners. So is Jaime's, as he works his way through the ruined Riverlands towards Riverrun. Asha pushes a similar theme in her Kingsmoot bid, and though that doesn't work out, the implication is clear that it probably would have been better for the Ironborn if it had. The whole twist that Doran Martell has been scheming in secret all these years only works (to the extent that it does, of course) because it cuts against his outward appearance of someone sick of Westeros' endless squabbling. It's also heavily implied to be where Cersei goes wrong; by refusing to accept victory and ruling in peace, she tries to start a war of sorts with the Tyrells, and it all goes to shit.

And like I say, the very slowness of the book and its imagery of cold, wet, miserable places - including Braavos - underlines the idea of exhaustion. Westeros is at the end of autumn; the very "year" itself is growing tired, and getting ready to die. Finally there's the fact that when he needed an extra book, Martin could've have gone with any number of titles, but specifically referenced a battlefield after the fighting is done. The theme suffuses no small part of the book.

All that said, you're doubtless right about the long wait and missing characters making things worse. I certainly felt that when reading the book. Notably though, due to discovering the series late (thanks again for buying me A Game Of Thrones, Jamie!), I only had a two and a half year wait, and it still caused me problems. My understanding is that plenty of people who started the books after the show began and therefore didn't have to wait for Feast... at all, or even in many cases for ...Dragons still had very similar reactions. I really don't think the delay is a root cause, and the lack of Dany etc. isn't the whole story either.