How are Game of Thrones charcaters portrayed in the the books?

To limit the sheer amount of characters, how different are the following charcaters in the books and who I think are and were the main charcaters, and assume I know everything there is to know about these charcaters in the show.

Jon Snow
Daenerys Targaryan
Joffery "Baratheon" Lannister
Tywin Lannister
Tyrion Lannister
And the Stark Children, Robb included.

Because I have a friend that has all the 5 books and I am thinking if she can at least lend me the first one.

I mean, most of them are several years younger, so there's that. Been a while since I've either read the books or rewatched the series so can't remember too many differences. I remember Catelyn Stark being way more sympathetic in the show than in the books but thats more to do with not hearing her stream of thoughts in the show...

Pallindromemordnillap:
I remember Catelyn Stark being way more sympathetic in the show than in the books but thats more to do with not hearing her stream of thoughts in the show...

Holy shit. She was possibly the least sympathetic character in the show, so I can only imagine how awful she must be in the books. It's a bad sign when I hate Cersei less than Catelyn.

Ironman126:

Pallindromemordnillap:
I remember Catelyn Stark being way more sympathetic in the show than in the books but thats more to do with not hearing her stream of thoughts in the show...

Holy shit. She was possibly the least sympathetic character in the show, so I can only imagine how awful she must be in the books. It's a bad sign when I hate Cersei less than Catelyn.

Cersei does not the sympathetic aspects she has in the show in the books, I.E. her motherly side.

She is just straight up pure evil in the books from what I heard.

As mentioned, the characters are mostly a lot younger than they are portrayed. Most of the young adult characters are in their early to mid teens, and a lot of their more stupid decisions make sense in this context.

Jon is quite similar to his TV counterpart, except for being younger. He's the closest we get to a normal protagonist.

Daenerys starts out as a young teenager and is quite different. Her book character is generally more innocent. The TV show plays up the possibility that Daenerys has the Targaryen madness, while in the books it's much more subtle. That said, the books do not fuck around in showing the consequences of her actions.

Joffrey is a bit more subtle. In the book, he just seems like a massive twat rather than the literal satan-child he comes across as in the TV show.

Tywin is a much less sympathetic or understandable character. He doesn't have those moments of warmth we occasionally see in the show, but I think that stems from Charles Dance being a hugely charismatic actor.

Tyrion is probably the most different character. Like, he is a genuinely, genuinely horrible person in the books. I think it's possible not to realise this because he's a POV character so a lot of scenes are from his perspective but he's much crueler, pettier and less sympathetic. He's also implied to be genuinely physically repulsive.

The Stark children are all younger, and their stupid decisions make more sense in the context of being younger. Robb's whole story arc is also very different and frames him less as a naive romantic and more as someone who puts conscience before pragmatism. Sansa's innocence and childishness makes sense because she is literally a child. Arya's obsessions and weird ritual behaviour comes off less as a rational quest for revenge and more as a child's attempt to process trauma.

Samtemdo8:
Cersei does not the sympathetic aspects she has in the show in the books, I.E. her motherly side.

Her motherly side is still very definitely there, and is a big motivation for her. She is frightened of losing her children due to the prophecy she heard as a child.

Cersei is less sympathetic because she lacks the warmth of her TV show personality, and because she's less competent and smart. Even though she's depicted as less overtly cruel and sadistic, she comes across as more petty and also doesn't seem to feel any real love for any of the people she's supposedly close to (except arguably her children).

Samtemdo8:

Cersei does not the sympathetic aspects she has in the show in the books, I.E. her motherly side.

She is just straight up pure evil in the books from what I heard.

The books have the advantage of being able to show her actual thoughts in print and it is all just venom and paranoia.

jademunky:

Samtemdo8:

Cersei does not the sympathetic aspects she has in the show in the books, I.E. her motherly side.

She is just straight up pure evil in the books from what I heard.

The books have the advantage of being able to show her actual thoughts in print and it is all just venom and paranoia.

The scene where she was forced to do the walk of shame naked, we see into her thought during the event
in the books and she gets hallucinations, she first see Tywin frowning at her, than Tyrion laughing at her, than Ned and Sansa Stark and her wolf Grey Lady all 3 starring daggers at her.

Tyrion in the books doesn't have a cute little nick of an injury, he basically narrowly missed losing his life and had an ugly wound on his head for the rest of time. Make up, of course, meant Peter Dinklage couldn't portray it as severe as it was originally written.

Also all of Dorne was handled much differently, with the Prince of Sunspear playing a more intricate long-term plan regarding securing a marriage alliance with Dany after it was apparent she was becoming a force to reckon with. That was... handled poorly by the show, as in ignored until written out in a most egregious way.

Ironman126:

Pallindromemordnillap:
I remember Catelyn Stark being way more sympathetic in the show than in the books but thats more to do with not hearing her stream of thoughts in the show...

Holy shit. She was possibly the least sympathetic character in the show, so I can only imagine how awful she must be in the books. It's a bad sign when I hate Cersei less than Catelyn.

Honestly the two are kind of similar. Both assume that they know best all the time, make ridiculous decisions that they justify "because family" and blame everyone around them when it all goes wrong, both are really stuck up (though, they are high born women in a feudal society so you kind of expect that), they both hold petty grudges via the sheer power of spite and expect everyone to just do what they say all the time because...because. The only difference is we're expected to root for Catelyn even as we're subjected to her short-sighted, small-minded thoughts, whereas by the time we get to Cersei's inner monologue we know she's a bitch and its just hilarious watching her careen from bad move to bad move

4 years ago I took a break from reading the series because I had finished the second book and wanted to reward myself by reading something enjoyable. I haven't started the 3rd book yet.

All of the characters are unlikable fuckheads, full of hate and paranoia, and the ones that are most likable tend to die. Maybe it is just that I don't like Fantasy, but the books were a terrible slog through of shit characters doing shit things with very little redeeming heroism and a lot of offputting weirdness and gross stuff that didn't need to happen. Melassandre's demon baby pretty much being a stake in the heart of my interest in the series.

Cersei was an unfeeling bitch who wanted revenge on literally anyone, especially those that had no reason to do her any favors.

The mountain who rides (whatever the fuck his name was) had this really creepy scene where he snuck into Not Arya's (whichever of the Stark sister's it was, anyway) room and described this massive battle in a literal case of violating the "Show don't tell" rule in the most boring way possible, all while making rape seem like an imminent and real outcome of the whole conversation.

It was the worst thing I have read, barring maybe "Great Expectations."

Spade Lead:
Maybe it is just that I don't like Fantasy, but the books were a terrible slog through of shit characters doing shit things with very little redeeming heroism and a lot of offputting weirdness and gross stuff that didn't need to happen.

It could be that you just don't like Martin's style of writing. I greatly enjoy fantasy books (The Malazan Book of the Fallen and Stormlight Archive books being particular favorites of mine) but I had to force myself to finish reading book one of A Song of Ice and Fire/Game of Thrones and gave up on less than a quarter of the way into book two.
I'd suggest that you try other fantasy books before writing off the genre entirely.

twistedmic:

Spade Lead:
Maybe it is just that I don't like Fantasy, but the books were a terrible slog through of shit characters doing shit things with very little redeeming heroism and a lot of offputting weirdness and gross stuff that didn't need to happen.

It could be that you just don't like Martin's style of writing. I greatly enjoy fantasy books (The Malazan Book of the Fallen and Stormlight Archive books being particular favorites of mine) but I had to force myself to finish reading book one of A Song of Ice and Fire/Game of Thrones and gave up on less than a quarter of the way into book two.
I'd suggest that you try other fantasy books before writing off the genre entirely.

Finding SoFaI harder to read than Malazan? I think Malazan is much better written but its Tolkienesque in its delivery. I remember parts of stories that were in different continents, that only tied up neat very close to the end. Sometimes that didn't even happen. He's every opaque with how he writes (actually I find Terry Prachett that way too)

Martin is like a blockbuster book. "Epic", needs popcorn, Simple in comparison

Samtemdo8:
To limit the sheer amount of characters, how different are the following charcaters in the books and who I think are and were the main charcaters, and assume I know everything there is to know about these charcaters in the show.

Jon Snow
Daenerys Targaryan
Joffery "Baratheon" Lannister
Tywin Lannister
Tyrion Lannister
And the Stark Children, Robb included.

Bear in mind it's been ages since I've read them, but:

Jon: Pretty much the same.

-Dany: A bit less aggressive than the TV version. She's two years younger, and it shows. Slightly more naieve, at least early on. However, she's shown to be more of a thinker, likely allowed for by the books having more time to flesh out her character and strategies.

-Joffrey: You know how Joffrey in the show has a sort of "magnificent bastard" feeling to him? As in, he's a shit, but he's a grinning, stuck up shit that has a layer of menace? Book!Joffrey is still petulant, but without the menace - he's a child through and through.

-Tywin: Less present in the books IIRC. He's more of a cold fish than TV!Tywin.

-Tyron: Pretty similar.

-Sansa: Pretty irritating. People complain that Season 5 ruined Sansa's character, but IMO, the books are just as guilty of resetting her character arc. I don't find her book version very endearing.

-Arya: Similar, I guess? I barely remember her arc in the books.

-Brandon Stark: Pretty similar

-Robb Stark: Less direct. The TV differs with him in that he's a major character for the first three seasons, while he's not a POV character in the books. He's less fierce in the books in my mind, more committed to honour and whatnot (and still gets killed for it).

On that note, I'd reccomend giving the books a shot. I think the first three books are very good. Book 4 is where the series starts to lose steam though, and while Book 5 recovers some of it, it's not to the level of the first three. Still pretty decent though. Plus there's various spin-off material, such as the Dunk & Egg series.

But since other people have weighed in on it, I'll chime in and say that Malazan can go [censored] itself. Stormlight could be decent, though Edgedancer is the only installment I've read of that series.

Do you read Tywin's lines in the book in Charles Dance's voice? Because I cannot think of any other voice to fit Tywin better than Charles Dance. I mean look at this guy's book incarnation:

image

I can totally see Charles Dance's voice coming from this picture.

Also, I ask Jon Snow because the issue people have with the charcater in the show is that the actor has the charisma of wood, same with Dany.

I wondered how their book's incarnation faired.

trunkage:

twistedmic:

Spade Lead:
Maybe it is just that I don't like Fantasy, but the books were a terrible slog through of shit characters doing shit things with very little redeeming heroism and a lot of offputting weirdness and gross stuff that didn't need to happen.

It could be that you just don't like Martin's style of writing. I greatly enjoy fantasy books (The Malazan Book of the Fallen and Stormlight Archive books being particular favorites of mine) but I had to force myself to finish reading book one of A Song of Ice and Fire/Game of Thrones and gave up on less than a quarter of the way into book two.
I'd suggest that you try other fantasy books before writing off the genre entirely.

Finding SoFaI harder to read than Malazan? I think Malazan is much better written but its Tolkienesque in its delivery. I remember parts of stories that were in different continents, that only tied up neat very close to the end. Sometimes that didn't even happen. He's every opaque with how he writes (actually I find Terry Prachett that way too)

Martin is like a blockbuster book. "Epic", needs popcorn, Simple in comparison

Part of why I didn't like SoIaF is that Martin spent far too much time describing his characters, right down to the type/color of thread in their clothes, and explaining how they got their name ( I read how the Onion Knight got his name at least three times in one and a half books) for my tastes. In Book of the Fallen Erickson didn't spend a lot of time describing his characters (or explaining how they got their names) but that didn't keep me from getting invested in what happened to Dujek One-Arm, Anomander Rake or Ganoes.
Sanderson doesn't describe his characters all that much in Stormlight Archive but I still get invested in what happens with Kaladin and Shallan.
And I found SoIaF to be dark just for the sake of being dark. The violence, death and rape struck me as being there just to make the world 'dark and edgy' (though I will admit that I might be wrong in that assumption) rather than being there to further the story.

I think Varys is the character that was changed most when comparing the book and the show version.

In the show Varys is ''just'' a noble schemer but the schemes of his book counterpart go much further than the one of the show and he's willing to use far more extreme methods ''for the children''

Doran Martel is the character that was most negatively affected by his changes. In the book he seems like a mild man but who's actually shaping up to be a Dornish Tywin Lanister. The show version of him is just a wimp who can be overthrown in a couple of seconds.

Samtemdo8:
To limit the sheer amount of characters, how different are the following charcaters in the books and who I think are and were the main charcaters, and assume I know everything there is to know about these charcaters in the show.

Going into depth about the various character and storyline differences as they relate to each character, spoilers within;

twistedmic:

trunkage:

twistedmic:

It could be that you just don't like Martin's style of writing. I greatly enjoy fantasy books (The Malazan Book of the Fallen and Stormlight Archive books being particular favorites of mine) but I had to force myself to finish reading book one of A Song of Ice and Fire/Game of Thrones and gave up on less than a quarter of the way into book two.
I'd suggest that you try other fantasy books before writing off the genre entirely.

Finding SoFaI harder to read than Malazan? I think Malazan is much better written but its Tolkienesque in its delivery. I remember parts of stories that were in different continents, that only tied up neat very close to the end. Sometimes that didn't even happen. He's every opaque with how he writes (actually I find Terry Prachett that way too)

Martin is like a blockbuster book. "Epic", needs popcorn, Simple in comparison

Part of why I didn't like SoIaF is that Martin spent far too much time describing his characters, right down to the type/color of thread in their clothes, and explaining how they got their name ( I read how the Onion Knight got his name at least three times in one and a half books) for my tastes. In Book of the Fallen Erickson didn't spend a lot of time describing his characters (or explaining how they got their names) but that didn't keep me from getting invested in what happened to Dujek One-Arm, Anomander Rake or Ganoes.
Sanderson doesn't describe his characters all that much in Stormlight Archive but I still get invested in what happens with Kaladin and Shallan.
And I found SoIaF to be dark just for the sake of being dark. The violence, death and rape struck me as being there just to make the world 'dark and edgy' (though I will admit that I might be wrong in that assumption) rather than being there to further the story.

Whiskey Jack as well. He's always my favourite with Coltaine and the Chain of Dogs. He describe people through actions not just appearance. Martin also spends a lot of time on buildings and food too, particularly how they are eaten. Erickson is willing to write a battle to, which Martin tries to avoid.

I only read Sanderson through Jordan. All I'll say is that he's a different writer. I will say Martin seems like a breath of fresh air having the heroes not win all the time and their choices really bite them in the butt sometimes

Hawki:
You know how Joffrey in the show has a sort of "magnificent bastard" feeling to him? As in, he's a shit, but he's a grinning, stuck up shit that has a layer of menace?

That couldn't be further from what the 'magnificent bastard' trope is.

Squilookle:

Hawki:
You know how Joffrey in the show has a sort of "magnificent bastard" feeling to him? As in, he's a shit, but he's a grinning, stuck up shit that has a layer of menace?

That couldn't be further from what the 'magnificent bastard' trope is.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/LoveToHate

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/HateSink

Fine. There you go.

Hawki:

Squilookle:

Hawki:
You know how Joffrey in the show has a sort of "magnificent bastard" feeling to him? As in, he's a shit, but he's a grinning, stuck up shit that has a layer of menace?

That couldn't be further from what the 'magnificent bastard' trope is.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/LoveToHate

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/HateSink

Fine. There you go.

image

Spade Lead:
All of the characters are unlikable fuckheads, full of hate and paranoia, and the ones that are most likable tend to die. Maybe it is just that I don't like Fantasy, but the books were a terrible slog through of shit characters doing shit things with very little redeeming heroism and a lot of offputting weirdness and gross stuff that didn't need to happen.

Speaking as someone who really, really doesn't like fantasy, my dislike of fantasy is actually big part of why I actually had fun with ASOIAF, although I'd never defend it as a "good" example of literature. A lot of it is clearly written as a kind of reaction to fantasy and its genre conventions and tropes. In fact, my main criticism is that it doesn't go far enough in this regard. Despite Martin's reputation for killing off characters, you can quickly tell who the fan favourite characters are and these are protected both from death and from having to make any kind of difficult moral decision. It kind of undermines the themes, honestly.

twistedmic:
And I found SoIaF to be dark just for the sake of being dark. The violence, death and rape struck me as being there just to make the world 'dark and edgy' (though I will admit that I might be wrong in that assumption) rather than being there to further the story.

While I would certainly agree with the argument that it's gratuitous, and certain passages did make me very uncomfortable (in a bad way) I wouldn't go so far as to say it's dark for the sake of being dark.

I mean, most fantasy is set in what is ostensibly a medieval world (although it's more typically a renaissance world with medieval elements) but one which is heavily santized and clear of a lot of the more unpleasant elements of actual medieval life. Lord of the Rings is a great example, because it's essentially a vehicle for a lot of Tolkien's very reactionary views. The past is an idyllic countryside paradise where happy peasants labour under the the wise judgement or rightful kings who are never cruel or oppressive, not like the harsh and cruel modern world full of machines and pollution and tyrannical modern states.

But the actual medieval world was horrible, particularly during wartime. One thing I found myself enjoying about the books is how often it started to resemble a post-apocalyptic setting, because that's really what it is (except it's a pre-apocalyptic setting, instead of all the social institutions and laws which keep us safe and happy suddenly being gone, they don't exist yet). That struck me as an interesting insight and a rebuttal of the genre conventions of a lot of other fantasy which is, to put it bluntly, politically very weird.

Feudal monarchies are not a good system of government. They are not nice to live under.

evilthecat:

Speaking as someone who really, really doesn't like fantasy, my dislike of fantasy is actually big part of why I actually had fun with ASOIAF, although I'd never defend it as a "good" example of literature. A lot of it is clearly written as a kind of reaction to fantasy and its genre conventions and tropes. In fact, my main criticism is that it doesn't go far enough in this regard. Despite Martin's reputation for killing off characters, you can quickly tell who the fan favourite characters are and these are protected both from death and from having to make any kind of difficult moral decision. It kind of undermines the themes, honestly.

Which fan favourite characters are protected from difficult moral decisions? Certainly not Daenerys, Jon, or Tyrion, who're the ones most frequently cited as fan favourites.

Silvanus:
Which fan favourite characters are protected from difficult moral decisions? Certainly not Daenerys, Jon, or Tyrion, who're the ones most frequently cited as fan favourites.

Okay, so I had to unpack what I meant a bit and I realised I probably expressed it wrong.

Firstly though, have you noticed how (other than the one off characters in introductory chapters) only one POV character has actually died? And yeah, grey areas regarding what counts as "death" but for a gritty world in which noone is safe, a lot of people seem to be remarkably safe.

But yeah, difficult moral decisions is the wrong way to put it, because the characters do make difficult moral decisions. I think what bothers me is that they are protected from the scrutiny to which other characters are subject.

And I don't think it's entirely Martin's fault. I feel like he wrote himself into a corner with some characters, and seems almost to be writing himself out of it. It's like, hey, did you not get that Tyrion strangling a teenage girl who he paid for sex and convinced himself he was in love with because, essentially, she didn't love him back was a shitty thing to do? Well, here's him sexually threatening a Lysene bedslave for the terrible crime of being in sexual slavery. No wait, here he's having sex with a heavily traumatized catatonic woman. Do you get it, do you get what a shit person he is yet! The thing is, the audience never gets it, and while partly that's their own fault and partly it's because Martin continues to frame Tyrion in conventionally heroic terms. He does bad things but is never allowed to be a bad person because the focus is always kept firmly on his own sense of being wronged and the fact that oh, he's really clever and important guys. That comatose woman he fucked probably wasn't as special and important as him, was she?

And this bothers me, firstly because it breaks with the dramatic realism which is the supposed selling point of the series. Dramatic realism is the idea that a story resembles real life, without pre-established roles for heroes and villains but where people are instead defined by what they do. Many characters in ASOIAF fall neatly into this, Melissandre is an uncompromising religious zealot who does terrible things because she believes they are necessary. A less interesting book would use this character much as the TV show does, as a straightforward villain or moral lesson about the dangers of religious extremism. The book specifically avoids that level of simplicity, we see Melissandre both through other people's eyes and through her own perspective, and we are allowed the possibility that her perspective may be right, or at least partly right, but in a way that doesn't compromise the fact that she's horrible to other characters.

I mean, if you've hung around the ASOIAF threads, you've probably seen me do the little schtick about Littlefinger actually being the best character, because his story is essentially a heroic narrative in which the hero fails. Partly that's just me stirring the pot, but there's an element of truth in it. Littlefinger murders people. Tyrion murders people. Littlefinger has a creepy relationship with women. Tyrion is a misogynistic, abusive rapist. And yet, littlefinger is a villain, Tyrion is a hero. There is no getting around that, it's the way the characters are framed. Tyrion gets away with everything he does because the plot never requires him to ask any hard questions of it, it's never allowed to compromise the fact that he's a poor persecuted little thing who just wanted twoo wuv!

Maybe there will be some payoff to this and I'll be wrong and completely blown away, but at this rate it'd have to be a pretty big payoff. The same goes for Miss Colonialism and Grizzly McBlandbastard.

evilthecat:

Okay, so I had to unpack what I meant a bit and I realised I probably expressed it wrong.

Firstly though, have you noticed how (other than the one off characters in introductory chapters) only one POV character has actually died? And yeah, grey areas regarding what counts as "death" but for a gritty world in which noone is safe, a lot of people seem to be remarkably safe.

This isn't true; outside of prologue/ epilogue characters, there are four POV deaths: Eddard, Quentyn, Catelyn, and Ser Arys Oakheart. Arys is a one-off, but that leaves three. Jon Connington's death is also all but certain. It also seems odd to exclude non-POV but otherwise very major and/or sympathetic characters, many of whom die.

But yeah, difficult moral decisions is the wrong way to put it, because the characters do make difficult moral decisions. I think what bothers me is that they are protected from the scrutiny to which other characters are subject.

And I don't think it's entirely Martin's fault. I feel like he wrote himself into a corner with some characters, and seems almost to be writing himself out of it. It's like, hey, did you not get that Tyrion strangling a teenage girl who he paid for sex and convinced himself he was in love with because, essentially, she didn't love him back was a shitty thing to do? Well, here's him sexually threatening a Lysene bedslave for the terrible crime of being in sexual slavery. No wait, here he's having sex with a heavily traumatized catatonic woman. Do you get it, do you get what a shit person he is yet! The thing is, the audience never gets it, and while partly that's their own fault and partly it's because Martin continues to frame Tyrion in conventionally heroic terms. He does bad things but is never allowed to be a bad person because the focus is always kept firmly on his own sense of being wronged and the fact that oh, he's really clever and important guys. That comatose woman he fucked probably wasn't as special and important as him, was she?

And this bothers me, firstly because it breaks with the dramatic realism which is the supposed selling point of the series. Dramatic realism is the idea that a story resembles real life, without pre-established roles for heroes and villains but where people are instead defined by what they do. Many characters in ASOIAF fall neatly into this, Melissandre is an uncompromising religious zealot who does terrible things because she believes they are necessary. A less interesting book would use this character much as the TV show does, as a straightforward villain or moral lesson about the dangers of religious extremism. The book specifically avoids that level of simplicity, we see Melissandre both through other people's eyes and through her own perspective, and we are allowed the possibility that her perspective may be right, or at least partly right, but in a way that doesn't compromise the fact that she's horrible to other characters.

I mean, if you've hung around the ASOIAF threads, you've probably seen me do the little schtick about Littlefinger actually being the best character, because his story is essentially a heroic narrative in which the hero fails. Partly that's just me stirring the pot, but there's an element of truth in it. Littlefinger murders people. Tyrion murders people. Littlefinger has a creepy relationship with women. Tyrion is a misogynistic, abusive rapist. And yet, littlefinger is a villain, Tyrion is a hero. There is no getting around that, it's the way the characters are framed. Tyrion gets away with everything he does because the plot never requires him to ask any hard questions of it, it's never allowed to compromise the fact that he's a poor persecuted little thing who just wanted twoo wuv!

Maybe there will be some payoff to this and I'll be wrong and completely blown away, but at this rate it'd have to be a pretty big payoff. The same goes for Miss Colonialism and Grizzly McBlandbastard.

This seems to me a slightly odd line of reasoning. You seem to be arguing that the books frame Tyrion as a hero, but also portray him doing (and saying) pretty dreadful things. That is part of the framing; everything he is shown to do is part of the portrayal.

When a character is shown to act heroically at times and to act terribly at others, that doesn't mean the character is straightforwardly a hero that just gets excused by the author; that's a character with light and dark to them. And, frankly, that's realistic. The alternative is to write a cast of heroes and villains who act solely within their archetypes, which I would find rather staid.

Certainly the other characters do not consider Tyrion a straightforward hero, including his allies. It is not the author, either, who has taken the time to highlight his flaws and immorality. That leaves the readers. And I, certainly, do not consider anybody in ASOIAF to be anything but shades of grey (well... except perhaps Samwell Tarly). I don't think we're meant to. It's not that simplistic a story to apply the term "hero" to, even with Jon, whose decisions are the subject of pretty strong debate within the readership.

twistedmic:

Part of why I didn't like SoIaF is that Martin spent far too much time describing his characters, right down to the type/color of thread in their clothes, and explaining how they got their name ( I read how the Onion Knight got his name at least three times in one and a half books) for my tastes. In Book of the Fallen Erickson didn't spend a lot of time describing his characters (or explaining how they got their names) but that didn't keep me from getting invested in what happened to Dujek One-Arm, Anomander Rake or Ganoes.
Sanderson doesn't describe his characters all that much in Stormlight Archive but I still get invested in what happens with Kaladin and Shallan.
And I found SoIaF to be dark just for the sake of being dark. The violence, death and rape struck me as being there just to make the world 'dark and edgy' (though I will admit that I might be wrong in that assumption) rather than being there to further the story.

As someone who read the first two Malazan books and found next to no enjoyment in them whatsoever, I think the lack of description is specifically, and massively, to the books' detriment. Because the books (ones that I read anyway) span entire continents with a cast whose size rivals that of ASOIAF, I completely forgot who was supposed to be who. More in the first book than the second, but both were still confusing as all hell. The characters' appearances were described maybe 1-3 times at the beginning of each book, and that was it. I wouldn't even have realized Tattersail was supposed to be chubby/overweight if someone hadn't pointed it out on this very website. The whole group of thieves (I think I remember a guy named Crokus) just blurred into a bunch of dudes in cloaks because the author never seemed to differentiate them from one another with descriptions. All I remember from the second book is that Felisin was attractive, the priest had tattoos (because the book would never shut the fuck up about his "woad tattoos", and it certainly didn't help that I had no idea what the word "woad" meant) and that's about it. The best I could do to try to picture the characters in my head was to gauge their personalities from their actions and try to form a picture in my head of what such people would look like.

bartholen:

As someone who read the first two Malazan books and found next to no enjoyment in them whatsoever, I think the lack of description is specifically, and massively, to the books' detriment. Because the books (ones that I read anyway) span entire continents with a cast whose size rivals that of ASOIAF, I completely forgot who was supposed to be who. More in the first book than the second, but both were still confusing as all hell. The characters' appearances were described maybe 1-3 times at the beginning of each book, and that was it. I wouldn't even have realized Tattersail was supposed to be chubby/overweight if someone hadn't pointed it out on this very website. The whole group of thieves (I think I remember a guy named Crokus) just blurred into a bunch of dudes in cloaks because the author never seemed to differentiate them from one another with descriptions. All I remember from the second book is that Felisin was attractive, the priest had tattoos (because the book would never shut the fuck up about his "woad tattoos", and it certainly didn't help that I had no idea what the word "woad" meant) and that's about it. The best I could do to try to picture the characters in my head was to gauge their personalities from their actions and try to form a picture in my head of what such people would look like.

To each his own, I suppose. I didn't need repeated and detailed descriptions of the characters to start to like them. I enjoyed the Malazan books, though I will say they got much better with the third one (Memories of Ice) and the first two are not really my favorites.
As for characters, Crokus was the only thief from the group at the Phoenix Inn- the others being an assassin, a courtier and a disgraced drunken former nobleman.
And in regards to Heboric (tattooed priest), his tattoos have some importance to the overall story of the novels.

Silvanus:
This isn't true; outside of prologue/ epilogue characters, there are four POV deaths: Eddard, Quentyn, Catelyn, and Ser Arys Oakheart. Arys is a one-off, but that leaves three. Jon Connington's death is also all but certain. It also seems odd to exclude non-POV but otherwise very major and/or sympathetic characters, many of whom die.

I'd literally forgotten that those were POV characters, and in Quentyn's case that was genuinely bad of me because sure, we spent a bit of time with him. However, I'd literally remembered Arys Chapter as an Arianne chapter, perhaps because the purpose of that chapter is primarily to introduce her (a character who is actually important). As for Caitlyn, no. That specifically does not get to count. You do not get to keep the emotional impact of having killed a character off if you then go and do that.

Silvanus:
This seems to me a slightly odd line of reasoning. You seem to be arguing that the books frame Tyrion as a hero, but also portray him doing (and saying) pretty dreadful things. That is part of the framing; everything he is shown to do is part of the portrayal.

Sure, but the framing isn't just what the character does in the narrative, it's the way they are presented to the audience. Books are designed to be read, they are not simply histories of fictional events but have to appeal to their audiences emotions and needs. Sure, some people will have a strong reaction to a character's in universe behaviour simply because they are familiar with or have experienced similar behaviour in their own lives, but that isn't a function of framing at all. Framing is the tools by which the author leads the audience along an emotional or thematic journey through the story, as well as the literal things they have their characters do.

And that's the problem here.

Silvanus:
When a character is shown to act heroically at times and to act terribly at others, that doesn't mean the character is straightforwardly a hero that just gets excused by the author; that's a character with light and dark to them. And, frankly, that's realistic. The alternative is to write a cast of heroes and villains who act solely within their archetypes, which I would find rather staid.

Sure, as I mentioned there are a lot of characters in ASOIAF who do this, who are sometimes bad and sometimes good, or who have comprehensible or even good intentions but are flawed or misguided. The point is that these characters can be presented to us in a wide variety of ways. We can be encouraged to gloss over their misdeeds and to understand that for all their flaws they are sympathetic or redeemable, or they can be presented to us as merely complex villains (as opposed to less complex villains like Ramsey Bolton or Euron Greyjoy). In a multi-protagonist narrative like ASOIAF, a lot of this will have to do with which perspectives we are allowed to see on a given character.

And here's the thing, the way Tyrion thinks is quite realistic and nuanced. The fact that he is persecuted and emotionally wounded, and the psychological toll this takes on him, is believable. In real life, though, abusive people are often emotionally wounded and have sense of real or imagined persecution. In real life, abuse, cruelty or bullying is often motivated more by insecurity and unhappiness than by deliberate sadism, because abusive people also need to protect themselves from realising that they are abusive.

But that's all in-universe. As an audience, we only see Tyrion through his own self-narrative in which he is perpetually excused of responsibility for his own horrible actions, but we never see him from the perspective of someone who is hurt by him, or even who recognises him for what he is. When other characters think of him, they are either bigoted (and, importantly, are supposed to come across to the audience as bigoted) or they find him impressive/interesting/surprising. No character ever stops and goes "nah, this person really is a shitbag". We can infer that this might be what some characters are thinking, but only through Tyrion's own perspective, in which he is eternally absolved of any wrongdoing.

When characters in universe hate or fear Melissandre for being a cruel zealot, they are right. When people in universe hate and fear Littlefinger for being a power-hungry wildcard who will betray anyone to anyone, they are right. When people in universe hate and fear Tyrion because he's an ugly dwarf, they're simply wrong. The audience knows all of these things are right or wrong, even if the characters don't, because they have been lead by cues in the narrative. Tyrions narrative has few to no moral cues to signify that his horrific behaviour is supposed to be horrific.

evilthecat:

I'd literally forgotten that those were POV characters, and in Quentyn's case that was genuinely bad of me because sure, we spent a bit of time with him. However, I'd literally remembered Arys Chapter as an Arianne chapter, perhaps because the purpose of that chapter is primarily to introduce her (a character who is actually important). As for Caitlyn, no. That specifically does not get to count. You do not get to keep the emotional impact of having killed a character off if you then go and do that.

Alright, we can discount it from being affecting in the traditional way that a major character death is affecting.

Your original point, however, was about how POV characters are safe. She was not safe. Her ordeal is arguably worse than a clean death. Ditto, Theon Greyjoy.

evilthecat:

Sure, but the framing isn't just what the character does in the narrative, it's the way they are presented to the audience. Books are designed to be read, they are not simply histories of fictional events but have to appeal to their audiences emotions and needs. Sure, some people will have a strong reaction to a character's in universe behaviour simply because they are familiar with or have experienced similar behaviour in their own lives, but that isn't a function of framing at all. Framing is the tools by which the author leads the audience along an emotional or thematic journey through the story, as well as the literal things they have their characters do.

And that's the problem here.

You are making a rather drastic judgement call on how you interpret Tyrion's framing, which is my point. I do not agree that Tyrion is framed as a straightforward hero, and would argue that the writer makes that abundantly clear by bringing attention to his cruelty and the poor outcomes of his decisions. Those are the tools the writer has chosen to illustrate what a (dark) shade of grey he is.

I'd even say it's a rather odd conclusion to draw that Tyrion is supposed to be framed as a hero. It seems to ignore a breadth of evidence the writer has gone to some effort to provide, in order to fit him into some rather archaic boxes.

evilthecat:

Sure, as I mentioned there are a lot of characters in ASOIAF who do this, who are sometimes bad and sometimes good, or who have comprehensible or even good intentions but are flawed or misguided. The point is that these characters can be presented to us in a wide variety of ways. We can be encouraged to gloss over their misdeeds and to understand that for all their flaws they are sympathetic or redeemable, or they can be presented to us as merely complex villains (as opposed to less complex villains like Ramsey Bolton or Euron Greyjoy). In a multi-protagonist narrative like ASOIAF, a lot of this will have to do with which perspectives we are allowed to see on a given character.

And here's the thing, the way Tyrion thinks is quite realistic and nuanced. The fact that he is persecuted and emotionally wounded, and the psychological toll this takes on him, is believable. In real life, though, abusive people are often emotionally wounded and have sense of real or imagined persecution. In real life, abuse, cruelty or bullying is often motivated more by insecurity and unhappiness than by deliberate sadism, because abusive people also need to protect themselves from realising that they are abusive.

Indeed-- so so far, we have a realistic depiction of the sources of harmful behaviour.

evilthecat:

But that's all in-universe. As an audience, we only see Tyrion through his own self-narrative in which he is perpetually excused of responsibility for his own horrible actions, but we never see him from the perspective of someone who is hurt by him, or even who recognises him for what he is. When other characters think of him, they are either bigoted (and, importantly, are supposed to come across to the audience as bigoted) or they find him impressive/interesting/surprising. No character ever stops and goes "nah, this person really is a shitbag". We can infer that this might be what some characters are thinking, but only through Tyrion's own perspective, in which he is eternally absolved of any wrongdoing.

So what?

We are not so narrow-minded that we require a victim to tell us an action is bad, surely: it is evident in the event, and the impact we see it have.

The direct POV of a victim has not been required in fiction for decades: not in A Clockwork Orange, not in The Wasp Factory, or Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, or The City and the Pillar. The respect has been afforded to the audience's intelligence to evaluate the morality of a character without that-- even the point of view.

evilthecat:

When characters in universe hate or fear Melissandre for being a cruel zealot, they are right. When people in universe hate and fear Littlefinger for being a power-hungry wildcard who will betray anyone to anyone, they are right. When people in universe hate and fear Tyrion because he's an ugly dwarf, they're simply wrong. The audience knows all of these things are right or wrong, even if the characters don't, because they have been lead by cues in the narrative. Tyrions narrative has few to no moral cues to signify that his horrific behaviour is supposed to be horrific.

When they hate him for being an ugly dwarf, they are wrong. That prejudice is a major theme in his story, and the resentment has had a clear and direct impact on his behaviour: breeding violence, entitlement, and narcissism among other psychological issues.

Are we to eschew this exploration of prejudice, because it offers a partial explanation for his poor behaviour? Of course not.

Can anyone explain your opinion of Kit Harrington's performance as Jon Snow?

Is it practically dead on spot?

I ask because people tend to look down on Jon Snow mostly because they see Kit Harrington as a wooden actor.

But is Jon Snow in the books from his dialoge and such a bit of a wooden charcater aswell?

Samtemdo8:
Can anyone explain your opinion of Kit Harrington's performance as Jon Snow?

Is it practically dead on spot?

I ask because people tend to look down on Jon Snow mostly because they see Kit Harrington as a wooden actor.

But is Jon Snow in the books from his dialoge and such a bit of a wooden charcater aswell?

Eh, kind of. Jon Snow is arguably the most 'vanilla' major character in the settings - conventional good guy who does the right things for the right reasons, and like Ned, gets killed for it (resurrection aside). I like Jon, and I think Kit's performance is fine, but he's arguably a blander character when compared to the more esoteric ones.

 

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