When You Review A Game of Thrones, You Win or Die.

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When You Review A Game of Thrones, You Win or Die.

It's about time reviewers started giving fantasy fiction the respect it deserves.

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Just do what I've done since Suck.com: Admit Heather Havrilesky is most likely correct. She's actually on the geek team.

Additional After Post Thinkin': I'd also like to point out that I've always found Susan's editorial voice to be very close to Heather's. It's a good thing, and it's part of why I'm such a fan of both.

BTW: Heather and I have tangoed.

I've just about given up on Mainstream media really understanding fantasy. If the Lotr movies and WoW havnt cleared it up for them i doubt anything will.

I loved reading A Game Of Thrones and I just watched the first episode of HBO's version last night, and loved it too. Espcially the boobies. So many boobies!

Anyway, critics are often rather dumb - or rather, uninformed. They're given something to critique and may or may not have sufficient background to properly asses it. It's one thing to give a more opinionated column but when trying to pass off some higher reaching ideas it doesn't work so well when you're full of shit.

The Article says it best, "When we founded The Escapist back in 2005, it was out of a belief that games deserved better journalism than the media at the time provided. But we knew, even then, that it wasn't just games - it was the entire field of "escapist" entertainment".

Fantasy books, like gaming, are often looked down upon and viewed as childish or inferior. The problem is that reviewers in traditional media don't generally have a passion for gaming or fantasy books. They are simply hired reviewers who lack the interest and appreciation in the mediums.

The song of fire and ice series deserves high praise. The fact that a lot of mainstream reviewers failed to give it that isn't surprising. If you want a decent review on a fantasy book go to a place/reviewer who really knows/loves fantasy. Same with gaming.

Wait, if it was founded in 2005, how am I a member since 2004? I agree though, Epic Fantasy is Epic Fantasy. Some of us enjoy it immensely.

I agree with the article up to a point....sometimes I do believe fantasy/sci-fi writers do base their stories off of historical events (like i think i heared star wars was an example)....I however don't think a game a thrones was based off current events as one of the critics stated (if i understood it right lol)....especially since the books came out years ago....i dont think Martin could forsee the future....i think >.>

OT:

Wolfram01:
I loved reading A Game Of Thrones and I just watched the first episode of HBO's version last night, and loved it too. Espcially the boobies. So many boobies!

I knew that if a series ever came out all the sex scenes would probably be something debated about lol...and when i heared HBO was doing it i knew they would definitely put in those scenes...especially after watching a season of Rome lol

wait, did this article just contain badly hidden spoilers?
thanks a lot...

One could argue that Tolkien, with his WWI experience, was reacting against post-Great War nihilism and that modern epic fantasy has just been following in his footsteps in that respect - just about the exact opposite of what the second NYT's review is claiming.

Ligisttomten:
Wait, if it was founded in 2005, how am I a member since 2004? I agree though, Epic Fantasy is Epic Fantasy. Some of us enjoy it immensely.

I assure you that The Escapist was founded in 2005. The parent company, though, was founded in 2001. You might have had a membership at our sister site WarCry, perhaps?

I'm not sure I care what either of them think. No offense to reviewers, but they have very little to no input as to whether I watch or buy something. what I do care about is fairly simple. I want this show to be profitable for HBO so that they continue with it. it's great story(even unfinished) and should be told

The fringe media diversions like Sci-fi/Fantasy and gaming, board, digital or otherwise, will come into its own with time. As the older generations release control of what society deems acceptable and new blood brings their value set to the mainstream, all things will change.

Until that time, we'll just have to don our +5 Platemail suits of Denial and pick up our Vorpal Long swords of self-reassurance and carry on the good fight.

Onward, To Legitimacy, Brothers & Sisters!

Badwolf14:
I agree with the article up to a point....sometimes I do believe fantasy/sci-fi writers do base their stories off of historical events (like i think i heared star wars was an example)....I however don't think a game a thrones was based off current events as one of the critics stated (if i understood it right lol)....especially since the books came out years ago....i dont think Martin could forsee the future....i think >.>

Well, this is addressed in Tolkien's views on allegory and applicability. In an allegory the author uses themes to make a comment on events and attitudes. Lewis Carroll's Alice books or Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 are great examples. Both authors began with a point and create a story that helps make that point. (Though it should be said, the point most readers get may not be what the author intended.) Tolkien and Martin seem to be carried more by the story, and the themes arise out of the character's circumstances and reactions.

I don't think there's a clear black-and-white division here, but you can bet that if an author realistically and honestly treats the universal human experience, then the themes will find applicability in all ages. It's why we still read Herodotus and Hamlet and Huckleberry Finn. Those books are about what it's like to be a person, to struggle against pride and search for identity.

godofallu:
The song of fire and ice series deserves high praise.

Honestly, I don't think this does them enough credit. It's without hyperbole that I say that they're among the best novels I have ever read, irrespective of genre. In terms of genre, however, I fully believe that, in terms of what I think they will ultimately do for the genre, they're the most important work of fantasy fiction since LotR.

Archon:
the sex and violence are present out of verisimilitude for a fictional world that bears some resemblance to our own bloody, sensual, illicit, heroic past

Verisimilitude is a very important term when it comes to discussing this series. People have said that it's nihilistic, and it is. Westeros isn't a nice place, but then neither is the world we live in, really. There are moments of hope, but for the most part it's a very bleak series, what with being a deconstruction of fantasy fiction. The central theme of the novels is power, in my opinion: what people will do to get it, what people will do to keep it, and what happens the poor bastards who get caught between them. People die cruelly and seemingly randomly, because that's what death is: cruel and random.

Reviewers often miss the point with fantasy; it's hardly anything new. They see it, like videogames, as something for kids. Anyone with even a cursory knowledge of ASoIaF can say that's not the case.

Fuck yeah Lancaster! I wish we had as much Gold as the Lannister's do in Lancashire though. Slightly more on topic: I think the problem is that reviewers place too much importance on their own society/setting and not on people. Fantasy and Science Fiction is often, although not always, about how despite the society/setting changing people stay the same. Many reviewers try and find allegorical messages about the society/setting they live in when in fact the message is about Human Nature.

Nice. Agreed. Not much else to say.

Steve Butts:

Badwolf14:
I agree with the article up to a point....sometimes I do believe fantasy/sci-fi writers do base their stories off of historical events (like i think i heared star wars was an example)....I however don't think a game a thrones was based off current events as one of the critics stated (if i understood it right lol)....especially since the books came out years ago....i dont think Martin could forsee the future....i think >.>

Well, this is addressed in Tolkien's views on allegory and applicability. In an allegory the author uses themes to make a comment on events and attitudes. Lewis Carroll's Alice books or Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 are great examples. Both authors began with a point and create a story that helps make that point. (Though it should be said, the point most readers get may not be what the author intended.) Tolkien and Martin seem to be carried more by the story, and the themes arise out of the character's circumstances and reactions.

I don't think there's a clear black-and-white division here, but you can bet that if an author realistically and honestly treats the universal human experience, then the themes will find applicability in all ages. It's why we still read Herodotus and Hamlet and Huckleberry Finn. Those books are about what it's like to be a person, to struggle against pride and search for identity.

kk...now i understand where ur getting at lol...and I totally agree with that now (seeing that i also read some of those books that you named)...but yea now i understand what your saying.

SaintWaldo:
Just do what I've done since Suck.com: Admit Heather Havrilesky is most likely correct. She's actually on the geek team.

I used to love her TV reviews on Salon.com when I was a more regular reader. Glad to see she's still prominent in the field.

Anachronism:
Honestly, I don't think this does them enough credit. It's without hyperbole that I say that they're among the best novels I have ever read, irrespective of genre. In terms of genre, however, I fully believe that, in terms of what I think they will ultimately do for the genre, they're the most important work of fantasy fiction since LotR.

I will always be grateful to Martin for finally wrenching epic fantasy out from under Tolkien's looming shadow. While there were many previous noble efforts, A Song of Ice and Fire is the true genre-changer. Fantasy epics are freer to explore complex social and political relationships without being locked into Campbell's mythic structure and messianic narratives, which basically turned me off the genre 10 years ago. It's welcome and refreshing.

I quite enjoyed Game of Thrones. Though, as someone who hasn't read Song of Ice and Fire, I found the first episode over stuffed with exposition. But I suppose that's an inevitable consequence of dealing with several chapters in just over an hour's screen time.

I have a philosophical objection to the use of gratuitous full frontal nudity. Game of Thrones (and it's spiritual predecessor Rome) throw out bums, tits (and to a lesser extent, rippling six-packs *grumble*), not because it's editorially justified, but because they can get away with it in a historical/fantasy piece. If you were to put those same scenes in a modern setting, it would be considered porn. Movie Bob has spoken about the Hayes Code in the past, and this is basically the same thing.

Let me reiterate; I have no objection to nubile young (or older for that matter) actresses writhing around in their all-together. My concern is that period dramas are adopting a rather pornographic sensibility, which I'm not convinced is in the best interest of the genre.

Thank you, Escapist, for fighting the battle of our escapist media.

A bad review (or a bunch of bad reviews) will not make me stop loving the games, shows, movies, books, etc that I choose to love... and in some cases, the medium chose me. However, that lack of credibility, of ridicule, of childishness and sexism bestowed on OUR media by more "stream" sources is tiring and an uphill battle.

So thank you again for helping us fight that battle.

How ironic that you chastise a critic for interpreting it as allegory for some of our modern predicaments, and yet in the same breath defend it as an allegory for a historical event.

Most fantasy, including Tolkien and post-Tolkien, is best understood as a distant descendent of the epic poem. Essentially, it celebrates some kind of 'heroism' in a very romantic understanding of the term, and details a series of events which are crucial to shaping the culture and history of a people. The vast body of literature on epic poetry is enough to indicate that they can both rely on verisimilitude and present complex allegories. Ovid's Metamorphoses contains both references to historical figures and events (Julius Caesar, Pythagoras) and many of the legends of Greco-Roman mythology that are best interpreted as allegory (Proserpina, Orpheus, Midas). Don't be so fast to decry people for reading contemporary fantasy also as allegory.

Archon:
Publisher's Note: When You Review A Game of Thrones, You Win or Die.

It's about time reviewers started giving fantasy fiction the respect it deserves.

Read Full Article

Am I the ONLY Tolkien fan who noticed the error in this news post? Tolkien never wrote that speech by Aragorn at the Black Gate. That was entirely from the minds of the screenwriters. I know I sound real nerdy here but c'mon, no one else saw that?

As a fan of the books (and potentially the TV series) a friend of mine e-mailed this authors "review of the reviewers". It gave me pause to think.

http://www.orbitbooks.net/2011/04/16/reviewing-the-reviewers/

Of particular note to me:

From the creative writing professor who won't accept "that kind" of work to the friend who sneers at you for buying the latest Harry Dresden to the professional critic who will make grand generalizations instead of real arguments, people who are interested in high culture, and in gaining social status by what they read and who they look down on, have always found an easy target in fantasy and science fiction

If any of you guys like this series, you owe it to yourself to read Steven Erikson. Malazan, Book of the Fallen is by far and away the BEST fantasy series to date. The first book is called Gardens of the Moon...get it...read it...love it, thank me later!

Badwolf14:
I knew that if a series ever came out all the sex scenes would probably be something debated about lol...and when i heared HBO was doing it i knew they would definitely put in those scenes...especially after watching a season of Rome lol

But...Daenerys is only 13 years old :D

Archon:
Publisher's Note: When You Review A Game of Thrones, You Win or Die.

It's about time reviewers started giving fantasy fiction the respect it deserves.

Read Full Article

Nice move, putting GOT on the same place as LOTOR by using slightly relevant comparings.

If they want to start giving fantasy fiction its due, how about reviewing something other than this garbage....

*sigh* I hear you, chum. It's not just gaming, I sometimes wonder if the mainstream media, ironically, no longer has any real grasp of the rapidly evolving zeitgeist when you see farcical 'about-faces' such as The Times's similarly opposing reviews of Mamma Mia. Their lack of awareness is just cringeworthy sometimes. I've pretty much given up on review articles unless I'm certain of the writer's subject authority and/or interest in the project.

But ignorance it is, and ignorance that needs to be resolved. How? Maybe 'invade' their world a little more. Evidently, we read their articles, but do they read ours? More content on the Escapist is excellent, but, to an extent, you're preaching to the converted here (or maybe you gave a voice and a place to those who had none, hmm, deep). Well, the Escapist is certainly well established now and a great base to work out from.

To this end, I wish you guys the best for the new podcast in the hope that it will reach a wider audience with such views. While we may snigger and (rightly?) ridicule material such as the Twilight novels or Mamma Mia musical, please continue to leave the bickering to the forums and stick with a high standard of objective journalism that recognises the important cultural impact of such events - the authority and power in consistently excellent journalism is as much a call-to-arms over the profile of a genre/topic as a set, stand-alone plee can be. Thones are not gained by single speeches alone but by the reputation and preparation behind such moves and the sustained momentum of efforts created by such words - huh, that's the first time Chess strategy has come it handy. :)

jono793:
I quite enjoyed Game of Thrones. Though, as someone who hasn't read Song of Ice and Fire, I found the first episode over stuffed with exposition. But I suppose that's an inevitable consequence of dealing with several chapters in just over an hour's screen time.

I have a philosophical objection to the use of gratuitous full frontal nudity. Game of Thrones (and it's spiritual predecessor Rome) throw out bums, tits (and to a lesser extent, rippling six-packs *grumble*), not because it's editorially justified, but because they can get away with it in a historical/fantasy piece. If you were to put those same scenes in a modern setting, it would be considered porn. Movie Bob has spoken about the Hayes Code in the past, and this is basically the same thing.

Let me reiterate; I have no objection to nubile young (or older for that matter) actresses writhing around in their all-together. My concern is that period dramas are adopting a rather pornographic sensibility, which I'm not convinced is in the best interest of the genre.

While I agree that some series seem to be going over the top with sex/nudity(the amount of sex/nudity in Spartacus:Blood and Sand reached almost ridiculous levels at times,not that I objected mind)in the case of Game of Thrones I feel it is justifiable.Fact is there is plenty of sex and nude scenes in the novels.Virtually all the nudity and sex in the first episode is also in the novel(the exception being Tyrion in the brothel,I don't remember that scene in the book but it has been a while since I read it)so they're just filming what Martin wrote in this case

The Incredible Bulk:

Archon:
Publisher's Note: When You Review A Game of Thrones, You Win or Die.

It's about time reviewers started giving fantasy fiction the respect it deserves.

Read Full Article

Am I the ONLY Tolkien fan who noticed the error in this news post? Tolkien never wrote that speech by Aragorn at the Black Gate. That was entirely from the minds of the screenwriters. I know I sound real nerdy here but c'mon, no one else saw that?

Shhh, don't tell anyone. The quote fairly well summarizes Tolkien's viewpoint on "The Long Defeat" and the failings of men, so I hope my shortcut can be forgiven. :-|

IndianaJonny:
But ignorance it is, and ignorance that needs to be resolved. How? Maybe 'invade' their world a little more. Evidently, we read their articles, but do they read ours? More content on the Escapist is excellent, but, to an extent, you're preaching to the converted here (or maybe you gave a voice and a place to those who had none, hmm, deep). Well, the Escapist is certainly well established now and a great base to work out from.

My publisher's note was sent to the New York Times as an op-ed, but in their infinite wisdom they chose not to run it!

Shamanic Rhythm:
How ironic that you chastise a critic for interpreting it as allegory for some of our modern predicaments, and yet in the same breath defend it as an allegory for a historical event.

Most fantasy, including Tolkien and post-Tolkien, is best understood as a distant descendent of the epic poem. Essentially, it celebrates some kind of 'heroism' in a very romantic understanding of the term, and details a series of events which are crucial to shaping the culture and history of a people. The vast body of literature on epic poetry is enough to indicate that they can both rely on verisimilitude and present complex allegories. Ovid's Metamorphoses contains both references to historical figures and events (Julius Caesar, Pythagoras) and many of the legends of Greco-Roman mythology that are best interpreted as allegory (Proserpina, Orpheus, Midas). Don't be so fast to decry people for reading contemporary fantasy also as allegory.

Thanks for your thoughtful post. I respectfully disagree. There is no question that fantasy shares a lineage with the epic poem, the saga, and the chivalric romance. But what marks fantasy as different is that it generally does not take place in our world and is not meant to detail the events crucial to the shaping of our culture. This is a vast gulf that separates, for instance, the Aeneid from Game of Thrones.

Tolkien's own Lord of the Rings does try to bridge that gap, in that theoretically Middle Earth is our own earth in some distant and forgotten era, but most people are unaware of this, and there are no obvious connections between Middle Earth and our Earth. Moreover, Tolkien was the first person to formulate the theory of "secondary worlds", and it is the secondary world theory, rather than the ties to the culture-poem, that have taken hold in modern fantasy.

Therefore, I think a far stronger case is to be made that modern fantasy is the historical fiction of secondary worlds, rather than the modern day equivalent of the epic poem. Reasonable people can disagree on this, of course, but I don't think this makes my essay somehow "ironic".

Dana22:

Badwolf14:
I knew that if a series ever came out all the sex scenes would probably be something debated about lol...and when i heared HBO was doing it i knew they would definitely put in those scenes...especially after watching a season of Rome lol

But...Daenerys is only 13 years old :D

Shhhhh....>.>....they don't need to know that....<.<

Archon:

The Incredible Bulk:

Archon:
Publisher's Note: When You Review A Game of Thrones, You Win or Die.

It's about time reviewers started giving fantasy fiction the respect it deserves.

Read Full Article

Am I the ONLY Tolkien fan who noticed the error in this news post? Tolkien never wrote that speech by Aragorn at the Black Gate. That was entirely from the minds of the screenwriters. I know I sound real nerdy here but c'mon, no one else saw that?

Shhh, don't tell anyone. The quote fairly well summarizes Tolkien's viewpoint on "The Long Defeat" and the failings of men, so I hope my shortcut can be forgiven. :-|

All right, I'll let it slide...haha.

Archon:

Thanks for your thoughtful post. I respectfully disagree. There is no question that fantasy shares a lineage with the epic poem, the saga, and the chivalric romance. But what marks fantasy as different is that it generally does not take place in our world and is not meant to detail the events crucial to the shaping of our culture. This is a vast gulf that separates, for instance, the Aeneid from Game of Thrones.

Tolkien's own Lord of the Rings does try to bridge that gap, in that theoretically Middle Earth is our own earth in some distant and forgotten era, but most people are unaware of this, and there are no obvious connections between Middle Earth and our Earth. Moreover, Tolkien was the first person to formulate the theory of "secondary worlds", and it is the secondary world theory, rather than the ties to the culture-poem, that have taken hold in modern fantasy.

Therefore, I think a far stronger case is to be made that modern fantasy is the historical fiction of secondary worlds, rather than the modern day equivalent of the epic poem. Reasonable people can disagree on this, of course, but I don't think this makes my essay somehow "ironic".

With respect, I found it ironic simply that you were using historical allegory to challenge critics who read the series as an allegory for modern times, because both of them are equally valid interpretations under reader response theory.

I would also disagree that there are no obvious connections between Middle Earth and our Earth. Geographically it is almost a parody of our globe: that alone is enough to invite comparison between the two. The history of Middle Earth shares numerous similarities with the Bible, prompting religious readings; the book conforms to a number of racial and gender stereotypes, Tolkien's creation of an elvish 'language' invites philological comparison with Romance languages, and as a postwar novel depicting a great conflict with themes of sacrifice, loss and a battle against totalitarianism, comparison can be drawn with World War Two.

One can argue that events and themes in a 'secondary world' are chosen for their consistency with that secondary world, but one cannot forget that both the author and the reader are of this world, and the cultural attitudes of this world will therefore be crucial in both shaping and interpreting the novel.

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