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George Martin and Death

Discussion in 'Booktalk' started by Blackthorne TA, Sep 18, 2003.

  1. Blackthorne TA

    Blackthorne TA Master in his Own Mind Staff Member ★ SPS Account Holder Adored Veteran Pillars of Eternity SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!) New Server Contributor [2012] (for helping Sorcerer's Place lease a new, more powerful server!) Torment: Tides of Numenera SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!)

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    Anyone else think Martin delights in killing off his main characters?

    **SPOILER**
    I'm in the middle of Storm of Swords where Walder Frey kills Robb and Catelyn Stark apparently along will everyone they brought with them to Edmure's wedding celebration.

    Does that not seem a little extreme for the injury of Robb breaking his word to marry one of Walder's daughters?

    I mean, I realize it's a free-for-all where everyone is in a land-grab and out to get what they can for themselves, but to kill all of them for the slight, and in such a completely underhanded way?

    Just seemed a little forced as a way of getting rid of Robb and Catelyn (and Edmure I presume) for whatever reason Martin needed for his story.
     
  2. joacqin

    joacqin Confused Jerk Veteran

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    Perhaps he didnt get rid of them? Finish the book BTA. I also didnt think Frey's reaction was unrealistic. It is a world of honour and glory, Robb had slighted the entire family of Frey, not only had he broken his word but he had done it in a way that that was very insulting to the Frey's and as Walder was a cranky old man with no conscious at all I can well see that he wanted Robb dead.
     
  3. Blackthorne TA

    Blackthorne TA Master in his Own Mind Staff Member ★ SPS Account Holder Adored Veteran Pillars of Eternity SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!) New Server Contributor [2012] (for helping Sorcerer's Place lease a new, more powerful server!) Torment: Tides of Numenera SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!)

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    Yeah, I don't know for a fact that they are dead, but the description sure seems that way (sword through the heart for Robb, and IIRC slit throat for Catelyn).

    But, as to the honor and glory and Walder wanting them dead: I agree that sure, he could have wanted them dead, but to lure them under his roof where the constraints of guest protection apply, and murder them during a wedding celebration after seeming to accept the apology Robb went there to offer? Does not seem like honor in a "world of honor and glory" to me! :) Not that it really is a world of honor necessarily, there are betrayals everywhere; it is the rare person with honor in this series :)

    I could have seen Walder rejecting any apology and going over to the Lannisters, but the treachery seemed a bit much.
     
  4. dshadow Gems: 8/31
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    Robb's dead but Catelyn gets kind of resurrected (she returns as some kind of zombie) at the end of the book.

    Personally I found the way GRRM kills off his characters quite refreshing. It really came as a surprise when Oberyn Martell and Gregor Clegane had their fight and the one you expected was going to win ended up getting killed. I never saw that one coming (pity such a great character had to die but I guess you can't win 'em all).

    Generally with fantasy novels like this, the main characters are pretty much indestructible. Read a Drizzt book and no matter how many enemies he's facing and no matter how tough those enemies are, you know for a fact that he's going to come out of it pretty much unscathed. It takes away a lot of the thrill if you know the main character can't die.

    So when a book comes along in which the main characters can die just as easily as the bit players it's a breath of fresh air.
     
  5. The Kilted Crusader

    The Kilted Crusader The Famous Last words "Hey guys, watch THIS!" Veteran

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    But wouldn't killing Robb Stark put the Freys in great favour with the Lannisters.

    Also, the freys have always competed with the Tullys to be the greatest lords of the river lands (like Boltons have with the Starks in the north) and this would be the perfect opportunity to seize that power.
     
  6. Blackthorne TA

    Blackthorne TA Master in his Own Mind Staff Member ★ SPS Account Holder Adored Veteran Pillars of Eternity SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!) New Server Contributor [2012] (for helping Sorcerer's Place lease a new, more powerful server!) Torment: Tides of Numenera SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!)

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    Sure, sure, I don't dispute any of that. I also like when you don't know if a character will live or die, but to me it seems like some of the deaths of main characters, while having plausible reasons surrounding them, are a little rushed or forced.

    What led up to Robb and Catelyn's deaths? Robb suddenly marries a woman other than a Frey through events we don't even see. Why was this done other than to provide a reason for the Freys to be upset? Then we have to have the Frey's be willing to resort to such severe treachery over the slight. To me, it is one thing for the Frey's to withdraw from the Starks and even go to the other side, but quite another to plan such treachery. Granted we don't know Walder Frey all that well, and there are many advantages for the Freys that can come out of the treachery, but it just feels so manufactured.

    And what about Old Bear Mormont? Survives the Fist, only to be killed by his own men over a petty squabble at the dinner table. Sure, plausible, given the kind of men they were and their circumstances, but sudden and meaningless.
     
  7. dshadow Gems: 8/31
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    It's a year since I read the book but I'm sure that Robb was supposed to marry one of Walder's many grandchildren in return for Walder's aid in the war. So I think it makes perfect sense that Walder would be pretty incensed about this sort of thing and plot to have Robb killed. After all, people fought duels to the death in the Dark Ages over supposed insults so it doesn't strike me as farfetched - particularly in light of the fact that Robb was losing the war and Walder stood to gain a lot more from killing him (by way of the Lannisters' generosity to their allies) then he did by siding with Robb.

    Not every hero has to die a hero's death.

    99% of the time when some heroic, leader-type figure dies it's because they're outnumbered 1,000 to 1 and they die saving a city from destruction or something equally farfetched.

    I think it keeps the surprise value going by knowing that not every character is going to make it to the final book in one piece.
     
  8. Blackthorne TA

    Blackthorne TA Master in his Own Mind Staff Member ★ SPS Account Holder Adored Veteran Pillars of Eternity SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!) New Server Contributor [2012] (for helping Sorcerer's Place lease a new, more powerful server!) Torment: Tides of Numenera SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!)

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    Exactly right. Like I said though, it's plausible, but it seems forced. Why did Robb marry the girl? The events are not even part of the story; they are told by Robb to his mother. The only reason I can see is so there was a way for Robb to be killed by Frey.

    Certainly he would be upset, and even want Robb dead, but why the elaborate treachery? An honorable duel, or changing sides and fighting against the Starks for the insult, sure. Kill Robb on the field of battle on the side of the Lannisters. But to throw all honor aside and plot to kill him and all the men he brought with him under your own roof at a wedding feast which was part of the bargain made in apology? That seems a bit much.
     
  9. dshadow Gems: 8/31
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    I always had the impression that Walder Frey didn't give a damn about honour. And then there's the fact that he's very, very old and so probably a little senile into the bargain. To him it might have seemed like a perfectly reasonable action.
     
  10. Sprite Gems: 15/31
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    Walder Frey is a cruel, vindictive old man who expects everyone to grovel at his feet. The Starks had begged for his help and then insulted him by reneging on the promise to make one of his daughters a Queen, which had been a very important goal for him. I didn't find the Bloody Wedding out of character or implausible at all. Verisimilitude was also added by the fact that other Freys at the wedding were so stressed and anxious - it would have been hard for me to swallow the idea that *all* of the Freys were so evil, but that they were ruled by an awful old tyrant who could lead them into this, yes, it did "work" for me.

    Incidently, GRRM said he had to write this chapter last because it was so traumatic for him. The rest of the book was long finished before he finally sat down and wrote it, then cried like a baby. I thought that was such a sweet story. William Goldman reports something similar about when he was writing the Princess Bride- he had to stop and stare at the paper, rub his eyes, then he screamed, "Bill, you bastard, you killed Wesley!"
     
  11. Blackthorne TA

    Blackthorne TA Master in his Own Mind Staff Member ★ SPS Account Holder Adored Veteran Pillars of Eternity SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!) New Server Contributor [2012] (for helping Sorcerer's Place lease a new, more powerful server!) Torment: Tides of Numenera SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!)

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    I think people are misunderstanding me. I am not saying that it's not plausible or that it doesn't "work" in the story. I'm not even saying that I dislike the book because of it.

    It's that it seems too manufactured; it was created as a way to kill off Robb and his mother for whatever reason Martin needed for the story. He seems to have a need for many main characters to be killed off...

    When I read about Frey requiring Robb to marry one of his women, I thought it odd, but OK, the man is crotchety and petty and is exploiting Robb's need at the moment. Fine.

    Then Robb is telling his mom that he's married some other woman because he was hurt and she nursed him back to health. What the hell? OK. Georgie must need the Freys to be pissed off so Robb either loses them, or has to find some interesting way of bringing them back.

    Robb comes up with something that appears agreeable to Frey. When they arrive, there's TONS of foreshadowing: Grey Wind attacking the Freys and being required to be away from Robb (Hmmm.), Catelyn telling Robb that he MUST partake of food and salt to be under the guest protection (Ahmmmm.), all Robb's men outside the castle in tents with no food, but PLENTY of drink (MmmHmm.), all the Freys that like the Starks are mysteriously "away" (Uh oh.), Arya on her way to be reunited with mom and brother in company with the HOUND (whenever something is going Arya's way disaster has to strike :) Oh no!), the musicians that don't know how to play (Oh boy, watch out!), then finally the discovery that the Frey's are wearing armor under their finery (*Sigh* here it comes...).

    So I'm thinking, "You've got to be kidding! That odd stuff before was all just a setup to have Robb and company under the Frey's control so they could be killed?! Bah!" :)
     
  12. Fabius Maximus Gems: 19/31
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    BTA, you are right about these signs. I think Martin wanted to create an atmosphere of uncertainity, because the reader does not expect that he is going to kill two of his most charismatic charakters.

    About Robb wedding Jeyne Westerling, there is a simple explanation: He did not possibly watn to father a bastard, so he wed her.
     
  13. Blackthorne TA

    Blackthorne TA Master in his Own Mind Staff Member ★ SPS Account Holder Adored Veteran Pillars of Eternity SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!) New Server Contributor [2012] (for helping Sorcerer's Place lease a new, more powerful server!) Torment: Tides of Numenera SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!)

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    Hehe. You guys! You're talking like these people are living, breathing entities that are not made up and controlled by the author!

    Of course that was the reason stated by Robb. He is an honorable man, so why would he break his word? It was an accident; a foolish mistake by a 16-year-old.

    But why did Martin write this into his story? All I can see so far (and like I said, I'm only in the middle of the book) is that he needed a reason to kill off Robb by the Freys (and perhaps throw a wrench in the Lannister plans by Jeyne having Robb's son of course, which I'm pretty sure is going to happen :) ).

    Again, I'm not saying it doesn't make sense, or that it's bad writing. It just seems like Martin had plans for killing off some characters and the way he chose to kill them off seemed forced; especially in the case of Robb and Catelyn Stark.
     
  14. LKD Gems: 31/31
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    I have to weigh in here and say that it didn't seem forced to me at all. IIRC, the Lannisters were made aware of the plan to kill Robb. It was all part of the plot -- while I don't have the book handy right now, I believe that the Lannisters sweetened the pot by offering Frey money and other considerations. Frey did not get where he is by acting honourably. I liked the way it was handled, personally, especially the resurrection of Catelyn and Arya's near reunion / death at the castle.
     
  15. Blackthorne TA

    Blackthorne TA Master in his Own Mind Staff Member ★ SPS Account Holder Adored Veteran Pillars of Eternity SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!) New Server Contributor [2012] (for helping Sorcerer's Place lease a new, more powerful server!) Torment: Tides of Numenera SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!)

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    Heh. Looks like I'm the odd man out then! :)

    But I still don't think you're understanding me well, so I'll try one last time.

    Why was Robb killed? Almost solely because he insulted the Freys by marrying another when he promised to marry the Frey of his choice.

    Why did Robb marry another? Completely away from the story as presented to us, he apparently gets injured and Jeyne nurses him to health. Robb does the nasty with her and feels obligated. Throwing good sense to the wind, he marries Jeyne knowing full well what an insult he is perpetrating, and on whom.

    Why did Robb agree to marry a Frey if he didn't intend to follow through? He was forced into it by the necessity of his war.

    OK. All three plausible. But number two up there is really what blows it for me. Sure, you can come up with all kinds of reasons why it happened, but there is nothing to support it. It wasn't even part of the story presented to us; we find out from a few lines of dialog between Robb and his mother.

    So. The only thing leading to Robb's death at the hands of the Freys is this indiscretion on his part, which is completely forced from the point of view of the story IMO.

    So, it seems to me that the author needed Robb to be killed by the Freys through treachery in his story, and came up with this weak plotline to make it happen.

    But I guess that's just me :)
     
  16. Fabius Maximus Gems: 19/31
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    Now, I understand you, BTA.

    Certainly, Martin wanted to kill Robb, because he wanted add to the depressing feeling his books are transporting. But the storyline is IMHO not weak.
     
  17. Alyr Arkhon Gems: 10/31
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    Wow, finally an interesting thread. :)

    Imho you forget one thing about Robb, BTA. He's the son of Eddard Stark, who was famous about his honor. In fact, his honour killed him, when he wanted to give the throne to Stannis after Robert's death. In "A Game of Thrones" Littlefinger says a very important thing about Ned:
    "You wear your honor like a suit of armor, Stark. You think it keeps you safe, but all it does is weigh you down and make it hard for you to move."

    Ned's rigid honour is a weakness, just as the honour of Robb. Robb must wed Jeyne after he beds her, because his honour dictates this. On the other hand, not Robb, but Catelyn made the wedding proposal to the Freys. So it's clear, that Jeyne is more important for Robb's honour after what happened between them, than Catelyn's promise.

    As for the wedding and foreshadowings, I think that was absolutley intended. The whole scene is very theatrical (in the good meaning), I almost felt that I'm watching a more horroristic play of Shakespeare.
     
  18. Blackthorne TA

    Blackthorne TA Master in his Own Mind Staff Member ★ SPS Account Holder Adored Veteran Pillars of Eternity SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!) New Server Contributor [2012] (for helping Sorcerer's Place lease a new, more powerful server!) Torment: Tides of Numenera SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!)

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    I agree that the foreshadowings were good; it was not my intent to say otherwise. I was merely illustrating what was going through my mind at the time because I couldn't believe Martin was going to kill Robb off in such a fashion.

    Why I say the plotline is weak is that there are only those three parts to it: Marriage agreement with Freys, Betrayal of that agreement by Robb, Betrayal in return by Frey. IMO the first two parts of that are weak (especially the second part), and only exist to make part three possible.

    And as I said above, you can come up with many reasons why Robb married Jeyne that fit in with his character, but that doesn't change the fact that the whole thing with Jeyne was not necessary other than to provide a reason for the Frey betrayal. It was not even part of the presented story.
     
  19. LKD Gems: 31/31
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    I liked the fact that some major things happen "off-screen" as it were. It adds to the suspense for me.
     
  20. Capstone Gems: 16/31
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    [​IMG] I agree with BTA about Robb's wedding. Of course, we have to remember that Jeyne is actually still alive -- and may have a part yet to play in future books of the series.

    As for Frey being willing to kill Robb... well, BTA, I think you've forgotten Frey's nature -- he's been built up from the first book as a cold petty schemer, always trying to play both sides of every conflict. In this case, with one side insulting him multiple times and the other offering a sweet deal, it's no surprise he should actually pick a camp this time.

    While Robb's insult was the spur to his death at the hands of the Freys, it should be kept in mind that the Late Lord Frey was always ready to switch to whichever side seemed to offer the greatest advantage for the least personal risk.

    I do however understand your frustration with the lack of story surrounding Robb and Jeyne. Perhaps someone should ask George why he left that out -- time or length restraints? Or was it deliberately left fuzzy because he wants to unveil more surprises about it later? Or because it was simply a contrivance and only tangentially important to the storyline? Nothing we'll be able to answer until the sequels appear, I'm sure.

    Incidentally, Martin seems fond of betrayals as a way of killing off his main characters.

    On a more general note, I loved the first two books of this series. I was shocked when he killed off Ned (the first main character to die, IIRC), but somehow it drew me in to the story more. The third novel, though, has left me a little unsettled. Most of my interest (like many other readers) was invested in the Starks, who seem now to be dropping like flies. It's getting decidedly more difficult to figure out who the conflict centers around -- which is interesting; after all, we all like mystery -- but I would like *something* to anchor to, and my central figures have this annoying habit of DYING! I was extraordinarily glad for the last chapter -- Dondarrion's vendetta against the Freys, may he kill every last bloody one of them.

    At any rate, I'm still holding up hopes for this being the best fantasy series ever, but we shall see.
     
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