Posts Tagged: George R.R. Martin

A Dance with Dragons... a year later

When A Dance with Dragons was released, I didn’t write a review of it, in fact, I barely discussed within my community of fellow Fantasy fans. I wrote a piece or two about it, debated a bit with friends, but otherwise, I let one of Fantasy’s most impactful and anticipated releases slip me by. This is odd given that I run a fairly well trafficked Fantasy and Science Fiction publication, A Dribble of Ink, and a lot of my readers were interested in hearing my take on the fifth volume of Martin’s mega-successful A Song of Ice and Fire. But, I let them down, and, a year later, I’ve thought a lot of why I never wrote about the book, never formally reviewed it, despite enjoying it a fair bit more than the average fan seems to have, and it’s all because of expectations. Mine, and those of the fans around the world.

At first, as an entrenched fan, I felt special. Because, you see, I’d discovered Martin years earlier. He was my little secret. But, then it became clear that Martin wasn’t just a fad, wasn’t just a passing ghost of geekdom on the mainstream, he was a real thing. Maybe it was seeing Martin spoofed on Saturday Night Live, or when he was sitting there in the crowd at the Emmys, but finally it clicked with me. He’s not my secret anymore. Hell, he’s not even our secret anymore. Fantasy has a new ringleader, he wears a Greek sailor’s hat, thick glasses, and rides a wave of popularity the likes the genre hasn’t seen since The Lord of the Rings. Read More »

Game of Thrones RPG
Okay, I’ll admit it, I first loaded up Game of Thrones, a full-on Dragon Age-style RPG developed by Canadian/French developer Cyanide Entertainment, with some hesitancy. Like many Fantasy fans, I consider Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire to be a pre-eminent work of Fantasy and place it among my very favourite pieces of fiction, regardless of medium. Though there is recent precedent for the adaptation of the series into other formats (particularily HBO’s television series and the Graphic Novel, adapted in part my Daniel Abraham), videogames have always been a difficult transition due to the non-linear style of storytelling that they often employ. Added to this, developer Cyanide Studio doesn’t exactly have the strongest back library of games and their previous attempt at a Game of Thrones videogame, A Game of Thrones: Genesis was poorly received (so much so that the publisher of Game of Thrones, Atlus, very clearly points out in the press material that this game was developed by an entirely different team at Cyanide!)


So, then, I booted up my PS3, eager but also weary of what I’d find. First impression? A twenty-plus minute mandatory install to my PS3’s harddrive. No flavour text or history to read through, no stirring music or pretty screenshots. Just twenty-plus minutes of a bar slowly filling up.

The graphics are pretty dire. While the art direction is decent at times (if a little over-the-top for Martin’s generally reserved world), the first environment (Castle Black) is bland and lifeless, textures are poor, the characters animate awkwardly, and the faces are almost as bad as an Elder Scrolls game. Further, thought this might be a PS3 issue, which has always Framerate is junky and there’s a noticeable amount of tearing.
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I stumbled across this the other day and thought there might be some interest, since so many of you are also fans of Game of Thrones. This concept art was created by artist Kimberley Pope in the early stages of development for Game of Thrones, helping to solidify the foundations for the ‘look’ of the show as it brought George R.R. Martin’s words to life. Beautiful stuff.

Game of Thrones Concept Art by Kimberley Pope Read More »

THE KING'S BLOOD by Daniel AbrahamSo there’s this argument about epic fantasy that keeps coming up, and it makes me uncomfortable every time I see it. Usually it goes something like this: a beloved novel or series set in a world with kings and knight and dragons – that is to say one set in an imaginary medieval Europe – is analyzed and found somehow wanting. Not enough strong women, too many white people, too much sexual violence. As the debate fires up, one of the defenders of book or series makes some variation of the argument that fantasy that has the set dressings of medieval Europe is better if it also has medieval social norms. Or, at a lower diction, “But the Middle Ages really were sexist/racist/filled with sexual violence.”

And there, my dear friends, I get my back up. With all respect, this is a bad argument. If you don’t mind, I’d like to run down my objections to it in hopes of putting a stake through this argument’s rhetorical heart.

First off – and I include this only because it deserves to be said – history is more complex than a fantasy novel. The Middle Ages, for all their many faults, also included Moorsh Spain where religious tolerance and civilization flourished. Women in the 14th century England could own property and accumulate wealth. The argument that “it was really like that” assumed that there’s a singular “it” that can be applied. There’s not. That alone should be enough to stop this rhetorical strategy, but it’s not the part of the argument that actually chafes me, so put it aside and let’s pretend for a while that there was only one homogenous Middle Ages. And let’s say that from the fall of Rome to the Enlightenment was one long uninterrupted stream sexual subjugation, racial hatred, rape, and plague. It wasn’t, but let’s pretend.
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