Saturday, August 10, 2013

Game of Thrones Roundup - Chapters 29-43

This is post number 3 in the ASOIAF Book Club with Jamie from Mithril Wisdom, Ria from Bibliotropic, and Heather from Reading, Writing, and Everything In Between! We are reading Game of Thrones together in 10 weeks.

Here are our questions this week:

Heather: What do you think of Catelyn Stark's sudden capture of Tyrion Lannister and her trek to see her crazy sister? Was it a mother's reaction seeking revenge, or a strong woman trying to do her best for the Realm?

I actually felt at the time I was reading it that Catelyn was reacting out of fear. Tyrion Lannister, in her mind, tried to murder her son and initiated the traumatic attack on herself, and I think she is actually afraid of him. This in conjunction with her anger and grief at what was done to Bran, I believe, caused her rash reaction. She has shown that she is capable of hating someone irrationally before (Jon Snow), and this seems to be happening here with Tyrion as well.

Ria: It seems that the author uses a good deal of archetypes as a base for his characters. Do you feel that this weakens the story when characters are models bordering on stereotypes, or does the large cast with a diverse number of archetypes balance that out?

Martin does seem to use archetypes, but I also think that he likes to do surprising things with these characters that break them out of their molds. For example, dwarfs in fantasy are known to bring humour to the story; Tyrion Lannister does this, yes, but he also says some of the most thought-provoking things in the novel and brings so much more to the story.

Jamie: Danaerys has grown quite bold since she was sold off to Khal Drogo, to the point where she has much less of a problem swinging for Viserys 'douchebag of the year' Targaryen. Do you think her development is down to her becoming stronger, the fact that she has a child to protect or is she getting comfortable in the safety of the khalasar?

Dany's story has actually been one of my favourite character development arcs so far. I think she is getting stronger because she feels like she finally belongs with a people in combination with her growing up and realizing she doesn't have to do everything Viserys says anymore. I loved the parts where she finally stood up to Viserys!

Allison: So far, I am generally pro-Stark and anti-Lannister, but in the case of Catelyn vs. Tyrion I am torn. Who do you feel allied with in their situation?

I'm leaning towards Tyrion, but I really do feel for Catelyn and applaud her for outwitting him! I am impressed that she was able to outsmart him, I really am. Though I think her decision to take him captive was stupid and based on irrational feelings.

Final Thoughts:

There aren't really any boring parts to this book yet, and I appreciate that. The action, interesting story, and character development just keep coming. I actually started watching the TV show this week because my brother had it; I watched up to the parts I've read. They have done a good job of keeping to the book so far, and I love the actors chosen for the parts!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

IWSG: Killer Openings

Firstly, I would like to apologize, and apologize in advance, for my busyness, for not posting regularly or visiting my buddies' blogs. I've been moving to a new place, looking for a second job, and working through various other life issues. I may need to take a blog break soon (but hopefully not for too long and definitely not until after I'm done the Game of Thrones read-along!).

Now, down to business. I want to talk about killer openings in novels. And when I say killer openings, I don't mean awesome beginnings, I mean the kind that will kill your novel because readers will stop right there and move on to something better.

Here's a top 10 list I've compiled from some writers' and literary agents' opinions (combined with my own). Some of these are general and some specific to sci-fi or fantasy.

1. The dream
Starting with a dream is not shocking any more. It's been done and people expect it. If you're going to try to toy with my mind, do it in another way, I beg of you!!

2. The backstory
There's nothing that will make me shut a book faster than the info dump. I want to be thrown into the action, not have the world explained to me.

3. The looking in a mirror
There has to be a more creative way to explain what your main character looks like.

4. The dialogue
Too many people talking at the beginning just gets confusing, and it can be boring if I'm not invested in them (which I'm not, because I just met them).

5. The getting sucked into a portal
Narnia did it, and it was neat. Do it in a new way and I'll be impressed.

6. The gathering herbs in a forest
I remember a literary agent I'm familiar with complaining about how sick she was of reading fantasy stories that start this way. Don't. Just don't.

7. The educating
This a no-no particularly in YA and MG, but I'd argue for adult too. I don't want to be aware that I'm being taught something... I want to read a good story! Take me straight to the action.

8. The battle scene
This is a problem because, once again, I am not invested in the characters yet and I don't know what's at stake. Why should I be interested?

9. The distant, third person narrator
In fantasy, often the Boy or the Old Man. I also dislike the narrator we first meet disappearing after a chapter or two to be replaced by the main character. Just start me out with the main character!

10. The prologue
Vastly debated among amateurs and professionals alike, I am definitely on the con-prologue side. I've never read a book that had a prologue and couldn't be started at Chapter 1 without missing ANYTHING important.

And there you have my list. What do you think is important to avoid and important to get right in a first chapter?