RFTIT Tumblr Weeklyish Roundup

Hey folks! I’ve finished teaching for the semester, which means I’ve got a week and a bit clear to do some writing before final papers come in to be graded. So with any luck I should be able to finish Politics of Dorne Part III (currently at 1,000 words) and the next ASOS chapter before then.

In the mean-time, we’ve got some stuff on the Tumblrs:

ASOIAF:

Non-ASOIAF:

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7 thoughts on “RFTIT Tumblr Weeklyish Roundup

  1. Brett says:

    You believe in the long in-universe timeline? The shorter time-lines make more sense, while still leaving events in the distant mythical past. I don’t think we’re supposed to dismiss that altogether, either, given that the characters who bring it up (Sam and Ned Blackwood) are sympathetic nerds.

    Jonos Bracken’s not just a womanizer – he’s a rapist. The woman that Jonos Bracken was raping in that Jaime chapter was a lover (maybe wife) of a Blackwood man-at-arms that the Brackens killed (hence her “I’m not whore” remark, and his openly calling her a war prize or something like that).

    It looks like not just the DCEU will be looking for a reboot. I wonder if the X-Men are just totally going to get rebooted by Disney after Fox gets their few remaining X-Men films done, or whether they’ll try and splice it together with some plot magic in one of the Avengers films.

    • medrawt says:

      Why do you think the shorter timeline makes more sense? The time-scales involved are still crazy-by-analogy to our world, and if we’re admitting an un-“realistic” timeline in the first place, I’m not sure how much sense “more” vs “less” realism/sense is a logical consideration. Particularly when:

      (1) Much of the world-building involves accepting fantasy ideas straightforwardly and/or pumping up the real world to fantastic proportions.

      (2) We know that the average accepted viewpoint of the Maesters towards the fantastic is a kind of skepticism that we in the real world would find sensible but that, in-story, is routinely proven wrong. Sam’s a sympathetic nerd, and he’s working with the best textual evidence available to him, but prior to his arrival at the Wall, Sam would have also said that the Others probably never existed. When in doubt, Old Nan’s probably got the right of it.

      • Brett says:

        Looks like my comment got eaten.

        When Sam says, for example, that the accounts have “knights before there were knights”, I don’t think we’re supposed to think he’s wrong and there actually were knights. It’s that what happened in-universe has been covered by a layer of myth and anachronisms in the telling. Old Nan’s not immune to that either – Jon reflects that the giants she told stories about were giant men living in big castles, whereas when he actually sees the giants he finds out they’re big hairy vegetarian ape-like beings.

        The timeline is something similar. The First Men didn’t have a system of writing at all aside from the runes, so any record of times passed would be oral. The Andals did, but they were also the equivalent of early Iron-Age warlords and migrants. There’s no reason to assume that it’s accurate in-universe.

        I’m a fan of Adam Whitehead’s “roughly half the times” argument. 2000 years between the arrival of the Andals and the “present” in the books is about the same time between the Late Bronze Age Collapse/Early Iron Age and the High Middle Ages. 4000 years gives you the time between the High Middle Ages and the start of the Old Kingdom in Egypt – so long that whatever happened is remembered but heavily shrouded in myth and folklore, especially since the First Men didn’t have writing.

        Granted, that doesn’t do anything about the absurdly long survival times of aristocratic houses in Westeros.

        • medrawt says:

          (this is stupidly long, sorry) I definitely agree with you on the first part – just as medieval art shows ancient figures wearing anachronistic clothing and armor, Westerosi culture and folklore circa 300 years after Aegon’s Conquest projects its current assumptions backwards in time, which is why there are knights of the Kingsguard thousands of years before there were knights at all, etc.

          I have two issues with the “half the time” idea, or general “shortening of the timeline” ideas: the Maesters and the whole idea of “realism” in the timeline. Maesters first:

          The in-universe justification for calendrical skepticism comes from the Maesters, and we have a lot of in-universe evidence that the Maester conventional wisdom is usually wrong about this stuff. Old Nan’s folk stories might not preserve accurate details of giants, but she’s right that there were giants; the Maester groupthink is canonically wrong about all sorts of hard to swallow facts: that’s the point of Marwyn the Mage (and, apparently, Septon Barth). Plus their skepticism comes from a place of poor documentation. That’s intellectually valid (if I only knew what they do, I’d probably agree with them), but look: we can’t reconstruct a dependable early history (or king list) for Gwynedd, a very real polity that lasted for about eight hundred years and had a literate upper class. That the Maesters can’t find a scroll that confirms whether something happened four thousand or eight thousand years ago doesn’t strike me as persuasive knowing what I do about real world documentary evidence over (by any interpretation) a shorter timeframe.

          Now, at unfortunately greater length, the other thing. A shorter timeline drags us CLOSER to something we would think is “plausible”, but doesn’t really get us there. And I don’t think Martin is interested in “less implausible worldbuilding” as a virtue. There are two kinds of obvious “unrealism” in GRRM’s world: the stuff that calls attention to itself and serves to make the world feel bigger and fantastic (flying dragons, enormous kingdoms, supersized castles), and the stuff that isn’t foregrounded, which we can assume is a matter of simplicity and convenience (everyone in Westeros speaks the same language). There are also some things which are just mistakes (I don’t think Martin has any intention of telling us something about Westeros with the idea that plate armor is clumsier to wear than mail, he just absorbed inaccurate information.) I think some of the historical fuzziness is an intentional attempt at “realism” (the obvious anachronisms in the folk stories) and some of it is accidental (our host has pointed out multiple internal inconsistencies in the chronology of the World of Ice and Fire); Martin’s eye for detail and continuity in the series proper is incredible, but I personally suspect it gets a lot blurrier at the edges. So when I look at something like the confusing history of the Maesters, or the history of Westerosi literacy, or who made weapons from what metal when*, my instinct is that I’m looking at someone who knows all this stuff would be opaque to his characters anyway, so it’s not THAT carefully constructed.

          * I’m cool with “iron-working Andals invade bronze-working First Men”, but reading Attewell’s summaries of the World of Ice and Fire I get the impression that Martin and/or his aides have tripped over some confusing ideas about technology transfer and/or the use and usefulness of blades made from iron that isn’t steel.

          Similarly I don’t think “magic seasons slow down technical progress” is going to be any more thought out in Martin’s head than that sentence – if I turn out to be wrong, fair enough. Whitehead’s “half the time” proposal is actually longer than the timeline you suggest – more like 3k years since the Andals, 4k since the Long Night, 6k since the First Men come to Westeros. If I’ve found his blog correctly, Whitehead writes: “Halving the timespans given in A Song of Ice and Fire gives us a pace of technological development only twice as slow as in the real world, not unreasonable given […] the harsh seasons…” I don’t see why a pace of development four times as slow as the real world is any less realistic or desirable. Plus the longer the timeline is, the more it contributes to the intentionally unrealistic-because-fantasy element of making the world feel bigger (and older) than our own. And as you say we still have the families to deal with. Cutting the timeline in half still gives us a Stark family that’s twice as old as the Japanese imperial line, which AFAIK is the longest-claimed family succession in our world. Not to mention, isn’t it cooler if the book ends with the ACTUAL 1000th commander of the Night’s Watch (whomever it may be)? Martin didn’t make Jon #998 for nothing.

          There are areas of the books where I feel strongly enough that I’d be surprised to be wrong. Though I clearly have too much to say on this topic, it isn’t actually one of them – if Martin says “yeah, definitely, short timeline” I won’t mind or be surprised. But my intuition is that the timeline skepticism is a little easter egg Martin is throwing in for his and our amusement, while the main thrust of his writing suggests the world his characters live in is even older and bigger and stranger than they know.

        • Bob Dillon says:

          I think stories of “giant men living in castles” are stories that originated in the culture of the children of the forest (for whom the first men were indeed giant men living in castles) that have been adopted by those very first men.

          Bob

  2. CapnAndy says:

    You’ve got real problems with spelling Sokovia, huh.

  3. zonaria says:

    We are supposed to consider that Garth the Gross is a candidate for the Perfumed Seneschal. But not, I think, for very long.

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