Eruditorum Press

The Coalition of Chaos

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Elizabeth Sandifer

Elizabeth Sandifer created Eruditorum Press. She’s not really sure why she did that, and she apologizes for the inconvenience. She currently writes Last War in Albion, a history of the magical war between Alan Moore and Grant Morrison. She used to write TARDIS Eruditorum, a history of Britain told through the lens of a ropey sci-fi series. She also wrote Neoreaction a Basilisk, writes comics these days, and has ADHD so will probably just randomly write some other shit sooner or later.Support Elizabeth on Patreon.

41 Comments

  1. Aylwin
    June 29, 2015 @ 12:27 am

    Is that a set photo rather than a still? It doesn't look familiar, costumes are being adjusted, and the Kingsguard on the right seems to be thinking "Seriously, I have to wear this hat?"

    Which would be fair enough of course. I'm oddly fascinated by the blingy Kingsguard armour. In isolation it looks quite cool, but the flashiness of it looks ridiculous on anyone at all rough-looking, like Meryn Trant or, spectacularly, the Hound – I think he wears his once, and never again. Really not his look. Selmy gets away with it, but only Jaime is smooth and dashing enough to really make it work for him. But the helmets? No one could make those look good.

    No doubt Martin would expound at great length on how the vanes on top are not only silly-looking but impractical. Really, if you don't want to listen to about half an hour of complaints about helmets or the lack thereof, do not listen to Martin's DVD commentary on Blackwater

    Reply

  2. Aylwin
    June 29, 2015 @ 12:52 am

    Not like you to pick at plotholes. Join us! Joiiiiiiiin usssssssssssss!

    Actually, though I'm generally one for making a song and dance about this sort of thing, give or take Arya I don't have a particular problem with the cases here. Robb's hardly the first man to do disastrously stupid things for love, in reality let alone fiction (though it's true the acting doesn't entirely sell us on the idea that Talisa rocks his world). And this is surely one of Martin's most direct lifts from history, namely Edward IV's catastrophic marriage to Elizabeth Woodville. And he was no fool in general, so if that could happen, so could this.

    Jon failing to doing the deed didn't really strike me as out of character either. What is entirely ridiculous about that event is Qhorin and co walking off and leaving him to it. Why on earth would they do that? Even if there weren't obvious doubts about trusting a wet-behind-the-ears rookie to kill a pretty young female prisoner in cold blood unsupervised, why? Killing her would only take a moment, if he was actually going to do it, so why not get it done there and then? The only way it would make even the slightest trace of sense would be if there was a discreet rape subtext and they were giving him a chance to have his way with her privately before killing her, but I got no hint of that from the performances, and the risks of it would be even more obvious and extreme than if they were expecting him to just kill her. It's hard to imagine the Halfhand getting such a reputation, or still being alive, if he was in the habit of carrying on like that in the face of the enemy.

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  3. Aylwin
    June 29, 2015 @ 12:54 am

    By "this" I mean Robb's reckless marriage as such – obviously the specifics are different in the books.

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  4. SpaceSquid
    June 29, 2015 @ 12:55 am

    Entire books could have been cut if Arya had realized she had the opportunity to kill Tywin, Jon Snow had been willing to execute Ygritte, and Robb didn’t break his promise to Walder Frey.

    Fair points regarding Arya and Jon, but I’m struggling to see how Robb keeping his word would truncate anything – aside from anything else it seems to me that keeping Robb alive and able to campaign against the Ironborn in the North would extend the tale, if nothing else. In any case, I’d argue that the idea that Walder Frey wouldn't have betrayed Robb if not for him breaking his marriage vow is tremendously shaky. Robb turning down Jeyne Westerling almost certainly wouldn't have saved him from losing the Karstarks (those dominoes started to fall when Winterfell did), and it obviously had nothing to do with the loss of his home, the event which forced Robb to return to the Twins as a staging post to retake the western North. In both book and show those two events seriously weakened Robb to the point where victory was essentially impossible without the Freys, and one of the first things we learn about Frey in the books (if not the first) is that he doesn't even show up to aid those he’s sworn to for battles where victory is even so much as uncertain. We’re supposed to believe Frey would stick with the clearly losing side in a war because he’s been promised his daughter will one day be queen to the king who’s liable to be dead within months at the most? A ruler who is abandoning his lands south of the Neck to be defended by the scattered, exhausted and horrifically outnumbered locals whilst he rides home? If the Freys keep supporting Robb they paint a gigantic grey and blue target on their backs; when the Lannisters and Tyrells roll up the King’s Road to crush the rebels the only real way they can bottle up Robb is to sack the Twins. Which means Robb’s plan is for the Freys to act as ablative armour for his host whilst they reclaim what no competent ruler should ever have lost.

    I think a vastly more plausible outcome than Frey keeing faith is that the Red Wedding still goes down, only with Robb being the one who ties the knot minutes before the rain of quarrels. The Lannister offer of the entire Riverlands and revenge on the Tullys who spat on Walder for decades (along the support of Roose Bolton, who was almost certainly working against the King in the North long before Robb’s marriage) beats the hell out of some temporary influence-through-marriage of a brief and dying dynasty. The book makes much of how Robb “won every battle and lost the war in the marriage bed” (I suspect I misquote slightly) but I don’t see a political analysis supporting that.

    As always, Steven Attewell has much more on this point over at his wonderful Race for the Iron Throne site.

    Reply

  5. Aylwin
    June 29, 2015 @ 1:20 am

    the fact that Jon Snow’s best scene this episode is the one in which Qhorin is just whittering on about nothing

    Good wittering though. For me, that scene single-handedly leads to Qhorin joining Renly in the "we hardly knew ye" class of characters it would have been nice to see more of, though I suppose the fact that he is in such a hurry to expound his philosophy us makes it pretty clear that he is not long for this world.

    Regarding the status of King's Landing, Winterfell and the Wall as permanent fixtures of the board, I pondered a notion, which probably doesn't entirely hold up but might have something in it, of them as corresponding to a rather American set of archetypal poles of narrative geography – the Home Town, the Big Bad City and the Frontier. Of course, the Wall is a very un-American kind of frontier, being emphatically defensive rather than offensive from the point of view of the "civilised" folk, but I do get a Western vibe about much of the north-of-the-Wall stuff. The flirtation with a Dances With Direwolves scenario, the squalid "trading post"-type homestead run by a hillbillyish psycho frontiersman*, and the Halfhand, who has an air of some kind of "Indian-hunter", with due adjustments for the more pessimistic attitude encouraged by the overall situation. His combination of familiarity with and grim respect for his enemy and their environment, with bone-deep antipathy to both, and a conviction of their ultimate unfathomability which is dehumanising in the case of the people, seemed like something that could have given us more.

    Still, at least it gave us a compelling scene anyway.

    *Somehow the idea of Craster as a native-born Wildling, part of the surrounding culture, never rang true to me. He feels more like an outcast from the settled world, making it up as he goes along in an alien environment where he is isolated both from his own society and the one around him. A man who has either gone nuts in the wilderness or went out there because he was nuts to begin with.

    Reply

  6. Elizabeth Sandifer
    June 29, 2015 @ 7:55 am

    Possibly, although the guy staring into his helmet frustratedly was also why I picked that photo.

    Reply

  7. Elizabeth Sandifer
    June 29, 2015 @ 8:00 am

    To be clear, it's not so much that these are plot holes so much as that they're just shit storytelling, especially placed back-to-back like this. "Competent character does something dumb in order to make the plot work" is just unsatisfying.

    Contrast, notably, with genuinely earned moments of "smart person does dumb thing" such as Ned's confrontation with Cersei, Daenerys's resurrection of Drogo, or Tyrion's decision to go fuck off to the Hand's chamber instead of just escaping, all of which are fantastically ill-advised, but ill-advised in ways that are ruthlessly well set-up.

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    June 30, 2015 @ 4:59 pm

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  9. Daru
    July 2, 2015 @ 12:17 am

    "And while the decisions not to take any of these shorter routes have interesting consequences, they also slow down play unsatisfyingly and prove dramatically unsatisfying moments in their own right."

    Yep there was some pretty unsatisfying storytelling in those plotlines.

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