04:01:22 PM Nov 17th 2013
Removed the following discussion because it's not about plot holes, it's about behind-the-scenes adaptation choices.
Changing Asha's name to Yara to avoid confusion with Osha....
What the heck? Those two don't even have a scene together, and it's not like Osha's a major character. Besides, we have Robb/Robert/Robin, Jon Snow/Jon Arryn, Tyrion/Tywin and all the Targaryens have similar sounding names - why bother to change this one?
- Maybe Osha's role is expanded in the television show? There's some speculation that she will take the place of the Reeds from the books.
- That could be even more problematic in the long run. Unless they plan to write in Rickon to Bran's journey.
- What I'd like to know is why they couldn't have just gave Osha a different or variant name (Oshanna or some other random Spearwife's name) to begin with if they foresaw the trouble with Asha, unless they thought they would only be given one season. Still, Osha's such a minor character in the books and her name is barely ever mentioned on-screen (if at all) that I'd doubt the "casual viewers" who the producers are so ostensibly worried about would be any wiser if her name was changed between seasons anyway.
- Because, as seen in the second season, Osha has been getting a lot more screentime than she got in the books, and she's received more screen time than Yara thus far.
- My guess is because both characters interact directly with Theon on the show. But yeah, it reeks of Viewers Are Morons. Robert Arryn's name was changed to Robin, even though in-universe he's named after Robert Baratheon, but it's not a major change since his nickname is Sweetrobin.
- Wildlings are going to have their own accent, that's the best way to emphasise the difference. Robin can be assumed to be a pet name since he's clearly being babied all the time.
- That could be even more problematic in the long run. Unless they plan to write in Rickon to Bran's journey.
03:50:03 PM Nov 17th 2013
Removed this because it's a discussion of fan reaction, not plot holes:
Why do people think the Ironborn are Vikings?
Okay, I guess I probably should be asking this in ASOIF headscratchers or something, but all the same... Why do people think the Ironborn are Vikings? They're not Vikings at all. They're located in the south, not the north. Their religion is monotheistic (okay, fine, there's one other god apparently, but he's more or less the Devil) and their deity isn't even a war-god or one of wisdom like Odin was. Their leaders live in high stone castles, not thatched halls, they have ordained priests and a weird baptism ritual, they don't place any importance on poetry or have any oral traditions to speak of. Their kings are autocratic, unlike actual Norse governance where the chieftain would get input from everyone. Their homelands are flat, featureless islands without snow or pine trees or fjords. Their so-called 'longships' aren't really longships. Yeah, they have something vaguely resembling the alvthing in the books, but that's it. Their idea of heaven isn't Valhalla; they apparently eat nothing but fish and make merry with mermaids, they don't fight and die and wake up again for fun. They don't even have a theory of courage like the Norse did, or the grim fatalism of Vikings. Their governance isn't Nordic, their fighting style isn't Nordic, their naming conventions aren't Nordic (indeed, especially the oddly named 'Victarion'), their mythology isn't Nordic, their ideals of the afterlife aren't Nordic, their clothing isn't Nordic. In short, nothing about them is Nordic. The only thing that may be construed to be similar to the Vikings? They use boats. They seem to be more like GRRM decided to take cliched depictions of pirates and said 'Let's see if I can make an entire culture out of a caricature!'
- That's what GRRM really did. He took the Viking stereotype, blew it Up to 11, and called it Ironborn. He took the Mongol stereotype, blew it Up To Eleven, and called it Dothraki. He took the Moorish Spain stereotype, blew it Up To Eleven, and called it Dorne. Of course, since he's writing Fantasy and not History he is perfectly capable of using as much stereotypes as he can. About why there is people who can't see the difference between Ironborn and Vikings, well, the reason is obvious. Ignorance.
- I'm not sure how much of this derives from the books (I think it does), but one of the pieces of "lore" found as a DVD extra is a discussion by Yara of the Drowned God religion, and it does indicate some clear parallels with Norse theology. The Ironborn believe that when one of them drowns, it is said they have been taken by the Drowned God to serve as an oarsman, and will get to cavort with nymphs and have a good time. So, the Ironborn believe in an afterlife that is Valhalla BUT UNDERWATER. She also describes the Drowned God (in contrast with the Seven) as Father, Warrior, and Stranger, which sounds kind-of Odinish.
- Not the same. When a Viking dies, he goes to Valhalla because he impressed Odin, not because he has need of a servant (though in some myths, he made Valhalla to get the loyalty of dead warriors to fight with him at Ragnarok). Cavorting with nymphs happened in Folkvangr, Freya's Hall, not Odin's. And since the Ironborn don't spend their days fighting in the Drowned God's courtyard, to my knowledge, it can hardly be called Valhalla. Elaborating on their fighting style, I see no shield-walls, nor berserkers. Very few Ironborn seem to use a shield in the first instance. And then there's the fact that they have uniforms, who honestly could believe that raiding parties like the Vikings had uniforms? They didn't even have the same patterns on their shields! Oh yes, and then there's also the fact that their beards are rather simple. Real Vikings really did have large, elaborate beards. In Iceland at least, mentioning a guy's lack of beard is a short hand for calling him gay.
- As for the Dothraki? They're as bad as the Ironborn. Real steppe people live in pretty cold places, not middle-eastern deserts. They historically favored the bow, didn't expose their chests for nothing (Mongols, at least in Chingiss Khan's army, wore what was essentially a fur longcoat with lamellar armour over it), aren't very dark-skinned, had little compunctions about eating horses, etc, etc and weren't quite this hung up on horses (we certainly never worshiped them!). They seem more like an ill-informed view of Turk and Mongol tribes and seem to owe much more to Native Americans with their animist theology.
- There's a need to distinguish between being inspired by Vikings and thinking, as you put it, that "the Ironborn are Vikings," which only a person unacquainted with the different between fact and fiction would believe. They're hard-living, seafaring people of a cold, rocky, stormy region whose economy is based around raiding, so the Viking influences are plain to be seen. But as GRRM has noted, the Iron Islands are at least as inspired by Ireland — similar geographical location, an ancient kingdom nominally under the rule of a neighbouring realm but constantly on the verge of rebellion, a distinct religion, etc. So they're a fictional people with a variety of real world inspirations (and the Dothraki are too). I'm really not sure I see what the problem is here.
- There are similarites certainly in the book. They have actual longships for the majority of their boats (the Iron fleet is war galleys however), they do utilize a shield wall in combat and have thralls. They have the ocaisonal Kingsmoot (albeit not for thousands of years at this point) where Kings are elected. But of course they're not carbon copy vikings, that'd be boring. Like if Dothraki were actual Mongols.
- Valid in the books, YMMV in the show. A common complaint about season two is that the ironborn scenes were rather boring. Now, if they were more like the vikings in, well, Vikings, personally I think that would have been far more entertaining.
- But anyway, I suppose the main reason why I'm angry is because I've seen actual media sources like the Guardian praise GOT (and ASOIF) as a 'more realistic interpretation of the dark ages than any historical fiction novel' which is just fucking sickening. If anything, Westeros functions solely on Age of Enlightenment misconceptions of the middle ages and actually ends up being the most ridiculous conception of it I've ever seen. And yet to see it praised as a seamless mirror of our own history is appalling. Not that those outlets exhibit a detailed knowledge of historical cultures themselves Especially if they think that the Dothraki are 'Chingiss Khan's Mongols', which is just an insult to every Chingiss Khan strove for, and then making an idiotic blanket statement like 'it hearkens to Icelandic sagas'; what does he even fucking mean by that? Yes, Iceland basically is the place where we get the best sources of informations about the sagas and history of the Norse; but that wording seems to imply that only Icelandics were significantly going a-viking. Anyway, I'm probably just being over-anal - but the Ironborn most certainly AREN'T Vikings as I've already said - they're not even good romanticized Vikings like Norscans or Nords. It's when I see things like this that I just bristle and wonder where these thoughts come from. And seeing that the fans apparently think the same thing doesn't help matters.
- I don't think they think that it's a historical novel or anything: it refers more to his use of violence and everything in order to not have a Ye Goode Olde Days vibe. It's like a moral version of The Dung Ages.
- Both of those tropes were created by people with no understanding of medieval times, but The Dung Ages is like that insufferable, pretentious hipster who spouts half-knowledge all the time.
- What, the tropes? Well, the description even says neither is accurate. I just think that The Dung Ages is annoying. As for the language? Welcome to the internet, friend. Where people sneak expletives for the misguided attempts at humor. And as for 'no one thinks it's our history' part? Break that to these motherfuckers. Yeah, and this shit was written into the damn wikipedia article for this show. But all the same, quit getting angry when some guy on the web decides to drop a few F-bombs. I didn't mean anything by it, least of all actual anger.
- It's not the swearing so much as the overall "frothing lunatic" vibe that your rhetorical style conveys, but if you're comfortable with that, great! I'm curious, did you actually read that article or just the title? Because it is pretty clear on the fact that that the show is not history, but rather that it takes inspiration from figures and incidents from history. He does make claims like "The result, paradoxically, is that there are sequences where the invented world of Westeros can seem more realistic than the evocations of the past to be found in many a historical novel" but this is comparing Go T to historical fiction, not to history itself.
- Yeah, and my point is that it does both of those things so badly it shouldn't get such an inordinate amount of praise for it. But thank you for the personal attack nonetheless. Throughout the article he presents Song as reflecting history better than literature whose purpose is to actually do that and even goes so far as to say its accurate while doing so. Which is wrong.
- The word "accurate" appears nowhere in that article, but never mind. By your own admission, historical fiction is meant to reflect history (itself a nebulous concept — reflecting history is not the same thing as being history), and fantasy is not. Thus, critiquing fantasy literature for insufficiently reflecting history makes no sense.
- No. But it was more or less stated indirectly. I think that it's wrong to say that; especially considering that people go on about 'how Game of Thrones aims to give a realistic view of a feudal society'. It doesn't.
- It's always worth bearing in mind that "realism" can mean either of two things — naturalism, or accuracy. ASOIAF aims mainly for the former. This isn't meant to be a representation of the real world, either in terms of which cultures are "represented" or of how real-life political systems worked. It's meant to be a world in which people act like people. That's what is earning it so much praise, as people see that naturalism as being rare in modern fantasy.
- It's worth noting that the Guardian article you cited was by an actual historian and author of historical fiction with, like, credentials and stuff. I'm not saying he's the foremost authority or something, but it is a Cambridge educated dude with knowledge of the subject that you're calling an idiot.
- Man, this thread got off topic. But, to answer the original question, I personally thought of the Northmen as more Viking than the Greyjoys. Their architecture looks more Nordic, and the Lords (the Starks, at least) take the advice of their vassals into consideration more often than not. Also, their religion is polytheistic. Mentally, I split Viking culture in half and gave the Northmen the domestic, day-to-day stuff and the Ironborn the raiding and pillaging.