Why are there Vikings in this book?

Dear George RR Martin,

Why are there vikings in the Song of Ice and Fire? Seriously, I’m honestly curious. I mean, yeah, Vikings are cool, but you made a deliberate decision somewhere (second book, I think, or maybe third) to make the squabbles among the folk of the Iron Islands into a major subplot and I cannot, for the life of me, figure out why.

Let me be clear: Theon Greyjoy is a great character. He is, frankly, the best thing about A Dance with Dragons; were it not for his wandering around Winterfell and regretting everything that happened to him, I’d probably have put the book down by now (I’m about 75% through at this point). To have Theon, though, we didn’t need the Iron Islands. It isn’t like there’s a shortage of murderous dickheads in Westeros. There are dozens of petty lords and assholes scattered around the north of Westeros whom you could have easily had revolt at some time in the past and have Eddard Stark kick their asses and then have Greyjoy grow up with the Starks and so on and so forth, but no – you needed to create the stupid Seastone Chair and waste our time with idiots like Euron and Asha and Victarion.

That’s right: Waste. Our. Time.

I just read a chapter where Victarion is considering sending men into the rigging of his ship to chase monkeys. Yes. Monkeys, in his rigging – apparently it’s a problem. You should know this, since you must have spent at least an hour or two writing this chapter and thought to yourself ‘you know what would be funny? Monkeys on a sailboat.’ You know what would have been more funny, though? Having Arya stab Cercei in the eyes. Much more funny, I promise.

Okay, so granted, that whole chapter wasn’t about monkeys in the rigging (though you did spend a bizarre amount of time describing their shrieking and poop-flinging episodes), but it isn’t as though the rest of the chapter was somehow interesting or worthwhile. Moqorro? You had to bring him back from the dead? Why? So he could convert Victarion to the worship of the Red God? WHY? WHO THE FUCK CARES? One guy we don’t care about converting some other guy we don’t care about to a God we’ve already seen used plenty of other places doing the same exact thing? Sheesh…

Here, for your perusal, is a list of facts:

1) Nobody gives a crap about Victarion. At all.

2) No one from the Iron Islands has interacted with a single other major character in Westeros for something like 1000 pages. No, Asha talking to stupid Stannis doesn’t count.

3) The person who sits on the Seastone Chair is completely, 100%, and in all other ways irrelevant to the main plot of this series. Provided it still has a main plot, which I’m beginning to doubt.

4) The idea that Victarion and his crappy band of Viking buddies are sailing off to capture Danerys is stupid. Why? Well, we already know Danerys isn’t in Mereen, anyway. Plus she has dragons. Plus there are a billion other people there to kick Victarion’s ass. Plus WE DON’T CARE ABOUT VICTARION OR WHAT HAPPENS TO HIM!

Seriously, Mr. Martin, this is driving me bonkers. I really love your world, here. Well, specifically, I love the story of the Starks and the Lannisters, I’m interested to see what happens with the Others, and I’m willing to tolerate Danerys long enough for her to deus ex machina Westeros out of being consumed by snow demons. I really cannot stomach the Iron Islanders. They have nothing to do with the story in any interesting fashion, Theon excepted. Can’t we just forget they exist? Can’t we go back to seeing what happens to Arya and Tyrion and Jon? Remember when the main characters occasionally talked to each other about things that were interesting? I miss that time. I want that time back. Every page I waste hearing about the Drowned God keeps me from the time where that may yet happen again.

So, in short, if you wanted to write a book about Vikings, you should have done so in some other book. Here, it’s just plain annoying. They’re a bad sideshow, a disinteresting distraction, a plot thread I’d rather see get cut with a massive set of Editing Shears than see to its conclusion. Don’t take this personally–you are a fine writer in most other respects and probably a very nice person. Let’s face it, though, the Ironborn are just plain old stinkers and they ought to all go to their Drowned God.


Auston Habershaw

P.S.: Don’t get me started on the Dornish.

About aahabershaw

Writer, teacher, gaming enthusiast, and storyteller. I write stories, novels, and occasional rants.

Posted on October 6, 2011, in Critiques, Theories, and Random Thoughts and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. Until the PS, I really was wondering why you were going off on the Vikings thing and not the Dornish thing!

    • The Ironborn are where this tangent nonsense started. The Dornish are a later addition to that, but at least they have some apparent bearing on the path of the plot. Sort of.

      No, actually, not really. I hope Quentyn Martell gets swallowed by Viserion.

      • I really hope you’ve finished it by Sunday so we can chat about all the stuff in this book!

        Good point, though–while some of the earlier Iron Islands stuff gave some insight into Theon, and while I kinda like Asha as a character, the rest of it IS pretty unimportant. I wasn’t a fan of Vicatarion showing up in Dance, either–exactly, who cares? You aren’t doing anything important anyways!

  2. Actually… if I’m remembering correctly, the Iron Islands *were* their own “book” I think. I seem to recall that the four or five Iron Island chapters from Feast For Crows were shown (although not published) as their own kind of novella. Which explains why each one of them was from a different POV. I wonder if Victarion’s chapter(s) were also a part of it?

    When Martin decided to insert them into the main thrust of the story for whatever reason, rather than just publish them as their own small book (which I think would have made more sense, given that the Iron crown is it’s own little side story and not a part of the main thrust of the plot)… he must have ‘saved’ Victarion’s chapter(s) for Dance since they were a part of the ‘north’ and ‘east’ segments that got postponed from Feast.

    I do think that the problems of Feast and Dance were a direct result of trying to show too much fluff “character moment” events that do not actually help the thrust of the story… and as each of these chapters expanded the size of book 4, he was forced to do the split, then ended up adding in even more fluff chapters to make both of them of a size he needed to keep the two timelines on course.

    I wonder how much better the story could be if you were to take both Feast and Dance and re-edit them back down to a single book… removing all the extraneous chapters from the Iron Islands, Dorne, a lot of the Onion Knight stuff, etc. that don’t serve the story. You’d probably have to insert a couple “notes arriving from abroad” that narrate a bit of plot that Martin needs setting up for books 6 or 7… but that’s probably better than having to read 3 extraneous POV chapters just to work up to making that plot point.

  3. Grammar nazi here!! “Why are ‘their’ Vikings”? NEIN!

  1. Pingback: The Iron Islands and the Viking Age: Gods, Wives, and Reavers |

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