Open Thread: Awesome or Awful?

I requested this today: the "teen girl version of Game of Thrones". This is going to be either a very awesome or a very terrible move on my part:


Loquat said...

That plot summary definitely seems like it has the potential for hilarious fail. On the other hand, that author has some other works out, apparently from the same story universe, that are getting good customer reviews on Amazon.

Maybe I'm just overly worried because of my memories of the terrible "Queen's Blade", which also centers around a royal assassin, and which features a ludicrously over-the-top straw sexism ("Ho ho, women are far too weak to kill men! Even when the man in question is drunk, naked, and totally not expecting an attack!") of the sort commonly seen in crappy books where a lone female protagonist competes against a bunch of men. Except that Queen's Blade (part 1, at least - I'm not paying for any of the sequels) forgot to include anyone who'd prove the straw sexists wrong, or even complain about the sexism, so it kind of failed on multiple levels.

thousand said...

*Trigger warning: discussion of some of the content of ASOIAF (a dark and gritty fantasy series) in extremely abstract terms*

Wow. Looking at that summary, I am not optimistic. At all. Why exactly can't teenage girls interested in ASOIAF just read, y'know, ASOIAF? I mean, it's not like it has no female characters or something... Isn't ASOIAF basically defined by the fact that it's dark and gritty and full of complex political intrigue and brutal murders and actual on-camera ickiness like rape and incest and it has no place for concepts like love conquering all or soppy romances or happy endings and so forth, make ASOIAF basically the exact opposite of the majority of teenage girl literature? I mean, maybe Maas through some dark analogue of dialectical materialism combines thesis of ASOIAF and antithesis of most teenage girl media to create a synthesis called throne of glass? because those concepts seem like direct polar opposites to me... I don't even know, but I am skeptical in the extreme of any author being able to pull that off well.

(though that said I haven't read much for that target demographic, Ana and everyone else, so if I'm wrong about this please feel free to correct my misapprehension; I have two younger sisters who semi-recently went through their teenage years with most of the media, largely movies and TV but also books, that they seemed to consume being typified by the above tropes as far as I could tell. Not trying to be offensive; would appreciate edification on this point, to be quite honest. Basically everything that's darker than that tends to get classified as general fiction and read by everyone or classified as adult fiction, or what have you - unless we look at all the recent supernatural romances inspired by the financial success of Twilight. And this doesn't seem to be borrowing from Twilight to any great extent. Thankfully.)

The youtube trailer (why does this book have a trailers??? and why is it so poorly done?) at doesn't inspire any additional confidence. Rather the opposite, in fact. It mentions in the description that it's for fans of the Hunger Games and George R R Martin, so maybe it's not going to try to include the tropes I associate with teenage girl fiction after all, which sort of makes me sad. But then it's tagged with Fantasy and Romance rather than anything which would suggest the content of ASOIAF... I'm quite confused here. Not really sure what to expect.

Basically, the plot reads like a stereotypical fantasy romance novel, like something I've seen a million times before but with a glass castle (somehow, magic maybe? Perhaps they aren't familiar with how much trouble and effort it was to make glass in medieval times... or maybe it's an industrial society that for some reason still uses swords and monarchy and sending people to salt mines for some reason? I don't even know. The trailer showed a glass castle then most of it was clearly stone, maybe they didn't have a budget of any sort for the trailer and just used stock photo stills?).

An assassin protagonist has been done before, quite well and interestingly, in some fiction I've read - see Robin Hobb's Farseer, or the opening few books of Brust's Taltos series, or Pyramids by Pratchett (one of his weaker novels, but still stronger than 90% of non-Pratchett fiction). It's also been done rather poorly, c.f. the Night Angel books.

That said, those who read book about people living in glass palaces should very definitely throw lots and lots of stones (hopefully in the form of a really long and detailed review).

Best of luck with this endeavour. I think you'll need it.

Danel said...

This sounds to me much like a perfectly normal fantasy book, which may be anything from poor to excellent, which has had a blurb deliberately written to target something that's popular at the moment. I mean, the description itself doesn't particularly sound like Game of Thrones - I'm not familiar with it much, but I do now that a major part of what makes Game of Thrones is multiple perspective characters at odds with each other, thereby appropriately conveying the broad scope of a large conflict. This appears to have a single perspective character. A single character with a love triangle, at that.

Maartje said...

Sounds like 'Game of Thrones' is becoming a proprietary eponym, like aspirin and kleenex. So instead of saying 'fantasy novel for teenage girls!' it's 'Game of Thrones for teenage girls!'

Might still be amusing, though. As a teenage girl I thoroughly enjoyed Robin Hobb's books about royal assassins, so it CAN be done. Which reminds me, those books are overdue for a re-read.

(Personally, though, I think if your protagonist has enough leisure to be bored with competing for the honour of getting three years of indentured servitude or else presumably go straight back to the hard labour and rejoice in the distraction of being flirted with by the prince, the stakes aren't nearly high enough to count as any type of 'Game of Thrones.')

Makabit said...

Standard enough fantasy concept, attempting to be edgier than standard girl fantasy. Sounds a bit like Maria Snyder's "Poison Study" to me than ASOIAF, and I'm sure there's a slight seasoning of 'Hunger Games'--desperate and deadly teenage girls are currently fashionable.

Could be a great read, could be awful, doesn't sound much like "Game of Thrones", but maybe that just means people get killed in it.

Ana Mardoll said...

Wow. Looking at that summary, I am not optimistic. At all. Why exactly can't teenage girls interested in ASOIAF just read, y'know, ASOIAF?

I am *not* going to have the ASOIAF conversation again because it brings lurkers out of the woodwork to explain that I am wrong to hold my opinion because TELEVISION AWARDS or some such shizzle, but I there's a lot about ASOIAF that I want to like but can't, and a "teenage girl" version of same would fix a lot of those things. So I'm hopeful. :D

unbeliever536 said...

there's a lot about ASOIAF that I want to like but can't, and a "teenage girl" version of same would fix a lot of those things

But what does a "teenage girl" version of ASOIAF even look like? My feeling about the statement that something (particularly this thing) is the "teenage girl" version of ASOIAF is similar what I might feel about the claim that something is the "teenage girl" version of Inglourious Basterds: Huh? I may be wrong though, could you tell me how you might do a "teenage girl" version of ASOIAF? While there are many, many ways to reduce the sexism in the work, somehow I can't see ASOIAF transitioning all the way to a teenage girl market and remaining intact.

In this particular case, based on the blurb, the only similarity seems to be the presence of the word "throne" in the title of the first book, and the maleness of the buttocks planted on said throne.

JonathanPelikan said...

Because I'm a het male who likes the anime art style, I got a terribly guilty kick out of that series lately. Hey, at least it was on Netflix so I didn't really spend money to specifically see it, and I later went on to watch Birdy the Mighty and Ghost in the Shell.

Ana Mardoll said...

But what does a "teenage girl" version of ASOIAF even look like?

Really? I can think of loads of little things that would make it much more palatable for teenaged me.

For starters, Jon Snow and half the crew at the Wall O' Snow Zombies would be girls. It's been sooooo frustrating watching the show and seeing all the Super Fun Teenaged Band O' Brothers Nerd Wish Fulfillment Fantasy stuff go to the boys only. No snow zombie watcher roles for the girl nerds, alas. (We exist!)

Loquat said...

Whoa, I had no idea that anime existed. The "Queen's Blade" I'm talking about is a totally unrelated series of short novels set in a typical medieval-ish fantasy world, in which 2 kingdoms have been at war for many years and the queen of one decides to try and end said war, with the help of this hot eunuch assassin guy. (That is not a typo. He's a eunuch with zero interest in sexual relations, but his scenes with the queen's young noblewoman assistant get the standard romance-novel "she couldn't help but notice his lithe muscles, etc" treatment. I don't know where the hell that's going, but I'm sure not spending money to find out.)

thousand said...

Fair enough. I honestly read what there was of ASOIAF all in one go some years ago, several years before Dance of Dragons, and the prospect of rereading four thousand-page monsters in order to be able to read a book that friends panned hasn't proved appealing to me; I'm not exactly the series' biggest fan. I honestly prefer others than Martin when I'm looking for dark, gritty fantasy - Glen Cook's Black Company, for example. But in general I like lighter things as reading material anyways - such as the vast majority of Pratchett's Discworld books.

It's going to be sort of hard to discuss a book advertised as a ASOIAF for teenage girls without discussing ASOIAF in any respect - even to discuss what flaws you wanted removed in the book you're getting - though. Though perhaps not as tough as it might look at first glance, as many posters have noted that these books are likely merely advertised as related to ASOIAF in order to sell better, and looking at that youtube trailer again that seems like it's probably going to be the case - much the same way that a lot of children's or teenager's fantasy get's compared to Harry Potter, regardless of how little the books being hawked resemble Rowling's; For the publishers, I understand the financial motivation, and I suppose reviewers etc might be motivated by the fact that comparing a book to lesser known series, while still complementary and perhaps far more accurate, won't get the same name recognition from readers. I think that the most egregious such comparison I remember were the comparisons of Grossman's The Magicians to Harry Potter, when the two stories shared only a few background elements. Actually, The Magicians contains a pretty awesome deconstruction and playing with themes and ideas of the Narnia books, extremely thinly cloaked. Though in that series the gender relations and sexism in it are a little problematic.

unbeliever536 said...

Jon Snow and half the crew at the Wall O' Snow Zombies

Well that's a third of the plot I totally forgot about. I do like the idea of femSnow.

Loquat said...

No snow zombie watcher roles for the girl nerds, alas. (We exist!)

Spinoff opportunity! A team of wildling warrior women who patrol their region of the north, protecting their tribe from the White Walkers - it's already established canon that wildlings think it's a-ok for women to fight, after all.

GeniusLemur said...

Having read neither of the series I'm going to mention, the blurb sounds a lot more like Hunger Games than Game of Thrones. It also sounds like an epic fail on the worldbuilding. A competition for royal assassin? There's "a" royal assassin? Who will never be able to do their job because there was an official competition and everyone of any importance will know who they are and what they look like?

Rebecca Adrian Maxfield said...

Oh man oh man oh man oh man! I read this back when it was on Fictionpress! OMG, I remember it being incredibly trashy.

Makabit said...

Somehow, 'wish fulfillment' as 'ASOIAF' do not quite go in the same box for me...but women will start showing up at the Wall soon enough.


Makabit said...

Actually, I can easily envision a teenage girl version of Inglourious Basterds. I would probably be the only person in the world to completely love it, but I can envision it.

Jenna Moran said...

I can't believe anyone would be so gauche as to kill assassins who are in an elimination-style tournament to determine who the best assassin is. That's like putting makeup on a clown!

Rikalous said...

It could turn out that the royal assassin is just to draw attention so the real assassins can get things done while making the deaths look like accidents or the fault of someone else. Probably not, though.

Ana Mardoll said...

Somehow, 'wish fulfillment' and 'ASOIAF' do not quite go in the same box for m

For me neither, but TV!Snow is *so* Wish Fulfillment to my mind.

His 'parents' don't understand him! And his peers don't treat him with respect! He's just gonna go perma-camping with a bunch of similarly misunderstood boys who will understand him and respect him for all the knowledge he has to impart! And he has a magic pet wolf that can see through walls and ensures that the Bad Men do whatever Jon tells them to do! And sure he might have to work a crappy manual labor minimum wage service job, but he's secretly being groomed for leadership because the people in charge all instinctively recognize how awesome he is! He'll probably be put in charge any day now, despite being laughably low in seniority and experience! In fact, his 'parents' aren't even his real parents! (He's probably a secret Viking prince or something!)

Okay, I made the last one up, but still. :-D

Loquat said...

Jon's not a secret Viking prince, silly! He's a secret Targaryen prince. :D

Seriously, ASOIAF fandom is fairly confident Jon's actually the son of Ned Stark's sister Lyanna* and former crown prince Rhaegar Targaryen, eldest brother of Daenerys and Viserys. Some people even think he'll wind up being the official rider of one of Dany's two auxiliary dragons, though so far he's been doing his best to follow Ned's "honor before reason" example whenever someone tries to get him to leave the Night's Watch. And yes, he gets elected head of the Night's Watch in book 2 or 3, essentially by presenting himself as a compromise candidate when all the leading candidates and their factions hate each other. Even though he totally doesn't realize that's what he's doing.

*The books haven't come right out and said Lyanna ran off with Rhaeger willingly, but it's been heavily implied, and she definitely wasn't thrilled about the prospect of marrying champion philanderer Robert Baratheon. There's only one person still alive in Westeros who'd know for sure, and he hasn't even made an appearance in the series yet.

I can only think of two ways a publicly known Royal Assassin would work: 1) if shape-shifting is a thing that exists, and the RA can do it, or 2) if the RA is functionally more like the Royal Executioner, where the monarch decides someone's a criminal deserving of death and sends out the RA with some armed guards to carry out the sentence before the target can find out and flee. (2) stops working once telephones become common, of course, but something tells me "Throne of Glass" is set in the standard medieval-europe-ish world most fantasy tends to live in these days.

Rakka said...

Jon's last name ought to be Stue, then it would be honest.

As for the book... looks like another one of those books that think "assassin" is shorthand for Teh Kewl and totally forget about the "killing people for money" thing. And nothing that advertises with liove triangle can be good, IMO. Then again, romance is really not my thing. Everything in category "for teenage girls" seems to include obligatory romance, which is really not at all disturbing...

Beroli said...

there's a lot about ASOIAF that I want to like but can't,
I'm not curious about what you can't like about it; that's pretty easy. I am curious about what you want to like about it.

Pity about the woodwork.

Ana Mardoll said...

Snow zombies, mostly.

The idea (somehow??) of a several-year long winter and constant preparation for it.

The contradictions of being a privileged dwarf in an ableist society.

It's a heavy pain day, so I'm probably missing something.

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