10 things we'd like to see more of in Game Of Thrones

Feature Ron Hogan 25 Mar 2013 - 07:00

With just days to go until the season 3 premiere, Ron talks us through 10 things he wants more of from the superlative Game Of Thrones...

No TV show is perfect, but for me, Game of Thrones is as close to perfect as television gets. When asked to consider the things I’d want to see in season three and beyond then, my answer was simple: I want more. More battles, more magic, more George R.R. Martin, more animated GIFs of Joffrey’s face on the receiving end of a well-aimed slap… more of everything that makes Game of Thrones one of the best shows on TV.

1. “More wine" - Cersei Lannister 

This one is fairly obvious. When ten or eleven episodes of something are incredible, the biggest demand is for more of the same. The books, which number in the thousands of pages at this point, are long and complex and rich and involved, with dozens of characters and potential adventure ideas. Even then, you'll need to cut unless you're going to make a 24 to 36-episode season with nearly as many “main character” roles. Given that they're dividing A Storm of Swords between two seasons, you would think they could add a few extra episodes on during production to keep fans wanting more, and to buy the bearded one a little extra scribbling time. 

2. “There's a king in every corner now” - Catelyn Stark 

The first season stuck with the same core crew of directors: Tim Van Patten, Alan Taylor, Brian Kirk, and Daniel Minahan. The third season, if the announced list is to be believed, is also sticking to a core crew of Minahan, David Nutter, Alex Graves, Michelle MacLaren, and a couple of one-shot appearances from show guardians David Benioff & D. B. Weiss and award-winning cinematographer Alik Sakharov, who directed a second season episode. So what's missing? Well, some flash in the form of a brilliant, well-known special guest director. 

In the second season, Neil Marshall came into the show as a hired gun of sorts and directed the season's highlight episode, Blackwater. The argument could be made that the show doesn't need the flash that comes with bringing in a known film director, but as a fan of both the show and of Neil Marshall, it added a layer of anticipation to what was already the most anticipated episode of the season. It turns the show from must-watch television to a must-watch event, and adds some critical cachet to a genre show that was criminally overlooked during awards season. Perhaps the show could bring back Alan Taylor, who is missing on the third season's call sheet due to his responsibilities as the director of Thor: The Dark World. After helming a hundred million dollars worth of Marvel movie, he'd certainly have his profile raised. 

3. “When they write the history of my reign, sweet sister, they will say it began today” - Viserys Targaryen 

Blackwater was noteworthy for a number of reasons, not least that it was written by the man himself, George R.R. Martin. So far, Martin has written an episode every season, and he has another scheduled in the third season, but surely an author like him could take on another script or two. After all, this is a man who hops from project to project and takes on multiple things at once, if only to satisfy his own artistic urges. Martin's definitely no stranger to writing for television (having written multiple episodes of Beauty and the Beast and the 1986 revival of The Twilight Zone), so surely it's not a question of competence that prevents him from writing two episodes in a season. I think we'd all much rather him be writing the sixth and seventh books of A Song of Ice and Fire, but while he's doing that, he could always throw in an extra episode of the TV show? 

4. “Ah, yes yes. Against Grumpkins and Snarks and all the other monsters your wet nurse warned you about” - Tyrion Lannister 

Direwolves and dragons and monsters, oh my! In the first season, Tyrion Lannister dismissed the tales the creatures beyond the wall as merely snarks and grumpkins. And, of course, the dragons have been dead for a thousand years... Until now, that is. The Targaryen dragons are making a comeback, the White Walkers and their wight servants are massing beyond the wall, and the Stark kids are raising a passel of adorable direwolves. However, we haven't seen a lot of Dany's leathery kittens, the Stark pups, or the Walkers. I get the feeling that's going to change, at least for the dragons, but I could use a little more direwolf action. Robb is the young wolf, so let's see Gray Wind get some killing in! That ties in nicely with my fifth idea... 

5. “They'll bend the knee or I'll destroy them” - Stannis Baratheon 

Blackwater was one of the most impressive feats of television I've seen in a long time. Rather than lean on digital masses, as Rome did in its larger battles, they simply brought in more extras and used creative filming techniques to fill in the places where the battle took place. It worked very, very well. It felt authentic and claustrophobic in a way a CGI battle never could, and it set up Tyrion's bravery and cleverness in a brand new light. There are multiple opportunities for huge battles in the third season. After all, Robb and Tywin Lannister are still at war, with Stannis down but never out so long as he has the Lord of Light on his side; over the wall, there are the wildlings and Mance Rayder (and a whole host of white walkers); even across the sea, there's Dany and her never-ending quest for mercenaries, sell swords, and Dothraki to reclaim the Iron Throne. There's potential there for any number of massive clashes, and rather than implying the combat (though that was successfully implied multiple times last season), I'd like to see a little more of it. Blood and guts and steel make for a nice counterpoint to courtly intrigues and sexposition. 

6. “I always wanted to be a wizard” - Samwell Tarly 

Well, as we've seen over the second season, it appears that magic and magical creatures are making a comeback. From Melisandre's shadow assassin to Pyat Pree's parlour tricks, magic played an increasing role in the second series of the show, and I believe that's only going to increase as the series goes on. I like the way Game of Thrones has counterbalanced magic by having it exact a cost, either from the caster or from the person who seeks magic to be done on his behalf, and I would like to see Melisandre continue to make mischief on Stannis' behalf. Perhaps some of Pyat Pree's warlock brethren could take their battle to Dany and her dragons in a real clash of supernatural forces, or more of Melisandre's red brethren from Asshai could make appearances in Westeros or in the Free Cities. 

7. “It's the family name that lives on. That's all that lives on. Not your personal glory, not your honour, but family” - Tywin Lannister 

George R.R. Martin has written a series of novellas detailing the adventures of Dunk and Egg, aka Ser Duncan the Tall and the future King Aegon Targaryen V. If, for some reason, there's a delay in the production of future episode of Game of Thrones due to a Martin-related book writing snag, then HBO would be mad not to commission the in-discussion prequel series based on the Dunk and Egg series. Fans want anything Westeros, and some back story to those tales of legend we here from the younger Stark set would be greatly appreciated. It seemed to work well for Spartacus when Andy Whitfield first got sick, so why not Game of Thrones? If there is a gap, it's a natural filler. If the show somehow completes after Martin finishes the saga, then it's a natural continuation for both the writer and the crew behind the show. Given the ratings, I believe Game of Thrones could run for as long as HBO, Martin, and the fans want it to (especially if Martin writes the six to twelve Dunk and Egg stories he's been talking about). Maybe stagger it, with Game of Thrones in the spring and Dunk and Egg in the fall, so we never have to go too long without guys in armour stabbing one another? 

8. “We've had vicious kings and we've had idiot kings, but I don't know if we've ever been cursed with a vicious idiot boy king!” - Tyrion Lannister 

I hate Joffrey Baratheon, and it's a hate that feels good. On a show with characters functioning in shades of gray - Tyrion the anti-hero, Bronn the funny mercenary, the self-serving Littlefinger -King Joffrey, first of his name, is the ultimate villain. There's no good in the obnoxious boy king; even Cersei is redeemed by her love for her children, unlike her terrible son. Poor Jack Gleeson's character has a face made for slapping, and I want to see Joffrey get slapped. I want everyone from Cersei to Sansa to take a swing, and then I want someone to cut each slap out, put the clips into a YouTube video, and then I can have a super cut of Joff tasting leather to watch when I'm having a bad day. 

9. “Has anyone ever told you you're as boring as you are ugly?” - Jaime Lannister 

Talking Dead has been very successful for AMC, serving as a cheap and successful brand extension for The Walking Dead, a way to promote various celebrity fans and guests, a focus of discussion about the show, and a way to plug the soundtrack album via musical performances. AMC must be happy with it, because it's gone from a half-hour show broadcast an hour after The Walking Dead to an hour-long show immediately following it. HBO has had plenty of other talk shows on, from Real Time with Bill Maher to Dennis Miller Live and The Chris Rock Show to stuff like The Ricky Gervais Show, which is just an animated podcast. An official Game of Thrones podcast with cooperation from the cast and crew would be incredible, and if HBO wanted to attach an interesting host to the project, celebrity fans Retta (who was great on Talking Dead and on Parks and Recreation), Nathan Fillion (to bring in the Browncoats), or Aziz Ansari (also Parks and Rec), so much the better. Let's call it A Discussion of Ice and Fire or A Talk Of Thrones or something punny like that. 

10. “I am the watcher on the walls.” The oath of The Night's Watch 

I may be the only person in the world who really appreciates the two-screen experience that comes with a watch-along app. When I find a show that I like that has a lot of back story and behind-the-scenes stuff that I want to know, I want an app to tell me what's going on. I want pictures, I want games, I want polls, I want secret videos, I want special effects knowledge, I want to hear about filming difficulties and set injuries and crazy weather. The best way to do this, of course, is via an app. Maybe you could tie the app into the potential Discussion of Thrones TV show and give it an interactive flair.

Game of Thrones season 3 starts this Sunday the 31st of March on HBO, and Monday the 1st of April on Sky Atlantic.

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As nice as multiple episodes written by George RR Martin would be, I'd rather he concentrate on finishing the books instead of taking on more of a workload for the TV series!
(If One episode takes a month and a half or there abouts to write relatively quickly, including all the re-writes he would have to do, then two episodes is looking closer to three months of the year he is focussed on writing for the series! Add another three months or so when he is touring and not writing the books and that is already half the year in which he is not writing the next book...which makes a gap of more than five years between the next books even more likely)

isn't is Samwell 'Tarly' and Joffrey Baratheon? admittedly he is no true Baratheon, but still...

Joffrey - smack, smack, smack....kick.

personally i found series 2 a bit boring. I really hated all the cut scenes as i felt they never gave enough time to really sink into the characters before you were whisked off into another load of characters. The whole denerys (?) plot line was uber dull. The battle scenes were virtually non existent. even the heralded blackwater episode wasn't as good as i had hoped. I;ve made this point before but watching game of thrones is like watching lord of the rings without the battle scenes. The whole continent is supposed to be at war so erm, can we see some war please? Ive not read the books, i dont want to as i find most of these long fantasy sagas to be dreadful after the first couple of books, and for me the tv series is going the same way. I really want series 3 to prove me wrong, so i shall watch and see......

a watch-along app is an atrocious idea, why would anyone want to look at their phone or tablet whilst watching an episode of thrones? if you want history and more info on the characters then there's the wiki page, although admittedly it isn't a very non spoiler place for people who aren't up to date with the books, perhaps a tv show viewer friendly app is a good idea but watch-along? no

Have to say I agree. The same happened with The Walking Dead. After a great first season that mixed the core elements of the show well with the need for some time spent on the characters, the second season was virtually all talk and no action. The third season is better, but still not as good as the first season. GoT felt too talky and political in the 2nd season, almost like a Victorian costume drama. Go back to basics, Got!

I tweet during episodes of tv shows, but I don't know how much attention I'd pay to an app that's trying to distract my thoughts, as opposed to a tweet that's expressing them.

If you're already bored by the fact Danaerys isn't going anywhere...

I'd find an app way too distracting - but an official podcast would be brilliant. *starts singing theme tune*

you're obviously watching for the wrong reasons, if horrible cgi battles is what you're after then go watch sparticus or another show of that ilk, and us adults will continue to watch thrones for the drama, characters and themes

the blackwater episode was stunning considering the constraints of a tv budget, they don't have a bottomless pit of money to make the series you know

"When I find a show that I like that has a lot of back story and behind-the-scenes stuff that I want to know, I want an app to tell me what's going on."

It'd be even better if there were a whole book detailing things. Someone ought to novelize this show...

Personally I'd just like the show to stick to the book's plot, rather than making grey ppl look black or white. The last season strayed from it way too much.

Robb's wife's back story alteration annoyed me as it was a pointless change serving only to make him look better than in the book. It also added to his story/screen time taking time away from other parts of the story.

ASOIAF is strong because it deals with people who have muddy ethics and act like real people, rather than being traditional Tolkienesque caricatures who are Evil or Good. That small change makes me worry that overly simplistic lines are being drawn for future seasons.

the thing is if i wanted to watch a programme for drama, characters and themes there are many many shows that are vastly superior to game of thrones. However, the basic premise of got is that its a world ripped apart by war, and yet it shows no war! in 2 series they have only shown 1 proper battle (blackwater), the rest has either been pre or post battle. I'm perfectly entitled to question why, without being labelled as a non-adult by yourself. Ive never watched sparticus etc, and i dont much care for cgi stuff myself, but as the whole show is centered around battles then why not show some? btw i dont accept the budgetry constraints as to why they cant hire a shed load of extras to film a decent battle scene. ffs, even merlin managed more battle scenes and that was on a bbc budget

Edit: sorry if you read what I posted earlier. That was a bit too harsh. What I meant to say is: you can't compare Game of Thrones to Merlin. They're completely different shows! Whereas Merlin is a kid friendly adventure series Game of Thrones is a much more mature series that is meant to be more than just fun. And it makes sense that you don't see that many battles in GoT because GoT isn't about war. It's about the consequences of war and what it does to the people who are embroiled in it and how a few people with power can decide over the fate of millions.

Hope that helps

There were a fair number of implied battle scenes in S2 (the one with Grey Wind jumping out on two guards comes to mind), unfortunately all the battle scenes in S2 would have required a lot more than "a few extras" to pull off. Blackwater literally used about 1/2 of their budget for the season on that one episode alone.

Personally I think they did a great job of showing a war torn land, the scenes with Robb in the aftermath of battles were very well executed.

hiya, i didn't read it so i guess i'm not offended ;) i wasn't comparing got to merlin, far from it. I was just saying that merlin had a far higher proportion of battle scenes and on a bbc budget. I understand what you are saying about the consequences of war etc, but for me you need to see the war to appreciate the consequences of it. Its about context and for me there is no real context because they do not show the war. like i said previously imaging watching lord of the rings without the battle scenes, it would be an awful lot harder to relate to the characters and their motivations etc. And got has about 100x more characters! for example, they keep on saying how robb stark is an inspirational leader. is he? i have seen no examples of it, only implied examples. I found series 1 of got to be excellent right up to the point where they didnt show the battle where thingy lannister was captured. It was like all this build up to a battle and then, well, nothing. Series 2 of got was far too soap opera for me (a point i think that a den of geek article has been written on this morning ironically). i want to see some proper action, its fantasy after all! Ive read and watched plenty of fantasy over the years so i am fully aware of how 'a few people can decide the fate of millions' thanks all the same, its not an original premise, and to be honest got is not all that original either. The motivations and characterisation last season was at times extremely limited and very black/white. I had issues with the pacing (I would much rather they spent an entire episode with denerys or whatsisname in the snow for example than all the endless cutting), it was sloooooow going in places and i felt it most certainly did not have the depth of interest for me as the first series. I appreciate it is reflecting the books, but i havn't read the books, am not going to and dont care! i'm watching the show and i want to see more battles!!!

hiya, i'm not into implied battle scenes thanks, i want to see them! For me its about pay off after the build up, and for me got bottles it when it comes to the money shot. Theres sooooo much build up then a cut to the aftermath. Try watching return of the king up until the bit where they are about to start the gondor battle then skip it until the battle has finished. its just an example but thats what got does all the time. I'm not expecting a battle per week or anything like that but 1 battle in 2 series is a poor trade off for all the time i have invested in watching the show

In all seriousness, what I'd like to see in GoT form now on is:

LESS GRATUITOUS SEX AND NUDITY. Don't get me wrong - I'm no prude and understand that this aspect is a key selling point of the show. BUT imo they went a bit too far in season 2 (I think one particular episode had something like 5 sex scenes squeezed into 50 minutes...?). I think season 1 got the balance just right, and I also think a bit more more restraint would make for a more grown up show.

STAY CLOSER TO THE SOURCE MATERIAL. I totally get that TV and books are different mediums yadda yadda yadda, and I personally think that certain changes the show's writers made actually improved on aspects of the book narrative (Danaerys' adventures in Qarth were certainly a lot more interesting and eventful in the show in my opinion). But certain changes during the second run were so downright weird that I genuinely struggled to understand why they were implemented. Without going into details, they really, really dropped the ball with regard to the characters and motivations of Jon Snow, and Robb & Catelyn Stark (Snow especially behaved like an absolute MORON this season and was a lot more sympathetic in the book). The situation with Theon and Winterfell was also kind of mangled and confusing as told in the show vs the book. Season 1 was an almost perfect work of adaptation - trimming here, embellishing there - but season 2, because it strayed too far from the books in certain key respects, was far weaker as a result. They need to learn from this.

MORE EPISODES LIKE 'BLACKWATER'. I'm not talking about scale here - what was particularly refreshing about Blackwater was that it concentrated on a handful of characters in a single location and brought real focus back to a series that really suffered from too many disparate plots and characters and a weak middle-section. Going forward, I'd like the showrunners to have the confidence to do more of this, and not constantly try to cram every single character into every single episode. Constantly jumping from one character and continent to another every 5 minutes makes it much harder to get involved with the show.

Season 1 was completely out for big battle scenes as the continent wasn't at war at the time. In season two, we did have an eight episode build up followed by a brilliant pay off.

There should be more action scenes than season 2 in the coming season, although not quite to the scale of Blackwater, but honestly I think you'll be satisfied if you do watch.

Again Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones have very little in common except that it's both fantasy and they're both based on books. Lord of the Rings is a pretty straght forward good vs evil story which is set in a much more mythical setting and focusses heavily on the mythology and the action while Game of Thrones is a much less black and white story set in what is almost a historical setting which mainly focusses on the characters. Also you have to take into account that hey are both book adaptations and whereas Tolkien indeed wrote three major battles in the books GRRM did not. In fact the tv-series shows more of the war than the books did. Because in the tv-show you also follow Robb on his campaign across the Westerlands whereas in the books you only hear about it through some guy miles away in King's Landing. So you can nag about only seeing the aftermath but that's still more of the war than you get in the books.

no disrespect intended but the fact that you can't even remember Jaime Lannister's name two seasons in confirms that you are a casual fan of the series and are obviously seeking a different form of entertainment to viewers who actually pay attention to the dialogue and are interested in the characters, their various motivations, back stories and family histories

GoT is a character driven drama series and is extremely rewarding to viewers who are prepared to immerse themselves in the world that G.R.R. Martin has created. I'm fairly certain that 90% of viewers don't tune in to watch a huge battle, they watch to find out what is going to happen next to the characters they become so attached to

I agree that it's unfortunate we don't see the huge battles which occur within the narrative however, the makers simply do not have the resources to depict thousands upon thousands of warriors clashing without resorting to the use of CGI effects which could potentially ruin the whole tone of the show completely

The show really isn't about the battles though, the entire point of the show is that the Game of Thrones isn't fought on the Battle-field it is fought in the courts! (Notice how Ned Stark wasn't killed on the battle-field, he was instead beheaded because he trusted the wrong people and the idea of honour.)
Season 3 may have more battle scenes than the previous 2 seasons, but if all you want out of the story is battles you will be disappointed, this isn't that kinda fantasy (it is much closer to historical fiction). Most fantasy films glorify battles, to an extent (compare Tolkien's portrayal of the battles to Jacksons for one), by instead focusing on the bloody aftermath of the battles for most of conflicts, GoT avoids that fantasy troupe and instead attempts to emphasize the ugly side of war.

totally agree on the sex scenes, felt as though they were included just for the sake of it in one particular episode of season two

Okay this is getting a bit confusing. I'm now replying to something you said earlier so try and keep up. This rating up and down doesn't really help following the discussion at all. It's nice to see if your post got voted up but it makes having a proper dialogue rather hard. Anyway you mentioned the battle of the Whispering Wood. (the one where dear Jaime gets caught) That actually was precisely like it was in the book. What they did change about that scene however is making Robb a stronger leader. You ask how we can see Robb is a insprational leader? How about his amazing speech he made at the end of that scene?None of which was in the book. So I think the tv-writers have made moe of an effort to show him as a strong leader than George RR Martin ever did.

Also you say you've read many fnatasy novels. Whick kind did you read? Because in my experience (note taht I'm saying "in my experience not stating it as fact") most fantasy book series are derived from Tolkien and A Song of Ice and Fire is not by any means. In fact I can't think of a single fantasy series that compares to it.

Oh, I also thought they really, really fudged the escape from Harrenhal 'Rat Soup' scene (presumably for budgetary reasons?). Was really looking forward to seeing the classic prison-break scheme play out on screen, and then..... it was totally underplayed and over in a minute or two. Such a crying shame...

my vast and overwhelming apology for not remembering a characters name! i do however know his face and this does not in any way preclude my comprehension of what is going on although i have noticed that this seems to be a recurring fallback remark to those who do not spend their days obsessing over what is afterall a tv show. as for the makers not showing battles scenes, well they should. as for dodgy cgi, erm have you seen the dragons?

words on their own do not an inspirational battle leader make.......

arrgh! i have never said all i want is battles!!! i just want more than the 1 solitary large scale engagement they have provided me with so far.

oh, i will watch because (despite the claims made by others as to my overall level of understanding) i want to see what happens to jon snow as this is by far my favorite strand of the story.

good job ive never read the books then as they sound deathly dull....

1.Yes, 2. never read the books so cannot comment on them but agree with your character assesments, 3. yes absolutely (although i would like them to include more scale at least once!)

Sorry that others seem to be rude towards you, GoT seems to make people a little defensive. It is a very good series and realistic (within the rules of the universe), which unfortunately means that it can seem slow to some. Real wars are not won overnight, they are won partly through battles, but just as much and if not more so with diplomacy.

And if you're liking Jon's story then I think you'll definitely enjoy what's coming up.

Chronicles of Thomas Covenant. Earthsea. The Word and the Void. Ghormenghast. The Stone and the Flute. These are just 5 books/series off the top of my head that i have read and are not tolkien inspired, yet are fantasy. Fantasy does not begin and end with tolkien its just that he is a very useful reference point to use when describing fantasy fiction. I concur that a lot of fantasy fiction is heavily influenced by tolkien but frankly imo tolkien does tolkienesque fiction the best and so why bother reading pale imitations? Also do not forget that tolkien is in turn inspired by ancient germanic/anglo-saxon/viking/norse legends so is in itself 'not original' if you want to persue that line of reasoning. Also, I do find that these long series of books - whether tolkienesque or not (eg song of ice & fire, wheel of time, sword of truth, the belgariad/malloreon etc) tend to start well,and then its generally the law of diminishing returns for the reader coupled with increasing profits for the publisher/author.

Chronicles of Thomas Covenant. Earthsea. Songs of Earth and Power, The Stone and The Flute, The Word and the Void. These are just 5 books/series from the top of my head that I have read that are fantasy but not inspired by tolkien. Fantasy does not begin and end with tolkien, but he is a very useful reference point when discussing fantasy fiction. Yet tolkien himself was heavily influenced by germanic/anglo-saxon/norse legends so is in itself not original if you wish to pursue that line of reasoning. In my experience I find these long drawn out series (eg song of ice and fire, wheel of time, sword of truth, belgariad/malloreon) to conform to the law of diminishing returns for the reader coupled with increasing profits for the author/publisher

Though perhaps not all inspired by Tolkien all those series do posess a common element that you also find in Tolkienesque fiction: they are all about a single man or woman destined for great deeds. A Song of Ice and Fire is not about that. It's about a fictitional realm and the people living in it. And yes some are destined for great deeds although those prophecies are wholly doubtful as well. But others are just normal people who try to go about their lives without getting killed in the proces. It's not a series about heroes or villains. There are no powerful magical relics to be found and no dark lords to be vanquished. It's a series about normal people living in a fantasy realm. And most normal people don't actually find themselves in a battle. If you look at the number of characters the series has and the number of characters that would likely find themselves in a battle it's no wonder the series has very little actual battles.

They're not. Not at all but they take some getting used to. Have you read Malazan: Book of the Fallen. It's a nice step towards A Song of Ice and Fire. Like A Song of Ice and Fire it's not linear narative and it also completley does away with the notions of good and evil. (in fact most characters are utter bastards) but it does contain lots of magic, there are ancient prophecies (though some might not come true) and even a few magical relics.

Is "less rape" I can ask for as a thing I want more of?

hiya X0Refraction, thank-you for apologising but there is really no need, but thanks anyway ;) I think the issue here is that a lot of the defensiveness comes from those that have read the books and therefore have a lot invested in the tv show also. Ive not read the books and so I'm basing my opinion purely on about 20 episodes of tv. i completely get the premise and the pacing etc its just from a completely objective view, they missed a trick in not showing robbs first battle where he captures jamie. From a tv point of view this was episode 10 of a 10 part series and as a tv viewer it would have been nice to have the pay off of a decent battle to round off what was an excellent first season. Part of the reason i was dissapointed in series 2 was that i remember watching a pre-series promo, where they interviewed all the actors etc and they definately said there would be more battle scenes and yet there was only 1 (blackwater). I fully understand all the arguments mad to me regarding how the books are structured etc, but and this is a big but (no pun intended - or maybe there is ;) ) i am a tv viewer and given that series 2 is all about the kingdom at war and the 462 different kings etc then i would liked to have seen more battle action. I dont expect this every week, far from it, but maybe a mid-series battle would have been nice, and yes, i'm a tv viewer, i want to be entertained!! I do like the jon snow story arc though, for me its the most interesting. The danerys (apologies for the spelling) story arc on the other hand zzzzzzzzz! maybe if they spent less money on that (for example shot it in a studio instead of on location) then i could have my battles!!

Haven't the dragons only been gone for 300 years? Not 1000?

Actually I'd say both Earthsea and Thomas Covenant are quite Tolkien inspired: that doesn't mean they're Tolkien clones, but his influence is still very much there (Covenant has a white-gold ring that a Dark Lord lusts after in order to control a fantasy realm) (and Earthsea's mythology, including its creation myths, are very Tolkien inspired and LeGuin has talked on countless occasions of the influence of Tolkien which can be seen in her use of Dragons and in some extent in her use of magic.) Both of these stories seemed in some ways used Tolkien's style of fantasy as a starting point in which to do something different with the genre.
I have not read the other books you mention, so I cannot say for certain if they are as Tolkien inspired as these two, but in any case the Song of Ice and Fire isn't really close to this type of fantasy. More than anything it is like historical fiction, with fantasy elements in the background of the story...The Robb Stark skirmishes haven't been shown in any great deal because they are ultimately not important to the overall story
(In LOTR for example we don't see all that much of the battle at the Ford of Isen between the Rohirrim and the Uruk-Hai because seeing the battle wasn't particularly important, knowing it happened was.)
In GoT most battles are fairly trivial, the question of who has more power after the battle is what matters in the story...there was never that much Politic involved in Tolkien's battles
(As a matter of interest, if you are comparing the amount of battles in GoT to LOTR, the point in the story at the moment would be the same as the Breaking of the Fellowship in LOTR (at which point the closest thing to a battle was Moria)...the story is very much about slowly building up the conflict.

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