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