Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Tower of the Hand`s chapter ratings - this is, eh, interesting

The Tower of the Hand conducted a poll under its readership, asking them to rank the POV characters of "A Clash of Kings" after favorites and to rank each chapter individually. 129 members took part in the survey, and the results are...interesting, to say the least. Now, as the authors of the Tower are quick to point out, 129 members isn't exactly a number to get all scientific about, but it's better than nothing, and there really isn't that much empiric material out there anyway, so we should take what we get. The first and obvious thing is that Tyrion is the highest rated character. He's been the fan favorite all the time, so this isn't surprising. His dialogue is always sharp, witty and entertaining, and therefore, he's an easy and enjoyable read. The lowest ranking isn't surprising, either: it's Daenerys, who really hasn't that much to do in "A Clash of Kings" and is merely pushed around by whiny Xaro Xoan Daxos.

The first interesting thing is that the highest rated single chapter is Daenerys IV, her meeting with the Undying. For me, this proves that the readership on the Tower is definitely more into the franchise and has at least reread the books once. Now, engaging in such fansites is a behavior already telling you that. But no first-time-reader would consider this chapter to be that good and important. Only in hindsight, being able to read Dany's prophecies, gains this chapter its great meaning and emotional impact on the readership. Who doesn't feel somewhat touched by Rhaegar and his "song of ice and fire"? On the first read, you have to be a very keen and bright reader to immediately grasp what this is about.

It is also worth noting that the next two favorite chapters are both Davos chapters. His storyline opens up for a completely new setting, and a very intriguing one, too. Stannis' storyline is both alien and familiar at the same time. Alien because he's such a strong, hard character - something we haven't seen before - and of course because of Melisandre, but familiar since it's still placed in Westeros and the power struggle there. Davos is a relatable character, honest, easy to like.

What strikes me a bit is how low ranked Bran's chapters are. His storyline doesn't entail much "stuff happening", to be sure, and his perspective is that of a child's and therefore limited. I am a real Bran fan, so for me, this is a tear shed, but it's understandable.

What's really not surprising at all, and somewhat sad, is Sansa's low ranking. She is one of the most underappreciated characters of the whole franchise, and the community is only slowly catching up to this (I linked some great tumblr-posts about her in the past, and Sean T. Collins and I did a podcast about her). Sadly, the lowest ranking chapter is her view on the Battle of the Blackwater, as if the readers shouted out "Get out of the way and give us back the action!" That's kind of sad, since her view of the battle offers as a unique insight in an often overlooked aspect of warfare - the one on the people left behind, the "homefront". In the series especially, this scene had a great impact. Fittingly, the highest rating Sansa chapter is the one that features her the fewest and gives the scene over to as much Tyrion as possible, marking his entrance into King's Landing. Again: Sansa's highest ranking chapter is the one where she yields the stage to some ass-whipping Tyrion lines.

It comes as no surprise that Catelyn's chapters follow the same formula. Her highest ranking chapter is the one where she serves as our window on the war between Renly and Stannis, her lowest ranking chapter is the most personal, when she is confined to her cell and only in passing learns of Edmure's victory. Catelyn is another character that's widely underappreciated, and I find it reflected here.

On a more positive note, I like the high positioning of the Theon chapters; these are really great. In the books, they give us insight in one of the best written and most emotionally complex characters of the franchise, a source Alfie Allen used to great effect in the series, where his scenes regularily blow you away. Plus, we get our first look on Pyke, of course, which provides a vivid scene of the narrative. What surprised me a bit is the high ranking of Jon Snow, since he really doesn't get that much to do in the book, a problem the series suffers visibly off. His high time starts in "A Storm of Swords". But I'm glad for Jon, of course.

1 comment:

  1. yeah i agree only fans who have a least read past book 3 will acknowledge how good the house of the undying chapter is. I'm a big bran fan has well. He is trying to find his place in the world and understand his abilities , plus the Reeds and Big/Little Walder and fun to hear about