Since I opened the door, I’m going to jump through. I am not a big fan of GRRM nor of any of his books, including the hugely popular series. So many people I have talked to about them, and I will likely classify these folks as minor fans, believe that GOT is the latest LotR. GRRM woke up at some point and decided he was going to out do JRRT. I mean what’s that with the initials anyway; isn’t that a huge tell? Because I’m not a fan, I haven’t listened to long interviews or anything like that, but it is very clear to me that GRRM never intended to write the latest version of LotR. What he did set out to do (consciously or unconsciously) was to write the newest version of War and Peace.
What do we all know about War and Peace? One of the longest books ever written. So many characters no one can keep track without a score card. A historical fiction - based on real events and in some case real people. Envelops a war to include some action even though it’s really never about the war(s). LotR may have a huge number of characters, but it’s never really about all of them. It’s about a small group of them (the Fellowship plus maybe a few more like Faramir). And the battles and war matter. They aren’t just backdrops that people can give dialog in front of them.
Do I have more to my argument? Well, what do we all joke about with Russian literature? It’s depressing, right? All this talk about death. LotR is an adventure story with true heroics. GOT is a blood bath where everybody gets killed at some point, usually a lot earlier than you thought they would. It’s just so depressing! Most folks would say that the most noble of the characters in the series was Ned Stark, and they kill him off early on. I would say that Jon Arryn was probably a good and possibly heroic character, but his death is what kicks the whole thing off.
Maybe this isn’t the right place to talk about these types of things, being a gaming blog, but I think it serves as a lesson to world builders. Know what your goal is! I’m not criticizing GRRM for rewriting War and Peace set during the War of the Roses (at least I’m not right now), but how many of his “fans” get it? Does it matter? Yeah! If your players think they’re sitting down to LotR and you serve up War and Peace, eventually they are going to catch on and be disappointed if not feel betrayed. And you don’t have Dan and Dave to rewrite things into a more exciting format.