Somewhere around the second book of The Song of Ice and Fire, when the Lannister's 'pragmatism' started looking good (especially Tyrion, but Jaime too, to some extent) and the Stark's 'nobility' started looking idiotic, it occurred to me that Martin was subverting the fantasy order.
Much has happened since, and no one is looking good anymore.
If you read some of the early short stories, about Dunc and Egg, it's almost like the Hobbit version compared to LOTR's. It has a kind of nostalgic glow for better times.
Times which never existed. Which existed only in the stories.
Any time a character evinces one of those chivalric notions, they are cut down and humiliated.
By the way, the whole way that Martin treats women is going to be open for criticism -- I just last night read the Cersie humilation scene in the book. To say the least. But as a writer, it all makes story sense.
Story above all. Martin built this world, and he must be one sick and twisted guy. But totally fascinating.
16 hours ago