Oh, look, training wheels

This week is turning into such a lost cause that I got a flu shot today--I mean, why not? Stuff is getting done on the house at least, albeit nowhere else.

Anyway, I started reading Game of Thrones last night--I'll probably just start watching the TV series once I finish the first book, considering the length of the others and the reputation they have for diminishing rewards.

I'm about 100 pages in of the first book, and while I think overall it's pretty good, you can definitely tell when something is written for the mass market, you know? I mean, I don't begrudge anyone their success, but I seeing some really familiar things that I think the book would be better (but probably less successful) without.

Namely (spoilers ahoy!):

The repetition. "Winter is coming." "Waken the dragon." "Catchphrases must each be repeated two dozen times within the first 100 pages."

The over-the-top bad guys. "Quick! Let's murder this child to protect our incestuous relationship!" Jesus Christ, Snidely Whiplash is subtle in comparison.

The unbelievably clueless authority figure. The king--the king--is concentrating all his kingdom's power into the hands of a family that is not his. Isn't keeping potential rivals from amassing too much power like, Step #1 in the Ten Easy Steps to Maintain Your Throne?

And who is the family? It's his wife's family. Guess who never much cared for his wife? Guess whose wife has ambitious male relatives about the right age to take the throne?

The well-meaning but incompetent advisors. "OK, you remember back, like, 10-15 years ago, when you first took power? This guy made it really clear back then that he wanted your throne. Yeah, I dunno why I didn't tell you this back then either, but I'm really worried about it now. What? You're saying it's water under the bridge? You think that if I felt like I could sit on this warning for more than a decade, it must not be that important? Hm--I never saw that one coming."

The sex scene that probably should have been way less explicit. Let's say your book features a young man who is easily cowed and is being treated abominably. This young man, who is VERY, VERY, VERY MUCH a virgin, is sold in marriage to an older, beautiful, but extremely forbidding woman. On their wedding night, much to everyone's surprise, the woman turns out to be a gentle and considerate lover who warmly initiates this young man into the joys of an erotic life.

You do this via a fairly explicit sex scene.

And in the course of this fairly explicit sex scene, the experienced, considerate women never once touches the young man's penis.

That would be ridiculous, right? But guess what Martin does with a young virginal woman and an older, oh-so experienced man, who with all his abundant expertise and profound commitment to making the sex good for the woman, doesn't seem to know what a clitoris is?

I mean, I understand discomfort with writing this kind of thing--I myself will probably never write an explicit sex scene--but once you've decided to do it, you can't pretend that certain anatomical realities don't exist. Especially not when it's written from the woman's point of view!