The book you don't like that most everyone else seems to like ...

Darwin

Journeyed there and back again
Also you need to read at least the First Law trilogy, not just some of the first book, to get a sense of what grimdark is. Standalone books that follow are even better, but they are a weaker experience if you haven't read the trilogy first.
This is absolutely true. It's a caveat I add whenever I recommend the first law. The whole point to everything in the first two books is only explained in the last 50ish pages of the 3rd book.
 

Vasher

Helped Logen count his fingers
Yes.
As both Sanderson and me are saying GRRM borrows A LOT from S&S or heroic.
However, the overarching plot of the A Song of Ice and Fire as a series is concerned with fate of the world, the world itself is epic, and at no point do you have such character focus as in grimdark stories.

GRRM is quite cleverly sitting in both chairs, and I see he managed to confuse a lot of people lol

Also you need to read at least the First Law trilogy, not just some of the first book, to get a sense of what grimdark is. Standalone books that follow are even better, but they are a weaker experience if you haven't read the trilogy first.
Or, ya know, maybe genres aren't hard and fast rules and we should try and accept the way terms are actually being used by the people? Just saying, I mean, genre debates can be fun, but ultimately the word grimdark means what people think it means, and not everyone agrees. Apparently a lot of people argue abercombie isn't grimdark either (just found that out doing some research). I found this thread to be pretty interesting, and Mark Lawrence makes an appearance! Highly recommend checking it out.

http://www.sffworld.com/forum/threads/is-it-grimdark-or-is-it-not.47101/page-2
 

Alucard

In the name of the Pizza Lord. Charge!
Staff member
Well, the difference is one is provable lol.
Not to flat-earthers it isn't. They're a stubborn bunch.

Look I agree that genres aren't hard rules, most writers write borrowing from a lot of them, like Martin, but there are also representatives of the genres. The people who pioneer something and put it on the map.
Abercrombie is that figure for grimdark. Some people might disagree in one thread on some forum, but the overall consensus from his industry, his colleagues and his readers is that he writes grimdark fantasy. Heck, even his YA was pitched as different kind of YA, basically along the lines of: 'from the grimdark writer comes to you a new YA series, that is completely different from other YA because he Joe writes grimdark'. I imagine they would have the same pitch if Stephen King wrote a YA series. As in they just can't imagine YA material from people who write a lot of violence, brutality or horror.

Anyway...

The fact that some outliers think that the earth is flat and that Abercrombie isn't grimdark, doesn't really muddy the water in either instance in my opinion.
 

Vasher

Helped Logen count his fingers
Not to flat-earthers it isn't. They're a stubborn bunch.

Look I agree that genres aren't hard rules, most writers write borrowing from a lot of them, like Martin, but there are also representatives of the genres. The people who pioneer something and put it on the map.
Abercrombie is that figure for grimdark. Some people might disagree in one thread on some forum, but the overall consensus from his industry, his colleagues and his readers is that he writes grimdark fantasy. Heck, even his YA was pitched as different kind of YA, basically along the lines of: 'from the grimdark writer comes to you a new YA series, that is completely different from other YA because he Joe writes grimdark'. I imagine they would have the same pitch if Stephen King wrote a YA series. As in they just can't imagine YA material from people who write a lot of violence, brutality or horror.

Anyway...

The fact that some outliers think that the earth is flat and that Abercrombie isn't grimdark, doesn't really muddy the water in either instance in my opinion.
The funny thing is, the overall consensus on GRRM seems to be that he's grimdark. Other authors have called him that, readers of his work call him that, marketing calls him that, etc. Him and ambercrombie usually come up side by side in that discussion from what I've seen. And just like ambercrombie, some people on some forum (you) disagree that it's grimdark. I hadn't heard anybody argue that GRRM isn't grimdark until now. Like somebody earlier said, it's literally the third thing on the grimdark list on this very site (http://bestfantasybooks.com/grimdark-fantasy.html). Genres are weird, lol.
 

ExTended

Hired Nicomo Cosca, famed soldier of fortune
I remember the days before Joe Abercrombie. Grimdark wasn't even on the map back then. And G. R. R. Martin was just as famous as he is now among the fantasy books crowd, so this goes to show that he was considered more epic than grimdark for a long, long time.

To be honest I wasn't even aware of grimdark as a thing until Mark Lawrence and Joe Abercrombie came into the stage and made books about raping human beings fashionable. Both of them could be attributed as the modern ambassadors of the sub-genre, with maybe Scott Lynch to a very small degree with his first Gentlemen Bastards book. After that all kind of folk jumped on the writing grimdark bandwagon.
 

Darwin

Journeyed there and back again
I think the issue here isn't what ASoIaF is, it's what grimdark is. There's certainly some seriously grimdark moments in ASoIaF, like

I've gotta catch a flight, but I'll expound on this in more detail if anybody cares...so probably not. Grimdark isn't really about realism, it's about cynicism.
 

Alucard

In the name of the Pizza Lord. Charge!
Staff member
To be honest I wasn't even aware of grimdark as a thing until Mark Lawrence and Joe Abercrombie came into the stage and made books about raping human beings fashionable.
Well that's a crass remark if I ever saw one.
It's also misguided and shows the complete misunderstanding of a subgenre.
 

Peat

Journeyed there and back again
This thread's galloped on a bit...

Personally I don't think grimdark should be defined as a genre at all, but as a mood that can be applied to any genre. If you're trying to propose it as a genre, and including everything that can rightly be called grimdark, you've got a genre that straddles sci-fi and fantasy, ranges in scope from the world-shaking and saving (or dooming) to one woman's quest for vengeance, and probably throws up examples of just about everything that can exist in fantasy as long as it co-exists with plenty of violence. Fantasy genres are ridiculously poorly defined things its true, but if I say Epic you know it will be huge and sprawling and full of politics, if I say Heroic or S&S you know it'll be about a small group of people solving dangerous times with steel, if I say High you know it'll be full of knights and monsters and so on...

Grimdark? Blood and amorality and cynicism, right? Well... you can apply those things to anything. So mood not genre - makes sense to me.

Incidentally, this is why I'd agree that Martin doesn't feel grimdark. His characters aren't amoral and cynical enough. They're a step beyond a lot of the big names prior to that I guess, if you decide to forget about Moorcock, Cook, Howard and Anderson (not that I've read his books, but going by reports), but most of those considered big grimdark authors today take it a step further than Martin. A considerable step further. I know a lot of people call Martin grimdark, but I've yet to read any compelling logic for why he is that doesn't leave the label so broad and wide anything could count. Although not as wide as trying to fit in Gemmell and Sanderson, both of whom are about as amoral as the New Testament.

Unless Abercrombie. Personally I'd say any grimdark definition that doesn't include Abercrombie's First Law and spin-off books isn't fit for purpose.

p.s. Speaking of Abercrombie and The First Law and ExTended's post, I can't think of a single incident of rape in TFL apart from King Brat's wife getting blackmailed by someone else into going along with it, not that we see the deed on page. Google tells me I'm missing an incidence of Glokta threatening gangrape and West throwing a would-be rapist off a cliff. I don't think its fair to say the series is about raping people.
 

ExTended

Hired Nicomo Cosca, famed soldier of fortune
According to Extended that's what grimdark is, so...
I was just poking at grimdark and we both know that, so why do you have to take it out of context?

I like epic fantasy, and I like grimdark fantasy. And to some extent urban fantasy. And each of those sub-genres have some over-exploited sub-genre specific gimmicks, or isn't that true?

I like the books I like and that's enough for me. Some may put aSoIaF in the epic fantasy shelf, others in the grimdark shelf - what is it to me where the book was shelved in the bookstore, if book 6 turns out to be as dissapointing as book 5?

EDIT: If I am crass about something, it's the ferver with which some fans would argue the sub-genre categorization as if it's the most important thing in the world. It's not. Every small fantasy community has its own standarts, every bookstore too - in the end of the day a book is more than one feeling, or theme, or sub-genre, hopefully.
 

Alucard

In the name of the Pizza Lord. Charge!
Staff member
I was just poking at grimdark and we both know that, so why do you have to take it out of context?
Sorry, didn't come of as joking to me. Came of as dead serious, as in you actually believe that shit.