**WARNING: The following contains SPOILER information regarding A Storm of Swords, the third book in George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire. I haven’t watched the HBO TV series, so I don’t know if it gives things away that happen in that production.
Misdirection can be a wonderful thing. It can be built by the writer within the story itself. It can take advantage of tendencies you believe your reading pool has. It can even mimic other stories in order to create an expectation of the same end result.
Yesterday, I was listening to A Storm of Swords on the way to work, and was so caught up in the chapter that I was yelling in the car, and chose to sit in the parking lot to finish the last ten minutes. This is the chapter where Prince Oberyn Martell acts as Tyrion Lannister’s champion in a trial by combat against Gregor Clegane. All sorts of expectations are set up here.
Clegane (“The Mountain”) is so huge, he’s considered impossible to beat in hand to hand combat, but we’ve seen him beaten once in a tournament by trickery; it’s implied that Prince Oberyn is more than willing to employ tricks and worse.
We know that Tyrion has been a major POV character in the series, and so we expect he should somehow survive the trial (even though the author regularly kills off major characters.)
There’s also a parallel set up with Tyrion’s previous trial by combat, in which his lightly armored champion Bronn defeated a heavily armored knight by wearing him down. Prince Oberyn is also lightly armored, against Clegane, who’s in heavy plate, and we see “The Mountain” out-maneuvered and worn out in similar fashion.
Another element that added to my expectation may have been accidental. Years earlier, Clegane had killed and raped Oberyn’s sister Elia, and Oberyn intends to avenge her. Throughout the fight, he keeps reciting a variation of “Elia Martell, Princess of Dorne, you raped her. You murdered her. You killed her children.” It reminded me strongly of The Princess Bride’s Inago Montoya as he fought against Count Rugen (“Hello. I am Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.”)
Inigo finally exacts his vengeance, and here we have Prince Oberyn, standing on top of an obviously beaten Clegane, getting revenge for his sister after all these years. And then, with all these reasons for Oberyn to succeed, and for us to EXPECT him to succeed, Clegane kills him.
It totally fooled me. And – the mark of a truly great con – I loved it and wanted more. It was brilliant!
My next ePub release date is on January 19th. It WILL be “Out of Place.”
William Mangieri’s writing – including his latest ePublication “Sleep with the Snowmen” – can be found in many places, including:
• Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/NoTimeToThink
• His Amazon Author page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B008O8CBDY
• Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/william-mangieri?store=book&keyword=william+mangieri
• Createspace (if you prefer physical books): https://www.createspace.com/pub/simplesitesearch.search.do?sitesearch_query=william+mangieri&sitesearch_type=STORE
To CONNECT WITH HIM (and LIKE and FOLLOW), go to
• His site on WordPress: https://williammangieri.wordpress.com
• “William Mangieri’s Writing Page” on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/NoTimeToThink
• His Goodreads author page: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6893616.William_Mangieri
• Or on twitter: @WilliaMangieri