The Mountain’s Men – Part 1

Like many people, I suspect, I have a difficult relationship with George RR Martin’s series, A Song of Ice and Fire. For one thing the name transcends the usual pretentiousness of the fantasy genre to reach for something that sounds downright silly. That aside though old George has a knack for writing the most deeply flawed characters and making them engaging. You find yourself caring deeply about people that, if they were in a lesser series, you wouldn’t give a damn about or would gladly see bumped off as soon as possible. He nails the hard fact, that in real life – and especially in times of war – there are no straightforward “goodies vs baddies” (despite what the news media might like to tell us).

As the characters so the books themselves; Martin’s writing may be compelling but it’s far from perfect. The first novel, A Game of Thrones, still stands for me as amongst the very best the fantasy genre has to offer, but the sequels – despite some really powerful moments – sometimes fail to reach it’s giddy heights. Whole chapters drag by in which next to nothing happens. Pivotal characters appear to be abandoned whilst the misadventures of every peasant in Westeros are paraded before the reader’s glazing eyes. And then of course there are all the high points, the compelling storyline, engaging characters and powerful writing that keeps you hooked whilst George retreats to whatever distant citadel he lurks in whilst he twiddles his thumbs for another decade or so, counting his cash and leaving the rest of us to wonder if he’s ever going to actually finish writing the damn thing.

Then there was the TV show and, in keeping with the theme, it had its up and downs. To begin with at least it was great; they changed things from the books (generally for the worse unfortunately but it was all forgivable in the early days) but the acting top-notch, and on the whole they did wonderful job of drawing the viewer into the world. Those who’ve seen it will recall the wedding held at Kings Landing which was so beautiful even Joffrey got a little choked up. After a while of course it all veered wildly away from the plot of the books and the flaws in the last couple of series are so extensive, and have been described in detail so many times, that they really aren’t worth going over again now. In the end it all came crashing down as the surviving characters smashed their way through the fourth wall to lecture us, the audience, wagging their fingers self-righteously in our faces because we had cheered for the wrong people all along and everything that had happened was somehow our fault.

So yeah, A Song of Ice and Fire is a series which – and I know this is quite a common phenomenon – I will say that I love and then complain about for the next couple of hours.

When it comes to the ASOIAF miniatures game I sat on the fence for quite a while. I loved the Lord of the Rings (both the books and the films) – although admittedly without the uncritical passion of some of my friends – but I never really got into the miniatures games. I’ve painted the odd model here and there but nothing substantial. ASOIAF however captured my interest. In general the miniatures themselves are much better, and that alone should be enough, but I feel – without wanting to indulge in self-psychoanalysis – that there’s more to it than that, I just can’t put my finger on exactly what. The intricate world-building and vast cast of characters of the novels, which at times makes them so dense for the casual reader to approach, is perfect when it comes to creating background for a miniatures game. However as soon as I realised the game was made by CMON I backed off, and stubbornly refused to buy anything for the first few years. Burned once too many by their shenanigans in years gone by I sulked, until a deal too good to resist came along and my resolve crumbled – which brings me to where we are now. I’ve got a bunch of Starks and Lannisters from the original starter set, plus a few extras, so I’m going to start by putting together a couple of little armies, alongside my efforts to work through my other neglected projects. First on the table we have a couple of ruthless rascals from The Mountain’s Men.

There are some pretty damn dastardly scumbags in Westeros but few are quite as unpleasant as Ser Gregor Clegane, often called The Mountain That Rides, or sometimes Tywin Lannister’s Mad Dog. The men that serve under him are known collectively, and unimaginatively, as The Mountain’s Men and are, not to put too fine a point on it, a right bunch of utter bastards. Needless to say my Lannisters won’t be getting their hands dirty when they can call in their bannermen instead so my first step towards raising an army is to bring in a few of these thugs, starting with this unpleasant pair. Butcher’s boys beware! 

Mountains Men ASOIAF Game of Thrones Lannister Wudugast ConvertOrDie (1)Mountains Men ASOIAF Game of Thrones Lannister Wudugast ConvertOrDie (2)Mountains Men ASOIAF Game of Thrones Lannister Wudugast ConvertOrDie (3)Mountains Men ASOIAF Game of Thrones Lannister Wudugast ConvertOrDie (4)

I really enjoyed painting these two and I’ve already got a few more that I’ve started working on so expect to see more recruits appearing shortly. 


22 responses to “The Mountain’s Men – Part 1

  • Alex

    Woah, didn’t see that coming! Lovely painting mate – they look to be pretty decent casting quality too!

    • Wudugast

      You know I like to keep you on your toes mate! I’ll have to think of something even more unexpected to follow this with! 

      Yeah, the sculpt quality is pretty good. The early models (and these are amongst the earliest) are a bit hit and miss (there’s a Stark guy who’s supposed to be yelling but famously just has a hole where his face should be – he’s going to be challenging…). The newer stuff is top notch though. The downside for me is that they all come pre-assembled with duplicate poses in each squad and getting them to look unique from each other will be tricky at best, and just impossible for some of them. That aside though the models are cracking, I can foresee myself having a lot of fun with these. 😀

  • davekay

    Nice work here, and I tend to agree with your thoughts on the novels, I will say I like them, but then talk about how the fourth and fifth books go wrong compared to the previous ones.

    • Wudugast

      Cheers! I’ve been thinking a lot about books 4 and 5 lately and it strikes me that part of the problem is the lack of books following them. If books 6 and 7 were published then we could look at the whole series and see how 4 and 5 sit within that. It’s not uncommon for big series like these to have a bit of a lull whilst characters are on-route from introduction to dramatic conclusion and that may well be what we’re looking at here. I think there’s some clever setting up being done in 4 and 5 but I don’t know for sure because I don’t know how it’s going to pay off. If 6 and 7 were published and they turn out to be excellent then we’d say “Ah yes, 4 and 5 drag a bit but they’re worth a careful read”. Equally if 6 and 7 turn out to be rubbish we’ll say “It all started so well but 4 and 5 were where the rot set in”. Instead we just don’t know and so 4 and 5 are tainted not just by being difficult but by being frustrating and unresolved as well. 

      • davekay

        When I read 5 I figured it would probably end up being the last book of the series in terms of being published and 11(!) years later I’m still right. Crazy to think the first three books came out 1996, 1998, and 2000.

  • ericritter65

    Love the miniatures, but couldn’t disagree more with Martin’s work. I find him boring and wordy.

    • Wudugast

      Cheers! Aye, he’s not to everyone’s tastes. I like really long complex novels that I can get my teeth into but I know plenty of people who just end up yelling “get to the bloody point George!” which is more than understandable. 

  • John@justneedsvarnish

    Very nice minis! 🙂 I think I’m the only person on the planet who has neither read the books or watched the TV series, although I always enjoy seeing the minis people paint for it!

    • Wudugast

      Thank you 😊 You’re certainly not the only one, I think what’s more unusual is that there’s a cultural phenomenon and I have seen it, usually I’m the one saying I’ve never watched whatever it is! 

      The thing is, I’m never sure how much to recommend them. The books are excellent but they’re also very long, complicated, wordy and at times pretty grim. The real problem is they’re not finished, there’s still two books to go to complete the story and the author has been promising something “soon” for a decade now. So if you read them you’ll only end up stuck on a cliffhanger like the rest of us. 

      The show started out well. They made a lot of changes, which upset some fans of the books but I think it’s wise to accept that you can’t translate a book to TV without making some adaptions. However the longer it went on the more different to the books it became and the less any of it made sense. The last couple of seasons looked pretty but the narrative and the characters went off the rails entirely. 

      So yeah, maybe the thing to do is wait a couple of decades until the final books are published and see how you feel then. Or better yet just concentrate on the lovely miniatures instead! 😀

      • John@justneedsvarnish

        Yep, I’ll go with your last suggestion and make the most of enjoying seeing the models! 🙂 I rarely go for very long series of books these days, so I’ll more than likely get the TV series on DVD at some point in the future, safe in the knowledge that I have no idea how it relates to the books!

  • Kuribo

    I have only watched GoT and I watched all but the last season and probably will never bother to see what happens. I have a pretty good idea of how it ends due to internet spoilers and it seems like the show had lost its way by that time. I admit that I get tickled by fans of the books patiently waiting for George R.R. Martin to finally finish the next book though I have no idea why. He sounds like a pretty cool guy and he actually commissions minis to be painted! I don’t know what he uses them for but I think that is neat all the same.

    With that said, I’m more of a diehard LOTR fan and that’s probably why I got into that game for a few years before finding Fallout. I don’t think GoT or A Song of Ice and Fire really tempts me from a gaming standpoint.

    Having said that, these minis do look cool and like they’d be fun to paint as well. I’ve seen some pretty decent look minis in this line and I do enjoy knights (or Bretonnians!) as well. You did a nice job painting these up and this is quite a surprise to see them pop up here as well 🙂 Can we expect to see more GoT minis in the future? That would be cool, if so!

    • Wudugast

      Yeah, I wouldn’t bother with the final season. The fact that it had all deviated so far from the books is fine (there’s always going to need to be adaptions between book and film after all) and it may not have been the ending I hoped for but I’m a big boy and I can cope with that. It would have been nice however if it had made an ounce of sense, instead of every character starting to behave in really weird, contrived ways and then adding insult to injury by getting passive-aggressive with the audience. In some ways it actually makes the wait for the books more frustrating because I used to think “well, if the show ever overtakes the books at least we’ll have some idea of how things were going to work out, even if it’s a bit modified” whereas now I really want to read the final two books, if only to rinse out my brain, wash away that nonsense and replace it with something that makes some kind of logical sense. Wait, how did I get up on this soapbox?

      Yeah, old George seems like a decent guy from what I’ve heard (although I’d like him even more if he spent, you know, just a tiny little bit more time writing…). I knew about the miniature’s thing, apparently that’s how he met the guys who went on to make the miniatures range. All the models for the ASOIAF game are approved by him as well which is cool. As for fans waiting patiently for him to finish the books I don’t know about that, waiting impatiently with much gnashing of teeth and shouting “hurry it up George” sounds more like it.

      I do love LotR, it was the thing that first introduced me to fantasy, and from there sci-fi, when my dad read it to me when I was a kid. I’ve noticed there seems to be a divide between LotR fans and ASOIAF fans which always seems odd to me, people seem to want to attach themselves to one or the other rather than just enjoying both. Similar situation to Star Wars and Star Trek I guess.

      As for seeing more of these models here that’s definitely the plan, I’ve got a heap of stuff to work through painting and I’m very excited about this project so expect to see lots of these over the coming months. Maybe I should challenge George to see if he can finish writing the books before I finish painting the backlog – surely a slow race for the ages!

      • Kuribo

        It was a crazy situation having a TV show on course to finish well before the books ever did, wasn’t it? I found that I kind of just had my fill of GoT towards the end of the show and I’m not especially looking forward to the shows that are coming out. I wonder if the franchise will be able to stay popular in coming years. I really can’t say either way.

        Hear, hear on the various franchises. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying them all. I certainly do 🙂

        I wouldn’t dare put money down on a bet of who will finish what they’re working on first between you and George! Truthfully, I don’t know exactly the extent of your backlog but I’ve been led to believe its fairly extensive. I think George is finding it hard to deliver under all the pressure and fan expectation, unfortunately for him.

      • Wudugast

        Yeah, I think that feeling, in regards to the forthcoming shows, is fairly common. Most people I know, which may not be representative of course, were put off by the shitness of the last few seasons. I’m not encountering much enthusiasm for the new shows whereas people are still excited about new books. Speaking for myself I wasn’t too impressed by the most recent book or the final season, but the more time passes and I think things over, re-reading/re-watching parts of it, the more I become impressed by the cleverness and subtlety of book 5 and the more I become annoyed by the terrible writing of season 8. 

        I think in many ways George has become the victim of his own success. The TV show has made him even more popular and has brought his work to the attention of a lot more people, which must be great for his bank balance (and these days we all need to take what we can get) but whenever I look at his blog he seems to be working on a million different things, not just concentrating on the one book. As for my own painting backlog I estimate it would take me around 6 years to get it all done, assuming that I keep painting at the current rate and I don’t buy anything new. The former factor seems unlikely, I forsee the demands on my time increasing rather than decreasing. As for buying less I think in this economic climate that’s inevitable and sensible but there are a few things that I’d still like to treat myself to and I see no need or reason not to allow myself now and again. All in all I reckon George has a chance against me if he knuckles down, especially as new books will undoubtedly open up new models and factions for the ASOIAF game, which will then find their way into my backlog…

      • Kuribo

        Not to bring it back to Star Wars, but I’m afraid GoT is headed towards being overexposed like I was complaining about recently. Although that seems to be a problem with all of my favorite franchises currently so GoT is far from unique in that regard. If the shows end up being good, I think many people will rekindle their love of GoT, including myself.

        Six years is doable but also daunting to think about. I think your buy rate will impact that heavily. If you buy much, it will be tough to get that backlog complete or that’s how I figure it anyway. Of course, rising prices might make that easier than we’d like too. I’d put your odds of beating George at about 60%. I like your chances but not so much that I don’t think George might surprise us both 🙂

  • theimperfectmodeller

    Looking forward to this project already. Nice work on the figures both of which are fine sculpts with nice detail. Starting to think I might do another army myself at some point. 🙂

    • Wudugast

      Thank you! Funnily enough I think you deserve some of the credit here, seeing your medieval army was what started me thinking about painting a medieval, or as it turned out pseudo-medieval, army of my own, which in the end led me to this. I’d definitely be keen to see another TIM army – what do you have in mind? Historical, science fiction, fantasy? Or maybe I shouldn’t be distracting you with this kind of talk – you need to concentrate on that diorama after all! 😉

      • theimperfectmodeller

        Haha, I’ve already become distracted by such talk! Something to give more thought to but I definitely fancy historical over fantasy I think. ACW could be tempting if I can bring myself to do so much blue and/or grey. I like the idea of something Roman or Persian too, more colour. Now I’m going to stop there before I get carried away! 😂😂

  • Pete S/ SP

    Nice painting- the yellow especially so- strong colour but not too bright either.

    Cheers,

    Pete.

    • Wudugast

      Thanks Pete – yeah, I’ve had a lot of practice with dirty yellow after painting the Skaven army, although I still wasn’t particularly looking forward to it. I reckon it came out alright though, we’ll see how things go with the rest of the squad. House Clegane’s colour is yellow but luckily I won’t be using much more of it on the rest of the army.

  • Azazel

    Doing it backwards! So… Anyway, I do like this pair as well, the models have come up really well – simple but with enough fine details to not be boring.

    • Wudugast

      Cheers! I’m slowly catching up with comments (although I suspect I’ll fall behind again on that front in short order…). “simple but with enough fine details to not be boring” – I think this captures my experience with the whole range so far, there’s enough going on with each model to keep my interest but not so much as to get me bogged down.

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