Apologies for leaving out a crucial detail in the previous post-- it's not Assassins Guilds as such that I find so implausible, it's Assassins Guilds which aren't owned by a government or possibly some very organized crime, and my impression is that the guild in ASoIaF is independent.
Also, I assume that Martin's assassins are very good at recognizing people by their build and how they move, and at ignoring faces as a method of identification.
I've read _Deadline_, almost all of _A Dance with Dragons, and am about 150 pages into _Leviathan Wakes_, and my feeling is "Would you like some death with your death? Perhaps a plate of maggots with death sauce?"
I'm also reading Digger, and it's a considerable relief.
I've complained that the body count among the main characters in LOTR is implausibly low. I might not be complaining about that again.
Which reminds me, I've also complained that the way Saruman damaged the Shire seemed weirdly modern. I was rereading Shippey about characterization through rhetoric in "The Council of Elrond" because of Visualizing English Word Origins, and he mentions that Saruman talks like a modern politician-- so I could still argue that it's anachronistic, but my feeling that it came out of nowhere isn't fair.
I wonder whether politicians in dictatorships slither the way democratic politicians do-- Saruman was definitely in a dictatorship, but his way of saying a number of smoothly contradictory things seems more as though he was trying to be electable.
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