We are now less than a week from the premiere of Season 3 of Game of Thrones, HBOs popular adaptation of George R.R. Martins epic fantasy novel series, A Song of Ice and Fire. Set in the fictionalbut vaguely recognizable--realm of Westeros, Martins books tell of the struggle for control of the land, and are full of well-written characters and compelling political intrigue. They are also pretty realistic, as much as a fantasy series can be. They present the brutality of medieval society, and the plot is full of unexpected with sudden, surprising deaths. And while theres a role for magic, its more as an increasingly powerful outside force than a tool for the characters to use. Whats more, were supposed to accept the frustrating death of a beloved character that leaves us no one to root for in the story as this is what often happens in real history; death is usually sudden and pointless (just look up how Frederick Barbarossa died). If we dont like it, then we must not be getting it. But my problem is not with the unexpected deaths or twists, but how they happen. They often occur through some sort of deus ex machina magical means, or through normalbut rather contrived-feelingevents. It often comes off like Martin wrote himself into an impasse, or wanted to play with readers emotions, and had to come up with a convenient way to kill a character. So here are five parts of A Song of Ice and Fire that supposedly lend to its realism butin my opinioncome off as plot contrivances. It is with a heavy heart that I lay these out, as I still love Martins work. But it must be said. Note: I will indicate which of these are spoilers if youve only been watching the TV series.