Before I even begin, I just want to say that I have not finished reading the books (I am in the middle of A Storm of Swords), nor have I seen any of the new episodes of Season 4 on HBO. So no spoilers, please.
Okay! Ready? Game of Thrones.
It’s no lie that I’m pretty much in love with this series. So as soon as I saw that I had the letter ‘M’ for our A-Z Challenge, I immediately knew I was going to do a post about the creator, George R.R. Martin. It was like, destiny.
As much some people complain about the many, many characters in the series, I actually quite like it. The world is large and lush with details as it is, and the story that Martin is telling can’t be summed up with just a few characters. If he had left out even half of the voices that he has in his novels, there’s a good possibility that we wouldn’t even be able to follow the politics of the story. Political war like the one in A Song of Ice and Fire isn’t created in a vacuum–there are many, many people that contributed to its creation.
Having said that, there are a lot of people. It can get a bit confusing sometimes on who’s who–especially when characters are only mentioned, and not actually speaking or present themselves. In that way, I’m glad that I watched the HBO series first, as it helped me put faces to names before I even started reading.
There are a couple of downsides to Game of Thrones, though. First, the books are loooong. I feel like I’m reading about three or four books for every one that I manage to close. And not only are they long, the series isn’t even complete yet–with no firm date on the horizon. I suppose Mr. Martin is having too much fun filming the show than writing. (Although that is complete speculation, and I have no way of knowing if that is true or not. Either way, I can’t really blame him. I know I would be having a blast filming my story for HBO, and we’re probably lucky that Winds of Winter is coming out at all.)
The other thing that is problematic in the series is the grotesque overabundance of rape. It seems like every single page has a reference to it. And if it isn’t wartime plunder and rape, than its their barbaric marriage practice of the “bedding.” I was completely appalled in the “Red Wedding” chapter from Catelyn’s point of view–and not for the death that happens at the end, but at the beginning with Edmure’s wedding to Walder Frey’s daughter (or was that granddaughter?) The fact that the girl was terrified, that they carried her out of the feast hall, stripping her clothes as they went–even the raunchy jokes they were making about her were nearly too much for me to handle.
And that argument that “it’s just historical accuracy” is starting to wear thin. It’s a story that features what basically amounts to zombies and dragons–how historically accurate is that? Also, do we know, for a fact, that this is how they treated every marriage in “ye olden times”? And what country and era are you even trying to emulate?
Basically, I find it all unnecessary.
Having said that, though, there are a few things that give me hope. It’s subtle, but it’s there. There’s a real connection to men being monsters and doing monstrous things–we see it most clearly in the contrast between Joffrey and Tyrion. And we see it with the hideous, horrible things that men inflict upon each other–not just in wartime but just in general.
And then we have Daenerys Targaryen, and her epically delivered line (both in the show and in the book) “Valar morghulis. All men must die–but we are not men.” She says it to the slave girl she had just freed. She says it, basically, to all the slaves she had just freed–but a part of it, I think, is addressed to all the women. The women in A Song of Ice and Fire are essentially all slaves themselves. And Daenerys seems determined to free them all.
It makes me wonder if all this pain and degradation is just set up so the Mother of Dragons can sweep in cleanse the world of Westerosof its monsters.
I have to admit, that’d be a pretty cool story.