I realize that people are talking about Game of Thrones all over the internet; but I refuse to do this commentary without proper precautions, so here you have it – WARNING SPOILERS AHEAD – If you’re not up to date on the episodes or you don’t have some knowledge of the books, then stop reading, but I tell you most sincerely that George Martin doesn’t hate the Starks… and he doesn’t hate you, either.
I understand your discontent and upset. After “The Rains Of Castamere” you’re probably convinced Martin has it out for Starks and readers alike, but nothing could be further from the truth. The Red Wedding is a harsh dose of reality injected into this fantasy epic; breaking the hospitality rule of safe board and bread has been done many times throughout history. The Massacre of Glencoe comes to mind (with a handy link for those of you who aren’t history buffs) when almost forty Clan MacDonald guests were slaughtered for not pledging their allegiance to the new monarchs. Many women and children died from exposure afterward as their homes were burnt as well. That’s just one reference in history. There are many more. Because, my friends, this shit happens.
I know, I know. They stabbed Robb’s pregnant wife in the belly. They stabbed Robb and slit his throat. They practically slit Cat’s throat in slow motion. They killed the bannermen. Almost everybody died, from Frey’s latest wife to Grey Wind, Robb’s direwolf, and Arya got to watch. The build up was creepy and laced with clues to make everyone feel uneasy. Still, you thought it would be okay. But it wasn’t, was it?
It may not seem like it, but I am somewhat sympathetic. I realize most of you watching the show have not read the books, and you have absolutely no idea what’s going to hit you. Some of you are busy or just lazy, others don’t like to read. I think most of you just want to be surprised. But if you think this was bad, you better buckle up because it’s gonna be a bumpy ride for you, and I’m not just talking about the season finale, either.
I hear you. It’s hard not to hear you, you’re everywhere and so vocal about it: They killed Ned. Wasn’t he our hero? Joffrey’s still wreaking havoc while Benjen Stark’s missing in action and presumed dead. Drogo didn’t get a warrior’s death and our Mother of Dragons hasn’t even made it across the sea yet! Jaime pushed Bran out the window, I don’t want to sympathize with him just because he lost a hand. Theon deserves everything he gets, so why am I flinching? Yes, yes I know. It’s uncomfortable. It’s not black and white. It’s not fair. And it’s a lot like life because this shit happens.
I’m a long-time Martin fan but maybe I’m just used to his style. I’ve been reading “A Song of Ice and Fire” since the mid-nineties – which, for those of you who don’t know, is the series of books the “Game of Thrones” television show is based on – and I love the show. It’s terribly well done, from production to casting, and (unlike The Walking Dead) quite faithful to the books. But I’m tired of fellow readers nitpicking at the show over character changes or missing sequences. These books are so big they can double for door stops – Do you really think anyone could squeeze every detail into a television series? Seriously, just shut up.
And while I’m at it, I’ll address the television viewers: Quit your bitching. We readers have been hanging in there for a long, long time. Try following this for over fifteen years and then you can complain to me. We’ve even waited five years between critical books, for fucksake. We’ve weathered this tribunal and, believe it or not, so will you. Because what makes fantasy epic is that dose of reality that brings it home, strikes that chord, creates that connection and makes it credible or, in this case, incredible. We can’t look away, and that is testament in and of itself, because Martin has mastered his craft.