George Martin doesn’t hate the Starks and he doesn’t hate you, either.

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. 

10 thoughts on “George Martin doesn’t hate the Starks and he doesn’t hate you, either.

  1. I'm going to disagree with you. Martin CLEARLY hates the Starks and favors the Lannisters. Whether it's a social commentary on how the rich and powerful are crushing the regular man under their boot heels or he just prefers power and wealth over tradition and faith I don't know but the message is clear. Lannisters are his choice.

  2. If you've only watched the TV show, it would probably be easy to get that impression; however, I think the books lend a more solid feel to Martin's ideals – No one is everything – not bad, good or otherwise. He paints life with broad strokes at times, but also adds the necessary details to initiate the ambiguity that colors the truth of our reality, and makes great fiction.

  3. It may seem that the Lannisters are in the ascendancy right now. But the story is not over with yet. Who knows, by the time Martin finishes, the Lannisters may be nothing more than a forgotten blood smear on the bottom of Arya's boot.

  4. I am currently reading the books as well as doing some research online and while I realize he claims there really isn't a good or bad currently even in the books the Starks continue to be screwed every way they turn while everyone else goes about their merry way. So far they are the only house that has been completely destroyed, lands lost, family scattered to the winds or dead.

    Not saying I don't enjoy the books as he has obviously evoked emotions within me but am pretty tired of the appearance of a grudge towards the Starks.

  5. It is a bit stupid to say that an author has a 'grudge' against his own characters. Did Shakespeare have a grudge against Hamlet or Romeo and Juliet? Did Sophocles have a grudge against Oedipus? Did John Cassavettes or Stanley Kubrick have a grudge against men who served in Vietnam? Sometimes bad things happen to good people and the greatest fiction makes us dwell upon the unfairness and tragedy of the human condition. Martin is the one who makes us love the Starks in the first place, in the books almost half the narrative is from the perspective of one member of the Stark family or another.
    Honestly, what do you want to see; every bad person gets there just desserts within a few episodes and the Starks run around playing 'Come-into-my-Castle' in the Wolfwoods?!

  6. You might be missing the point. He doesn't begrudge the starks he just writes a skewed version of reality where only the corrupt and amoral win. Yes that shit happens but not at every goddamn turn. I really think he just wanted to set himself apart from the status quo. In most modern stories the protagonist always prevails. The problem is he does tend to take it too far as though he hasn't proven his point yet.

  7. I don't think I'm missing anything- I can't know George Martin's plans for these characters any more than you can. I would dearly love to see the Starks get a break but whatever GMs purpose is it is not wish fulfilment. I don't think it is simply about 'Let's just bash the good guys for no reason'. The Winter the Starks always knew was on its way has truly Come, and if any of them survive to the next Spring it will seem like a true blessing. Incidentally, none of the great houses seem to be having a wonderful the of things, certainly not the Lannisters. They are a deeply damaged family, prior to the start of story even.

  8. “And it's a lot like life because this shit happens”

    What kind of life have you guys had??

  9. and to think we have come so far.. but take pleasure in this type of amusement.. it just sickens me in general, and then to see the possibility of entertainment turned into a bloodbath against one family…

  10. If you read the book, you should know that Robb's wife,Jeyne Westerling wasn't killed,because she didn't take part to the red wedding. I'm at Martin's last book and i believe he hates the Starks, think what Lady Dustin does in Winterfell.It's really too much.

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