Game of Really, You’re Finally Reading That?

Posted: July 14, 2014 in Criticism, Fiction, Literary Criticism, Pop Culture, Reviews, Spoilers, Television
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Today, I’m going to be talking about Game of Thrones.

The book, not the series. Well, that’s not entirely true. I am going to talk about the first episode a little bit because that’s the only one I have seen so far. And don’t act surprised by that. I’m just now talking about the books.

So, I was not ever going to read the series. At first, it just kind of passed over me. Then multiple books were already out and a whole season of the show was done. But then, well, the memes kept piling up and were amusing. I knew several people who had read and enjoyed the books, and enjoyed the series. So I was finally like “why not pick up the first book and read.”

And read.

And read.

No, that’s not why there has not been as much Self-Published stuff on the site. More Indie Reviews are coming. No worries.

Having finished the first book, I wanted to talk about it a little bit. It’s out there, people enjoy it, and between it and the show, it leaves a lot to discuss. It has become, whether we like it or not, a pop-culture fixture, therefore something we should look at here. It is also something that we may draw comparisons and parallels to at some point. For the few of you like me who have not started or are just starting the series, however …

The problem with a book like Game of Thrones is that it is hard to pin point just where you want to begin discussions about it. It is a huge book. A lot happens in it. It touches on multiple themes. Several ideas float through it. I haven’t looked, but I am sure there are many blogs out there just for the purpose of examining all of this.

Me? I like high-level discussions.

So, from a high level … the copy that I have compares the book to Once and Future King. You know, the novel all about King Arthur, whose first part became a Disney movie called The Sword in the Stone. And that’s pretty much my knowledge of the book. Had to read Le Morte d’Arthur in college, learned I hated the depiction of Guinevre in the early stories, and moved on with my day. Several so-so TV adaptations on Arthurian legend and seeing an over-use of it in other fantasy did not help either.

Having read the first novel, however, I don’t really think Arthurian legend when I think  Game of Thrones. I actually think Romance of the Three Kingdoms. The end of Game of Thrones, with the bastard Joffrey on the Iron Throne, Lord Renly in the South claiming to be the true heir to the throne, and Robb in the North being named King of the North only strengthens that. The depth of intrigue, the unique parallels and contrasts in different relationships, and the attention paid to the relationships between so many characters and the events around them to me just cry Romance far more than Arthur.

At a more detailed level … time to talk show.

I decided to watch the first episode when I was safely into the novel, so that it wouldn’t be spoiled any more than memes already spoiled the book for me. I wanted to see how the show interpreted the book. I was prepared for differences. I have read and seen all of the Harry Potter series. I was not happy, however, with some changes, and they have made me hesitant to watch the rest of the series, accolades aside.

What made me unhappy was Daenerys’ wedding.

In the book, you can pick up pretty quickly a kind of contrast between Daenerys and Sansa. Sansa is “in love” with a Prince who on the outside is courtly and chivalrous and on the inside is just an insipid little beast. Daenerys is given to marry a man who on the outside looks to be a brute and beast but we discover on their wedding night is surprisingly gentle and considerate.

In the show, he just bends her over and goes to town while she cries.

Really HBO?

What really bothers me about the change is that apparently the show does still follow the flowering romance between Drogo and Daenerys. Only after her brutal and misogynistic treatment on their wedding night, I find it hard to want to watch that. In the book, it is understandable that she falls in love with Drogo. He shows her the respect that she is due and as such, his followers respect her (even if only at his example). Instead, the show seems to want me to accept a woman falling in love with a man who brutalizes her. But I’ll toss aside the feminist argument for this one, just for today. Doing this in the show takes away a great literary tool that Martin used throughout the first book, intentional or not.

So, that’s my thought on the book for today. Not so much on the spoilers I suppose – you know except that whole part where I talk about how the book ends. Oh, Ned dies. But I did want an excuse to use the spoilers meme.

  1. Mian says:

    They actually tried to shoot it as they did in the books (Drogo and Dany). They couldn’t make it work (no big surprise, it’s a difficult shot…)

    • Mian says:

      Drogo does still rape Dany in the books, just not the first night.

    • LynnPerretta says:

      I could see that it would be a difficult scene to shoot. It paces far too slow to be received well on screen. Reading it, because you’re in Dany’s head, you’re all “this is so sweet. He’s not all beastie”. On screen you’d be sitting there saying “Oh come on! Get on with it already!” I think, however, the scene could have been rearranged, and paced for screen, so that what happens in the book is preserved. Yes, she is going to be raped throughout her marriage. This is what happens to women in these types of marriages and in this type of milieu. And that brings up all kinds of other problems about women in fiction, but that is more suited to my own blog and not here. 🙂 I digress. What happens to Dany in her marriage is not unusual for women married off in this world. The marriage night, therefore, is very important for the reader to see, since we’re going to be seeing the rest, to justify how Dany still falls in love with such a brutal character and herself becomes a strong character and not just another literary case of Stockholm Syndrome.