I am fan of the shadow of Game of Thrones.
What that means is I love the show and books in spirit, but in actual execution it is all a little bit more… well… shadowy. Imagine me as Peter Pan racing up the wall trying to get me hands on my shadow but it is just out of my reach and very dark. But I have to have it! It might complete me!
Now before you judge me, I’ve paid my Westeros dues (in Gold Dragons, of course). I’ve read all the books, I’ve seen the first two seasons of the show. Heck, I even own the first two seasons of the show on Blu-Ray (ordering both before they were actually released)! I am even guilty of driving others to the series. Regretfully, I’ve not only bought my dad the books and Blu-Rays, but also a shirt and calendar.
(Yeah, I said regretfully, and here is why: while I was finishing up book five, my dad was still back in book three and he happily told me that he felt a strong connection to Jon Snow. Considering the end of A Dance With Dragons, I couldn’t help but blush and mumble under my breath, “Sorry.”)
The thing is that all of this, for me, it may be coming to end soon.
I’m actually debating whether I need to say goodbye to my secret direwolf, hang up my sword made of Valyrian steel, and take the first boat out of there like Sansa from King’s Landing. Yes, I may have actually reached my goodbye with the show and the books, because… honestly… it was in the third book (A Storm of Swords) that I felt like everything fell apart. That third book is tragically where the HBO series is at; and two books later George R.R. Martin, in my opinion, has yet to clean up the mess he made at a certain wedding.
He needs a really big mop.
This is not the first time I have shared my internal debate over A Song of Ice and Fire. I did it last year as well in a piece called “My Love/Hate Relationship with Game of Thrones.” There is even a good chance I might repeat some of what I said in that piece here, because after a year I have yet to feel I have found any real answers to my questions and concerns.
And here we are, on the wall with season 3 approaching from the distance over the snow. And I would be shocked, knowing the third book backwards and forwards, if the season doesn’t end with the red wedding.
The red wedding…
I remember the first time I read that scene, which is probably the darkest scene—next to the children suicides in Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy, I was in bed for an entire day after that chapter!—I have read in literature. When I first encountered it, I had to go back and re-read it again… and again. I even read the book through a few times after, looking for hints that it was coming. (That’s me the writer, I enjoy figuring out how others do it; especially if I can’t see something coming.)
There were hints! They are so damn obvious to me now! I’m almost stunned I didn’t see it coming now the first time…
…Or maybe I shouldn’t be stunned?
I’m a nice guy, and, dude, it was a wedding. Even in Game of Thrones’ bleak landscape my mind doesn’t always race to impending doom; even though in this series—in this very book!—we have two different murders at weddings, which really makes me wonder what Martin thinks of marriage.
Who does that?
This may seem an odd choice, but as a writer I loved how we only saw him through the eyes of others. He was the brother, the son, the king, and in each he conveyed himself differently, opened up differently. He was human, and in many ways so very alone. He felt like an introvert, playing a role, only exposing himself truly once (daring to fall in love) and having that come back to bite him later.
Now with the execution of his father I wanted to see Robb kick ass! It’s a fantasy adventure with knights! That’s what you do! And by the end of the first book it was time. Which made it almost a little strange how little we actually see of Robb in the second book or his exploits, only hearing updates from others.
And how does the King of the North actually meet his end? At a great and glorious battle that minstrials will sing about for years to come? (Along with a song about a dancing bear; seriously Mr. Martin let it go.) Nope, Robb dies in a banquet hall, after dancing and exchanging pleasantries, playing his role as king.
And to rub it in later how much he is gone, Martin makes sure to note that Robb’s wife has done everything possible to make sure she is not carrying his child. So not even in death does he find his proper closure. The line of the Starks, in the eyes of most in the land of Westeros, is over.
So we leave Robb there… with his head removed, stuck on the body of his wolf.
Nice, Mr. Martin. And that is the third book and the third season of the show.
…And don’t get me started on the unsullied and their puppies!
The first two seasons of HBO’s Game of Thrones had some great highpoints.
Many times these highpoints were at the expense of the book, adding a bit of a happy surprise to us fans who knew what to expect after the roll of each opening credits. My favorite of these comes in Season two when you watch Arya Stark actually learn at the hands of Tywin Lannister how to lead.
Oh, and whoever decided to show us the leader of the white walkers at the end, thank you! I’ve been frustrated since I began reading the series who the great enemy behind the wall was. Finally, we have our Sauron! (Sorry, that is Lord of the Rings.)
(Which brings up another question that bothers me; whether the white walkers are the “ice” in A Song of Ice and Fire or Jon Snow is the “ice?” I lean towards the camp that Snow is actually the son of Prince Rhaegar Targaryen and Eddard’s sister, so it would make sense if it was him… But he might be dead now, right? Argh!)
And while I was happy not to see one of the scenes from book two on the screen that angered me (it involved the death of a young peasant boy who was only guilty of crying for his dad, which made me think of my own kids), I thought the scenes at the end of the first episode of the death of possible heirs (children) to King Robert Baratheon a little over the top and very excessive. It almost turned me off the show completely.
Were the producers trying to outdo Martin? Please don’t try! Please…
Okay, so why might this be the end of my time with the show?
If my issue with the books was only that one tragical wedding bit, well, I might be able to suck it up and just watch the show, but the problem is I can’t think of really what I am looking forward to seeing after that!
Yeah, Joffrey dying (in what will probably be season 4) will be wicked fun to watch, but… then what?
I got nothing.
Okay, Game of Thrones fans I am going to say it… Many of us have avoided saying it, but I am going to go for it…. Book four (A Feast for Crows) was boring and nothing really happened in Book Five (A Dance With Dragons).
There I did it…
Actually, I feel a little better after getting that off my chest.
So, okay, what does that mean for the future of the show?
A season four that is all around the repercussions of the red wedding and Tyrion’s trial (building to the conclusion of him murdering his father).
And a season five and six of… I have no idea, but everyone is wandering and no one gets anywhere. Well, until the end, then we get Daenerys and her dragon and Jon Snow in the snow bloody.
But first we have season three and I get to watch another beloved character unfairly snuff it. It almost makes a person wonder why someone tries to be good in this world.
Is that the lesson we are supposed to learn?
Looking back on A Dance With Dragons it feels like George R.R. Martin was pulling his punches, knowing he has two more books to go. But with thousands and thousands of pages already in print (including book four, which the less said the better), could anything he be planning live up to the expectations he has given us so far, by always hinting, hinting, hinting that something was coming…
See that is the thing with these books! Right there!
Something is always coming, but what he never says. It may be weird to say this, and some might chuckle, but I wish he wrote these books more like J.K. Rowling tackled the Harry Potter series.
See, her series had a driving to it (there was a wizard war going on), but each book had its own arc; its own beginning and end. George Martin’s books really don’t have that, and maybe that is because he has a background in television; pulling out all of his TV writing tricks to keep us tuned in for the next episode. Rowling didn’t do that to us. She gave us just enough closure to satisfy us as readers while keeping is invested in the books to come.
I am actually starting to wonder if there is anything Martin could do at the end that will feel like enough. Yes, I am expecting disappointment when everything comes to closure…. Yet, between you and me my fellow obsessed fans, I don’t want to be proven right.
No, I want George R.R. Martin to surprise me and prove me wrong. I really do. He is a hell of a good writer with an imagination and a wonderful skill for character development. And some aspects of his writing (POVs, for example) have even influenced some of my own fiction.
So maybe I should be saying this directly to him? Here we go:
“Please, Mr. Martin prove me wrong.”
I want to believe in dragons.
Damn, I’ll probably watch season three.
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