Ok – my Game of Thrones post is here

I’ve been watching this show for a while now. Not reading the books, just viewing it week-to-week. I knowingly skipped out on season 2 because I didn’t want to pay for HBO, but with all the twists and turns awaiting the characters in season 3, I decided to pony up the dough and watch.

At this point, I feel that the series needs no introduction. If you are reading this, then you probably have some interest in George R.R. Martin’s fantasy series already. There’s really no need for me to start summarizing basic plot details or popular characters – you have likely heard about Game of Thrones one way or another.

With that in mind, what’s to say about it? There’s a ton of buzz lately about a recent episode; one where three major characters are killed off (unexpectedly) in what the books call the “Red Wedding”. Now, for any other series, this would be unheard of. Who in their right mind would be so bold as to eliminate some of their most popular leads? Well, Game of Thrones apparently. In one fell swoop, three primary protagonists are slit by the throat, shot with arrows, and stabbed with daggers. All acts committed via the treacherous activity of a character whom you are lead to believe was in the just the entire time. I realize I should be saying something along the lines of SPOILER ALERT!, but that’s moot at this point.

But that’s just it – it’s not a spoiler if you’ve been watching this show long enough. You are inclined to expect the unexpected with Game of Thrones. If the character is likable or even semi-honorable, Game of Thrones’ author, Mr. Martin, will certainly find a way to bludgeon or kill this character within a few short minutes.

And then it’s quickly off to the next poor sap who tries to do what we would call, “the right thing”. It’s not about the strong surviving – it’s about who can betray who the first and not get caught while doing it.

I had been trying to put my finger on this notion for some time now. I was initially intrigued by Martin’s rich use of history and eye for detail. This was very similar to a Tolkien or Lewis fantasy and since I’m a fan of those two guys, I figured I’d give Mr. Martin a try.

As you can probably surmise, that’s where the similarities ended.

Where Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings and Lewis’ Narnia etch elements of hope into their storytelling fabric, Martin’s rips hope out from under nearly every character. Ideas like chivalry and honor are afterthoughts. And you can forget about marrying for love – Martin uses the act of a wedding as the primary force behind uniting peoples together who merely want more power. Or in the extreme case of this past week’s episode – a wedding is used as a decoy to invite people into your home so you can promptly slaughter them.

Now, here’s the good part of this post. I was reading some reactions to this sweeping phenomenon of a show and one that caught my attention related to an interview Martin gave. Within the interview, he went on to say that he dislikes stories where good and evil are blatantly obvious (a la Tolkien and Lewis) and prefers to surprise his audiences (no argument there). By making these statements, Martin has inadvertently set himself up for something. Something that a fan such as myself has an issue with. And that issue is this: how the heck does he (Martin) plan on ending this thing if he loves to cut the legs out (sometimes literally) from every major character? If there’s no light at the end of the tunnel, then won’t the ending be unfulfilling somehow?

I would imagine that most people are following the story because they are interested in Martin’s mastery of narrative. But hey, that narrative has to end eventually, right? Shouldn’t that be a concern? A grandiose tale deserves a grandiose ending, does it not? And even if Martin’s series is full of mixed messages, changing alliances, and broken characters, won’t there be some sort of transcendent ending when it’s all said and done? One would think so, but I’m not so sure. I mean, I have my opinions about how I would end it, but this is someone who is not me. The direction is foreign to me, strange to what I’m familiar with, but ultimately, I’m still interested. It’s new; it’s different, and it’s against the grain of what I’m used to seeing.

How did guys like Stephen King or Edgar Allan Poe become so popular? Well, they introduced something brand spanking new. And that’s what Martin is doing. However, I’m unsure as to just how this guy is going to keep it up. And truthfully, I want an ending that’s more than just a twisted climax. I want resolution. I want completion. I want a semi-hopeful ending. And in the midst of a huge, overarching story, shouldn’t it come to that somehow? Shouldn’t there be some semblance of a “happy ending” for at least one of these characters? I would think so. But then again, Game of Thrones has surprised us before. And since history has a way of repeating itself, I suppose I shouldn’t be too shocked when the ending (no matter what it ends up being) surprises me yet again. Will it be honorable in the least? Well, someone like myself hopes so, but that remains to be seen.

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