The epic book series ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ by George R.R. Martin has become a literary sensation across the world, selling millions copies and finding a new branch of success in the t.v. series ‘Game of Thrones’. But, when you look past the gore and sex scenes that it is so well known for, you start to realise that this series perhaps has a far greater importance than so many of us might think of.
This would never have occurred to me to begin with. I read the first book in the series ‘A Game of Thrones’ over the summer holidays this year and thought it was brilliant. But before reading the book I too became obsessed with the t.v. show. Therefore I will also use some examples from the show as I haven’t finished reading all the books yet. I mean, look at them, there are quite a few of them and it took me a solid three months to finish the first one. Not that I’m complaining, I enjoyed every page of it.
But, I personally think that my main reason for believing that this series so incredibly important is for this reason: it makes people really think about other people. As is the case with many books, the reader likes to have them down as ‘good’ or ‘bad’. But with George R.R. Martin’s series… it’s impossible to put characters on these lists. Have you ever come across two people who can completely agree on who they like and don’t like and why?
For example, I am reluctant to admit, but am going to because it’s essential to my explantation, that Cersei Lannister (pictured above) is one of my favourite characters. Now, for those of you who know what she is like as a character, both in the book and the show, you’re probably think I’m crazy for liking her. And when I think about it I think I must be crazy too as there is no reason to like her as a character. She murders, lies, inflicts pain, tricks, she even sleeps with her own brother… and yet. I find myself saying that for so many of the characters. “I shouldn’t like them, and yet…”
One of my flatmates said she liked Ramsay Bolton. See, I can’t make sense of that at all. But then she can’t make sense of why I like Cersei. Ramsay is far worse than Cersei, isn’t he? I can’t give an actual reason for it. But what this could prove is that despite all her faults, I see something in her, and even with all her horrible qualities, Martin does something to make me as a reader see some small bit of good or desirable in her. Yes, she loves her children. That really is the only good thing I can think of about her at this point in time. But perhaps it is more her strength. Or perhaps it’s not a matter of me seeing good in her at all. Perhaps I like the fact that she’s so twisted, and perhaps we all like that about these characters, whether we can truly admit to that or not.
I also amaze myself at how I have come to like some of the characters that I hated to begin with. For instance – I must base this more on the t.v. series as you don’t see much of him in the first book in the series – Jaime Lannister. He was completely arrogant and at times incredibly nasty to one of my absolute favourites, Brienne of Tarth. But then you see a different side to him, and as the series progresses I came to like a character who I initially detested. I even overlooked the fact that he raped Cersei (t.v. show only) and how he even slept with her to begin with. I wouldn’t be able to overlook things like this in a person in real life, so why do I in these books?
I don’t know if this is a dangerous thing, that perhaps becoming too excepting of people who are inherently bad is a dangerous thing. But it’s hard to say because it is hard to determine whether they are inherently bad. Okay, I’m told that Jaime didn’t rape Cersei in the book and apparently that scene in the show wasn’t meant to be portrayed as rape, but he was pushy, and it was with his sister. But I believe that it says a lot about Martin’s skill as a writer and of the plot that his brilliant mind created. I personally am yet to come across another series which creates characters of such complexity so well.
Looking at another reason I think these books are so important; Martin has opened my mind to making unpopular choices, in terms of what the reader wants to happen, in crafting plot. Now, everyone lost their mind when Jon Snow died at then of series 5. In a way I did as well, not because I thought that he’s too good looking to die, like so many people did, but because I saw him as a central character. I thought, ‘he can’t really die as he’s such a key character’. I thought the same with the depart of Ned Stark. Especially he was killed off in the very first book. I thought, ‘how can the plot work without him?’ But then it occurred to me that in the real world, important people are not exempt from death, so why should important characters be?
The plot works without Ned Stark because when people die in real life, the world carries on no matter how important you are, and when a key character dies in a book, the world created in the series and its plot should carry on as well.
I am only a baby writer at the moment, and even as I gain more experience and grow more in the writing world, I will always look to other books and try learn something valuable from them, in both my writing and generally becoming a more rounded human being. ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ will become more important in this, particularly as the novel I want to write has a historical element to it.
There are so many other things that makes this series such a brilliant one. Let me know what you think in the comments below.
From the young M.A.Garrett