Nobody’s Safe

So many glad tidings for fans of Westeros lately. Game of Thrones, the HBO adaptation of George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, was renewed after the airing of the first episode and the fifth book in the series, A Dance With Dragons, is set for release this summer.

(His latest blog post shows a slain Kong lying amidst the rubble, making fanbois and fangrrls like myself squeal with anticipatory glee. Also, for the love of all that is holy DO NOT GO DIGGING AROUND IN THAT WIKIPEDIA LINK. Yanno, unless you’ve already read the books and need a refresher. It will lead to spoilers and DOOM. And you don’t want DOOM. Right?)

I’ve watched the first two episodes and I am well pleased. It is undeniably gorgeous and the actors are perfect. I was conflicted, though. I worried that I might not find it that compelling, since I already knew the story. On the other hand, it had been so long since I read the series, coming to it during the mid-2000s (which was already years since it’s original release) that I wondered if I had forgotten most of it. If so, it would make a good refresher before I got my hand on A Dance With Dragons.

But I needn’t worry. Not only is the show pitch-perfect, I’m surprised at how much I do remember. The actors lines are very close, if not pulled outright from the novels, and hearing them spoken aloud gave me chills of remembrance. I got sniffly at seeing characters say goodbye to each other, characters I know will never see each other again, giving the scenes this additional layer of emotion for me. Even better, when I saw characters that I knew were going to be total bastards,  I did a little schadenfreude dance in my kitchenette at the thought of getting see what they each had coming.

(No. For reals. I literally had a moment where I said out loud, “Oh, GOD, he was such a prick! I can’t wait until he gets killed.” Then laughed maniacally.)

And that, I think, is the biggest strength of GRRM’s series. The universe of ASoIaF is not fairytale, or even a fair, kingdom. There is no prince on a white horse worth having. Virginity and the marriage bed are yet another coin. Trust and loyalty are almost always betrayed and true faithfulness is fleeting, if not outright stolen. But they all have it coming — the good, the bad, everyone. Nobody’s safe. It ain’t gonna be pretty.

Which makes the partings hurt so much more and which makes a villain’s fall all the more powerful. If you know good will always win over evil, the ending is an afterthought and the rest is just style. And you don’t sit on the edge of your seat, eyes wide, not wanting to miss a beat, for just style.

(Not that GRRM doesn’t have style to spare. He’s got it all. Have yet to read a book of his that didn’t entirely sublimate my universe for his made-up one. But don’t take my word for it. Go read his books!)

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