Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Grimdark Confession: I'm no longer that into Westeros

GRIMDARK CONFESSION: I don't actually care about Game of Thrones/A Song of Ice and Fire anymore. Warning: This testament will contain spoilers for both the penultimate season of the show as well as up to A Dance with Dragons.

    My interest in A Song of Ice and Fire/Game of Thrones basically can be summarized as slowly but surely ending due to the realization it's a Deconstruction/Reconstruction switch. I loved the books for their savage take down of a lot of tropes like the Noble Lord, the One True King, and so on. However, as the story keeps going—it looks more and more like a traditional fantasy story rather than something I'm interested in reading.

    Daenerys Targeryen and Jon Snow are both the Targaryens who are the "rightful" rulers and they're looking more likely than ever at taking over the lands to put them right. Which is something I have no interest in as a story. Robert Barthaeon is a more interesting king because he's NOT a rightful king by any stretch of the imagination but nicely put down the Targaryens who had well worn out their welcome. They also were people who were only the rightful kings because they could enforce a claim.

    The Good and Evil struggle with the White Walker has always been implied to be there but that's never been what's drawn me to the franchise. I don't actually care about the White Walkers because they're just orcs and not the Warcraft kind either. A bunch of undead monsters out to wipe out all humanity just because. There's nothing to say about them and they have no characterization so far other than they're EVIL. We still have Cersei Lannister as an antagonist but she's never been as morally ambiguous as some readers have wanted her to be.

    Arya Stark becoming an assassin, if the show is any indication, isn't something that will result in her becoming a psychopath who is as bad as those she fights. It's just giving her the power to be another tool for the good guys. Sansa isn't going to side with her demented tutor Littlefinger. Everything looks like it's going to end up as something similar to plenty of other fantasy series and that's just disappointing. The twists and turns which made the series great and characterization that was so unexpected is no longer as interesting to me as it once was.

    And I feel terrible about that. 

     I'm still going to watch the final season but I feel like all the surprises have been done and this is going to be a story without much in the way of any further deconstruction or twists. As for the books? Well, if they come out, I'll read them too but things have been going downhill since A Feast for Crows. Part of this is just pessimism but I wouldn't be surprised if George R.R. Martin has written himself into a corner on this himself. We have characters like Griff and Jon Connington but I think it's clear they're going to prove to be imposters or mislead rather than genuine twists to the Game of Thrones narrative.

     Part of this may be the result of time passing rather than anything else. It's been decades since the first book came out and fans have picked apart every theory from R+L=J to whether or not Jaime is going to strangle Cersei. The momentum of the story would have been a daunting task for any writer but has more or less passed in my opinion. What was clever foreshadowing has been analyzed, discussed, and talked about in several different ways somewhere by fans. The age of the internet means few twists not straight out of nowhere are surprising.

    Ultimately, I think my biggest issue is that the setting as well as story began as a work which continually subverted expectations but has since gone on to become something of a more traditional narrative. We never did get the perspective of the Smallfolk on Westeros and those few times they attempted to assert themselves (The Sparrows for example), they were treated as villified. I also think I've read so much grimdark fiction like Joe Abercrombie, Mark Lawrence, and others that I'm comfortable moving on. People have taken the inspiration for this series and run with it in their own ways as well as much farther.

    Oh well.


  1. It doesn't help that Daenerys is a terrible character who is pretty uninteresting and wishy washy at best.

    The true subversion would be one that I don't think that many fans have thought about. Is that after the war with the white walkers, there is no one kingdom anymore. The Seven Kingdoms have split into two or more Kingdoms. As Daenarys or whomever is crowned is simply to weak in personality or manpower to hold them together.