Game of Thrones

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A huge dragon flies over a City whilst the strain of menacing music plays as the next scene pans to Joffrey who arrogantly declares that he saved the City.  ‘There is good and evil on both sides,’ Jorah Mormont advises Daenerys.  Quickly we pan to swords drawn and then to poor old Tyrion who appears to be in a new load of shit as he is frogmarched in chains.

So many questions, so much intrigue in what is going to happen next in season four of game of thrones.  Will Joffrey finally get his comeuppance and will the remaining Stark’s get any luck and maybe revenge for the Red Wedding and Ned Stark’s death?  These little teasers from the trailer get the blood pumping as the next fix of Game of Thrones fast approaches.

WARNING: SPOILER ALERT IF YOU HAVE NOT READ ALL THE BOOKS

Which is better?  The book or the TV series?

Like many other fans I’ll be looking forward to the new series which begins in April.  Unfortunately I didn’t feel like this when I got up to the fourth book, a Feast for Crows.  George R.R. Martin declared it ‘a bitch to write,’ and I found it a ‘bitch,’ of a read too as it seemed to flounder in the mud, with Martin appearing to lose direction in where he was taking the book.

In many ways I felt Martin had allowed a ball of wool to get unravelled with so many plots, subplots, and new characters that he is now frantically trying to pull all the strands together but is sprawling out of control.

Putting it quite simply Martin needed a good editor to turn around and say that this bit needs cutting.  Why have you introduced this character?  For example we are introduced to the Martell’s who suddenly become major characters and now we’re introduced to the Golden Company with a secret Targaryen who suddenly emerges to have claim to the Iron Throne.

Arya in the meantime is wandering around God knows where as she takes on yet another alias as ‘Cat of the Canals,’ having joined some secret order, the house of black and white or the faceless men as they are also known.

At times it seemed as though Martin was unsure of what the hell he was doing with the characters.  Arya for example would wander around a bit, next up would be Brienne, the next chapter Tyrion riding a pig in some freak circus that he has joined, and then off to Dorne to see what the Sand Snakes are up to.  In the meantime, you the reader would be trying to remember what had happened previously and who is this new Squire or mercenary who has suddenly popped up?

Sensationalism

At times you wondered whether Martin was running out of ideas or maybe even bored.  There have been some awful shocks and behaviour within the novels but Martin was depicting a brutal world which had been turned upside down by war.  However, in the later instalments of the books not only do you become immune to the atrocities but it is so over the top that it appears as though Martin is trying to be shocking for the sake of it.  Ramsey Snow, Bolton’s bastard son acts so despicable that he might as well twirl his moustache. It’s just as well there are no trains in Westeros, as I’m sure some poor damsel would be tied to a rail track as a freight train hurtled down the lines.

That is not to say that all of Martin’s characters are cardboard cut outs.  Indeed one of the strengths and the lure of the books (as well as the television series) is that when he gets it right the characters are fully developed with many complexities that make them human.

Theon Greyjoy is such a character.  All he wants to do his prove himself to his Father and makes one catastrophic decision after the next.  Alfie Allen who plays Theon captures the character brilliantly.  There is the vanity and the resentment over his sister Asha (Yara in the television adaption) who is given the main responsibility of invading the North.  On top of this she is widely respected by her men.

Despite the shouting and long-winded speeches about being ‘Iron born,’ Theon is only tolerated by his men.  At times he looks unsure and tramples into bad judgements believing that this is how he has to act.  The killing of the two mill owner’s children which he tried to pass off as Bran and Rickon is the point of no return.

Tyrion is another great character who again is trying to prove himself to his Father.  He is intelligent, witty, and good-natured who does a brilliant job as the temporary Hand of the King.  It is his decision that helps save the Throne for Joffrey.

Television adaption

HBO have done a first class job of Games of Thrones.  It is for me, one of the few television or film adapation’s that is better than the book.  The novels needed better editing and the fact that Martin intended it to be a trilogy means something has gone badly awry.  There are simply too many strands and too many loose ends that I wonder if even Martin knows how he is going to tidy it up.

The books are certainly not classics and if it wasn’t for the television series would have passed a lot of people by.  For me Patrick Rothfuss (The name of the wind and wise man’s fear) is a much better writer.  There is an eerie, in some ways Brother’s Grimm style to his writing.  Plus it is a much tidier novel without a constant flow of new characters suddenly appearing out of nowhere.

At times you get the impression that Martin has not got a clue with what he is doing with his characters.

For me the television adaption is how the books should have been edited.  It’s more streamlined and like it or not you do get emotionally attached to the characters.  You only have to see the reaction from viewers after the Red Wedding.

That is not to say that I won’t read the next instalment the winds of winter, when it comes out.  Like many I want to see how it’s going to pan out.  Despite the criticisms of the books, I have enjoyed watching Games of Thrones.  I love the political intrigue, the dilemma of right and wrong, plus wanting the villains such as Joffrey and Walder Frey.  I also want to see how Tyrion fares as well as Samwell Tarly who despite being seen as scared and weak, always tries to do the right thing.  Plus I want to see those damn dragons in action!

Brian Benjamin

The next blog on Games of Thrones will be after episode one of the new season.

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Author: Brian Benjamin

I love football and will watch any game. Writing is also a passion of mine and apart from writing about football I have also tried my hand at short stories in my spare time.

2 thoughts on “Game of Thrones”

  1. There’s a website, BoiledLeather.com, that has two suggested chapter lists for reading A Feast For Crows and A Dance of Dragons as one big chronologically ordered book (the reasons that there are two lists: one is strictly chronological, one of slight out of chronological order to preserve some of the surprises in the books.)

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