A Song of Ice and Fire without a doubt is one of the most popular book series in the recent years. Most probably this success came due to the HBO TV show Game of Thrones based on George R. R. Martin’s literary masterpiece. It is true the books had their loyal fans even before the show was released but they were mostly people who are fans of the genre. My point is the books didn’t have a commercial popularity before the coming of the show, which made a total hit out of them among all types of audiences.
But what is it that thing people love about Game of Thrones (both the books and the show)? Is it the complexity of the characters or the unpredictability of the plot, the fictional world of dragons and direwolfs or the complicated human relationships? The truth is most of the fiction novels resemble fables- they have hidden meaning and are figuratively showing the reality we live in. Game of Thrones (GoT) is no exception. The name itself- “Game of Thrones”, suggests that the story is about intrigues, murder, revenge, vanity but most of all about power- as Cersei Lannister says, “Power is power.”
One very real, even painfully real thing about GoT is no one is safe; anyone could be killed off (especially if he/she is a Stark) no matter if they are a main character or not. Actually, there isn’t just one main character in Game of Thrones but rather a number of storytellers, whose point of view we follow in a series of chapters George R. R. Martin has dedicated to them, so we assume these characters are kind of main. Normally, we are used to the fact that the main character is immortal. No matter what obstacles he/she faces, at the end of the story, everything falls into place and “they lived happily until the end of their days.” But in GoT, as Tyrion Lannister (in the show those words belong to Ramsay Bolton) wisely points, “If you think it has a happy ending, you haven’t been paying attention.” It is exactly the same in life. Life is a ruthless fight full of obstacles. There are ups, but there are downs as well and we need to know that from our first day until our last we fight; we fight with others, fight with time, fight with destiny but most of all we fight with ourselves. And that’s the beauty of it all because everything is more beautiful when you know you are doomed.
George R. R. Martin has found a very witty way to show the main features of the characters or of groups of characters by comparing them with animals- the Lion of Lannister, the Three-Headed Dragon of House Targaryen, the Direwolf of House Stark and so on. The way he uses metaphor is very clever because the animals are just sigils of the noble houses in Westeros, but actually, they determine the features of the groups of characters that have them. This reminds me a little bit of the astrology houses and the zodiac signs, which more or less determine the main characteristics of groups of people who happened to be born under those signs.
As the heading of my post suggests, I find many hidden similarities between our world and the magical world of GoT. This is very good because books (and TV shows/movies) are meant not only to entertain us but to educate us as well and teach us some wisdom (oh yes, there is a lot of wisdom in Game of Thrones). For me, the main thing one can draw as a conclusion from reading the GoT books is that there is only one hell and only one heaven- both are the ones we live in now.
L. V. K.