A love letter to the unpredictable Game of Thrones
Calling me a Game of Thrones fan would be saying Jesus and Christianity were Facebook friends. I worship, nay, revere GoT. I spend the hours that I should dedicate to productive work – like looking for a good husband or something – going through the Ice and Fire wiki, even though I’ve read the books and watched the series – the first two seasons at least – twice. I read all the interviews, have watched all the behind-the-scenes, and like Tywin Lannister’s relationship with power, I am always hungry for more.
Usually, die-hard fans are prickly about televised versions of their favourite books, and with good reason. Hollywood has in the past, serially brutalised many beautiful works under the tag of commercialisation. The Golden Compass, the early Harry Potter movies, the Percy Jackson series (as you can tell, I have a soft spot for fantasy) are the obvious ones off the top of my head. But GoT was always different.
Written from the points of view of each of its principle characters, GoT employs a literary tool called “unreliable narrators”. Each chapter is a character’s perspective, which means not all of them are a hundred percent accurate. There’s no omnipresent narrator to tell you, “Listen bro, this is it, this is what happened. Harry killed Voldemort and then married Ginny, even though he should’ve just played the field a little, because any chick would’ve loved to Avada his Kedavra at that point, if you know what I mean.”
GoT is life and past recollections the way a human with human failings would see, or remember. In a medieval fantasy world where there’s no one to print thousands of copies of the Lonely Planet Guide to King’s Landing – Which Brothel has the Highest Zagat Rating?, you just have to sort of rely on the friendly neighbourhood Gold Cloak to point the way to the Red Keep, and you have to rely on Old Nan and Maester Luwin to know what happened all those years ago because no one bothered to put it up on Wikipedia.
The upside to this technique is that as a reader, you never really know what happened (though once multiple sources confirm it you can accept it as true – just ask any J-school student) and you can never really predict what will happen. Robb Stark’s character never gets a POV chapter, and his life (and eventual death) unfolds through Catelyn’s eyes. Thus, we never see him fall in love – only return to Riverrun with his beloved. And this is where the show comes in. It fleshes out those parts that the book’s style forces it to leave out, and fills in some of the blanks that take place entirely in the background. Robb’s love story, Loras and Renly’s relationship, the sacking of Yunkai, Varys’ plotting – never in the book, but oh, it could’ve been, and the more you think about it, the likelier it seems. And that’s why I am in love with the series just as much as the books, if not more.
I have heard fans complain, about the Red Wedding, about yesterday’s finale episode, about Hodor’s butt, about the pace, about the changes. And some of the complaints might even have been mine. But last night, as I saw Daenerys being body-surfed by the slaves she had freed while they chanted, “Mhysa!” meaning “mother”, the same word Robb Stark uttered as his last, I couldn’t help but be at peace with the fact that I was never going to find a good husband. As long as there is more Game of Thrones in this world (and home delivery of alcohol) I am sorted.