Thursday, June 6, 2013

Why are you surprised, Game of Thrones fans?

Ever since the latest episode in the HBO series Game of Thrones, "The Rains of Castamere," aired Sunday night, the internet has exploded with fans' reactions, mostly with the shock, outrage, and grief of those who had not bothered to read the books. And all I can say to that is, why haven't you bothered to read the books?

Personally, I had not read the books either until I watched the first season of the show. In fact, I confess, hard as it may be to believe, I did not know who George R.R. Martin was! But after watching that first season, I certainly was not going to wait until the next season to find out what happened next.

My husband enabled my new addiction by purchasing a boxed set of the first four books. While I was plowing through the thousands of pages of those books, the fifth one came out, and I bought it. I finished reading them all before the second season started. So, I knew what was coming this season.

Even having read the books and knowing the plot, the so-called Red Wedding was still shocking television. Very violent. The blood flowed freely, but it just reinforced once again what a dangerous and unjust society Martin's Westeros is. While I am not generally a fan of violence, I thought the producers and directors - not to mention the actors - did a good job with this scene. It was almost Shakespearean in its tragedy. Though violent, it was not gratuitously violent.

For those who have not and will not, for whatever reason, put in the effort to read the books, if they have watched the series for the past two years, they should not have been totally shocked by this penultimate episode of the season. In the last two seasons, the penultimate episode has been the one to pack the emotional high point, the gut punch. That episode of the first season saw the beheading of Ned Stark, one of the few honorable men in the whole of Westeros it seems. In the second season, we saw the fiery battle of Blackwater and the near killing of Tyrion Lannister. Why should anyone be surprised and shocked that major characters died in the penultimate episode this year? Does anyone else see a pattern developing here?

Anyway, for anyone who chooses not to read the series, I won't spoil it for you. I will just say, there is still a lot of violence to come. Don't get too attached to any of these characters. A high station is no guarantee of a long life in Westeros. In fact, it seems it may be just the opposite.

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