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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

GUEST POST: A Game of ̶T̶h̶r̶o̶n̶e̶s̶ Death by Rob J. Hayes

A few weeks ago I read an interview with the producers of A Game of Thrones (you all know the one, that flash in the pan TV show that we're all SO over) where they stated that events (for the show) may not play out exactly like they do in the books and that some characters who do survive (at least until now) in the books may soon bite the bullet / kick the bucket in the show. Essentially what they're saying there is that we should be warned that no one is safe. Now lets not kid ourselves, they are not about to kill off Tyrion (thankfully) or Daenerys (unfortunately) but some of the lesser characters who do not play so important a role might go before their allotted time.

This statement got me thinking. There is a massive deal about ol' Mr Martin killing off his characters. There's memes all over the internet about his willingness to slaughter the children of his mind (to prove my point here's one of my favourites).

But has it gotten to the point where George is buying into his own legend? Is the sensationalism of killing off characters more important than the story? The same questions need to be asked of those writing the TV show.

Now I'm about to drop a spoiler from A Game of Thrones (the first book / series) so if you're not quite up to date look away now... Eddard Stark's death blew me away. I know I'm not alone in this one. It was so unexpected (some keen watchers of the show may have suspected it by the casting of Sean Bean). It's almost hard-wired into our cognitive processes that the character in a book who gets most face time, and who is just and good and righteous, is the main character and, while that character will be thrown into peril, they will ultimately survive at least until the conclusion. Then GRRM decapitated Ned... The rules changed.

It was a twist and one almost nobody saw coming. But it wasn't just a twist, it was a hook. It was a statement. It was Georgy M saying no one is safe and that he was more than prepared to make you invest in a character on an emotional level just to then take them away from you in one brutal, glorious moment.

Now some authors might have stopped there. They may have established the risk to the characters but then let the others off the hook. The true King of the Iron Throne did not stop there. He did it again with the Red Wedding, and again with the Viper. This brings me to my point. Who will be next? We're all asking it. It's like watching a reality TV show where celebrities compete and get voted off one at a time. We're all tuning in to see who GRRiM offs next.

It isn't really about the story anymore but about which character is going to die and I have to wonder if he (because we all know RR knows it) has changed his vision to sensationally kill off another character or two because that's kind of what A Song of Ice and Fire is all about now.

Even if the GRRM Reaper hasn't changed his story, the writers of the TV show have. They've come right out and admitted it: characters are going to die. Just because they survive the books don't think they're safe. That right there is a sensationalist headline designed to grab attention and keep folk interested and it's working.

So this right here is my question: Are we sacrificing story for sensationalism? Is George Raymond Richard Martin killing off characters now to keep his crown rather than to further his story and are the TV show writers doing the same? Either way, Game of Thrones is a global phenomenon and I'm looking forward to seeing what happens next.

I really hope a dragon eats Dany.

Sansa for Queen!

Bran... ah, no one gives a crap about Bran.

Official Author Website
Order It Takes A Thief To Catch A Sunrise here (US) and here (UK)
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of It Takes A Thief To Catch A Sunrise
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of The Heresy Within
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of The Colour Of Vengeance
Read Fantasy Book Critic interview with Rob J. Hayes

Guest Author Information: Rob J. Hayes was born and brought up in Basingstoke, UK. As a child he was fascinated with Lego, Star Wars and Transformers that fueled his imagination and he spent quite a bit of his growing up years playing around with such. He began writing at the age of fourteen however soon discovered the fallacies of his work. After four years at University studying Zoology and three years working for a string of high street banks as a desk jockey/keyboard monkey. Rob lived on a desert island in Fiji for three months. It was there he re-discovered his love of writing and, more specifically, of writing fantasy.

NOTE: Titan Of Bravos and The Red Viper artwork courtesy of Kay Huang


Achala Upendran said...

I love Bran! And I agree, Sansa for queen all the way.

I met someone who told me that GRRM is working a one trick pony again and again--that after Ned, the characters going down is in fact, as you say, his 'thing' and he's doing it just to keep up his own 'legend'. It's become less about busting fantasy conventions and more about sensationalism, in the show at least. But that's not really a surprise, given that the show aims at a wide audience, not just one that has read and will 'get' upturning fantasy cliches.

Jon R. said...

I disagree with the sensationalism aspect. The novels are vast and there are multiple characters aiming to be king. Of course many will die. Are the deaths shocking? Effectively so, but if we look at the story without an overly romantic filter most of the deaths make sense. (opening scene has a parent dire wolf dying and a lone wolf being singled out, so Eddard dies, John is focused). In the Viper's case, you wouldn't expect him to win because Tyrion had already used that 'champion card' with Bronn in the first book, it would be less effective to get out of the same situation twice in the same way. It might be sensationalistic if the story were narrow in scope and all the main characters were dying, or if the nature of the story wasn't a death match for the crown, but that's what it is, so deaths just add to the verisimilitude.

Tristan Lindsay said...

If it's true, it's an interesting strategy, I'm trying to think of any other genres where part of the thrill would be waiting around to see who dies next. Teenage slasher movie, is all that comes to mind.

machinery said...

have read hayes books ?
self publishing ... i made a mistake of buying 5 of those on separate occasions, and they are bad.
except for 1, they were just bad, and the grammar was bad even for a someone like me who isn't native english speaker.
so , did you read hayes' books yourself when you recommend them ?

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