This Is It: The End of Game of Thrones Will Be The End of ASOIAF

A+ analysis.

Off The Bookshelf

Introduction & Caveat

May 19th, 2019, saw the end of Game of Thrones, after eight tumultuous years. Through this final season, one refrain in particular has resurfaced time and again: well, it won’t be like that in the books. Right? Arya won’t kill the Night King, Daenerys won’t burn innocent people after the Others are defeated, Jon won’t retire beyond the Wall in true superhero fashion. Right?

Wrong, friend.

Before I get into why I think this is the same ending we’ll get in the books, I do want to lay out one important caveat:

I understand I might be wrong. I do! I am going to argue my opinion and my case as persuasively as I can. But I understand that the only one who really knows is George R. R. Martin, and he ain’t talkin’.

Okay. With that said. I think this is the ending we’re getting…

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The ethics of caring in Game of Thrones

“Law must, like the other parts of the culture, be understood in its historical context and within ‘the political, social and economic conditions, which have given it form and shape.’ (Sandra Berns, Concise Jurisprudence, Federation Press, Sydney 1993, p. 120) If we look at the parts of society as inter-linking … we do see that our ‘public’ institutions continue to be dominated by males and we further comprehend that there are gender differences in personality traits and roles. It is evidence that law may, in fact, not reflect women’s experiences – instead seeing and treating women ‘the way men see and treat women,’ (Catharine MacKinnon, “Feminism, Marxism, Method and the State: Towards a Feminist Jurisprudence,” (1983) 8 Signs 685) which has been described as irrational, illogical, emotional and erratic. (Ngaire Naffine, ‘Sexing the Object of Law,” in M Thornton (ed.) Public and Private: Feminist Legal Debates, OUP, Melbourne 1995, pp 18-39.)”

Women and the Law in Australia, ed. Patricia Easteal, LexisNexis Butterworths 2010 Sydney.

A while ago, a post on /r/asoiaf caught my eye: it noted that the biggest difference between the books and the show was that ultimately, the big lessons of the books are missed by the show. Instead of showing us that Sansa learns from the cruelty and machinations of Cersei and Littlefinger, and resolves to never be like that, Show!Sansa is all about becoming a blend of Cersei and LF – the Queen in the North who is ruthless as well as strong. Tywin Lannister is still considered to the show to be A Great Man, rather than a cruel tyrant whose legacy is a stinking, rotting corpse and a pile of horse manure in the throne room.

Fundamentally, the showrunners’ biggest flaw in GOT was in missing the nuance and ethics of care at the heart of the books. We’re supposed to cheer on Jon and Sansa as they grow into leaders who care for the people they rule. We’re supposed to side eye Dany when she talks about care but then burns people alive. We’re supposed to feel deeply uncomfortable as Tyrion goes dark. We’re supposed to see Cersei as a tragic victim of misogyny but a horrendously cruel woman who has brought her own misery upon herself. We’re supposed to cheer on Jaime’s redemption but also remember that he is still (as at AFFC/ADWD) leading the Lannister armies to enforce the broken cruelty his father subjected the Riverlands to in the first arc of the books.

Short term gain and Big Impressive Water Cooler Moments are not what ASOIAF is about, and nowhere was that more starkly confirmed than in Season 8. Yes, I am grateful that for 8 seasons, a fantasy show was The Biggest TV Show In The World. But jeez I wish they’d actually adapted ASOIAF, instead of coming up with their idea of Game of Thrones…

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Well. That’s that then…

And just like that, Game of Thrones is finished.

It’s fair to say the end wasn’t warmly received by fans and critics alike. I won’t link to the many, many think pieces out there about the problems with the final season, but just wanted to jot down some thoughts (and reboot my blog… ahem. Sorry. Been busy with work and real life!)

The unifying theme of the criticisms has been that it was just so rushed.

Does GRRM intend to seat King Bran on the Iron Throne (or what remains of it) at the end of ASOIAF? I don’t know. Maybe? But the way it was presented in the show makes no sense at all.

I have a similar reaction to Arya killing the Night King (a storyline I’m quite confident won’t occur in the books, if only because there is no Night King…) and Jon going off as King Beyond the Wall with the wildings. Everything just felt… meh. No pay off whatsoever to the many threads of plot across 7 preceding seasons or the books.

I did like Sansa being crowned Queen in the North though. I’m OK with that ending. 🙂

The lone wolf dies, but the pack survives

If that’s the ultimate message of the books, I can deal with that. Pretty sure it isn’t though…

Ser Jay of House Gatsby: American Myths in ASOIAF

This is very, very good.

GRRM is showing us that Gatsby wasn’t quite as kind and tragic and romantic in Littlefinger, by showing us that at heart of it all is a man who wants to control a woman.

Off The Bookshelf

A sword shivers from a scabbard. A lion banner flaps in the early winter wind. The moors are disquiet. To the north are the cold mountains and crags; to the south are the lands of decadence; to the east are the horselords and their strange wild customs. To the west is the open sea, the end of the world, from which no sailor returns. Kings brood in golden halls. Something that isn’t quite the Catholic Church holds sway with the peasantry.

Hey, look at that! We just built 90% of all fantasy settings!

The Medieval European Milieu Experience (MEME for short) is the most common setting for fantasy stories through the last century. That’s not to say there aren’t exceptions – there are tons of exceptions – but the image of fantasy is a decidedly French-British-Germanic one, variations on the theme of the heyday of feudal Christendom.

A Song of…

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The female line of House Blackfyre

Recently at a book festival appearance, GRRM confirmed that while Aegor “Bittersteel” Rivers married his half-brother and great friend Daemon Blackfyre’s daughter Calla, they never had children.

Some people have been posting on /r/asoiaf about how this means “GRRM is denying the fAegon Blackfyre theory” as if fAegon Blackfyre requires the kid to be descended from Bittersteel and Blackfyre. It never did.

But this did get me to thinking… where is the supposed female line of House Blackfyre?

house-blackfyre-heraldry

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Toxic Narratives and ASOIAF: From Within and Without

This is very good.

GRRM is a good writer, very good. But he’s not perfect… and the problems in the fandom flow from the problems in his writing.

People who want to romanticise the problems of history, inequality, slavery and so on, see no issue with how GRRM also does this.

Off The Bookshelf

That was in the dawn of days, when our sun was rising. Now it sinks, and this is our long dwindling (Dance, Bran III)

A specter is haunting ASOIAF – the specter of the past. Our characters are haunted by the great things that came before them, from myth and song to parents and grandparents. In this essay, I’m going to talk about some of the toxic nostalgia our characters participate in…and then talk about how some in-real-life toxic nostalgia may be informing some of the storytelling choices GRRM makes.

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