George R. R. Martin brought Greek tragedy back to literature, just like Shakespeare did after the Greeks were lost in the dark ages. "Macbeth" was just as misunderstood as "A Game of Thrones." I am anticipating that "The Winds of Winter" will be one of the best books ever written.
Some examples of excellent writing from the series were the ending to "The Door," Jon Snow’s death, and the birth of Jon Snow. All of these endings have a twist, and they show how Martin has moved on and surpassed his work in "The Twilight Zone" series. It seems like the plot twists from "A Song of Ice and Fire" make "The Twilight Zone" seem tame in comparison.
When I watched the ending of the episode "The Door," I felt like my mind was completely blown. The theme of time travel is usually thought of as a sci-fi trope, but here it was being used in a fantasy series. It was mind-blowing to me because it makes one realize that science is always there, whether you like it or not. The idea that there is no remote time safe from larger cosmic forces such as science and quantum mechanics replace God, which makes an altogether unsettling frame of mind.
We are told throughout the show that the Gods are to blame for everything that goes on. In an incredible twist, Martin puts us into the hands of fate and pulls the rug out from under everyone. This is reminiscent of the fates from Greek mythology, who are always pulling the strings. Greek tragedy is filled with examples of heroes trying to escape fate but not succeeding, no matter how hard they try.
In another twist, we are forced to come to terms with the idea that this world might be all that there is. Many have mocked Jon Snow being killed as pointless and stupid, but it comes at a crucial time in the series, along with the episode "The Door," which comes shortly afterward in season 6.
Just as we see Hodor die and have to take in all that means to the series, we see another blow to the Gods that rule Westeros. When Davos asks Jon what he saw while he was dead, Jon replies, "Nothing, nothing at all." To me, this was one of the most moving lines in all of the literature that I have ever seen. The acting skill that Kit Harington used to bring this scene to life is nothing short of extraordinary.
On top of all these betrayals and tragedies is a beautiful, excellently crafted world. "A Song of Ice and Fire" has some very uplifting themes and moments, even if they exist only long enough to bring you down. When we watch the scene of Lyanna Stark giving birth to Jon, there is a different kind of plot twist than what we are used to seeing. I felt this scene was so romantic because there is a forbidden love between two warring clans that makes the whole fighting seem kind of pointless.
We are thought to see Ned as a hero, but he is fighting against his sister's desires, which makes him a villain. The only reason he was not killed was that his friend stabbed Arthur Dayne in the back. But Arthur Dayne was a legendary fighter and had killed a large crowd of northerners singlehandedly.
The most uplifting parts of the series come when we are taken out of Westeros and see it from a different perspective. Martin does an excellent job of keeping us in a specific frame of mind, only to show us how narrow that viewpoint is. The books are designed from different perspectives but rarely do we get to see a view from outside of Westeros, or from outside of a human being.
Throughout the series, we are constantly hit over the head with the religion of Westeros until we start to believe it ourselves. The idea that there aren't any gods comes as a total shock after reading the first five books and watching the HBO series.
I think that throughout the series, Martin has been trying to tell fans that this does not have a happy ending. The brutality of the series is on full display from the start. From the first book/season on, there is a never-ending stream of death and tragedy.
What people believe will be a happy ending might have something to do with the era we live in. We are used to seeing good conquer evil because that is what happened during WWII and with the greatest generation afterward. Martin was born shortly after the war ended in 1948, and his series is probably a swipe against American exceptionalism.
But there is no exceptionalism in Westeros. Almost everyone has something wrong with them because they are all spoiled, rich aristocrats. We are used to seeing things from a Stark perspective because that is how the series begins, and we are led to believe the Starks are the heroes.
However, by the end of the first novel/season of the show, readers and viewers see that Martin has crafted much more than a series where good always prevails over evil. By the end of the first novel/season, good has failed miserably, unlike anything written in the past 500 years since Shakespeare.
I am excited about what is in store for "The Winds of Winter." If the show is any indication, the book will be amazing. "A Dance with Dragons" left so many plots open that the HBO series never even attempted to pick them up. I don't believe the ending will be the same as the HBO series.
Martin himself even said that he will probably change it. Martin told the producers of "A Game of Thrones" ending before he was even done writing, so he is under no obligation to keep the same idea in his head. I believe Martin was the one who wrote the best plot twists in the series, and if they are any indication, the future books have even more in store for us than I think people realize.
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