Be warned, those of you who have not read the series. This post will contain spoilers from a man who has read the first four books, but not the last.
If you watch the little HBO clips on Youtube - the making-of bits, the character sketches, etc - you will notice many producers referring to the theme of loyalty that runs through Game of Thrones series. I can understand the producers wanting to play up something positive. They want viewers and viewers respond to positivity.
But there is no loyalty in A Song of Ice and Fire. There is only a vast and endless Darwinism. At the very bottom, there is the feudal system under which everyone lives: all people of Westeros are sworn to their lord, his bannermen below him, and the king above him. When war occurs, the smallfolk expect to be raped, killed, and have their goods stolen and their farmlands burned. Life is brutish and short, and yet not one person within the Wall would live any other way. Their loyalty is born from never knowing another way to live.
At the top, among the King and the thousands of other highborn, things are little better. The protection afforded by blood-ties exists only until someone kills you in order to get your land, or kidnaps your children to make you change allegiances. Only the profoundly merciless and dishonest - such as The Kingslayer, Tywin Lannister, Cersei Lannister - live long enough to see success, and of that group, only the cunning and most aware - such as The Spider, Littlefinger, and of course the wonderful Tyrion - see success without then dying soon after.
We have been raised in a Judeo-Christian world. Even if you don't go to church, the teaching is in your blood: expect good in other people; your bad deeds will eventually come back upon you; family and friendship are more important than everything.
But George rr Martin's saga tells us to never trust anyone, to never get too comfortable, to always take advantage of the other guy because he will take advantage of you. He teaches us to never relax because we've won; someone else is always around the corner, waiting for us to let our guard down. That guy may be your friend, your brother, or your son.
I told this to my wife. She laughed at me. Read your British history, she told me. The Tudors, the War of the roses. They married and crowned a pair of twelve year-olds, then beheaded them twelve days later, she said. It's how it's been done the world over for thousands of years.
She's right, of course, as she is right about everything that involves facts.
So who's kidding whom here, exactly? Have we regular people been sold a bill of goods? Are we expected to behave, and obey an ancient and predictable set of moral rules, while the billionaires - the lords and kings of our era, not to mention the actual royal families - do as they please?
If that's true, then the rules are by now hard-wired. We can't do much but drift along as the rich get richer, and we get squeezed. It sucks, but the alternative - to go over the Wall, and live with the wildlings, the giants, the savage tribes that wear shirts made of bones - is far worse.
Or at least, that's what we've been taught - the way we live sucks, but it's better than any other way. I could insist that we live in a paradise where everyone has a right to what they need, where everyone is equal. But we know where that leads.
But I have yet to read the fifth book. Maybe Martin solves it; he's certainly smart enough. Perhaps Daenerys arrives with her dragons and ass-kicks the highborn of Westeros back to the stone age. Maybe Tyrion tricks everyone into giving him the Iron Throne and and ushers in a thousand years of wit and debauchery.
Or more likely there will be a great war, people will die, a King ascends the throne, and the great epic fantasy ends. Plus ca change, and all that. We can't expect him to think better of his human cast when we real-world humans have done no better.
I've been writing stories for years. I think I'm a good writer and I'm willing to bet you'll feel the same way. So here they are. Enjoy them, comment on them, tell your friends about'em, reblog them, retweet them, reread them. I have four stories in my archive so far:
"One day on the Mountain", a story of Lycanthropy, a father, and a son.
"The Boy", a story of a very ambitious and sociopathic fifth grade boy.
"The Easy Girl, A story of infidelity and unpaid sexual debts. This story is very dark.
"Brick The Mighty", a story of an aging superhero.
Although this is primarily a blog of horror, I also write about things that are important to me. I have more stories tucked away; they just need editing. There's even a few novels. There will be more to come.
PS. Feel free to leave a comment. I love comments.