Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Game of Thrones: Gender Identity, Stories Untold and Week Two

So I finished week two of reading Game of Thrones, and I'm just as psyched, if not more so than before. Dear God, Joffrey is a loser! You know a lot of things got kept out of the show to keep the things that were important to the plot and the story in general, but I have to say: reading the book and watching the show gives you a different flavor all over.

One of the things that really reached out to me was the scene in Arya's chapter where she is talking to her father about Needle. In the chapter, Arya is talking to Ned about how how she doesn't want to be a Lady. She doesn't want to be some little woman who has to get married and have kids who do impressive things while she takes care of their home. At first, Ned seems really uncomfortable with this prospect, but after a while he returns Needle to her and even goes so far as to arrange a "Sword Dancer" from Braavos to come train her, (and how awesome is Syrio, huh?)

Now the things that was so great about this scene is that the perspective is all from Arya's limited third-person view; you have no idea what is going on in Ned's mind when he makes these decisions, and that makes him so much more than what he is. Think about the last time you asked your parent or significant other for a favor: you probably got the fifth degree about it before they made any kind of decision. Who's going to be there? Do we know their parents? How late are you going to be out? That's not to say that Ned doesn't give the token fatherly try of making sure she is absolutely sure.

What's interesting, is that if you changed the entire topic of the conversation to Arya saying that she thinks that she is a lesbian, I think Ned Stark would have made the exact same decision. And that makes me like Ned Stark all the same. He's a crappy hand of the king, and a naive Lord, but he really is a family man. When you compare it to everyone knowing about Renly Baratheon and Lorras, or even the way Varys is portrayed, (very simpering and creepy,) Ned's reactions are so much more conciliatory and welcoming.

The other thing I wanted to talk about is that there are a lot of things you just don't know about in this book. I mentioned before that this is a very "after" kind of story. Everything that is central to the plot: Viserys and Daenerys Targaryen's exile, Robert Baratheon's rebellion, magic and dragons. All of these things happened before Game of Thrones even started. That's fine, it's similar to post-apocalyptic stories where you know the world ended but not exactly how. What makes less sense is not revealing the information as it comes up.

An example is the old and new gods. I know from the show that the new gods are given names, but not exactly why they replaced the old ones? Who were the old ones? Were they part of the forest children myths? There are tons of things being thrown around, and only parts of the explanations are given over to the reader. This is similar to the gripe I had with Beautiful Creatures, where the character see's a lot of things and what isn't explained is just handed off as something you see every day. It could just be that the information is being saved for later on, but the way it seems at the time is that the information isn't important enough to share and I know that couldn't be further from the truth.

Other than that, I'm having a lot of fun with the book. I hope Martin lives long enough to finish the series, even though I know that even if he does fans will still be clamoring for him to do more because they do that. For now, wish me luck because I'm going to be doing chapters 31-45 and this is looking to be a busy week

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