game of thrones

I’m sure you’ve watched the Game Of Thrones season finale by now. How could I make such a bold statement, you say? Well, if you’re reading this you’re probably alive and have a computer with internet access. Being both alive and having a computer with internet access means that you have all the requirements to watch Game of Thrones. I mean yeah, you need an HBOGO account, but again, if you’re alive, you already have someone’s HBOGO account (probably not your own, and if so, what are you, John D. Rockefeller?). You’re a smart individual, so you’re probably getting that what I’m saying is everyone is either watching Game Of Thrones, or I don’t acknowledge their existence.

The interesting thing about this season finale (don’t worry, the one person who hasn’t seen it yet – no spoilers), is that I knew some of the things that were gonna happen. Like when the Hound takes off his mask and it turns out he was Ned Stark the whole time! Totally knew it. JK guy, that’s not really a thing that’s happened. As far as I know at least. I haven’t read the books yet. Which is something I’ve been meaning to do.

I’m a huge proponent of books. I’m one of those people who still actually buys physical books from these things called bookstores. Something about the feel of the book, its slightly varied font choices, even the smell just gives the reading experience a little extra (though I will say that hardcover books are worthless and should never be published. Who actually walks around with a hardcover book?). So it’s surprising that I haven’t read A Song Of Ice And Fire, especially this far into the series on TV.

Part of this hesitation was that I heard it’s better to get a couple of seasons into the TV show so you have strong visual associations with a lot of the characters. There are a metric shitton of characters in one book alone, and so keeping track of all of them is not an easy task. But you’re probably not going to forget the characters once you see them on TV. Especially if they’re one of the hot naked women in the brothels. Never forget. But then I started getting super deep into the TV show, so it would be playing a bit of catch-up to surpass where the show is at as far as the books are concerned.

And by a bit of catch-up, I mean these books are long and dense (like what’s in my pants HEYO!). I’m told that books 3 and 4 alone cover the same timespan, but there are so many parallel storylines that ‘ol Georgy Porgy had to break it out over two books. So while I realize that there’s a lot of good storytelling and superb writing I’m missing out on, I also realize it’s kind of a slog to get through. Both in length and in ability to keep everything straight.

The good storytelling and superb writing also lends itself as a disadvantage in this series. When you read you have experience much more emotional attachment to the characters and the stories. This is a wonderful experience, and one of the things I love about reading. But when the author of said characters and stories is a sadistic jerk who likes killing off literally any character, that makes for some love-hate reading. I mean this dude legitimately enjoys getting his readers emotionally invested in characters and then pulling the rug out from under them. In his own words (from a clip on Conan after the Red Wedding episode):

“We’ve all seen the movies where the hero is in trouble — he’s surrounded by 20 people, but you know he’s gonna get away ’cause he’s the hero. You don’t really feel any fear for him. I want my readers, and I want viewers to be afraid when my characters are in danger,” he adds. “I want them to be afraid to turn the next page because the next character may not survive it.” 

What a d*ck. I mean I get it, I guess, but I know someone who literally read the Red Wedding section in the books and threw the book across the room in disgust. That’s something that I’d probably end up doing.

Thankfully, the TV series does one thing that not very many adaptations pull off successfully. Which is that it does an incredible job of making the transition from the page to the screen. Not one person I’ve talked to has said “Ugh, that TV show is so terrible. It doesn’t do the books justice.” And that’s really the nail in the coffin when it comes to reading the books. I know that the experience I’m getting from the TV show is not only visually breathtaking, it’s true to the books.

Yes, I realize there are parts where the show diverges from the books. But those divergences seem to at least keep with the spirit of the overall story. So while I may still read the books at some point, for now I’m OK with finding things out as they happen on the show, and dealing with my friends who give the knowing nod when a scene happens they were expecting. Besides, the way it’s going the the books won’t be finished before George kicks the proverbial bucket and the series can’t go on forever, so at least I know the TV show will actually end.