Friday, July 26, 2013

if I look back I am lost

The following post may contain spoilers to up until the end of season three of the HBO TV show Game of Thrones and the books in the series that correspond to that same timeline. I've tried my best to be as subtle as I can about the events that happen, but reader discretion is still advised.

If you had told me that I would soon be massively addicted to the epic high fantasy series Game of Thrones four months ago, I would have laughed and told you that I don't read fantasy. The last time I'd read anything in the entire genre was in 2007 when Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows came out, and while I greatly enjoyed Hogwarts and Harry's final showdown with Voldemort, I've always been a little hesitant about starting another fantasy series because I didn't think I would like stories of dragons and wars and struggles of good and evil. But as more and more people around me started talking about the upcoming season three premiere of Game of Thrones this last March, I got it in my head that I needed to try something out of my comfort zone for once, and the allure of great ratings and proving people’s expectations of me wrong (I got “you’re reading/watching Game of Thrones?! didn’t expect you’d like it” a lot) convinced me that I had to see my challenge through.

You do not want to mess with this princess and her dragons.

I started this blog not long after I finished reading the first book and watching the first season and talked briefly about the series then, and looking back at my old posts and messages I wrote at the time, it's pretty clear that I didn't really know why exactly I liked the series—all I knew was that I did. Starting the series was exhausting for me: I spent the first two hundred or so pages in half confusion trying to keep track of the main characters and only partially following the narratives themselves. But despite my earlier struggles, I finally did reach the end of A Game of Thrones and found myself completely enthralled by the politics and power struggles in Westeros.

Perhaps part of what makes this series so addicting was how surprising the series—both the books and the TV show—managed to turn every expectation of a fantasy story I had upside-down. Of course it was gritty and medieval and has its share of princesses and dragons, but it was also real: real in the sense that each character is complex in the way that humans are: with different moral codes and senses of loyalty. In the end maybe there are no heroes and villains, simply people in power with different goals and ends to achieve them.

Sometimes politics comes smelling like roses.

I never expected that a fantasy series would leave me questioning what's good and what's evil in the way that this series has: of course there's a bias when you're reading and watching through the good and honorable Starks' perspective: but as more points of view are introduced and we can really see things through the "antagonists'" lens, you can't help but to admire what they represent, even grudgingly. I saw a quote not too long ago that really stuck with me: how can you hate someone once you understand them? and I realized that was exactly why I liked and admired so many of the characters of various morals and ambitions in this massive epic. After reading the narratives of so many different points of view, I saw that the characters that were introduced as the antagonists by one character were the protagonists to others. It was that kind of fluidity that made the series so compelling: maybe there aren't any true "good guys" or "bad guys" in the end; only people, understood and misunderstood by those around them.

Jaime Lannister, Kingslayer. Not your typical knight in shining armor.

One of the characters I ended up absolutely loving and changing my mind about after reading the third book was Jaime Lannister. He was so easy to hate in the first two books after he pushed a seven-year-old boy out of a window and killed a loyal friend to one of the easy-to-like characters; it was astonishing to finally see the world through his eyes, because in his mind, he wasn't the villain people saw him as at all. Both the books and the show do a fantastic job of demonstrating how important perspective is to seeing who the heroes and villains are. I really liked the way Nikolaj Coster-Waldeau, the Danish actor who plays Jaime in the show, put it in this interview:
Imagine if the show had started a year before, and it's about this beautiful and impossible love story between Cersei and Jaime...he's not a bad guy, but he's made bad choices. You saw him as a bad guy [in season one], and now you see him as a good guy...[and] suddenly it's not that clear cut anymore. 
This series is filled with moments that cruelly twist your gut reaction of horror at some of the atrocities committed: we see characters we grew to love brutally killed in one scene, and yet when we find out that their deaths saved thousands and thousands of lives by bringing the war to an abrupt end, you can't help but to feel a bit uneasy in agreeing that perhaps it was "worth it" to some extent. Similarly, we see another character who is saved from a sacrifice that supposedly would have saved the entire realm, and you're left questioning if a single life of a bit player was worth the death of thousands if it meant the end to an entirely different conflict. This series doesn't make morality easy, and maybe it shouldn't be.

Okay, how breathtakingly beautiful is the scenery in Game of Thrones?
And finally, it wouldn't feel right if I didn't talk about how this series taught me how to love the fantasy genre again. Despite (or maybe in spite of) the war and politics, the magic of A Song of Ice and Fire shines through and takes your breath away at times, from the stunning scenery in the show to mythology and the epicness of the tale itself. The fact that the series is called A Song of Ice and Fire and that it’s been alluded to that there really is “A Song of Ice and Fire"* in their world seems to imply that this story—their story—has been foretold in fate and all that’s left is for everything to play out.

As a reader, the prospect of unraveling such an intricately woven and interconnected tale is a joy, and if I had to give one reason why I like the books better, it's because it provides such a fantastic framework to speculate what's to come. I love being able to look at the prophesies and try and find hints of it in the narrative, and even though not all the pieces of the puzzle have been laid out yet, and there are many adventures still lie ahead for all my favorite characters, the thought of there being an epic "song-worthy" conclusion to all this when worlds collide and paths cross has me on edge waiting for the publication of the remaining two books.

"If I look back I am lost."

I haven't been this obsessed and addicted to a series for a long time, and now that I've finally finished the five currently published books and three aired seasons of the show, I'm so thankful for how much this series has made me think and enriched my perspective of both the fantasy genre and storytelling itself. It's been an amazing adventure, and I'm so glad I took a chance and embarked on it despite my hesitation four months ago.

xoxo, vivian

*this was mentioned in the second book, A Clash of Kings; there has so far been no mention of such "song" in the TV series


  1. I have really got to start watching/reading this! \o/ Sounds superb from your review and no worries bout the spoilers, probably won't remember who is who by the time I start, facing the same problem as what you did at the start of the book hahahha! Looking forward to reading / watching this! <3


  2. sounds interesting~ =D

    Regards, (A Growing Teenager Diary)

  3. This sounds really good from your review! I would love to watch it, but I am so out of time . I really wish there was more time during the day!
    I am going to put this on my to watch list! haha don't worry about the spoilers by the way! I kinda like reading them!

    I follow you now!

  4. Woah, I've been tempted to try game of thrones, but I am hesitant cos I'm not normally into that kind of fantasy novel, except harry potter. However, since you managed to convert, I will give it a go too! haha. I was looking for a new book anyway! :P

  5. Nice blog! Would you like follow each other?

  6. I think I need to watch the Game Of Thrones and possibly read it! :)

  7. Hi! Its a great movie! I'm so unhappy that we need to wait till next year for continuation.
    Very nice blog!
    Would you like to follow each other?

    1. I'm following you now with both platforms! Ciao!

  8. Oh sweetie this serie is really nice!
    Thanks for your post!

  9. a lot of my friends are watching this series, and i've been meaning to watch it but is very hesitant because i'm more of a typical gossip girl/prettylittleliars, etc. girl
    but def heard a lot of great reviews about this series !

    I was wondering if youre interested in following each other on gfc/bloglovin

    1. thanks for the comment, just followed you back
      xoxo, c

  10. I followed your beautiful blog. I hope you will follow me back and I will wait for you in my blog

  11. Oh my God, I'm so in love with Game of Thrones!!

    Great blog! Follow you now via GFC and bloglovin. Hope you will do the same, it would be nice^^


  12. Great post ^^

    I would be glad if we keep in touch and follow each other via GFC and Bloglovin <3

  13. Ahhhh I haven't seen the last season of The Game of Thrones yet, so I'm excited to watch it! :)

  14. followed you back on GFC and Bloglovin ^^
    keep in touch and check out my new post <3

  15. i follow you,i wait you on my blog kisses from Italy :*

  16. I have to admit, I haven't watched any of the episodes.:) But I love that quote!! And I agree with it wholeheartedly, I even tell something similar to my boyfriend all the time, but he doesn't agree with it (or get it:)).

  17. So I've been trying to get into Game of Thrones for a REALLY long time, but haven't been able to. I read bits and parts of your review, without spoiling it for me, and so I think I'll check it out now?!?! P.S. following you back via blogloving :)