Author: George R. R. Martin
Kings and queens, Knights and renegades, liars, lords and honest men. All will play the Game of Thrones.
Summers span decades. Winter can last a lifetime. And the struggle for the Iron Throne has begun. It will stretch from the south, where heat breeds plot, lusts and intrigues; to the vast and savage eastern lands; all the way to the frozen north, where an 800-foot wall of ice protects the kingdom from the dark forces that lie beyond.
The Game of Thrones. You win, or you die.
Book one of A Song of Ice and Fire begins the greatest fantasy epic of the modern age.
I admit I picked this book up, after hearing about the TV show, almost every episode had people just exploding on twitter. And as I prefer to read the book before the movie/tv adaptation, I bought myself the book.
Let me first start with what I had heard before starting to read this. There were generally two types of arguments: a) Those that absolutely LOVED the series and 2) Those that harped about the misogyny and objectification of female characters. And I will be addressing both these points.
Those that absolutely LOVED the series, I see why. The story line is intriguing and complex. You never know what is going to happen next. The story has too many major characters and each of them quite different from the other. Each chapter in the book is narrated from the point of view which helps the reader understand not only the situation but also how each character thinks.
Coming to the second part: Is there misogyny and objectification? Yes. I have seen the first four episodes of season 1, and I feel the show has unnecessary objectification of the female body that is not mentioned in the book. The book also has a lot of such scenes, but they are to understand the kind of the society the characters live in. Nothing more. The show takes it was over the top placing unnecessary nudity where it is not required. But, the book, it was necessary, I feel, to show the exact plight of the society.
Before you read this book, one thing you should keep in mind, this is a FICTIONAL world and that has its own moral rules and regulation. If you read with the ‘moral’ outlook, you are going to be highly disappointed, just keep an open mind and understand WHY so-and-so instead of yelling “OMG, INCEST!!!! ”
The land of Westeros and Essos is a world in itself, a deeply patriarchal world. And all the problems that come with this kind of society, are seen here as well.
But, unlike other such stories, women characters in this story are strong. And because of the patriarchy and the way the women are looked upon by the society, does not make them any less of a person. In fact, if you read between the lines, it is in fact the women who are even stronger than men. And they had to be, as in order to get even a little respect or to have her voice heard, she had to struggle more than your average male. It is the women who control the story and the fate of many male characters.
This is a war, a war between various houses to sit on the iron throne and rule them all.
And each house wants the throne to remain in their family, so much so that some of them believe that marrying people from other houses, might lead to a confrontation and the other house might demand their kids on the throne, so they prefer to ‘wed’ brothers and sisters in order to keep the line ‘pure’.
But, if they see another house gaining more strength, or having more armies, they do not hesitate to offer women in exchange of army or allegiance.
And in such a scenario, when women get up and fight this social construct, when they realise that the men are not as strong as their words, and just because they are not given swords does not mean they cannot kill or use swords by pushing/fighting for their rights.
This is the society where only legitimate, strong sons are given any importance, though there are so many illegitimate children that each area has to have special surname of these children. Any son who is weak or of deformity is seen with contempt by their own fathers.
This book dealt majorly with the Stark family and Targaryen siblings, and then L and Baratheon houses also come into play. All other houses are mentioned and one gets to understand what they stand for, but very briefly. I guess these will come to forefront in the next books.
(Update: the post on women of game of thrones can be found here)
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