Game of Thrones Bookclub (Week Four)

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Daniel

Daniel is a journalist.

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22 Responses

  1. Avatar Murali says:

    Surely women in these books are capable of being master players of the game of thrones, so it’s not like the mothers’ sex obligates them to be incompetent or highly immoral in some way. But so far the only mothers we’ve met are so paranoid they’re driven to do horrible things (like drop Bran from a tower and then try and murder him again) or jump to conclusions that have extremely serious political implications.

    Its an unfortunate implication. But a running theme in the series seems to be that love does not redeem, rather it damns (rather consistently I might add. I’m not aware of any one situation where love redeems). In one way, this makes the book really dark. But it also makes it interesting to subvert what seems to be a sacred trope of western literature.

    Doing your duty, on the other hand is a mixed bag. Since this is a spoiler free thread, I’ll refrain from adding examples.Report

  2. Avatar E.D. Kain says:

    Great post. In a sense, this fight really does symbolize the broader struggle. Then again, the right man wins. Justice is actually served, if not honorably. And maybe that is a portent of things to come as well.Report

  3. Re: Not much to add. Good thoughts. The rules of honor are a bit of a mixed bag. On the one hand, it restrains the powerful. On the other hand, the rules are written by the powerful, so you know it’s not going to restrain them too much.

    Re: The Women of Westeros. This is one of the areas where the genre can be uncomfortably sexist. It’s where men are men and women are… there. And the ways that they can assert themselves are often unflattering. Manipulation. Deceit. Background. Objects of plunder. It doesn’t stop me from enjoying it (neither does Women in Refrigerators with comics, though that’s more avoidable than what fantasy is up against), but it’s there and it makes me understand why men are typically more appreciative of the genre.Report

  4. Avatar James K says:

    I think the rules of honourable combat are a good example of how honour allows the nobility to oppress the commons. You’re supposed to whack at each other and rely on your armour to stop the enemy’s blade, not dodge around. But plate armour in the real world (and I presume in Weteros as well) was fearsomely expensive – that’s the likely reason Bronn doesn’t have any.

    It’s a bit like the ban the Catholic Church put on crossbows (at least it banned the use of them against Christians). War’s no fun if the peasants can fight back.Report

  5. Avatar Ryan says:

    I think I can do this without spoiling anything, so here goes.

    Yes, I do think that this scene captures some of the tension with which the series views the relationship of the commons and the aristocracy. On one hand, honor seems to do little more than get people in trouble, to do things which even at the time look incredibly foolish–and frequently turn out to be exactly that. Here, we’ve got a knight who may or may not have actually fought anyone, ever, but trained in the ways of honorable combat, going up against a sellsword who kills not only casually, but with fearful efficiency, “trained” through hard experience to do whatever is necessary to survive. It’s entirely possible that while Vardis knows exactly how many men he has killed, Bronn as forgotten.

    It doesn’t really come as a surprise that Bronn wins. This is my second pass through the series, but it didn’t surprise me the first time around either. But it was somehow disappointing, because Bronn is a fearfully unpleasant and not terribly moral person. Sansa is already learning that things aren’t the way they are in the songs; things are far meaner and more cruel. Many knights are not “true knights,” to be sure, but they’re almost uniformly worse men as a result.

    If anything, the vibe I get from the book is that these high moral ideals aren’t the way the world works, but that this is really a shame, because there don’t seem to be many good alternatives.Report

    • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Ryan says:

      Again trying not to spoil things, but if you think about the people (outside her immediate family) who care about Sansa and try to help her, most of them are not true knights.Report

    • Avatar Daniel in reply to Ryan says:

      Funny, I was never disappointed with Bronn. Yes he’s morally ambivalent at best but he’s honest about who he is. He’s a straightshooting sellsword looking out for number one. This is a world where that’s pretty rare. On the surface a lot of the famous knights seem like “true knights” but look a little closer and it’s clear they really aren’t.Report

  6. Avatar Silus Grok says:

    Daniel: I want to forward these posts to a friend, but you don’t link to other GoT Bookclub posts from within — and you haven’t tagged the posts in such a way that there’s an archive of GoT Bookclub posts that I can link to.

    Please make sharing your posts easier.

    To mangle a quote from Wallace Stegner: Hard blogging makes easy reading.Report

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