Three Reasons Why Game of Thrones is Overrated

Game of Thrones is Overrated

Game of Thrones is Overrated

Everyone’s jumped on the Game of Thrones bandwagon these days. It’s a geek’s dream come true because we finally have a serious attempt at transforming a well known fantasy series into a watchable TV show. Most shows end up doing a horrible job like the terrible “Legend of the Seeker” based on the Sword of Truth books. This is a trend. TV shows usually end up mauling the source material. So when geeks see a classy production closely following the Song of Ice and Fire book series, they go overboard praising it. And they’re right to do so. HBO makes awesome shows and it’s clear they’ve done Game of Thrones with a lot of love and respect for the source material.

Unfortunately none of that can make up for the shortcomings of the series itself. Warning: I’m not shy of giving away lots of spoilers, so read this at your own risk and peril. So here’s why the entire story line of Game of Thrones (Song of Ice and Fire) sucks hard.

Good Guys ALWAYS Lose

I keep hearing how this series is a “breath of fresh air” where Martin isn’t afraid to kill off his main characters and that in “real life”, the good guys don’t always win etc etc. This is true. In real life, the bad guys win some and the good guys win some. Except that in Martin’s world, the good guys never win. Character after character bites the dust without gaining a victory. Ned, Robb, Catelyn, Bran…they all get shitty deals. All of them without exception betrayed. Even our darling Arya gets royally screwed.

And the baddies? While some shit happens to them, they’re essentially self goals. Joffrey gets his comeuppance not at the hands of any hero, but from within his own side. Cersei self destructs. Tywin gets it in the gut from his own son. In other words, revenge is tragically missing from the entire Game of Thrones series. All the good guys (and wolves too!) die horrible and humiliating deaths and the bad guys essentially slip down some stairs and break their neck. Like I said in “real life”, both goodies and baddies will have victories. But Martin is just a sadist.

I get the feeling that whenever Martin feels like his plot is losing its way or is in danger of being resolved, he just sits down and thinks “Hmm..this can’t happen. Let’s kill someone!” In other words, he uses the death of his characters as a substitute for plot development and for sheer shock value hoping that others will laud him for being “gritty” and “real”.

No New Engaging Characters

I wouldn’t mind Martin polishing off his characters if he comes up with new ones at the same rate with which they exit the stage. But he doesn’t. Instead, he gives us lame creatures like Davos who no one really cares for. And then he kills him too! So who the hell is left? Brienne?

So while the initial books were riveting for the sole reason that tragedy and betrayal abound, Martin pays the price for his carelessness by not having a plot to carry the story forward. No wonder he took five years to come out with “Dance with Dragons” and openly admitted that he was working on other stuff in the meantime. He didn’t know what to do with the story! He’d killed off or crippled every single person of interest to us on Westeros so what more was left?

Moral of the story: Don’t be so casual with your main characters. We were emotionally invested in them and you chose a single big payoff by disposing of them at the cost of future story lines. Congratulations. You now have colorless remains. I haven’t even bothered to pick up Dance with Dragons because I saw nothing in the previous book to interest me further. My wife started reading it, and gave up halfway. Too boring. Did anyone expect differently? When your main characters are missing it’s like trying to squeeze water out of a rock.

It’s not Real Fantasy

At the most, we can say that the series has a passing acquaintance with magic elements. A couple of dragon scenes and veiled references to “walkers” do not a fantasy make. I initially picked this up because I was told it was one of the best fantasy writings ever. The truth however is that it’s basically fictional history. The fantasy elements are kept down to a minimum or are even non existent. I felt pretty cheated.

So much potential. All wasted by lazy storytelling. The solution to the current hysteria is to have more good fantasy novels converted into TV series with the same attention to detail and production quality that HBO is showing the with Song of Ice and Fire series. Only then will we get a sense of perspective and finally stop mooning over Game of Thrones simply because it’s all we have to look forward to at the moment.

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Comments

  1. Davos dies??? I haz a sad. Spoiler warnings much? :D

    OK kidding… could care less. Still, post needs spoiler warning

    Reply

  2. jeremylst1 says

    Totally agree, the first three books, I barely got through. The way they are written is almost unreadable.
    At the start of the fourth book I simply had enough.

    Seeing every character introduced being killed off is hardly an inspiring endeavor whatsoever. And with the deviation from the books of second season tv-series, I saw little reason to keep watching that aswell.

    Reply

    • In reply to jeremylst1

      I still haven’t picked up book 5. Just no motivation and nothing to look forward to or characters to care about. I like Tyrion and Arya, but not enough to slog through loads of rubbish for them.

      Reply

  3. SPOILERS for book 5:

    If it helps a bit…Davos didn’t die. It was just a ruse that happens more or less at the middle of book 5. Neither did Brienne.

    But, well…A dance with Dragons is boring as fuck, some stuff happens but nothing of interest and like 60% of the book is about Meereen. They build up for two big battles but…we won’t find out until book 6. -_-

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  4. A couple of weeks ago I read all the five/seven books after another. So the argument “I had to wait so long, thus set my expectations too high and am expected to be disappointed” does not apply to me.
    Basically I agree. But I think the problems are even worse than you described.

    Warning: if you plan to take up A Dance with Dragons after all don’t read on.
    Almost everyone got stuck, not only Daenerys in Meereen. Who cares who rules that city (yes, I took this from the Epilogue)? It’s irrelevant for the Iron Throne.
    A guy from Dorne shows up who wants to marry Daenerys and …. surprise, surprise, dies.
    Tyrion and Victarion travel towards Meereen and don’t even meet Daenerys, so that’s zero drama and political intrigues (I need those more than just another battle).
    Arya stays in Braavos and doesn’t meet that fat friend of Jon. Again zero drama.
    Sansa climbs a mountain, stays in a castle for a couple of weeks, witnesses her crazy aunt (who hadn’t accomplished anything anyway) getting killed and descends the mountain again because it gets cold upthere. Close to zero drama and political intrigue.
    Bran travels, travels, travels a bit more and stays in a cave. Sorry that I need to repeat myself: zero drama.
    Cersei (one of my favourite characters but not because I like her) prepares her own downfall (nice), after which we have to read several chapters how she repents. So there is no drama involved with her anymore either.
    Martell sends a niece (but first there are some irrelevant albeit somewhat interesting shenanigans around that Highgarden girl) towards King’s Landing who hasn’t arrived yet.
    Stannis Baratheon doesn’t reach Winterfell because of winter and snow.
    Brienne’s quest fails.
    Jaime does some mopping up.

    Basically the only relevant political development since the Red Wedding is Jon Connington landing in the Stormlands.

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  5. So how could A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons get spiced up?
    First of all: cut mercilessly, say 25% of AFfC and 40-50% of ADwD.
    Then let Brienne cross the Bay of Crabs and cause some havoc in The Vale.
    Send Varys to Sunspear before he returns to King’s Landing and let him plot with Doran Martell.
    Finally let Martell’s niece arrive in King’s Landing, Tyrion in Meereen and Victarion too (likely by means of a sea battle).

    In an interview Martin said that he had written much more during those long 12 years. If that’s true the inevitable conclusion is that he has lost control of the stories.
    My favourites in The Song of Ice and Fire are The Hedge Knight and The Mystery Knight.

    Reply

  6. As a history student interested especially in a historical society and family values I just can’t help it getting pissed of when someone drops a line that ‘Game of Thrones is like fictional history’!

    I haven’t read much (only around 250 pages of the first book) and watched ALMOST whole season 1 (it went so bad I couldn’t take it anymore) I could say that – yes a lot of shit happened in history but I’d rather live in the real medieval times than in this shithole called Westeros.

    I’d need to be much more qualified than an undergraduate and read much more Song of Ice and fire books to make a good conclusion but the last isn’t gonna happen anyways, so here’s only a few things I can point out:

    1) In real medieval times, religion was VERY important. Don’t get me wrong, I’m an atheist, but the church was the conscience of the much more primitive society back then in many ways. Did you know that it was the church that passed the law that one required also the woman to say ‘yes’ in the wedding? It also meant the people having strong values (especially the Knights) not like in the Game of Thrones where gods decide whatever the ruler sees fit. It was completely impossible in the real medieval times where the Church had a very strong saying in public affairs.

    VALUES!!! The people had values. The strong belief in God meant that the people knew that they will be punished hard in the afterlife if they do stuff like banging your sister and trying to kill the child who sees it. The fear of God was a strong motive to the medieval person. In the Game of Thrones the only knight seems to be Ned Stark and we all know what happened to him.

    And even if we revert back to the Pagan times where there was a polytheism like Greece they still had a strong sense of right and wrong.

    2) The parts about women’s activities the knitting and needling which Arya hated so much just feel so fake. And all these strict manners and stuff. It’s more like the 19th century!!

    3) One of my history student friends pointed out that the pseudo-mongols (Khal Drogo’s people) weren’t so oh all-we-do-is-ride-around-and-live-in-tents at all.

    Etc. etc.

    The truth is that Game of Thrones is basically a collection of the stereotypes about the medieval times only that the good ones (e.g the over-glorifying of the Knights) are left out. And it sucks hard to my mind. I agree with the other points.

    Reply

    • In reply to Someone

      you are smart

      Reply

    • Bowen Marsh says

      In reply to Someone

      Wow
      It’s funny, because of everything you wrote in your text
      suggest that you maybe should read more A song of ice and fire.

      Reply

    • In reply to Someone

      It’s a fantasy world, not a direct interpretation of medieval Europe!

      Reply

    • In reply to Someone

      Well I agree it is not fictional history. But to be honest I think what he wanted to do was write a book that was like The Pillars of the Earth. He then found out he was no Ken Follett so he added is so called fantasy elements to his book now ever one calls this the next Lord of the Rings.

      Very sad that GRRM and his books are passed off as the best fantasy books sense Lord of the Rings. They are not fantasy and they are even fictional history. They are like the Sword of the Truth books porn for the author to write is dark twisted ideas in.

      Having people being killed left and right and rape and so on to me does not make a adult fantasy.

      Reply

    • Sarah Goodman says

      In reply to Someone

      Just one item: medieval times were not “primitive,” they were a philosophical tearing-down and re-building of a technologically ADVANCED society following Ancient civilizations such as Egypt, Babylon, Greece, Rome etc., while Christianity introduced the concept of fundamental equality and divinity among individuals, and progressive vs. cyclical history; before this, rulers simply had no reason to progress, since they had everything they wanted in the form of servants, while the servile masses suffered.
      Game of Thrones, meanwhile, shows only the royal perspective, while we simply never see these “commoners” other than some occasional, flat random encounters; rather, the politics in GoT seems as everyone obeys these rulers for no reason, other than that they’re rulers, and have swords.
      All in all, a medieval caricature.

      Reply

  7. I agree 100%. Game of Thrones and true blood are such trash. I hate that some of my friends and family like it. I just don’t get it, but to each his own I guess.

    Reply

  8. God I have to agree. These books blow. Don’t compare him to Tolkien. Compare him to some rom com trash movie writer who gets off on “surprise” kills

    Reply

    • Bowen Marsh says

      In reply to Russell

      Yes, its such a shame.
      George kills of everyone.

      Reply

      • Sarah Goodman says

        In reply to Bowen Marsh

        Well there is one redemption: i.e. I can’t stand it when random characters die easily, but the main characters are untouchable; so it’s only fair that main characters should be just as dispensable as random ones.
        However in Game of Thrones, it seems that certain main characters have “authorial invulnerability—” or are even brought back from the dead– because they’re needed for the plot, while others are killed off left and right.
        So while main characters should be vulnerable just like anyone else, it’s not done well in Game of Thrones.

        Reply

  9. SPOILER ALERT

    I totally disagree , especially about your first two reasons(coz the third one depends on the reader) . Not saying that it’s perfect , but I think ASOIAF is pretty amazing .
    Good Guys ALWAYS Lose : Not true . At first , it was true yeah , but after robb’s death everything changed . Joffrey died , tywin died and Cersei stated to undone all the things that her father had done .

    No New Engaging Characters : Not true . Oberyn(loved him) , Aegon , Doran(one of my favorite characters) , Arianne , JonCon(one of the most loved characters among readers) , Euron , Victorian , Damphair etc . All these entered after third book .

    About the storytelling , I loved it .(Well , except for Brienne)
    When Dany found out about Drogon killing a child .
    The whole RW chapter .
    Oberyn and The Mountain chapter .
    All Euron chapters.(He is a really interesting yet cruel person)
    I love the way GRRM shows chapters from a character’s prospective . This way we can see all the reasons behind Cersei’s acts or how Tyrion The Imp sees the world .

    GRRM hasn’t done everything based on surprise element . I love the way he has put so many clues around that you’ll find out after second , or even third reading . The whole Oberyn poisoning Tywin theory , or Azor Ahai theories , or Jon’s mother theories .

    BTW , in order to criticize a series , you should’ve at least read all of them once otherwise your opinion won’t be that valid .
    The whole surprise thing , is what has made this series unique . All the books are based on story , not characters.(though the way GRRM has showed characters is pretty amazing)
    In this book , you can’t think “He is a great guy , so he’ll succeed .” Nope , it doesn’t work that way . People die , whether you like it or not . The only thing that always remains , is the plot .

    Reply

    • In reply to Arrowtic

      Cersei *started*

      Reply

    • In reply to Arrowtic

      I’ve read all the books except for the last one which I couldn’t motivate myself to read because I found it too boring and felt no engagement with the characters. My wife started the last book and then gave up half way through for the same reason.

      I think it’s fair to say that when the bad guys “lose”, it’s because of self goals – not because the good guys won. Joffrey’s death, Tywin’s death, Cersei beginning to screw up. It’s due to incompetence. The good guys never win. On the other hand, whenever the good guys lose, it’s because the bad guys won. That to me is a clear sign of Martin’s intentions when he deliberately creates such a lop sided scenario.

      About creating more engaging characters…I admit this is obviously a taste thing. At least for myself and the people I’ve spoken to, the new characters are simply not as good as the old ones.

      And I’m hardly one to say “He’s a great guy, he should win”. I don’t think any of us who truly love reading good books and stories want that. I just have a problem with lop sided story telling. There are dozens of good fantasy books where the good guys don’t always win. We all like a good story right?

      Reply

  10. I’m glad its not just me. I first attempted to read Game of Thrones when it first came out, couldn’t get into it at all, found it a very boring book, and the writing although others like it I didn’t. Then this series comes out, so I attempt to re-read the first book again thinking I’ve matured, so maybe I’ll feel differently? Nope, the books still suck, the series is so awful I struggled to get through the first episode. It’s been so overhyped that I’m convinced people are watching it in the hope they are just too stupid to understand it and hope they’ll eventually figure it out. But no, its rubbish, sorry thrones fans.

    Reply

    • bette divas says

      In reply to Daron

      Yep its crap!! Killing off characters, no one left to like, who cares about the rest they are all power hungry asses, like in the real world of today. There is something badly wrong with power/money hungry people!

      Reply

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