Game of Thrones, Season OneGregory Hood
Spanish translation here
Anthony Swofford wrote in Jarhead that it is impossible to make an antiwar movie. Even a film like Full Metal Jacket, which mocks the United States Marine Corps and its values, has been championed by the very same people it scorns, with R. Lee Emery given a post-retirement promotion by the Commandant and references to the film cited by the very same drill instructors the movie’s backers despise. While your typical Vietnam movie about the “brutality of war” may tell civilians what they want to hear, the “terrible and despicable beauty” will always excite those who actually want to go out and fight.
So it is with fantasy and medieval adventure. A Game of Thrones is in many ways a deconstruction of the entire genre. The good guys do not always win. In fact, they never win. Going further, it’s hard to tell who the good guys even are. Chivalry is a bad joke, and a code of honor is only a cover for the kinds of intrigues and betrayals that our modern democrats have come to master. The people, or “the small folk,” exist only to be trampled underfoot. More than that, they should be, as they are ignorant, venal, grasping, and easily manipulated, insofar as they matter at all. If he could somehow be transported to another world, Aragorn, son of Arathorn, would have fallen to poison or a dagger in the night well before he could make his claim to the Iron Throne.
Nonetheless, the small folk of what was once America have rallied to the latest HBO production, gathering around weekly to watch dragons and jousts against the background of a hierarchical system that our entire society is dedicated to opposing. A Game of Thrones brings realism to the fantasy genre, but it can not escape the genre itself. To even show knights in armor, heraldic appeals to honor, quests for glory, and tales of heroism and family pride sung throughout the centuries is itself a critique of the democratic age. The best social criticism the great and good of our time can muster is that we are not equal enough – there might still be some racist somewhere that we all required to worry about, and there are still some reactionary holdouts that don’t look enough like Detroit. If hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue, Game of Thrones and it’s popularity is an admission that the democratic age is forced to look back in order to look up, even if we have to tear it all down in the doing.
Following the accelerated completion and cancellation of the well-received series Rome due to budgetary constraints, it was nothing short of shocking that book one of A Song of Ice and Fire was chosen for a miniseries. One would be hard-pressed to think of another fictional world more elaborate or complex, or less suited to a quick recounting, than that created by George R. R. Martin. Nonetheless, capitalism gets it right occasionally, and the series is the rare combination of critical and popular acclaim that also sneaks in some unwelcome truths against the Zeitgeist. Part of this is the implied assault on democratic man and modernity, a theme welcome to men against time.
That said, where A Game of Thrones truly succeeds is that while not giving in to modern assumptions, it attacks the pretentions and assumptions of Radical Traditionalism itself by ripping bare the realities of power and the meaning of the political life. Rather than taking comfort in familiar critiques, A Game of Thrones has much to teach any contemporary would-be European warriors who want to fight their own sacred cause and stake their own claim as conquerors.
The “hero” and widely promoted main character of the first season is Ned Stark, Lord of Winterfell. The fact that he is portrayed by Sean Bean should give you some indication as to what is ultimately in store for him, but by the normal standards of fantasy, Stark is exactly what we should expect. He is a man of integrity, deeply respected as a warrior, honored as a dutiful leader, and loved as both a family man and protector of his people. Westeros is a realm forged from seven separate kingdoms, and Stark rules the North, vast but thinly populated.
Martin exploits a motif that goes back at least as far as Tacitus’s Germania, with Stark’s Northmen portrayed as a uniquely hardy, virtuous, and unpretentious folk, somehow more in touch with the harsh realities of life than the cultured, spoiled, and effeminate Southerners wallowing in decadent luxury. At the extreme northern boundary stands The Wall, a seven hundred foot barrier of ice that stretches across the continent, designed to protect the realm from the barbarian “wildlings” that live to the north, as well as more sinister creatures such as giants, mammoths, and “White Walkers,” undead monsters ready to wage war on the kingdoms of men. Summer and Winter last for years in Martin’s world, and the Stark motto — rather than a boastful claim of victory or power — is a sobering reminder that whatever our joys or successes, “Winter is Coming.”
Stark is a childhood friend and wartime comrade of the current king, Robert Baratheon, who took the Iron Throne by force of arms in a rebellion against the “Mad King” Aerys Targaryen. His victory was hollow, as the woman he loved, Ned’s sister Lyanna, died in the rebellion, and King Robert is forced to marry Cercei of the rich and powerful Lannister family in order to bind the realm together. The marriage is, to put it delicately, not a happy one. Once a powerful warrior, King Robert has succumbed to the pleasures of monarchy, drinking and feasting rather than attending to his duties.
Surrounded by courtiers he doesn’t trust, Robert asks Ned Stark to serve as “Hand of the King” (second in command) after the mysterious death of Jon Arryn, the prior Hand. Having received warnings that there is a plot against the king’s life by the Lannisters, Ned reluctantly agrees.
Interestingly, the character of Catelyn Stark has been changed, with the more modern woman on the television series urging Ned Stark to refuse the king’s offer to become Hand and stay home with her. In the book, she is the more ambitious of the two, actually pushing the idea on a more reluctant Ned in order to safeguard the family. On HBO, she gives a passionate speech more pleasing to modern sensibilities about typical men going on about “honor” and putting their pride about their families. Nonetheless, the audience sympathizes with Ned Stark, and so we follow him to King’s Landing.
The golden haired Lannisters are the richest house in the Seven Kingdoms, led by the fearsome Tywin Lannister, who has three children, the twins Queen Cercei and Jamie Lannister, and the dwarf, Tyrion, known as “the imp.” Jamie is known as the “Kingslayer” because he stabbed the mad King Aerys in the back, violating his oaths as a member of the Kingsguard. Meanwhile, the diminutive Tyrion survives by his wits and the low expectations others have of him. With his vulgar (and of course, hysterical) jokes, constant whoring, and (justifiable) cynicism about the world he lives in, Tyrion is the most modern of all the characters in Game of Thrones. The conflict between the Starks and Lannisters drives the action in Westeros during the first season.
Finally, an important sideplot follows Viserys and Daenerys, the last two members of the exiled Targaryens, the “blood of the dragon” who forged the Seven Kingdoms through “Fire and Blood” when Aegon the Conqueror led an army from the back of a dragon and forced his opponents to bend their knees. Now, we meet them in the trading city of Pentos across the Narrow Sea, where Viserys, the legitimate claimant to the Iron Throne, is marrying his sister Daenerys to the leader of a powerful barbarian horse clan, Khal Drogo of the Dothraki.
Martin exploits several familiar Western motifs here as well. Pentos and the “free cities” are portrayed along classic Orientalist lines, a realm of unscrupulous traders, fabulous luxury, loose morals, and eastern mysticism. While the series does not linger on this setting this season, a fuller portrait of societies seemingly designed to enrage Edward Said will be more fully explored in the years to come, if the books are any indication. More importantly, the Targaryens are portrayed as positively Hyperborean, with silver hair and purple eyes in the books, light golden hair and light (though not purple) eyes on television. There is the usual (and historically accurate, in the Indo-European context) connection between Aryan appearance and the “right” of lordship
In contrast, the Dothraki are the only non-whites portrayed in Season One, a horse people based upon a combination of the American Indians and the Mongols. Khal Drogo is portrayed by Jason Momoa, whose last major appearance was as Conan the Barbarian in the required multicultural box office bomb remake. The series actually expands on the books by inventing an entire Dothraki language that greatly expands our understanding of their culture and way of life, and, like Klingon, no doubt creates the opportunity for some nerds to translate classic works of literature into a fictional tongue.
The Dothraki serve as the “noble savages” of the show, despising money, championing leadership by the strong rather than the noble born, and cutting through the pretense and showmanship of Westeros with a more “authentic” celebration of sex, violence, and conquest.
Viserys, who does not understand the people he thinks he is buying, is portrayed as a sniveling, inbred, arrogant weakling, with the Dothraki repeatedly humiliating him. Drogo eventually dispatches him by giving him a “golden crown” of molten metal, gloatingly leering into his face as he dies helplessly in a gesture familar to anyone familiar with the kind of non-European conflict etiquette widely available on YouTube or WorldStarHipHop.
While the series (mercifully) inflates her age to avoid uncomfortable questions of child pornography and turns the consensual wedding consummation into essentially a rape, Daenerys eventually becomes one of the Dothraki. More than that, she enthusiastically adopts her new identity, referring to them as “my people,” learning the language, and falling deeply in love with her “sun and stars” Khal Drogo. Her initial resistance makes her eventual enthusiastic miscegenation and grrl power attitude all the more modern.
Of course, the repeated canoodling of the (over) idealized Aryan princess and the dusky barbarian has of course not stopped the mandated charges of racism from those who earn a living from such things. The show has to walk a delicate balance here, as Daenerys cannot be seen as glorying in the slave taking and conquest of the Dothraki, but she cannot be seen as weak either. Thus, Daenyrs uses her autocratic position as Khalessi for essentially humanitarian ends, breaking precedent and practice to haughtily order a stop to various rapes and murders. Her overlooking or even approval of various savageries is an outgrowth of her admirable love for the heroic Über-untermensch Khal Drogo.
Whatever her brave transformation into warrior woman may represent to budding feminists, Daenerys only unleashes further suffering, inadvertently costs Khal Drogo his life, and is eventually abandoned as Drogo’s khalasar dissolves. However, the series ends on a rare note of pure fantasy, as she steps into the Khal’s funeral pyre with her dragon eggs, thought to have been turned to stone by the centuries. The flames and a mysterious magic awaken the beasts within, and Season One ends with Daenerys Stormborn, Unburnt, rising with three newborn dragons clinging to her flesh.
Such magical intervention is rare, as the bulk of the materials deals with the realities of politics in King’s Landing, the capitol of Westeros. The noble Ned Stark is ill at ease among the conspiracy and intrigues of a southern court. While he tries to find out the secret Jon Arryn died for, he is also burdened by the mystery of who pushed his son Brandon out a window, crippling him. The audience knows it was Jamie Lannister, after he and his sister were caught in flagrante delicto by Bran, revealing the truth that King Robert Bartheon’s supposed children and heirs are actually bastards born of incest and treason. As Stark blunders his way through various clues towards the painfully obvious truth, the audience can be forgiven for wondering why no one else seems to have noticed that the King’s blonde-haired children look nothing like him.
King’s Landing has no shortage of skillful conspirators, including the eunuch Lord Varys, the “Spider” who has a network of informants around the kingdom and beyond, and “Littlefinger” Lord Petyr Baelish, who through financial wizardry and a talent for intrigue has risen from a minor lord to Master of Coin and a power in the realm in his own right. In the book, it’s hinted that others already knew the truth, or at least suspected, but remained silent for their own purposes. In both the series and the book, Stark learns the Cercei’s secret – and takes it straight to the queen, in order that she might be warned of what he will tell the king and so save her children. Predictably, the queen is able to use the time to ensure the king’s death, place her bastard on the throne, and destroy Ned Stark.
None of this was inevitable. When Stark reveals to Petyr Baelish the truth of Cercei’s children, Baelish coolly advises putting the bastard on the throne anyway, securing Stark’s own position as Protector of the Realm, and fortifying their own positions. Renly, King Robert’s youngest brother, advises the same. Instead, Stark honorably and stupidly holds to the position that Stannis, Robert’s despised other brother, has the throne by right. Baelish betrays him, delivering the Gold Cloaks, the largest armed force in King’s Landing, into the hands of the Lannisters.
Stark’s actions lead to his own death, a war that rips the realm apart, and the triumph of his fiercest enemies. As Ned is imprisoned, the eunuch Varys approaches him and tells him, “It was your mercy that killed the king.” It could more truly be said that it was Stark’s honor that killed the king. Nobility, courage, and most of all, pride, lead to the deaths of thousands of people and actively sabotage Stark’s own efforts.
Nor is this kind of behavior unique to Ned Stark. When Tyrion stops by Winterfell on his return trip home, Ned’s son Robb, sitting in his father’s place, greets him coldly with naked steel displayed. He arrogantly reminds Tyrion that is not a boy, but “Lord of Winterfell.” While he is correct, Tyrion reminds him that “he might learn a lord’s courtesy” instead of fueling unnecessary hostility by ignoring customs designed to smooth over difficulties.
In one of the most stirring scenes of the series, Catelyn Stark appeals to her father’s bannermen to help her seize Tyrion, whom she believes tried to murder her son. Catelyn Stark, born Catelyn Tully before she married Ned, knows her House’s words of “Family, Honor, Duty.” Of course, her honorable behavior and leap to judgment inadvertently throws the whole realm into chaos and her family to destruction. Doing her duty for her honor and family eventually destroys everything Catelyn cares about.
Viscerys Targaryen is the legitimate claimant to the Iron Throne, the last Dragon, and he was, cultural differences notwithstanding, promised an army to reclaim his throne. Nonetheless, his constant assertion of status, refusal to respect the customs of others, and open assertions of will lead directly to his horrific demise.
While their characters are more fully developed in the future books (and presumably future episodes), the more successful characters all lack something that a classic hero possesses. Tyrion Lannister, who will skillfully consolidate power and defend the throne in A Clash of Kings in Season 2, is a dwarf. Petyr Baelish, who gradually builds ever more power and influence, is the lord only of a nothing spot of land and the most minor of noble houses. Lord Varys lacks perhaps the most important thing of all, as he is not even a man: a despised eunuch in a patriarchal, masculine culture. Nonetheless, all of these characters are able to achieve their ends more successfully than characters that have every advantage in this world.
The reminder that political skill ultimately overcomes Aryan courage is worth restating to white advocates who believe that openly confronting our enemies somehow guarantees victory. We don’t need noble Starks committed to honor and pride. We don’t need Viscerys Targaryens who value their birth and take lordship as a right. We need more white advocates along the lines of Petyr Baelish, Lord Varys, and Tyrion Lannister. Power is not about nobility or right or wrong. Game of Thrones shows us that power is about the manipulation of people, the managing of expectations and perception, and the subtleties of rhetoric. The warhammer of Robert Baratheon has its place as does the sacrifice of any heroic soldier, but it can no more guarantee victory any more than virtuous behavior can alone suffice to win the heart of a beautiful woman.
This is not to say there is not a place for courage, and honor, and existential struggle. The final and arguably most important subplot of Game of Thrones revolves around the Wall. It is patrolled by the Night’s Watch, an Order of misfits, criminals, nobleborn, and adventurers who have sworn oaths for life to father no sons, inherit no lands, and live and die at their post. Uniquely in Westeros, the Watch serves the realm, the realm as a whole, rather than a particularly lord or great House. Despite the long relationship between the Watch and the Starks (Ned’s brother Benjen is first ranger when the series begins), the Watch takes no part in the battles between Stark and Lannister. Ned Stark’s bastard son Jon Snow joins the Night’s Watch and is forced to choose between his duty to his biological family and his new brothers of the Watch. With some help from his friends, he ultimately remains at the Wall. As the Lord Commander of the unit proclaims, “When dead men and worse come hunting for us in the night, do you think it matters who sits the Iron Throne?”
All the subtleties and maneuvering of the crafty characters in King’s Landing fail to anticipate the existential threat that lies north of the wall. It’s the bastards and thieves and exiled nobility of the Black Brothers who alone guard the realm while the aristocrats play their game of thrones. Worse, the smarter characters, the Tyrions and Littlefingers, either mock or ignore the supposed threat altogether.
The audience knows the threat is real, as the series opens with White Walkers slaughtering wildlings and rangers, and creating “wights,” monstrous undead ghouls, from the corpses of those they have slain. There exists the very real possibility that whatever the outcome of the war for the Iron Throne, the White Walkers will sweep in and destroy the kingdoms altogether during the long winter. Only steel in the hands of brave men — men despised and forgotten by the society they defend — can forestall this doom. If they are victorious, the realm is saved, by their names will never be remembered. If they fail, even the possibility of human existence in Westeros is wiped away. As in our struggle, in the most important battles of all, the heroes may go unremembered, with the people who owe them their survival forgetting even their names.
In politics, in life, and in the struggle to secure the survival of our own people, there are no easy answers. It is appropriate to the legends and past heroes of our folk to steel ourselves for the battles to come. That said, the militaristic rhetoric of the movement belies what is desperately needed is the more mundane work of fundraising, organization, administration, and effective public relations and political action before one can even contemplate some kind of heroic armed resistance. What few political operatives working for white survival exist need more of Lord Varys and less of Ned Stark.
Insofar as there are armed conflicts today, be it a street fight at a demonstration or an armed citizen defending his family, there will be no songs sung and no banners flown, as the seat of power is controlled by those who are at best uncaring, or more likely, implacably hostile. Our foot soldiers are less the scions of noble houses and more the refuse of the Night’s Watch, fighting the critical battles that the larger society has ignored.
Watching George R. R. Martin’s achievement of fantasy should force us to become more realistic about the nature of what we face and what it will take to make progress. Dreams of glory and victory are fine in the bright days of summer, but it is time to grow up. Our people’s survival is at stake . . . and winter is coming.
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Truly excellent write up of a series I’ve enjoyed very much so far.
I’m going to purchase this show today because of this review. I ignore the vast majority of pop media these days until one of our websites recommend them.
I’ve been a fan of the books for several years now, and the series did live up to my expectations—I guess having George R. R. Martin involved in the series helped. The first episode of season two that aired the other day continues with the quality established in the first season. I highly recommend both the books and television series to any reader of this site.
Long before I read Jarhead, I saw the anti-war movie quote attributed to Truffaut, but of course, I can’t find it now. Regardless, the sentiment is true: despite Kubrick’s intentions, FMJ is a movie loved by warriors and wannabes alike.
Cinema, by its very nature, tends to glamorize even the most brutal of subjects.
As for A Game of Thrones, I tried reading the books (I have little patience for most fantasy works) with no success, but I am looking forward to catching this series, especially in light of this review.
I’m a fan of the show and was hoping for a write-up! This was very informative, and once again touches upon the slave morality being inferior to “taking our own side.” Poor Ned….
Interesting that the villains are blondes…that meme is getting so old.
I’m hoping that Danerys redeems herself (in my eyes) by getting with that exiled valiant blonde.
“Rhaegar fought valiantly, Rhaegar fought nobly, Rhaegar fought honorably. And Rhaegar died.” -from A Storm of Swords, GoT book 3
I agree this is a very good analysis of the series.
When I saw it I wasn’t racially awakened yet, and still under the last throes of my strictly Libertarian phase. It also bears mention I I have not read the books so I could only judge the series on its own merits.
Halfway through it I finally realized I had grown out of medieval fantasy fiction. Or rather, that Tolkien is indeed the Socrates of his genre, very little has been new under the sun since him and “formulaic” has become the word of the day.
While it may be The Game of Thrones is an attempt at deconstructing the genre, such literary experimentation is secondary to the actual entertainment value of the work.
I found it somewhat lacking. And the racialist angle introduced by this article only helped decrease my opinion of it.
I found I could’t root for anyone in the entire narrative, as the bid for the Iron Throne will be simply a continent-wide genocide to assure a thoroughly inefficient system of government stays in place, even if the face on the throne changes. The foolishness of the ruling class, most being survivors of a previous civil war, in wading to a second one even as the supernatural threat from the north and the barbarian hordes from the east rally, just proves how unfit to rule Westeros nobility is.
If the common Westerians had any lick of common sense they would rise up and slit the necks of every Stark, Lannister, et all and get on with the business of forming local Republics with a defensive alliance pact to combat external threats.
I guess I’m saying one cannot have real Libertarian ideals and watch Game of Thrones without being left with sour taste in one’s mouth. What is the all the arm-flailing about the Iron Throne about? When it fails to provide its main function (the security of Westeros) twice in a generation?
As for looking at the series from a racialist standpoint…Taking into account your reporting of some adaptive changes from book to TV screen, I would say there seems to be a thinly-veiled (or maybe not so veiled at all) anti-white sentiment pervading the series.
A fair number of white characters are portrayed as unhealthy, incestuous, inbred, crippled at birth, downright insane, having unnatural relationships with their mother (breast-feeding teenagers, anyone?), hypocritical, venal or hung up on tradition to the point of self-destruction.
Meanwhile the tanned Dothraki are shown as healthy, strong and muscular (even when their medicine is so primitive it cannot save Khal Drogo of an infection from a minor chest cut)., willful and brimming with positive pathos. When the whole shebang comes crashing down after the death of Drogo, the tale pulls it’s only supernatural Deux ex Machina so far, and voila! There be Dragons…and Westeros shall tremble.
Consider also, that while we are given front-row seats to images of Lannister incest, the gruesome execution by decapitation of Ned Stark by the very system he was trying to protect and the aftermath of Westerian warfare (complete with bodies littering the fields); we never really see the slaughter and gang-rape perpetrated by the Dothraki on the people they conquer. Neither to we get a glimpse of Daenery’s and Drogo’s deformed, un-viable, miscegenated progeny; having to be content with a physical description by a nursemaid.
While on the subject of the Dothraki, your revelation that Khal Drogo’s pedophilia was whitewashed, while his fondness for raping blonde white women is portrayed as something out of which true love may blossom just helps increase that bitter taste on the back of my mouth.
But perhaps the most blatant non-white-sympathetic angle of the whole series is something that is now so common in anything coming out of Hollywood it merits its own TV Trope title. I am referring, of course, to the “All Blondes are Evil” cliche.
The Starks, which are painted on the 1st season as fairly decent, as nobles go; are mostly black or brown haired and have a penchant for forgetting to shave. While unquestionably
Nordic, they aren’t offensively Aryan.
The disonhorable Lannisters, which suffer from such traits as haughtiness, arrogance, avarice, incest, dwarfism, a penchant for treason and ignoring the rule of law are, unsurprisingly, blonde and clean cut.
The starkest example is newly-crowned King Joffrey Baratheon (actually a full-blooded Lannister) which is not only white and blonde…he is *shockingly* white and *shockingly* blonde. So much so, in hindsight, I’m somewhat surprised the ascension of this Aryan paragon (physically speaking) to the Iron Throne didn’t come with an affection of swastikas and iron crosses to the royal heraldry. He is also, of course, the most unbalanced character of the series so far. A young psychotic monster in the making, fruit of incestuous sex, that likes to chat with his ladylove under the chopped off heads of her father and maid, and manages to shock even is mother, the most evil female character in the 1st season.
Another exponent of this role is Viserys. He is very white, very blonde (of the silver hyperborean variety, even if actor Harry Lloyd is raven-haired), very British and extremely uppity and arrogantly so. From his first meeting with Khal Drogo, I was counting the episodes until the wise savage had him offed. Even so, when the moment did come the simboligy was astounding. The white man, arms broken and held down kneeling by two strong Dothraki, while the giant Samoan drops liquid gold on his head.
The message is simple: even in a medieval world, if whitey fails to display sufficient awareness and respect for multiculturalism, things don’t end up well for him. And apparently an Aryan shouldn’t get surly when he sells his own sister to sexual slavery and the other party fails to deliver the accorded goods. Of course, meanwhile a wise dusky-skinned beauty had already thought the naive white blonde lady to enjoy rape and please her man.
In the Tolkien mythos we get a tale of humanity (specially of the white variety) raging against the dying of the light, fighting against a bad situation that is fruit of the collective incompetence of the Elves, Valar, Maiair and even God himself. They whisk victory from the jaws of defeat at the last minute of the last hour. And before someone mentions the role of Hobbits in the whole thing, I would remind them the short folk where not only related to the Men of the West, it was thanks to their spilling of blood in farway borders that the Shire managed to exist in peace…until that day when a certain Hobbit found that the “road goes ever on”. It is a stirring tale of Man dealing with a menace not of its own making and succeeding. Even the cause for the fall of Man’s greatest achievement on Middle Earth, the end of Golden-Age Nummenor, can be laid at the feet of the Valar and Maiar with their failure to capture Sauron, once Annattar “Lord of Gifts”, after his master Morgoth had been defeated.
By contrast, in The Game of Thrones, all the ills afflicting the people of Westeros seem to be of their own making. From the internecine squabbles, betrayals and wars; passing
through their forgetfulness and incompetence dealing with the threat of the White Walkers; all the way to having some of their number, once the highest in the land, cross the ocean and attempt to unleash a horde of aliens upon them.
Elites exhorting dusky skinned primitives to attack whites, and promoting mass immigration to their lands? Now where have I heard that one before?
I won’t delve into the series grrrl power issue, except to say that between jungle-fever afflicted princesses, strong womyn who take control of the household after hubby gets his head sliced, wise old women who can summon demonic forces to affect their revenge, thin tomboys playing with wooden swords being set out to become the greatest swordsman…pardon me, swordsPERSON of the realm and ladies who toss conventional notions of consanguinity to the four winds and choose to exert their reproductive rights with whomever they damn well choose…the series has been doused with enough modern Feminism to ensure its attraction among certain female demographics.
So now, I would like to reference what I did like about the series, even as I lament the very limited screen time afforded to some of it.
The article didn’t pay enough attention to one group of people, which ended up becoming my favorite.
I loved the mountain Clansmen.
For starters, they were the only group that, in my humble opinion, that looked like what they are supposed to be: barbarians. Distant both from the pseudo-Roman and pseudo-Scottish penchant for leather, designer armor, unpractical capes and big-ass swords of Westerians, and the waxed hairless, tanned, shirtless, pseudo-surfer design of the noble savage Dothraki. The Clansmen exude an unmistakable Saxonic aura with all their ugliness, surliness, smeliness, horned helmets, chainmail and Viking beards.
Their equipment looks real and well-used, and while there is an unmistakable cultural design pervading it, it does not reach the Westerian mass-produced aesthetic and makes fair allotment for individual combat tastes. Shagga, son of Dolf likes to fight with two battleaxes, are you going to tell him otherwise?
They also appear to be the only culture around that truly mixes meritocracy with equal-opportunity, and not for reason of plot, some gender quota or cultural marxist predilection, but simply because they seem to select their tribal war leaders on account of who can kick the most ass. The Clanswoman chieftan (whose name escapes me now) that accompanies Shaga and Tyrion Lanniester to meet his father, is decidedly unfeminine and doesn’t look like someone you’d like to meet in a dark alley at night; but I wouldn’t mind having her as a bodyguard. I also have the feeling that, plot immunity aside, she would make short work of Arya Stark. Regardless of how many fencing lessons she got from her fake Italian sword tutor.
While I am sure that, like historical barbarians, the Clansmen tribes fight among each other as much as they fight the Westerians; whatever divisions they have don’t prevent the clans from fighting under the same banner on a war caused by the rifts between the civilized noble houses. And as long as the gold is good, they don’t mind having a universally despised dwarf as leader, even if they show little patience for armchair generals who won’t fight alongside them on the battlefield.
Their presence was very limited, so maybe I am just intuitively projecting. But the Clansmen seemed to me as a honorable people I’d sleep soundly about, before I would accept the hospitality of Westerian castles. In contrast to the crusty Westerian system of laws and government, which isn’t working anymore and as far as we can tell, never did; the Clansmen seemed to me to operate under something more similar to Common Law and understand primitive concepts of free market capitalism in a world that runs on feudal obligations. They have no grasp of the Non-Aggression Principle (but who the hell does in this setting) but at least they are willing to negotiate. Tyrion and Sandor meet them as a band of reavers and gain an army for their troubles. Their habit of introducing themselves as “son of…” makes me think they have a strong sense of family and kin; contrast this with multiple examples of family dysfunctionality among Westerians.
Tyrion Lannister is the other facet of the series I truly enjoyed. In a cast of characters that, by modern standards, suffer from a host of mental pathologies, he comes out as a proto-renaissance man you’d actually enjoy having a drink with. His paradoxical situation: noble, filthy rich and educated while simultaneously an outsider due to his physical deformity gave him a personality we can relate to. His attitude to the Game of Thrones so far is similar to mine: he finds the whole sorry thing a great big mess that intrudes on the life of people who aren’t insanely concerned about power.
Tyrion’s interaction with his bodyguard, Sandor “The Hound”, strikes more of a bond of friendship than a master-servant relationship. And his conversations with the women he pays to sleep with are the most honest and…dare I say it? equalitarian of the whole series. It is amusing the series’ greatest male subsidizer of that old patriarchal form of female oppression known as “prostitution”, sees females (of all social castes) as people he can have a good time with, rather than brood mares for lineage or pawns for political games.
So now the 2nd season has come. I will still watch it, but I hope this time we get treated to more bloody action scenes and less politics. I know my own political beliefs and pro-White stance will give me cause to frown as the tale goes on, but it is not every day a medieval fantasy series which such production values and good actors is churned out.
Who will win the coveted Iron Throne? I couldn’t care less because it will make no difference in the long run. I humbly suggest they should melt the damn thing, wack off the elites and begin looking to the defense of their northern borders and coasts…because Winter is Coming.
THEIR GOAL IS GENOCIDE. OURS. WHAT’S YOURS?
Sebastian says a lot, and says it well. For the sake of brevity, I will address a few of his issues; in effect, the topical sections of the outline. Filling in the blanks is a duty I shall leave for others.
Sebastian in blockquote:
In a deadly serious world of Adult Politics, one can not have “real Libertarian ideals” at all, as they do not map onto human nature at all. The Iron Throne is sought because it is the Prime Symbol of the RIGHT to rule. The failure of the previous Holder of the Throne to provide prosperity is rather like the classical Chines Mandate of Heaven: if all falls apart, then the Ruler has lost the Mandate of Heaven.
Read any good medieval history. Hell, this is a damn documentary we are watching!
If memory serves, said progeny has “scales, claws and wings.” Denerys does claim the blood of dragons in her veins. Drogo simply was an impure match for her. Almost sort of Old Testamentish, isn’t it – daughters of Dragon Kings lying with men, producing abominations.
Along those lines…
Isn’t the Deux ex Machina in fact identified with a sorceress, who plays on the trusting Denerys, who blames the Dothraki for destroying her “temple.” Doesn’t she have a rather Levantine cast to her features, and the dialect she speaks? Come to think of it, didn’t Drogo wear a red cloak? Hmmmm….
Everyone seems to be evil, or certainly incompetent, to one degree or another, except for the Nightwatch, Denerys’s bodyguard and Denerys – who is as blonde as it gets. Small point – one can’t have children voluntarily (the Oath of the Black), and the others can’t have children involuntarily – both Denerys AND her bodyguard. The energy the rest of us spend on children is available for them to do Great Things.
The best counterargument comes from Terrible Tommy Metzger, who noted that the Reconquista, and the collapse of the cities into urban jungles, are only possible because, as parasites, as carrion eaters, they only flourish on the presence of the dead, and the dying. That which is strong, powerful, and assertive has no room for such in its presence; that which is weak and dying has room for nothing else. Instead of Westeros, think “Detroit.”
One, Joan of Arc.
Two, her example with the “dancing master” – nifty turn of phrase right out of “Dune,” if memory serves – is inspiring young ladies to seek our fencing academies. I won’t go into why this is such a Good Thing. I only hope our young men will join them there. The Warrior Caste MUST be consciously developed. This is as good a start as any, and, frankly, far preferable to most.
This is a point that deserves being revisited.
I loved the mountain Clansmen.
And, the Clansmen have a remarkably stable Culture, but they are stuck there, not developing the process of Civilization in the slightest. They are, to paraphrase Eliade, the Eternal Children, for whom every day is a new day, with nothing learned from yesterday – past a bare-bones level of existence.
The best bar fighters win bar fights. Outside the bar, the merest level of civil organization – one policemen (or policeman, to anticipate your next point) can reduce them to groveling servitude with the real thrat of arrest, and imprisonment. Game, set, match point for Civilization.
She MIGHT make short work of the untrained Arya Stark. She will be cut to ribbons as the trained, mature, experienced, disciplined Arya Stark practices with wooden swords, to the day she carries Valerian Steel. Note, by the way, that the Clansmen are stuck at the level of iron weapons. They have not made it up the technology curve to steel, much less Valerian Steel.
And, Arya (nice name, that!) would make a fascinating Hand for Queen Denerys, and her little green friends.
Winter IS Coming, for what remains of America, as well.
I could see the development of new religious systems – the Nightwatch, with the Masculine Pagan coming forth in organization, and Denerys and her little green friends, for something of a more Feminine, but no less assertive, Feminine Pagan. Sophia returns on the wings of dragons?
What’s In YOUR Future? Focus Northwest!
Another excellent Gregory Hood review (a redundancy I know since they’re all excellent). I enjoyed the books and have enjoyed the show too. I purposely kept my expectations for the show as low as possible and was pleasantly surprised by HBOs product. To my surprise, the show cleaves very closely to Martin’s excellent source material.
In some ways, Martin reminds me of Tolkien. By this I do not mean that Martin reminds me of Tolkien in a superficial way because both get lumped into the “fantasy” genre. I mean they are both fundamentally pessimistic. In both worlds, there is a palpable sense that the greatest men and greatest civilizational achievements lie in the distant past rather than the present.
One of Martin’s other major ideas in Game of Thrones has to do with people being chronically unhappy and dissatisfied. Most of his characters are fundamentally unhappy. The characters with the most power are also the most dissatisfied and cynical. As Greg Hood points out, after winning the “iron throne,” King Robert Baratheon wallows in decadence, drinks, screws prostitutes, fathers 30 bastards and becomes a fat slob — and openly admits to Eddard Stark how unhappy he is now and how much happier he was before he became the king.
Martin suggests utter ruthlessness and power go hand-in-hand, a relationship Jews clearly understand well. Martin’s world is filled with high lords who commit acts of utter ruthlessness in the service of power, including killing rivals’ young kids. Robert Baratheon sends killers to dispatch a 14 year old girl who might one day become his rival, and Jamie/Cersai Lannister’s father dashes a baby’s skull against a wall to demonstrate loyalty to the “mad king.” Martin’s work is filled with stuff like this.
Martin seems to be telling us that honor is important for personal edification and satisfaction but irrelevant in struggles for power. In his world, ruthlessness and cunning win out over honor.
(excellent nick btw, a sound Roman name)
“Interesting that the villains are blondes…that meme is getting so old.”
I went on an extended rail about that one myself.
“I’m hoping that Danerys redeems herself (in my eyes) by getting with that exiled valiant blonde.”
I wouldn’t call him that exactly, he seemed more of a “white gone native” to me. He had nothing but respect for the Dothraki and seemed to unleash them upon his own folk.
It was good seeing him don his Westeros armor and face down the Injuns when the tent ritual was going on, though. Maybe once he sets foot back on his homeland he’ll turn around and see what a big mistake leading the barbarian there is. If he does that while hitching up with Danerys it might make a good tale.
She IS the last and sole true heir to the Iron Throne, for those keeping tabs on such things.
Power is not about nobility or right or wrong. Game of Thrones shows us that power is about the manipulation of people, the managing of expectations and perception, and the subtleties of rhetoric.
How true what’s exactly going on presently both in America and Europe.
A brilliant write up and very well adapted to contemporary life by G.R.R. Martin who thought of his own America when writing these books.
Can you review Downton Abbey next?
Hey, Trevor Lynch has dibs on that one.
I wish this show didnt have so much sex in it, with just a bit of editing my 7 year old could enjoy it too and she loves movies with knights and swords and dragons. But unfortunately the sex is so extreme that it is embarrassing and not necessary. If someone needs that much sex in it to find the show interesting they should just rent a porno.
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