I was going to talk about other things, important things. About how institutions get destroyed and the consequences of that, and how a nation may not necessarily recover from the consequences, but then I watched today’s Game of Thrones episode.
It drives everything else from the mind, doesn’t it? Also reminded me of a blogpost I read many years ago- I can’t find it now- when the show hadn’t yet reached the Red Wedding and the books were famed for subverting expectations and how “anyone could die”. The author pointed out that Jon and Dany were the only heros, and they did have plot armor. Now of course it is obvious. Last week on LARB Dear Television Sarah Mesle and Aaron Brady wondered if there could even be spoilers anymore. There weren’t. No unexpected notes in this awesome episode. It was unspoilerable. Even next weeks burning of King’s Landing is inevitable. This is now high fantasy, and the laws of narrative will rule. Dumb heroic decisions no longer make you lose, they make you a hero. An orphan must be a lost prince, the cavalry will arrive in time.
As a aside, Jon Snow is so much like Corporal Carrot. A lost king, honorable, boring, with an interesting kick-ass girlfriend and memorable hair. But Pratchett was a truly great writer and understood the laws of narrative in ways GRRM never could (and the showwriters can’t write any plots- that is for sure). Carrot subverted expectations in ways Jon Snow could never know.
In fact that is an interesting thought experiment. How would Pratchett write this? Lets recap, Arya is Tiffany Aching, Tyrion could have been Vetinari in the hands of an intelligent writer- but Vetinari would deal with White Walkers in about 10 minutes, there would be no suspense. Jon is Carrot, Ned Stark is Vimes. Oleanna Tyrell is a watered down Nanny Ogg (not cool enough to be Granny). Dany has no analogue, you can be charitable and put that down to originality, or you can be logical and point out that Dany and her Weapons of Mass Destruction need to exist because Westeros does not have Vetinari/Vimes. A Lannister-Stark alliance could have dealt with the long winter and White-Walkers. They wouldn’t have needed dragons. Dragons can be the cute fire-breathing pets Lady Vimes keeps. Maybe Lady Vimes is Dany!
Pratchett’s characters deal with problems greater than Zombies vs Dragons. They speak and act against xenophobia because Vetinari understands the need to unite his people, and Vimes is a nice person. They work for a free press. They fight against religious fundamentalism. Vetinari commits to liberal values not because he is a liberal- he isn’t- but because they make a nation-state powerful. He finds Vimes in a gutter and hangs on to him. To stay away from allegory and go back to Westeros, the Lannisters would have poisoned Dany and her baby dragons -keeping the raping Dothraki away from Westeros, and the Starks would have defended the wall against the White Walkers. Tywin or Tyrion would find a way to get Joffery out and manipulate Tommen for the rest of his life. Sounds too easy, doesn’t it?