I'm nonplussed by GoT, what now?
June 30, 2012 4:39 AM Subscribe
How to phrase my feelings about Game of Thrones
So this is really two questions bundled into one.
I have this awesome friend who keeps harassing me (in a friendly way) with the idea that my cultural life would be incomplete without reading Game of Thrones.
Things he used to sell me the read:
- the unexpectedness of all the twists (him: "so many other authors are boringly predictable"),
- the intricacy of the plot (him: "at last, a challenge"),
- the details in the descriptions (him: "so much as to give an atmosphere, not enough to be boring like Tolkien"),
- the realism as to violence and the condition of women in the middle ages (him: "most of the rest of fantasy is non-realistic as to human interactions")
So I got a copy of the first book and I started reading. After two days (and about 100 pages) I feel extremely uncomfortable:
- it really sucks to be a woman in that world. I am annoyed at the lack of self-determination, by the depiction of woman life defined by child-bearing romance and being objects of lust, etc. it just gets on my nerves.
- it really sucks to be anyone in that world. Characters are constrained by duty and all kinds of miserable stuff happening to them, and have all kinds of traumatic emotional scars with more piling on at every page. I'm not in a happy phase myself these days, and this piles on my unhappiness to the point of nearly making me depressed.
To me these feelings are strong enough that I want to drop the book and not go further. However when I hear my friend I have the feeling I am missing something great. Given he himself is not misogynistic, non-violent, sensitive, etc, that thing must be so great that he is able to balance it against the darker sides of GoT.
Hence my first question: what makes it worth reading despite all the unhappiness?
We both read a lot (lots, LOTS!) and like fantasy; however while he mostly reads fiction I spend most of my time reading news, blogs, technical stuff, etc. This guy is extremely nerdy but also extremely bright.
So maybe a factor is that while I am quite flexible and I am quite happy with the style of authors this friend calls "boring" (Robin Hobb, Mercedes Lackey, Christopher Paolini, etc.) he reads LOTS of fantasy and has become more critical, so he may have higher expectations.
Hence my second question: are there other works of fiction/fantasy that exhibit a similar level of reading challenge and intricacy as GoT, but skip the depressing bits?
I'd like to try some stuff out and then explain to that friend that all the unhappiness is not a requirement to get good fantasy literature. (if that's possible)