A Brand New Prize: Death in Game of Thrones

It’s no news that the Game of Throne fan community is among the largest such communities ever, compared to similar movements inspired by other books or movies. Maybe the Lord of the Rings fan base can come close to comparing, but nothing quite beats the numbers of the Game of Thrones fans yet. This passion has taken numerous creative forms, from the Inn at the Crossroads cookbook project which attempts to recreate the dishes served in Westeros, to the dress-up role-playing communities scattered throughout the world and so on.

Well, one of the characteristics of the story, that both annoys its fans but also keeps them hooked and coming back for more, is the character death rate. Death in Game of Thrones has become ubiquitous, and as a fan, you often feel afraid to get too attached to a character or like them, because the next thing you know, bam! That character ends up getting violently murdered or executed and you’re only left with crushed hopes and fists clenched in frustration. None of the compensation mechanisms usually employed by other epic stories seem to work here, also.

For example, at the beginning of the series, when most of us rooted for Ned Stark and the character was wrongly executed, the fan hope then turned to Robb, his elder son. It was only logical that even though the character that embodied those noble values died, his son, who is just like him only younger and a bit more cunning, would pick up his father’s sword and avenge his father’s name. But noooo, the author had other plans. Hence, the Red Wedding. And this was just the beginning for a long line of similarly crushed hopes. You see where we’re getting at? No kind of side-story relief seems to work here: whatever compensation you hope for, death in Game of Thrones will stick to its cruel ways and claim all the characters you’ve ever liked and more, one by one.

The speed with which the author keeps killing the characters has been the subject of many complaints, protests (he even had to go into hiding for a couple of weeks after the Red Wedding aired, so to avoid being the target of an angry fan lynching mob), and, ultimately, ironic fan art. The picture below sums up our frustrations perfectly:

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For those of you who hadn’t yet watched the latest episodes or somehow don’t get it, the picture alludes to Tyrion’s story about a retarded Lannister cousin who spent his days in the garden and kept smashing bugs with a rock, saying “Khuu! Khuu!”. Tyrion kept wondering what the reason behind all the insect slaughter was and insisted that the cousin was up to something other than mindless killing, that the pattern of his actions indicated a deeper meaning which still remained concealed. Well, the illustrator who made the picture above suggests that we are just Tyrion: trying to find a deeper meaning in the expanding character corpse pile, while the author just keeps killing them off purely for fun (and to troll us). Har har har.

But George R R Martin himself is very much aware of what they say of how present death in Game of Thrones is, and has made some brilliant ironic takes on it himself. This isn’t the first time when the author responds very ironically to fan rants about him, and he’s as funny and clever as ever while at it. (Check out for example the letter he wrote to the fans concerned that he’ll die before getting a chance to finish the series).

Returning to the current issue of almost unbearable death in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin has outdone itself: he organized a contest for fans with a wicked prize. What was the prize, you ask? Why, death in Game of Thrones, of course. The lucky winner will have a briefly appearing character named after him/her in the upcoming books and will obviously be killed off swiftly. As much as it frustrates us, we must admit that it was the most beautifully trolling way to respond to all the whines regarding the character death toll.

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