Game of Thrones reviewed: An open letter to George RR Martin

May 26, 2011

Dear George,

I just finished reading Game of Thrones at the recommendation of many of my friends on twitter. And because your book is being adapted on HBO right now. What's a girl to do with no True Blood or Dexter to watch? Watch Game of Thrones. Score for you, you sell more books. You go bearded Glenn Coco! Good for you!

I must hasten to mention that I'm an embarrassed but avid reader of a few fantasy novels. And by a few I mean loads and loads. A shameful amount that I don't want to tell my friends about. Jordan, Weis/Hickman, Rawn, Eddings, Tolkien, Addams, you know the drill. Those guys, and more. So admittedly it's hard for me to take a stab at your work in a completely unbiased way. I'm biased. There, I said it. Biased.

With the caveat that this is the internet and you may, unfortunately, stumble upon this at a later date, I have to go ahead and be honest. Honestly ridiculous. Hey man, it's what I do. Here's my first in a long line of suppositions about you personally– I imagine in my head that you like novels about the Civil War. First of all, the beard and the hat. But really, the writing. By the beard of Ulysses S Grant tell me you like history because Game of Thrones has quite a historical vibe to it. In fact barring a few "fantastic" elements, social curiosities, and fictitious cultures/locations large portions could be dictations of feudal history. I suppose to some readers that lends a further element of realism but it also comes off a bit dry. There's a limit to how much political maneuvering I can care about and paragraphs-long descriptions of medieval equipment does little for me no matter how accurately researched it may be.

What's your deal with sex George? Let's lay it right out there. The graphic sex is probably what lent your work so easily to HBO but it makes me wonder if you don't have some... issues. Your preferred fantasy world is one where everyone bones without love, obligation, or discrimination and excepting a few stand-out characters the women are used like living dolls. MOAR BONING PLEASE. We get it. Everyone is a slutty mc slut slut. Rather than adding an "adult" element to the story I took it as extremely juvenile.

I can imagine you sitting down at your desk thinking, "Dudes like sex. I like sex, now I am going to pornographically describe the sex to an uncomfortable level." Maybe that's just your jam. Maybe you're a creepy bloke, I don't know. But yes, an uncomfortable level. Maybe in-depth descriptions of ladies and their sloppy wet chasms and slapping lips and arching cocks– No, see? This? Uncomfortable. And I'm hardly a darling prude.

Also note: saying the word 'butt' over and over? Not fanning the flames of my passion. And nothing about the word 'teat' will ever, ever ever be hot. Ever. Ever. Oh my god stop. If you're going to do it, if you really MUST go there with the sexy time, do it right.

Teats. Oh lord, speaking of teats, I'm a woman with breastfeeding close to my heart. (Yes, my boobs are located very close to my heart.) Breastfeeding came up repeatedly, which normally I would think is a positive Hey, normalizing breastfeeding! No formula in fake-back-in-the-day! but instead you take drive it down the road to a place of awkward. At times it is blatantly sexualized. Again, tip from the haver of a vagina: adult men talking about nursing from ladies while they have sex is NOT HOT. FULL STOP. I need to go take a scalding bath just to get it off me. At other times you randomly use it as a tool of derision or as a descriptor for women who are sentimentally chained to their children.

My husband, on the other hand, is more concerned about your constant sexualization of young girls. I can suspend distaste and accept that in other cultures girls of 10-13 are fair game as wives and seen as "women" but at times it just became overkill. One starts to wonder, really, what's with all the barely adolescent adoration? And the rape, of god, the rape. So much rape. Just the ol' casual rape scene sandwiched between the descriptive child-sex, promiscuous lactating whores, and INCEST. SO MUCH INCEST.

George it really felt like, at times, you were trying to be the HBO of the fantasy world. Out-sex out-scandal. While apparently this appeals to a wide audience (of men?) it left me with the feeling that when things weren't political scheming, or endless descriptions of armor, you just threw in some awkward scandal to spice the dragging story up. If you can't move the story along just go for shock value. Some may admire that as brave and bold. It felt... juvenile. There's that word again. The scandal, the intrigue, the character's motivations, they all lacked the depth of adult life. There's revenge, politics, murder, and scandal but no love, never any love. Honor is not love, not that I think you know what honor means either. Game of Thrones is what I imagine 12 year old boys fantasize about knights and ladies and savagery and having sex with anything/everything at will.

I'm halfway through book two now, Clash of Kings, and I am either entirely apathetic or in complete loathing of 95% of the characters. I know it's supposed to be "deep" that you show both sides of the story from individual character's perspectives but the side effect of that is a lack of loyalty to any group of them beyond a passing concern for the Starks. You wrote strong characters that I have strong feelings about. Good for you. Unfortunately for me those feelings are primarily HATE. Is the desperate hope that they all get torn limb-from-limb enough reason to keep reading? Yes. And so in that way I suppose we can call it a success. Frankly I think the shock-tactics subject matter you've slipped in detracts from the story's strength and coyly covers for your dull writing.

For all the shit I just talked Game of Thrones was ok. I'm not sad I read it but it didn't blow my mind. It left me with a great number of questions about you, the bitch who broke your heart, and the fact that you may secretly be ten and have written a very manly soap opera. You're either a FA-REAK in the sack or want us to think you are.
I don't think I'm buying it.

But it's quite irrelevant because I'm going to keep reading.
So, yay!

Penned with a continuing mystified tolerance,
the grumbles
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