John Lanchester, author of Capital, reviewed A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin and HBO’s Game of Thrones last month in the London Review of Books. Good to see that journal of literary and intellectual essays give fantasy novels their due. The article is here. If you have not read the first three volumes or started watching Season 3, DO NOT READ IT. (But you will, won’t you hahahahaaa.)
Everyone is addicted, and everyone reports the same moment as being the one that got them hooked…The king and his entourage take up residence at Winterfell, ancestral home of the Starks. We see much of their antics from the perspective of Bran Stark, second-youngest son of Eddard, a likeable, lively eight-year-old boy. Bran’s hobby is climbing all over the huge high rambling castle of Winterfell, something he does with an enthusiasm which would be reckless if it weren’t for his complete confidence that he will never fall. In the course of one of his climbs, he hears adult voices through a high window, goes to investigate, and comes across Jaime and Cersei energetically engaged in (to use a neologism popular with fans) twincest. They catch him catching them at it, and Jaime grabs Bran. The two twins look at each other. ‘The things I do for love,’ says Jaime – and throws the boy out the window.
That startling moment is where the first programme in the TV series ends, and it’s the point at which people realise they’re addicted.
Also, its strongest characters are women. Catelyn, Cersei, Daenerys, Arya, Brienne, Margaery, Olenna Tyrell, even Sansa has learned how to live in that world.