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Game Of Thrones: Ice Wind And Fire

3010 words - 13 pages

One would be hard-pressed to find a more popular cultural phenomenon than George R.R Martin’s epic fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire and HBO’s derivative television series Game of Thrones. Between these two media sources, the fantasy epic has spawned a massive fan base. An estimate of 17 million books of the series have been sold around the world, while the most recent episode of the HBO series had 5.4 million TV views, in addition to the estimated one million people viewing it illicitly within twenty-four hours of the first airing11. With such immense popularity in the Western world, whatever emotional connection the fans of the phenomenon have to the epic must represent a wider collective social ethos. Noticeably, the books -with the first volumes being released by November 2000- only gained popularity in the post-9/11 era. The epic is known for its motifs of the application of valar morghulis and the White Walkers- the idea that “All men must die” and an impending zombie doomsday event, respectively. If one were to couple these two observations, one might propose an intrinsic link between post-9/11 emotional tensions and the reasons for the fantasy epic’s recent gain in popularity. One such proposal that will be examined is the idea that the people of the West are collectively suffering from Post-Tramautic Stress Disorder originating from witnessing the events of terrorism on 9/11 so much that they seek to connect with pop culture media that projects their fears and realizations. A Song of Ice and Fire and Game of Thrones are these projections, for the application of valar morghulis fulfills the people’s realization of their own mortality as well as the recognition of the mortality of everyone around them, and the constant hinting at the White Walkers fulfills the fear of an impending apocalypse, and an end to all order and life as we know it.
In A Song of Ice and Fire, valar morghulis is first introduced in A Clash of Kings, the second installment in the series. It is presented by an assassin to a pre-teen girl who already recites a “prayer” every night of those she wants killed10. It is not until the reader reaches third book, A Storm of Swords, where they learn the translation of the term is “All men must die” and themselves realize the ramifications of the phrase in the prior books. The list of dead characters in the series spans all ages and types of people. In the first chapter, two men are slaughtered by the White Walkers, and in the next chapter, a third character is executed and there is an attempted murder on a boy of the age of 99. In the first book alone, the plot is driven by the mysterious circumstances of the last steward’s death, and the latter half of the book is consumed with major amounts of death: the death of the king, the execution of the main protagonist and the slaughter of all of his men, the murder of an old nun, the execution of a butcher’s son, the stabbing of another boy at the hands of the aforementioned...

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