I’m nearing the end of Series 1 of Game of Thrones now and I am gripped. I was pretty into it before, but now it’s grabbed me and won’t let go.
There’s the obvious reason why things have got so exciting – Eddard Stark languishes in prison and his daughters are fighting, in different ways, for their lives. Sansa is trying her best to play the political game, to work out what is required of her to save her father. Arya, like her father, has refused to submit. There’s an amazing scene when the King’s men come to get her, and her fencing tutor refuses to let them take her.
It’s not just the action that makes GOT so memorable. It’s the courage of the characters and the way their belief in their values is so important to them. The fencing scene is a brilliant example of the bravery and sacrifice that are prevalent in the series. I think that is why the series is so popular – we love it when people are brave. It appeals to us that people will sacrifice their own selves for the greater good, for what they believe in.
Why is it that we love bravery, but that bravery is so difficult in real life?
One of the settings I love in GOT is The Wall, situated at the northernmost part of the North. There’s a real sense of men coming together and looking after each other in an otherwise very bleak setting. Now, I’d love to say that I was like Jon Stark – emerging from a privileged but unwanted upbringing, to lead men through bravery and intelligence. In real life, I think I’m more like Jon’s sidekick, Samwell Tarly – well meaning , bookish, awkward, unco-ordinated – and by his own admission, a coward.
Due to my upbringing, I instinctively find anger and conflict very difficult to deal with. I’ve found ways round it, by depersonalising things, by bringing out stock phrases. But my heart still beats fast when the prospect of conflict approaches, and even sometimes when I disagree with someone and am trying to express it.
I do like a good exchange of views, and conflict is just a variation on this. I find one of the problems to be that when an issue really matters to me, it’s difficult sometimes not to feel emotional about it. I guess I feel threatened. Feeling threatened is what takes some people the opposite way from me, into the place where people get aggressive or violent in conflict.
I would like to be brave like Tyrion Lanister, who never fears to say what he thinks, but whose size means that he has to fight with his brain rather than his fists. Since being captured by Catelyn Stark, Tyrion has bribed a grunting prison guard into letting him out of his cell, charmed a knight into being his Champion, thus winning his way to freedom, and negotiated his way out of a sticky situation with an angry clan. Using his approach, being confident and not flinching is doubly important!