Fair warning, spoilers abound
George RR Martin is a pervert.
And I don’t mean that in the “makes the occasional dick joke” sense but rather in the “creepy old fat guy who can’t stop ogling the waitresses tits” sense.
Maybe it’s my middle class, suburbanite upbringing showing through but lingering descriptions of a 13 year old girls sex life are just out of place. He can’t mention Daenerys without talking about her breasts being perky or her vagina getting perfumed or her longing for her husbands dick… even on his funeral pyre. In fact, that scene alone contains more references to Daenerys getting naked and her glistening boobies than it does to the fire that causes it. And shes barely 14 at that point! As for the pretty vivid description of her wedding night? Count me out.
I understand that in a lot of cultures (and even in our own sometimes) young women of Daenerys’ age are married off and 13-14 is considered a girls coming of age and blah blah blah. In Martins world, a kid in their mid teens is pretty much treated like an adult so I guess I should get over it. But I can’t. Especially when it doesn’t even drive the story forward. It’s not necessary that she be naked. It’s not necessary that we know the intimate details. But Martin not only tells us these things but seems to truly relish it.
In fact, Martins tendency to treat his younger characters as full fledged adults mars his otherwise amazing work. It just requires way too much suspension of disbelief. If he didn’t explicitly state each characters age, I’d have no clue that any of them were younger than 18 or 20. Even 9 year old Arya possesses an understanding of the world and motives that far exceed her decade of existence.
You’ll never convince me that Jaime Lannister won a tournament melee as a preteen against seasoned knights and warriors. I don’t care how martially skilled he is, he just wouldn’t have possessed the power or size. And then you want me to believe that over a decade (and many wars and tournaments) later, he got outwitted by a 15 year old with no battle experience… using a trick Bugs Bunny would have considered too obvious.
I just can’t buy it.
But if I don’t think about it, if I allow myself to forget that these kids are kids and think of them as adults, I can really love this work. Holy good lord, it is intriguing. All the characters are fully realized, even the small ones. Very few characters are clearly “good” or “evil”. Even the clear “good guys” have very serious flaws that make you wonder if you’re supposed to be sympathizing with them.
And the history. My god. Martin skillfully slow rolls the back story, never telling everything outright or in chronological order, but merely revealing little bits and glimpses through various mouthpieces. It’s written in a way that almost expects you to be familiar with these details, as if it’s just reminding you. In doing so, it only elevates your level of curiosity. I found myself theorizing lineages, drawing family trees and historical timelines and trying to recreate battles and wars.
Martin is nowhere near the lyrical master that Tolkien was but his book possesses every bit as much scope and depth, if not more. It’s engaging, it’s demanding and I was truly sad that it was over and as you read this, I will have purchased the next volume.
I just hope he keeps the kiddie porn to a minimum this time.