It’s a name that you either love or hate, but it is a name that you’ll recognize.
George R.R. Martin
This isn’t about Game of Thrones, at least not directly. If you want my thoughts on the series itself, feel free to click here. What I’ve been thinking a lot about is how Game of Thrones has changed the world of fantasy.
I’d argue (and plenty may disagree with me) that Game of Thrones has been a great asset to fantasy as a whole. It’s certainly not without drawbacks – but I think that when you consider everything, it’s a gain for the genre.
First, Game of Thrones introduced gritty, complex, dark, character-driven fantasy to the masses. George R.R. Martin certainly didn’t invent dark and gritty fantasy, but he is the person who brought it into the mainstream, more so than any author before him. He made it possible for people to write fantasy where not everything ends well and still be commercially successful. This is entirely speculative, but I don’t think the Nightblade series would have done nearly as well if Game of Thrones hadn’t come first.
Second, I believe that Game of Thrones really challenged what people consider fantasy to be. Again, it’s not that George R.R. Martin invented any of this, but the series does mark the first time these concepts became mainstream. I think for me a great example of this is how magic is largely relegated to the background (especially earlier in the series). You ask most people to think of fantasy and they think elves and wizards and trolls. Martin got rid of all of that and created a complex world that could almost, almost be our own medieval world. He showed the world how wide of a genre fantasy could be.
Third, and by far the most important in my book, is that Game of Thrones has taken fantasy mainstream. Unlike many best-selling fantasy series (Harry Potter), these are adult books that have been wildly successful. Game of Thrones is a cultural touchstone, and it has drawn tens of thousands (at the least) readers and viewers into the world of fantasy like never before. There’s plenty to say that is both good and bad about Game of Thrones, but everyone is talking about it, and everyone knows it.
I am glad for Game of Thrones. While it’s author (and even the stories themselves) have what many consider to be terrible flaws, I believe it has changed the genre for the better, and for that I’m thankful.
Until we meet again, keep reading,