One fact that HBO’s fantasy series ‘The Game of Thrones’ has very well established is that, ‘All men must die,’ or as they say it, ‘Valar Morghulis’. As opposed to the conventional storyline of the hero eventually emerging as a winner and living happily-ever-after, it was made clear from the very beginning of the show, when Ned Stark was brutally killed, that death in GOT is inevitable for all, even the good guys.
And it has been the same throughout the seaons. Just when you begin to develop an emotional connect with a character, they’re unexpectedly killed in the most gruesome way, leaving you shocked! It’s just safe to say that death is the central theme of GOT.
But why? Why must all men die?
Well, the author of the celebrated series has finally spoken about the countless deaths on the show.
None of us will disagree that everyone is equally vulnerable to death, but we still prefer stories in which threat to the main characters’ life is not an option. Well if that’s the case, then George RR Martin is NOT the author you should read. Because he clearly does not believe in beguiling the readers by telling them that the hero is immortal.
According to him, the stories where only extras die are ‘such a cheat’. In an interview given to a science fiction magazine, George said:
“You can’t write about war and violence without having death. If you want to be honest, it should affect your main characters.”
Putting it out even more clearly, he tells it with an elaborate example. He says:
“We’ve all read this story a million times when a bunch of heroes set out on an adventure and it’s the hero and his best friend and his girlfriend and they go through amazing hair-raising adventures and none of them die. The only ones who die are extras. That’s such a cheat. It doesn’t happen that way. They go into battle and their best friend dies or they get horribly wounded. They lose their leg or death comes at them unexpectedly.”
Martin believes that it’s a writer’s duty to convey truth to his readers. “A writer, even a fantasy writer, has an obligation to tell the truth and the truth is, as we say in Game of Thrones, all men must die”, he says.
It’s probably the honesty to weigh every character’s life equally that makes him the outstanding author that he is. He says, “Once you’ve accepted that you have to include death, then you should be honest and indicate it can strike down anybody at any time. You don’t get to live forever just because you are a cute kid or the hero’s best friend or the hero. Sometimes the hero dies, at least in my books.”
“I love all my characters so it’s always hard to kill them but I know it has to be done. I tend to think I don’t kill them. The other characters kill ’em. I shift off all blame from myself,” he adds.
More deaths to come then!