It took me awhile to get my hands on George R. R. Martin’s newest in the Song of Ice and Fire series, A Dance with Dragons. I prefer the feel of paperback books and am loathe to add a hardcover to an already existing paperback collection—a small taste of my book collection OCD. So, happily I prodded T’s dad to “read faster” the copy he got for Christmas and that as of a week ago, finally fell into my open arms. It’s great, but I’ll get to that.
First things first, George. I’m still a little peeved over the five-year gap. Five years! I could have given birth and sent a child off to school by now! Five years! That’s a long time to keep me waiting, if you were anyone else I would have moved on by now, to greener pastures, other epic fantasy series. But no, you managed to keep me hanging on. Most notably with the overwhelmingly brilliant HBO adaptation. The casting! Boromir! Arya! God I hate Cersei. How did you do that? With a strong hand and faithful fans? Perhaps it was the network, just think, you could have fallen into The Walking Dead problem and then where would we be? Rooting for zombies and hoping all the characters would die off, I imagine. So who cares that the CGI needs work, this is the most exciting show on television.
Now, moving into the second season it really is becoming clear how great Game of Thrones is. Working from this series must be insanely challenging in the writing room, every little thing matters, how can we cram the most important stuff in without sacrificing any of the action? Plus, we need that gratuitous sex! Take a minute to peruse the A Song of Ice and Fire wiki and you will get a sense of just how invested the fans are. The lore and theories postulated are weeks of procrastination fodder. Who is Jon Snow? I mean, really.
Let’s be honest, It’s been five years, George. I couldn’t remember what had happened between the end of the first book (thank you HBO) and the beginning of the new one, not to mention the forward that explained that A Dance with Dragons would be taking place on the same timeline as A Feast for Crows, except for, you know, when it didn’t. Could you be more confusing? Then you had to throw in your clever “mystery character” chapter headings, as if we weren’t going to figure it out. This isn’t the Game of Chapters, George. But, once I got over those minor annoyances I was fully rewarded for my patience—the return of Tyrion!
The only thing better than Tyrion Lannister the character is Tyrion Lannister played by Peter Dinklage and now (thank you HBO) I have a face to put to the name. Some shitty critics have worried about Ned Stark being killed off and who will replace the “hero” of the series. You know nothing, Neil Genzlinger. Anyone with half a nose can smell out the star here and he’s no uppity martyr like Ned. Tyrion Lannister is the real hero of the series (and the show) and here’s why:
-He’s a dwarf. Many great heroes (literary and of the screen) are marked as “other” in some way, in this series, Tyrion’s dwarfism is constantly beat about your head—he’s called a string of derogatory terms “imp” being the most popular, belittled, and looked at as a monster by his family. And yet, he is consistently underestimated. His small stature aside, there is no bigger man than him—the craftiest, smartest, with the biggest heart. He can talk his way out of any situation, match wits with the most conniving of characters, out drink the drunkards, and manage to care for other characters despite their trappings—possibly the only character in the series that looks beyond the political/class/history/appearance to the person underneath.
-He’s morally ambiguous. A true hero is a real human being, or so College (from the movie Drive) would have us believe, and Tyrion is always loyal to himself first, and in a world of duty-bound characters, it is always refreshing how he never cock-blocks the plot with the inner monologue over “what’s right”. By being a somewhat selfish character, he stays loyal to us, the reader, while still somehow (secretly) doing what’s best for Westeros.
-He’s deadly with a crossbow. That, and, will avenge your honour, even if you’re a whore and by all other accounts, have none.
-He’s hilarious. Especially when stuck next to the bland and humourless characters that surround him. Don’t they smile at the wall, Jon? Gifted with the best lines, and arguably the best narrative, it’s pretty obvious that George writes for him.
-He doesn’t want to rule. So he just does.
-He’s sexy. This one’s pretty subjective but if you had a few of the dirty dreams I’ve been having lately, you would agree.
A Dance with Dragons doesn’t have nearly enough Tyrion, but I probably wouldn’t be fully satisfied unless it was all told from his perspective. What it does have is richer than all the gold at Casterly Rock; a trip in a wine barrel, befriending a jousting dwarf-girl, the discovery and team up of a certain beloved Mormont, chess-like tournament pwnage, slaves and dragons and sellswords, you know, the usual. I’d hate to give too much away, but the plot thickens and the action builds… a lot is going to happen in The Winds of Winter.
And if all else fails, there is one thing we know for sure… Damn it feels good to be a Lannister.
Well, unless you’re Cersei… or Jaime… or Tywin… or really any other Lannister…