Monday, May 18, 2009

Searching for heroes, Part 1

I recently went back to reading the Song of Ice and Fire series by George R.R. Martin. I read the first two books a few months ago, but never found the time to continue until now. If you know the story then I don't need to sum it up for you. If you don't know the story then the only way to describe it is this: pure chaos. It doesn't follow the structure of a quest. Instead it gives you several kingdoms in trouble, with madness and evil being the order of the day.

Joseph Campbell said a hero had a thousand faces, which is why you have Achilles and Odysseus, Aragorn and Sam Gamgee, the Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion.

I just finished Book 3 of Martin's series, and I'm wondering if I know every one of those thousand faces. Martin's characters die so suddenly (not to mention unfairly and unheroically) that it's difficult to know who to cheer for. My gut tells me that Jon Snow is one of the eventual heroes (maybe THE hero, if this series has one), but honesty and honour got Ned Stark beheaded, so what do I know? Davos Seaworth is another good man. I wish him well, but I doubt his choice of kings. Two and a half books ago I wouldn't have believed I could cheer for Jamie Lannister and Sandor Clegane, but that's what I'm doing. I'm firmly in the Tyrion Lannister camp, and Arya Stark is my favourite female character.

To recap: I'm cheering oathbreakers, murderers, kingslayers, kinslayers, smugglers, and at least one guy guilty of a lot of incest. How messed up is that?

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