David Benioff: Game of Thrones’ Other Great Novelist

by Rachel Baker on May 24, 2015

Last night, I watched the last episode of Game of Thrones. As a woman, I hated the Sansa rape scene at the end. As someone who tries to understand the small nuances of an epic story, I found it truly fascinating and couldn’t help but wonder what took so long. Sansa has been incredibly lucky thus far, given how tumultuous her married life has been. By my count, Arya really is the only girl/woman still alive from the first season who hasn’t been raped yet. If you wanted to get technical, you could add Cersei, but I suspect her rape has always been implied and happened at a young age.

So, why do I bring this up?

In this day and age, when we have the ability to band together in sisterhood against rape and rape culture, I can’t help but wonder why the writers of Game of Thrones are making the decision to not skirt around the topic, but go right for all the gruesome, painful imagery of having your clothing ripped, while someone is beating the shit out of whatever innocence you might have left, while others watch and do nothing. Every time they do this, its a risk which might result in a loss of a large part of their audience.

…and yet, we talk about it and talk about, and talk about…and tune in next week. Great job, GOT writers! Seriously, not being snarky. The writers have achieved the same thing with marriages in Game of Thrones. They have managed to take situations and moments in people’s lives that should be lovely, and turn them into pure horror. Imagine: murder on your wedding day, or rape on your wedding night, imagine being sold for marriage and then raped. And let’s be honest, the patriarch in GOT isn’t the only group of questionable characters. Will anyone be surprised when Sansa turns as diabolical as Cersei or Danearys finds she actually might just want to be married with children rather than living with the pressures of being a single Mother of Dragons? And then there’s Arya – we have yet to really begin to understand her fate, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it too involved being raped. I can’t help but wonder what the outrage will be, and if it will even matter. I, frankly, think the outrage of the main character rapes but not the minor character treatments is the discussion people should be having. I also don’t understand why there hasn’t been similar outrage about the treatment of Theon Greyjoy, which frankly seems to be the worst in the whole story. …and yet we tune in every week and watch.

Due to the graphic nature of the rape scene with Danearys, I was curious about the gender demographics of the writers. There have been few women writers on the staff of this show, and if I remember correctly, the was just one main woman writer in season two and three. When you recognize this, you can’t help but go back and look at what was written in seasons two and three, and try to figure out where the woman’s perspective came vs the other seasons. The writing and adaptation of this series from the books has been an interesting process to watch and will only get more intriguing for season six when the writing will be based on outlines for future books and not already published books.

Since the next seasons will have to be based on outlines and not already written manuscripts, I couldn’t help but want to see the creds of the creative minds behind HBO’s GOT. The Daily Beast posted the article below just this morning about David Benioff, one of the chied creative powers behind GOT.

Apparently, he’s worthy of his own accolades as a novelist. I was so intrigued, I bought his book, City of Thieves, this morning before sitting down to write this. I plan to spend today reading the book and hopefully get a glimpse of what makes HBOs GOT so special.

Here’s the article:Game of Thrones’s Other Great Novelist

So why bring up City of Thieves at all? At the risk of singling out David Benioff’s best book as an emblem of what makes genuine literature more lasting than even a show as excellent as Game of Thrones (its first two seasons, anyway—then it started to stagger a bit), I’d argue that reading City of Thieves is a deeper, more satisfying experience than watching the HBO series. Anyone who’s never heard of the book should find it, and read it. Now.

The story Benioff tells in City of Thieves is relatively simple. In fact, it has the lineaments of a fable, and the author keeps his writing as understated (and, frequently, as unsettling) as a tale by the Brothers Grimm. The gist: During the barbarous, two-and-a-half-year Nazi siege of Leningrad, a Soviet colonel sends a Russian teen named Lev Beniov and a roguish Red Army deserter named Kolya on a mission: find a dozen eggs for the colonel’s daughter’s wedding cake.

This article was written by: Rachel Baker – Click to follow on Twitter; or you can follow her at The Crafty Veteran on Bloglovin

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