The first novel that was assigned in my Contemporary SF and Fantasy course was A Game of Thrones: Songs of Fire and Ice. I was really excited that this book was on our reading list, not only because it’s been on my to-read shelf for far too long, but because I’ve heard wonderful reviews about it from writers, as well as readers, and my curiosity was definitely peaked. I’m happy to say that my expectations were more than met and that I think this novel has and will play a pivotal point in my career as an author. George R.R. Martin, all I can say is well done (and that’s because I’m speechless).
I write horror (and I love it), but I respect the HELL out of Fantasy and when I’m not reading about ghosts and demons, I’m reading about magic and faraway lands. Exquisite Corpse by Poppy Z. Brite may have been the book that turned me on to the horror genre, but J.K. Rowling and Harry Potter made me a writer. I think it takes a wonderfully talented individual to build a world that makes me want to believe it’s real and out there and Martin did that. I want to go to Winterfell. I want to ride with the Dothraki, party with the Imp, and hold Valyrian steel in my hands. I want to sleep next to a dragon egg, walk across the wall, and play with a direwolf. But more than anything, I want to read the second book. Soon.
There are so many aspects of this novel that I would love to go into detail with such as world building, micro- tension, multiple point-of-views, etc., but one character stole my interest. Not young Bran, nor Arya (although I did love her spunky kiss-my-ass attitude), or Sansa (I hope someone spikes her), nor Tyrion (my second favorite), but none other than Daenerys. When I landed on her chapter, I felt as if I had to take my time with it. Like a lover, she demanded my attention and I refused to focus on anything else but her.
To me, Daenerys was an especially fascinating character study because she is what I want my character to be. Daenerys may have had the blood of the dragon in her, but in the beginning of the novel, she was a quiet, timid girl that I had no respect for her. She let her brother Viserys abuse her and belittle her. She took his words as daggers and let him sell her off to the Dothraki without so much as a fight. And why? So he could rule as the rightful heir, not her. But the day she married Khal Drogo and became his Khaleesi, I watched her carefully as she grew into a Queen…and start acting like one. The quiet girl that feared her brother’s wrath, that couldn’t stand up for herself, that cried the first time she was taken was gone. In her place was a woman who accepted the seed of the Dothraki, ate the heart of a stallion to keep her son strong, and used her voice to stand up to Viserys. She sent men to their death, saved women from rape, and danced in the dark with Maegi. She fell in love, mourned for the dead, and gave birth to dragons. Daenerys is strong female character that fought and earned every ounce of my respect, and blood of my blood, sun of my stars, moon of my life… she deserves it.
So how does this reflect upon my character? Well, anyone that has read my manuscript, including myself (countless times) can and will tell you that my main character is very unlikeable. At first, I thought this was a huge problem (and I’m not saying it isn’t), but Daenerys was as well and she grew into a strong female of worth. She showed her weakness and embraced it with her head hung down in shame, but she grew into a warrior and growing is the main transgression that has a character as to make. Martin proved that you can create a character that is unlikeable in the beginning, only to have you lay down your sword for them in the end. It’s a difficult dance but he’s proved to me that it can be done and I’ve made countless notes and flagged paragraphs upon paragraphs on how he did it. I’m not saying that it will work, but I have some pretty good ideas on how to shape Rhea’s character growth. All I needed was a dose of fantasy, the howl of a direwolf, and the screams of the Dothraki to get me going.
Plus, a little dragon’s breath never hurt anyone….much.