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George R.R. Martin and the Characters of ASOIAF

Updated on March 25, 2013

George R. R. Martin is a famous multiple award-winning author of a few novels including 'Fever Dream' and 'Dying of the Light'. He also spent ten years of his life writing scripts for movies and television. Martin was a writer and a producer of a TV show 'Beauty and the Beast', and editor of the 'Twilight Zone'.

After this break, he started writing novels again. At this period he started working on his most successful work: 'A Song of Ice and Fire' book series, also known as ASOIAF.

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Why is ASOIAF so popular?

George R. R. Martin is considered one of the best fantasy writers ever. His most popular book is a serial ASOIAF. In this novels, that are not finished yet, and no one can tell for sure when it will be done, Martin uses some classical elements of fantasy books. Action takes place in a nonexistent world, where supernatural forces and events are mostly held in the medieval atmosphere, and the story revolves around the well known issue - fight between good and evil.

But there is one thing that Martin's novels have which separates him from other writers, and that's his characters. Motives that drive characters in 'A Song of Ice and Fire' are the same as those that drive modern humans. It is not just about big problems that people have in their little lives, it is also about the minor issues and deeds that are not even a bit heroic. George R. R. Martin's characters are usually motivated by money, love, vain, revenge... There are only a few who make their decisions because of the honor and honesty, and their fate is not pleasant.

This series starts with a novel 'A Game of Thrones', where the center of attention is occupied by two families: Baratheon and Stark. Robert Baratheon is a king of the 'seven kingdoms', the land that occupies very big part of Martin's world. Robert's best friend from youth is Ned Stark. Ned is Robert's vassal who is responsible for the northern part of the country.

For most of the kingdom, this two man represented only adequate political figures, so their fates were pretty much pre-determined, and not so fortunate. As a young boy, Robert Baratheon fell in love with Lyanna Stark, Ned's sister. Unfortunately, Lyanna tragically lost her life, and Robert had to marry someone else. Because of various political and financial reasons, king Robert married Cersei Lannister, a women from the richest family in the seven kingdoms. Robert and Cersei never loved each other, and that almost led to the destruction of the kingdom.

Ned Stark has also married for political reasons, but he and his wife, Catelyn Tully eventually fell in love. They lived happily ever after with the exception of one 'small' problem. Ned has had an illegitimate child with the unknown woman, and that child, Jon Snow, lived with him and his wife. Of course, Catelyn never went over it.

George R. R. Martin shows the behavior of his characters, and their reasons for such a behavior, in a realistic way and this is probably why he is so popular.



ASOIAF Characters

King Robert Baratheon

'They said Robert Baratheon was strong as a bull and fearless in battle, a man who loved nothing better than war.'

At the beginning of the book, we find out that King Robert came to the 'Iron throne' after a rebellion against the former king, Aerys Targaryen, also known as Aerys the Mad. Fifteen years after winning the throne, King Robert Baratheon is fat, tired and unhappy.

He is the person that was a great knight, but a terrible king. When he achieved his goal to overthrow a mad King, it seemed that he lost the purpose of his life. He allowed himself to become a puppet in he hands of his wife, her family and his counselor.

This is a crucial point in which Martin starts to create his epic story.

Cersei Lannister

'She never forgets a slight, real or imagined. She takes caution for cowardice and dissent for defiance. And she is greedy. Greedy for power, for honour, for love.'

Queen of seven kingdoms of Westeros is a very brilliant women in a lot of ways. She is beautiful, very rich and smart and she knows how to use anything and anyone to get what she wants. Her life is filled with hatred and resentment. When she was young she wanted to marry prince Rhaegar Targaryen, but her future husband, king Robert killed him in the battle.

Both Rhaegar and Robert were in love with Lyanna Stark. After Lyanna's death, nothing was left for Cersei, but to live her entire life in the shadow of the dead woman.

Her father, Lord Tywin Lannister was like an idol to her, but she never achieved to be respected by her father in a way she wanted to. Probably the only person that really loved Carsei was her twin brother, Jaime Lannister, the member of the Kingsguard, an elite group of knights, whose role is to be royal bodyguards.

Jaime Lannister

'There are no men like me. There's only me.'

Although his role was to protect the former king, Aerys Targaryen, Jaime did something unthinkable. He killed the Mad King, and switched to the Robert Bartheon's side when it became obvious that Aerys will lose the war.

Although people in Westeros didn't like the Mad King, they also didn't like the traitors. This is why Jaime Lannister earned the nickname The Kingslayer.

He spent years blindly believing in his sister and participating in her dirty games. But as the time passed, he found out that Carsei is not as loyal to him as he is to her. At this point of the story he met a woman-warrior, Brienne. In the beginning, they are enemies, but soon, Jamie will realize that he can still make amends for some of his sins.

Tyrion Lannister

'A small man with a big shadow, snarling in the midst of it all.'

Tyrion is the youngest child of Tywin Lannister. He is also known as The Imp, because of his look. He is a midget, and people don't like him and don't trust him. His only advantage is that he is very smart and capable to emerge from all kinds of problems.

Bad reputation of his family brings him nothing but resentment and mistrust. He is the least lovable child in his family. In George R. R. Martin's world of tangled intrigue, he is one of the few wise enough to survive.

Eddard (Ned) Stark

'If you would take a man's life, you owe it to him to look into his eyes and hear his final words. And if you can not do that, then perhaps the men does not deserve to die.'

Ned is the head of the Stark family and Warden of the North in seven kingdoms. He helped Robert Baratheon to claim the Iron throne, after Targaryens killed his father, brother and sister.

He grew up with king Robert, and as his friend he got an offer to became a Hand of the king, but his wife begged him not to accept this offer. Life near the throne can be dangerous, and Ned is a simple man who cares for honor and honesty and as such, he isn't the best kind of person to participate in the Game of Thrones.

Ned has five children with his wife Catelyn Tully, and one "bastard" child, whose mother is unknown. Catelyn is a good wife, who cares for her husband very much, but she finds difficult to live with her husband's illegitimate son. All the members of the Stark family are raised to be a honorable persons and to fight for their ideals.

As I said, Ned and Catelyn have five children. Robb Stark is their oldest child, and he is supposed to succeed his father's position on the north. Sansa is their oldest daughter, and she is supposed to marry prince Joffrey Baratheon. Arya is a younger daughter that doesn't want to become a lady but a knight. And Brandon is still a young boy who wants to be like his older cousins. There is also Rickon, who is just a kid in the beginning of the book.

Jon Snow

'Let me give you some counsel, bastard. Never forget what you are, for surely the world will not. Make it your strength. Then it can never be your weakness. Armor yourself in it, and it will never be used to hurt you.'

For the reasons of his unusual birth and growing up, Jon Snow had a difficult life. His half-brothers are nice to him and accept him as their brother, but he has to live with the last name Snow.

On the north, any bastard child bears the name 'Snow'. It doesn't matter if Jon is a son of Ned Stark, he also has this name. At the age of fourteen, he realized that his life will be much different than his siblings', so he wants to find the way to make his own destiny.

Jon decided to join the Night's Watch. This is a military organization that keeps the Wall, the northern border of Westeros. This order survived 8,000 years, and during that time, a lot of great people were it's members. But the rules of this order are very strict. It's membership lasts a lifetime and desertion is punished by death. Members can't marry, own any land or have a child. Because of that, there are not many people that want to be a member of the Night's Watch, so today there are only offenders that go to the Wall in order to avoid a death sentence.

This is a company that Jon Snow chose for himself, and the faith that he will never be able to change.


Conclusion

George R. R. Martin gives us an opportunity to see any situation from a variety of angles because he writes every of his chapters from the point of view of one particular person. Watching his characters in this way, we can find a lot of anti-hero characteristics in all of them. He doesn't let us admire them or hate them.

We are in a situation to think like them, and realize that even someone's deeds look very bad, because man sometimes just doesn't have a choice.

A TV series by ASOIAF

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