Plenty of newcomers to the Red Wedding have suggested that Martin is just a sadist himself, that he “has issues” or is some sort of psychotic bastard, twisting the knife in his viewers for his own sick reasons, and that they’re better off getting away before he can emotionally hurt them further. But I’ll let you in on a secret about him, one that suggests viewers should stick by the series to the end.
I have a long-brewing theory that Martin is the world’s most cynical romantic. I’ve never yet read a Martin novel or story that ended in utter despair for any character who hadn’t thoroughly earned it—and I’ve read him extensively, from his 1977 debut novel, Dying Of The Light, to his many short-story collections and the entire Song Of Ice And Fire series. His work has always embraced bleakness, loneliness, and hardship, with tough-minded people muddling through traumas that perpetually threaten to break them. His protagonists rarely get exactly what they want; often, they can consider themselves lucky if they become wise enough to realize they wanted the wrong thing. His characters often make hard, ugly choices to survive, but those choices make them stronger and fiercer, and more capable of protecting themselves from the hatefulness of the predatory worlds they live in.
Martin’s cynical side can be overpowering: Characters who start his stories with naïve faith in honor, loyalty, or love—especially their own one-sided, demanding love, as opposed to a mutual bond—are commonly punished for their beliefs. But his romantic side holds just as steady, with the most steadfast and worthy characters prevailing. As I put it in that Gateways, “For a man whose writing is so often ruthless and uncompromising, he has a hell of a sentimental streak when it comes to questions of injustice, honor, nobility, personal dignity against long odds, and wrongs that need to be righted at any cost.”
I’ve said this over and over when writing about Martin’s work. What he does better than any author I’ve ever encountered—what defines his writing for me—is his masterful skill at exploiting the tension between the desire for justice and the availability of that justice. But that doesn’t mean there is no justice, just that it’s always hard-won and thoroughly earned. Robb and Catelyn’s grotesque ends complicate the search for justice considerably, and move it far into the future. But it doesn’t make the quest impossible. It just means it’ll be that much sweeter and that much more satisfying when it finally arrives.
Tasha Robinson, The A. V. Club (via lesserjoke)
Worth a reblog just for the shippers amongst us. And because this feeds the muse, who’s been going hungry lately.
(Source: The A.V. Club, via waverlyrowan)