For us here at Northern Illinois University, winter has already come. Winter here is full of freezing winds, treacherous walks to Watson Hall, and 100’s of pages of reading and writing a week. For the Game of Thrones universe, with winter comes snow a hundred feet deep followed by famine, devastation, and the White Walkers from beyond the wall. In the episode “Lord Snow”, Old Nan, a retired servant of House Stark, urges a newly crippled Bran Stark to fear the coming winter. She tells him the tale of the long night, 1,000 years earlier, where “in that darkness, the White Walkers came for the first time. They swept through cities and kingdoms, riding their dead horses, hunting with their packs of pale spiders as big as hounds…” In comparison, I’m awfully glad that I can watch their winter unfold on my television screen while wrapped in a blanket snuggling with my cat, Booty.
While I have seen every episode of HBO’s hit series Game of Thrones at least one time through, I am beyond excited to share the experience of critically examining the series with Professor Chown, my classmates, and ultimately, you, my fellow Game of Thrones scholar. Being my second time through the series, I have a good base of knowledge of the series, but am looking forward to exploring the finer details that I, inevitably, have missed the first time through. For instance, in watching the very first episode, “Winter is Coming” again, I was able to capture the symbolism of the rotting stag and the dire wolf stabbed by the stag’s horns.
One of the greatest things about being a fan of the Game of Thrones series is how it has become such a collective experience for so many others and myself. Every April since 2011, we re-enter that world together. We weep together when our favorite characters die and we cheer together when our most hated finally get what they deserve.
This series has provided me with so many memories. I can still remember watching the Red Wedding with my brother Brad, an avid reader of the George R.R. Martin series, who knew what would unfold before I did and had waited weeks for its arrival. I remember being at the 2015 Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival watching the final episode of Season 5, “Mother’s Mercy” live with a thousand or so people from across the world. I even remember avoiding social media like the plague when I happened to miss the season 4 episode, “The Lion and the Rose” due to work. Like my other favorite fantasy world of Harry Potter, Game of Thrones has completely consumed its fans into its universe.
This consumption is made easier because the Game of Thrones universe exists as a transmedia narrative, “which is understood as a mode of storytelling which involves different media in the telling of one more or less coherent storyworld” (Bracker, 187). The Game of Thrones universe began with the original novels and has been expanded through the television series, countless websites, various games, etc.
Although Game of Thrones is completely fictional, the story is developed around so many universal themes that can be paralleled to our non-fictional world (i.e. social hierarchy, religion, civil war, corruption, sexual violence, etc.) These themes are important on the individual level and the societal level. Exploring such themes can help us create new discourse on many current issues. The Iron Blog of Braavos will explore theses themes, as well as, introduce interesting factoids and personal anecdotes along the way. Hope you enjoy the journey as much as I will.
Bracker, Jacobus. “Game of Thrones – Game of Meanings: Transmedia Construction of Narrative Meaning and the Life of the Moving Image.” Cyborgian Images: The Moving Image between Apparatus and Body. Eds. Lars C. Grabbe, Patrick Rupert-Kruse, Norbert M. Schmitz. Darmstadt, Germany: Buchner-Verlag eG, 2015. 186-201. Print.
“Lord Snow.” Game of Thrones. HBO. 1 May 2011. Television.