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‘A Game of Thrones’ without Dragons?

Game-of-Thrones-4 (Medium)Imagine if the gift of A Song of Ice & Fire was never given to the fantasy genre. Yes, it was, but humour me for a minute… In my eyes, George R.R. Martin has to be thanked extensively for this contribution to the current state of fantasy. Think about it: would we be seeing the current stream of ‘gritty’ works without him? Would the Abercrombies, the Lynchs, the Lawrences be around and as popular today without his massive sales figures giving publishers and writers the proof that there was demand for those with the right skill set? I honestly don’t think there would be, at least not anywhere near the extent there are today. Martin’s work has opened a lot of eyes as to what fantasy ‘can’ be, inspired new writers to push boundaries and forced a lot of existing writers to up their game and take some risks.

Scarily enough though, George R.R. Martin recently told the Rolling Stone magazine that A Song of Ice & Fire was almost a Historical Fiction without the awesome dragons and magics that we’ve come to love. George has spoken before about how the series is based extensively on the politics and cut-throat nature of the War of the Roses, but to hear him say “I did consider at a very early stage – going all the way back to 1991 – whether to include overt fantasy elements, and at one point thought of writing a Wars of the Roses novel” really drives this point home. Apparently it was the fact that George “wanted to make it more unexpected, bring in some more twists and turns” that had him include the fantastical, because “If you know anything about the Wars of the Roses, you know that the princes in the tower aren’t going to escape.”

Even when Martin decided to include some fantasy elements though, he still wasn’t entirely sure about using Dragons:

“The main question was the dragons: Do I include dragons? I knew I wanted to have the Targaryens have their symbol be the dragons; the Lannisters have the lions, the Starks have the wolves. Should these things be literal here? Should the Targaryens actually have dragons? I was discussing this with a friend, writer Phyllis Eisenstein – I dedicated the third book to her – and she said, “George, it’s a fantasy – you’ve got to put in the dragons.” She convinced me, and it was the right decision. Now that I’m deep into it, I can’t imagine the book without the dragons.”

I know its only a minor insight into the early workings of the series, but it has me wondering: what would have happened should Martin have decided ‘no, dragons are too much’ or if Phyllis Eisenstein had said ‘Dragons… Pfft! Do you really want your work compared to The Hobbit?’ These kinds of questions always interest me. Would fantasy be following a different path without Martin? Would A Game of Thrones be as popular as it is today within the Historical Fiction genre? What do you guys think?

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3 Comments

  1. Avatar Kyle Haines says:

    From my own interpretation of how the fantasy aspect of the series is possibly headed, the dragons are critically important. Essentially they are the F in ASOIAF. The whole dynamic of the Others & how their return has been orchestrated seems to be centred around destroying the Dragons (Doom of Valyria, defeat of the Targaryens etc.).

    I suppose the whole thing could work if it was played out as a pseudo historical fiction (set in an alternate world where there used be magic/dragons etc but now they’re all extinct) or it could implicitly be one of Martin’s Thousand Worlds/Man Realm that has been isolated for so long it’s reverted to a medieval culture & the link to earth has been lost over time (ala Windhaven or Lord of Light) and all the “magic” in the past is just a misunderstanding of advanced technology.

  2. Avatar Samuel S. B. says:

    It is a good thing and in my opinion dragons and other fantasy elements can be in a story as long as they are not the central characters…

  3. Avatar dee says:

    love game of thrones ,love the dragons, love the cast as is

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