Art Kavanagh

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You win or you die?

In life there is no such thing as sex-and-violence; they are different … As a conscious choice, Game of Thrones gave into the idea that there is such a thing as sex-and-violence, and that is its biggest flaw.

That’s John Lanchester of the London Review of Books on the final season of Game of Thrones. Among other things, he says that Daenerys’s turn towards evil “made perfect sense” to him.

I just wanted to add that the burning of King’s Landing wasn’t a war crime—unless the seven kingdoms had previously agreed an equivalent to the Geneva Convention. In medieval and early modern Europe, it was widely accepted that the law of nations gave the conqueror power of life and death over the vanquished, which would include the noncombatant citizens of a besieged city. Daenerys’s decision to destroy the city and its occupants was brutal and appalling but neither insane nor irrational. If you’re going to accept a surrender, it’s prudent to make sure that the other side will stay surrendered and won’t take up arms again at the first opportunity. That can be difficult to guarantee, which is why it was common for a siege to end in carnage.

And I loved the fact that the biggest threat to the populace turned out not, after all, to be a vast and growing army of ice zombies but a power-hungry human with a weapon of mass destruction. That felt true, and satisfying.

I haven’t seen anyone comment on the fact (as I see it) that Tyrion won the “Game”. First he persuaded Jon to assassinate the dragon-lady, then he had his nominee (someone who shows no interest in ruling or, indeed, in what’s going on around him) accepted as king, and finally he himself took the role of Hand. Tyrion ends up as the power behind that place where the throne used to be.