25 Years on, a Mixed Legacy for A Game of Thrones

Nicholas Pompella in Nationsl Review:

This month, A Game of Thrones by acclaimed fantasy author George R. R. Martin turns 25. While Martin’s book series — collectively titled A Song of Ice and Fire — is inseparable from the more popular HBO adaptation, the books were what originally spurred a massive tonal shift in fantasy literature that the show simply imitated. While HBO created what may be modernity’s last instance of shared popular culture (nothing will reach Sopranos-like ratings ever again, as the later seasons of Game of Thrones managed), much of the show’s best stuff was lifted straight from the books. The characters lost within political labyrinths, often of their own making; the sense of mystery and impending doom that lingers over the Night King and his army of White Walkers; even the racy, sex-crazed parts of the show (artifacts from the last years in which Americans could be scandalized by media) — all are present in Martin’s original.

The character of Tyrion Lannister provides one of the most compelling examples of this “one-for-one” quality between the book and the show. Tyrion is a variant of the slacker-genius archetype, granted a perfect combination of wit and political instinct, along with Martin’s down-to-earth depiction of how such a troubled-yet-brilliant tactician might think and act. The character himself is not that revolutionary — someone with even basic cultural literacy in movies and books has seen many slacker-geniuses — but Martin’s uncanny prose style contains a detailed realism that brings Tyrion to life on the page.

More here.