The Game of Thrones Diet

EMOTIONAL WEATHER REPORT - Jessica Zafra () - April 15, 2012 - 12:00am

At the HSBC Coffee Talk last Thursday the topic was hot diets for the summer but at our table the lunchtime discussion was about Game of Thrones. If you are not into power, sex, violence, war and Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones is the HBO series based on George R.R. Martin’s (GRRM) epic fantasy series, A Song of Ice and Fire.

 As purists would point out while waving their butter knives in your face, the proper title is A Game of Thrones and it refers only to the first novel in the series. But the TV show was a hit and the producers would be fools to change the title.

 Game of Thrones Season 2, which recently premiered in the US and begins airing in the Philippines later this month, is adapted from the second book, A Clash of Kings. However, the show’s trailers suggest that events from the third book will be covered in this second season. Which would not be a great impertinence on the part of series creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss: many events in the third, fourth and fifth books happen simultaneously. GRRM has created a sprawling epic with more characters and storylines occurring at the same time than can fit in a single book. As it is, each book is a doorstop. The fourth book was so long, GRRM decided to divide it in two. The series is expected to run to seven books; then again it was originally planned as a trilogy.

 Book 5, A Dance With Dragons, was published last year. The sixth and seventh installments are so highly-anticipated that GRRM fandom is split into adoring fans who insist that he be left alone to work at his own pace, and disgruntled fans who harass him to work faster. Professor Tolkien never had to deal with this heckling, but he lived before the age of media bombardment.

 There are GRRM fans who worry that the author, who is now 63, will expire before he finishes the epic. These fanatics are almost as cruel as the novels, in which acts of kindness and decency are rewarded with ignoble death.

 “I just saw the second episode of season 2,” Dinna announced, “and I am traumatized.” I had not seen the episode — I prefer to wait until the season is over, and then watch all the episodes in a day or three. (My personal record: four seasons of The Wire in one week, three seasons of Breaking Bad in less.) However, I’ve read the reviews.

 “You mean that people who were not supposed to be having sex in the books are having sex in the TV show?” I said. “Yes!” Dinna cried, revealing herself to be a GRRM fundamentalist. I take a more liberal view: literature and cinema are different forms and a certain amount of revision is necessary in adapting one for the other.

 In other words I am not enraged that towards the end of Season 1, Jon Snow’s dire wolf Ghost barked (Sacrilege!). I am more distressed at the fates of the dire wolves, not that their masters have an easy time. Try not to get too attached to any of the characters: the ones you love will probably get whacked. It is traumatic, yes, but I have decided that as long as the dwarf lives I can deal with the torment. To avoid horrible shocks, I peruse the appendices before reading the books. Life is stressful enough without losing a character who is alive in your mind. By getting the basic story out of the way I can concentrate on the character development, schemes and prose (Purple, but the plotting is masterful). I imagine that GRRM has a diagram of all his characters and their interlocking relationships on a wall in some vast room.

 “Arya looks very pretty this season,” Dinna declared. I agreed: the gamine look becomes her. “As does Sansa,” Dinna continued. I snorted. It will take a while for me to forgive Sansa for her simpering stupidity last season, although she does endure a lot in the subsequent books.

 “What about that boy Joffrey?” Anne asked. “I can’t stand him, does he remain king?” Dinna and I laughed maniacally. “That inbred little monster,” I said, as if I were speaking of a neighbor whose tree was shedding leaves on my property.

 “In the book he’s supposed to be very beautiful,” Dinna noted, “but I’m happy with the actor they cast in the role.” Meaning that every time we see that smirking spawn of incest, we want to wring his neck.

“It’s the Kingslayer I have reservations about,” she added. “By the way, is the show suggesting that Jaime Lannister and Catelyn Stark have a thing?”

 I gasped in horror. “No!! She wouldn’t. The woman is hardcore about family grudges.”

 “They’re definitely suggesting that Arya and Robert Baratheon’s illegitimate son Gendry have a thing,” Dinna went on. We gave our guarded approval of this non-canonical pairing. Also, the books are so dense we might have missed this.

 “If you think about it, everything is Catelyn’s fault,” Dinna concluded. “If she hadn’t snatched Tyrion…”

 “Or made that deal with those filthy Freys,” I fumed.

 “Is that the guy from Harry Potter?” Peejo said. “The one with the cat, Mrs. Norris.”

 “At first I didn’t know what the fuss was about,” admitted our host Johanna. “Now I adore Tyrion and I hate that Joffrey.”

 Our geekery was interrupted by the real event: the HSBC Coffee Talk on hot diets. “We should create a Game of Thrones diet!” I told Dinna. What do the Dothraki eat besides goats and beating hearts?

 “Lots of characters get their heads cut off,” Peejo pointed out. “That’s at least ten pounds each.”

 Somehow I don’t think that diet would catch on.

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