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How will Game of Thrones end? One woman may have the answer

Actor Kit Harington as Jon Snow in Game of Thrones. Photo: Supplied Author Carolyne Larrington predicts two ways Game of Thrones might end. Photo: IB Tauris
Nanjing Night Net

Carolyne Larrington knows her Game of Thrones well enough that she’s willing to predict how it will end.

To be precise, the author of Winter is Coming: The Medieval World of Game of Thrones predicts two ways the series might wrap things up – one neatly, the other in a giant mess.

“One will be kind of like the end of Lord of the Rings,” she says. “The right person ascends the throne – probably Jon marrying Daenerys – and that is going to usher in a period of happily ever after. We’ll have a new dynasty and everything will be fine.”

If that sounds like the happy ending you’ve all been craving, slow down.

“But that’s not going to make much difference to the slaves in Essos, or the ordinary people in King’s Landing,” she says. “And somehow they’ve got to work out how to handle the White Walkers.”

OK, thanks for that reality check on our favourite fantasy. So what’s the other ending look like?

“More excitingly,” she says, “there could just be a massive apocalypse, and the White Walkers march over everything. That might depend on HBO’s budget for really big battles. It might also depend on [author George RR] Martin having the courage of his convictions.”

Professor Larrington, who is in Australia for a series of talks on the subject, teaches at Oxford University in England. Her area of expertise is medievalism, a relatively new discipline (born in the 1980s) that looks not so much at medieval history or literature itself, but at how the medieval is expressed in post-medieval cultures.

A typical avenue of enquiry might be “why was everyone so keen on King Arthur in the 19th century,” she explains, “or why is Guy Ritchie making a film about King Arthur in 2017?”

When it’s all over, will the Seven Kingdoms be ruled by Daenerys Targaryen … Photo: HBO

The reason for the persistent appeal of the medieval, she argues, is that it is both familiar and foreign. “So many of our institutions, like the university, the printing press, the notion of romantic love, were originally medieval concepts, so it’s a world that is kind of recognisable but still a bit other.”

It offers a shorthand form of world-building for novelists and dramatists, too. “Most people have an idea about the medieval, they don’t have to be expert to know what it looks like,” she says. “They see a knight in shining armour and they know what they’re dealing with.”

… and Jon Snow? Photo: HBO

Her book is a bit like that too: it’s eminently readable, a well-informed but jargon-free reading of the series (book and TV) through the prism of medieval history, myth and literature.

It makes for a handy companion piece, but how have your colleagues responded to this foray into populism?

“Most of them are going, ‘Wow, I wish I’d thought of that’,” she says. “Many of my younger colleagues particularly watch the show with great enthusiasm, most of the students have seen it, we often use it as a point of reference. It’s replaced Tolkien in that respect.”

Ah, Tolkien. If the medieval period has become almost the go-to setting for fantasy fiction, Lord of the Rings was its gold standard. But not any more. Like many a pretender to the Iron Throne, it has been cruelly snuffed out by a usurper.

Or will the White Walkers sweep all before them in an icy apocalypse? Photo: HBO

And it is in that shifting allegiance that Larrington sees the chance of an ending more worthy of the blood and guts that has come before it than a marriage between the fire of Daenerys and ice of Jon Snow would provide.

“Martin could have something up his sleeve, because he’s been a bit sniffy about Tolkien’s ending,” she says. “It’s all very well to say Aragorn is king and he’s wise and just and he ruled for 100 years – but what was his tax policy, did he have a standing army, how did he rule? Tolkien doesn’t tell us any of that.

“I’m really interested to see what Martin is going to make by way of an ending, if indeed he lives that long,” she says.

And if she were inclined to take a punt?

“I don’t think it’s going to go for the apocalyptic ending.”

Winter is Coming is published by I.B. Tauris. Carolyne Larrington will speak at the University of Western Australia on Monday 17 October; the University of Sydney Wednesday 26 October; The University of Melbourne Monday 7 November. Details and bookings at: historyofemotions.org419论坛/events

Karl Quinn is on facebook at karlquinnjournalist and on Twitter @karlkwin

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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