In the final of our blogs about “Thrones” we ask the big question, was the TV series any good?
Several author friends of ours have offered their opinions…
Steve McHugh (author of urban fantasy series, The Hellequin Chronicles and The Avalon Chronicles.)
I quite liked it for the most part. I think it suffered from doing too much too quickly. Lots of character work was removed in favour of just getting people to where they needed to be for the finale. The zombies were a lot less scary than I’d hoped they would be, and I really wanted them to be a bit more impressive as a long term villain. I did like Arya killing the Night King though, that was cool.
It was a frustrating series in a lot of ways, but I still enjoyed it for the spectacle and to see how it finished. I think the show peaked a few seasons earlier though.
Kit Power (horror, crime, and sci-fi author)
It was both. It was a spectacular achievement in terms of telling a story that was a modern day Greek Tragedy, and had all the flaws that form of storytelling suffers from; plummeting IQs at crucial moments, literal gods intervening to stop the plot falling over, and of course the terribly original message that power corrupts and all revolutionaries become tyrants, which wow, 2019, really, we’re still telling *that* story? On the other hand, it did all that about as well as anyone ever could and it was utterly brilliant on it’s own terms, so all I’m really doing is complaining that it’s not what it wasn’t. Which is isn’t, but so what?
Joel Hames (crime fiction writer and author of the Sam Williams series)
Overall, a triumph. The slow episodes worked best, some wonderful buildup in the first two and the prelude to the battle for King’s Landing. Yes, there were problems: the whole thing was rushed, the battle for King’s Landing suffered from Apocalypse Now syndrome (it would have been improved by cutting 75% of it), the battle against the Night King suffered from lighting issues and the fact that neither the viewers nor the characters seemed to know what was going on – so much so that what should have been tense and dramatic became farcical. But the big thing was the ending, which was so difficult to get right, and I think they did. No one got the King they were hoping for, and that’s fine. But what I wanted more than anything was for Arya’s adventures to continue, and they gave me that, so I’m a happy viewer.
Garrie Fletcher (author of Submerged)
I thought it was okay. It tied everything up fairly neatly and gave us a predictable twist that had all the fanboy/girls screaming in outrage – how dare you kill off our fave characters! I felt that the battle with the white walkers went on way too long, especially the build up, and that its conclusion, the death of the Night King was very flat – although I’d had it ruined by an episode of Gogglebox, so that may well have something to do with it. This mega face off between the light and the dark had been building up over the previous seven series and when it was over it felt a bit meh. For me, Cersei’s behaviour at the end was strange. She had a child that she desperately wanted to live and yet she orchestrated her own demise.
Anna Stephens (author of the Godblind trilogy – Bloodchild, is available to pre-order now)
It had moments of pure wonder and genius and shout-out glee – Arya’s leap in episode three is worthy of a song on its own. It also had moments that were less enjoyable and, as has been written exhaustively on social media, that made very little strategic sense in battlefield terms. Overall it came to possibly the only conclusion it could – though I really didn’t expect Bran to take the throne, and I was heartbroken that the Starks all split up. I think it had a decent three-act structure, with the build up to the Winterfell battle and then a secondary one to the King’s Landing battle, so in those respects it was a triumph. I’m really not sure what else they could have done, though. Put Dany on the throne? That wouldn’t last – people would rally to Jon – and she’d go mad with the power anyway. She promised to ‘break the wheel’ across the whole world, after all. Put Jon on the throne? That would have been satisfying but in a way was too obvious. There would have been detractors no matter how it worked out.
Jacey Bedford (author of the Psi-Tech series and the Rowankind series)
A triumph, I think (with a few small qualifiers). It wasn’t what I might have written, but it’s not my story, and I’ve been following all the seasons avidly. It rounded off a lot of story arcs well. Dany going from good-ish to evil was foreshadowed by the number of people she’d already flamed unnecessarily – the Tarlys and Varys for instance. Jon was the only possible candidate for having to do the dirty deed, but Tyrion also didn’t make the decision lightly. The fact that Dany immediately jumped to the conclusion that it was Jon who’d betrayed her when Tyrion went to tell her about Varys shows that she would have turned on Jon sooner or later. Sadly she was as bonkers as her dad.
Jaime and Cersei died in each other’s arms, and despite Cersei being the evil bitch queen, in the end she was simply a woman afraid of death. I’m sorry someone as potentially noble as Jaime wasted himself on someone like Cersei, but he loved her unreservedly, so being with her at the end was entirely in his nature. I think he redeemed himself as much as he ever could have. There were some good deaths. Theon Greyjoy redeemed himself in the end. Jorah Mormont went out the way he would have wanted to, and just at the right time. He would have been horrified and heartbroken if he’d seen Dany turn psycho. (I don’t think he would have been able to stop her.)
The Clegane showdown was very effective, especially since Sandor made Arya see sense at last. (I thought she gave in and changed her mind a bit too quickly, but there’s only so much you can do in six episodes.)
Sansa made a perfectly good Queen in the North. Her arc was completed satisfactorily.
Jon never wanted power. Going north was a good ending for him. Once he gets to grips with what he did to Dany I believe he’ll have a good life. Tormund won’t let him get too introspective.
And now I want to see Jon become King Beyond the Wall, because he still has a lot of unfulfilled potential, and he’s learned such a lot and can do so much good. And I want to see the spinoff series, ‘The Further Adventures of Arya Stark’.
Justin Lee Anderson (author of comedy fantasy Carpet Diem)
Massive disappointment. Whatever the reason, either because they ran out of source material or because the stars were too expensive per episode, we got about two full seasons’ worth of story crammed into six episodes. It was a rushed mess, reduced to relying on spectacle (albeit great spectacle in The Long Night) in lieu of good storytelling. Just as a *tiny* example, they established that it takes two weeks for an army to march from Winterfell to Dragonstone. Add to that the time it took to send ravens to all of the lords of the seven kingdoms inviting them to King’s Landing and we assume at least a month needs to pass between Jon killing Dany and the conclave – and they jumped it in an ad break. Utterly ridiculous. We already had problems with timings going back to the episode where Dany arrives to save Jon and his musketeers on the lake, but just vaulting wholesale over a month worth of story in the wake of what should have been the biggest twist of season 8 was shocking. And don’t get me started on the speed with which we went from Dany the saviour to Dany the dead. What was it, three episodes? To take a beloved character from hero to zero? Terrible pacing. Awful. In the end, we should have seen more grey areas, we should have seen Jon agonising about his choice for a lot more than 10 minutes, and when he did finally kill her, it should have been a shock – as it was, it was bloody obvious he had to kill her and always would, because he’s Jon. And don’t even get me started on Cersei. She spent the season drinking wine and looking out a window, then got crushed by debris. What a crappy ending. Every emotional beat that should have been as brain melting as the Mountain and The Viper (literally, in the Viper’s case) had about as much impact as slap with a wet kipper. They rushed it and screwed the pooch, and I’ll always be left with a bad taste in my mouth because of it. Probably from the kipper.
David Watkins (author of the werewolf novel Original’s Return)
I largely enjoyed series 8. The first three episodes were superb and are, perhaps, how it should have ended. Cersei was never going to match the Night King for threat, and Dany going mad was foretold so wasn’t a surprise.
In the last episode, there were things that didn’t make sense. Why was Tyrion allowed to talk to the council to decide the new king? He was in chains! Why was Jon still alive? Surely whoever found him after he’d stabbed Dany would have executed him on the spot, particularly if that had been Grey Worm? Where was Bronn in all the fighting for King’s Landing? After Daenerys died, surely the Unsullied and Dothraki would have gone on a rampage and killed everyone like Tyrion, Davos and anyone from the North. They worshipped her and would not have bowed to the laws of Westeros just because.
Whilst I didn’t especially care for the ending we got, I’m more excited about the doors that the success of Game Of Thrones has now opened. Maybe we can see a TV adaption of Joe Abercrombie’s The First Law trilogy. Now, that would be awesome!
Iain Grant (comedy writer and co-author of Exit the Dragon)
It was an absolute triumph. Could it have been better? Probably. But how often do we have a TV series come to its final conclusion after nearly a decade and go out on such a high. All the complaints we hear on social media about the final series were all about pacing and the subtlety of character arcs. But it’s easy to view the whole thing and see that this was where we were going all along. It’s a narrative which always carried two messages: one, there are no good people or bad people, only people; and two, it is the pursuit of power and ‘the throne’ which is the true villain in this series. When Drogon (seriously, lady, you need to come up with better dragon names) – When Drogon melted the iron throne, yes, it was a ham-fisted metaphor but it was absolutely right. Also, my favourite characters all got to sit on the small council and they deserve a spin-off sitcom. Oh, speaking of which…
Exit the Dragon, the latest book from Heide Goody and Iain Grant is out now. The wizard, Newport Pagnell, and the city’s privy council have to work out how to rebuild the capital once the dragon and the dragon queen have gone. It’s totally not a parody of Game of Thrones or anything. Honest.