Game of Thrones wouldn't exist but for George R.R. Martin, author of the series of novels upon which the hit HBO fantasy series is based. While the show has diverged from Martin's stories in many places, one element of GoT has been thoroughly consistent: every time you turn a page or tune in, it seems like someone is dying a really horrible death.
In an interview with Joy Ward in the online magazine Galaxy's Edge, Martin addressed the burning question every fan of his tales in any form really wants answered: "How do you use death in your writing?"
Martin: I don’t think of it in those terms, that I’m using death for any purpose. I think a writer, even a fantasy writer, has an obligation to tell the truth and the truth is, as we say in Game of Thrones, all men must die. Particularly if you’re writing about war, which is certainly a central subject in Game of Thrones. It has been in a lot of my fiction, not all of it by any means but certainly a lot of it, going all the way back to “The Hero,” which was a story about a warrior. You can’t write about war and violence without having death. If you want to be honest it should affect your main characters. We’ve all read this story a million times when a bunch of heroes set out on adventure and it’s the hero and his best friend and his girlfriend and they go through amazing hair-raising adventures and none of them die. The only ones who die are extras.
That’s such a cheat. It doesn’t happen that way. They go into battle and their best friend dies or they get horribly wounded. They lose their leg or death comes at them unexpectedly.
Death is so arbitrary. It’s always there. It’s coming for all of us. We’re all going to die. I’m going to die. You’re going to die. Mortality is at the soul of all this stuff. You have to write about it if you’re going to be honest, especially if you’re writing a story high in conflict. Once you’ve accepted that you have to include death then you should be honest about death and indicate it can strike down anybody at any time. You don’t get to live forever just because you are a cute kid or the hero’s best friend or the hero. Sometimes the hero dies, at least in my books.
Martin is, basically, just keeping it real, even within the context of his epic, sword-and-dragon-filled fantasies. "I love all my characters," he continued, "so it’s always hard to kill them but I know it has to be done."
So keep on whining about the bloody fates of your favorites, sounds like George R.R. Martin's basic message to you will still be, in the end, just deal with it.
h/t Galaxy's Edge