George RR Martin

ATI Composite; HBO

Doesn’t matter if you’re pregnant or an innocent child, in the world of Game of Thrones, your life is always on the line — and that’s just how the books’ author George RR Martin thinks it should be.

“As we say in Game of Thrones, all men must die,” Martin told Galaxy’s Edge magazine in a recent interview. “Particularly if you’re writing about war, which is certainly a central subject in Game of Thrones.”

The fantasy author told the magazine that he reviles the cliched story about “a bunch of heroes [who] set out on adventure and it’s the hero and his best friend and his girlfriend.” Martin added that those stories “cheat” when only the secondary characters are killed off but never the hero.

“You can’t write about war and violence without having death,” Martin said. “If you want to be honest it should affect your main characters.”

Martin is, unsurprisingly, realistic about the inevitability of death, and though his outlook might be grim, it’s one of the reasons his books have become so wildly popular: His morbid worldview better reflects the stark, painful struggles of regular life than those rosily-depicted in Hollywood.

“You don’t get to live forever just because you are a cute kid or the hero’s best friend or the hero,” Martin told the magazine. “Sometimes the hero dies, at least in my books.”

“Death is so arbitrary. It’s always there. It’s coming for all of us.”

But even Martin has to admit that all those gruesome deaths can take a toll on the reader — and even on Martin himself.

“I love all my characters so it’s always hard to kill them,” Martin said. “I tend to think I don’t kill them. The other characters kill ’em. I shift off all blame from myself.”

Next, let this detailed mathematical study show you who Games of Thrones’ main character actually is. Then, take a look at the best Game of Thrones fan art.

Elisabeth Sherman
Elisabeth Sherman is a writer living in Jersey City, New Jersey.
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