As I’m making my way back into the Dark Fantasy blogosphere, digesting and comparing the third season of the “Game of Thrones” series, to the books, I decided to return to George R. R. Martin’s weighty tomes to revisit the short-lived but important central character, King Robert Baratheon. Though I had my own criticisms of the burdensome fourth and fifth books of “A Song of Ice and Fire,” like other Martin fans I’d like to see it completed.
When I first saw the series and later read the books, I was as put out as everyone else by the death of Ned Stark. And like everyone else, I have the same favorite characters, like Tyrion, Daenerys, and Arya. But as I look again, I ask myself, what about Robert? The corrupt food, alcohol, sex, hunter, fat man presenting himself, as King at first to me was a turnoff. But looking back, what happened to Robert? He became King after the battle of the Trident, after being considered the most suitable due to his wartime effectiveness and Targaryen ancestry (though he despises the descendants). After killing the last platinum blonde heir to the Iron Throne, his popularity with the people carried him all the way to the top, where he expected to find vengeance and happiness.
But looking back, what started this mayhem? The cornerstone of the story, Ned’s sister Lyanna Stark, whose perceived abduction by the Prince Rhaegar Targaryen is potential unrequited love, and her early death denied tough guy Robert the love of his life. After watching floppy sexual scenes, blundering through Martin’s endless food descriptions, or taking in the over the top excellent battle scene of “Blackwater” in both film and the books, the core of the story is the true love denied to Robert Baratheon, a man who believes as King he should be denied nothing, which leads to his doom ultimately.
Still people approach me and ask what “Game of Thrones” is about. To we Martin fans, I find it difficult to answer without a conversation. But to the new reader or viewer, I’d say if any character can tell the story, it would be the dialogue of Robert Baratheon. He didn’t last long in the series, but his legacy certainly does.