Is Fantasy Becoming Too Dark?

There is a great disturbance in the Force.  Its name is Game of Thrones.

No, this is not another anti-Thrones rant, and no I haven’t watched or read beyond the first season and book of the series.  Really, this isn’t about Game of Thrones.  It’s about a trend in fantasy that I believe has come to a head.

For the first time, adult fantasy has really reached mainstream culture.  Harry Potter paved the way, but that was initially a book series for kids.  The fact that adults liked it too was a phenomenon all its own.  But Game of Thrones never was intended for children, and HBO is definitely geared for a mature adult audience.

There are many things that disturb me about Game of Thrones, but it was really a discussion with a friend that got me thinking about why my reaction to it has ranged from apathetic to negative.  One of the main selling points of Game of Thrones is its uncertainty.  There is a lack of the clear-cut lines between friend and foe, antagonist and protagonist, to the point where you can’t really know who or what you’re rooting for, let alone what will happen next.  Anyone could die at any time.  To the show’s credit, I’ve heard that none of the deaths have been just for their shock value; there are repercussions and the characters have to deal with that.  It’s a tight-woven web of realism and intrigue, something that really should appeal to me.

But it doesn’t.


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