My feelings about G. R. R. Martin’s Game of Thrones stories are a bit…well, complicated.
I started to read the first book more than ten years ago and I loved it at first – it’s very intelligent storytelling about an amazingly interesting imaginary world with compelling, diverse characters all around.
And then Ned Stark was killed off in a way that made me refuse to continue reading… I mean, it was obvious from the beginning that it’s not one of those stories where everything turns good at the end and all the heroes ride into the sunset and live happily ever after. And I suspected when the Starks moved to the South that it will end very badly for him, but the emotional cruelness of the circumstances leading to his death knocked me out – at the end he was forced to give up his true self for nothing, just because he couldn’t accept the reality about some of his family members and friends.
I know that’s nothing uncommon, it has happened and will happen again and again in history and in our everyday lives (though, usually with less severe consequences ;-)), but somehow that anger I felt just made me not want to connect to the characters anymore. So – though I was very curious about how the story will unfold – I stopped reading.
Years later, when the series started on TV I couldn’t resist watching some episodes from time to time and I kept reading the news and spoilers to follow the story – but I always kept the distance, I just didn’t want to invest emotionally anymore.
Maybe, someday, I will start the books again…
Anyway, one of the details of Martin’s world that got my imagination was the idea of the ever returning severe winters of unpredictable length.
Where I live, winter weather can be rather erratic: some years we have only a few snowy days and the temperature is around zero; some years the country is covered with snow for weeks or months, with freezing cold.
I’m not a fan of cold, but I love snow – the first snow that turns the land into shades of blue and white; the silent snowfall overnight with huge snowflakes, sitting on my rooftop window so thick that I wake up in the morning to the unusual silence; I love to drink my morning coffee sitting by the terrace door looking out to the snowy garden and I love the days when the snow just keeps falling and eventually the city gives up, all traffic stops and life slows down. I love to cross the river walking over the bridge and stop for a while to watch the ice floes floating at the surface of the cold water; and going to the snow covered woods and fields for my daily running is one of my favorite things, especially when there’s no wind at all and all the branches and twigs of the trees are packed with heavy layers of snow.
(…I certainly don’t love snow when it’s transformed into the greyish mass that later hardens on the roadside so dense it can survive even the first few weeks of spring weather, but that comes with the package if you live in the city…)
And no matter how cold or snowy winter is, after around 4 month there’s always spring coming…
But what if we wouldn’t know how long next winter will last? What if it would stay for years; with short days and long nights, never ending snowfalls, frozen rivers and lakes; covering everything with a heavy snow blanket?
I had these questions and thoughts often on my mind while creating my winter landscape collection and eventually this gave the title of the series: Winter is coming…
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