Game of Thrones promise for Season 4? Lots of excitement, intrigue, more powerful characters, and perhaps, finally, the hope of somebody repaying the Lannisters for all the harm they’ve caused.
But underlying all of that, Season 4 promises a deeper dive into war’s moral quandary. The trailer suggests the themes in the first four A Song of Fire and Ice novels—all named after various aspects of succession wars—will be more fully realized: war, revenge, justice.
It’s tempting to see your enemies as evil. But, there’s good and evil on both sides of every war ever fought. – Jorah Mormont
War and the hollow quest for power is the principal theme in George RR Martin’s series. The nobles fight over a throne made of the deads’ swords while the true threat approaches: what’s on the other side of the Wall. Game of Thrones’ Long Winter is a double-metaphor. Winter is, of course, symbolic of death. But, in this case, the dead—the wights—are awakened (quite literally) and on the march. Game of Thrones makes flesh the most important problem in the Hundred Years’ War period—the Little Ice Age and its cold, crop failures, and famine that occurred while the nobles fought for a hollow crown.
The Season 4 trailer begins with the narcissistic and self-deluded king Joffrey explaining why his subjects love him: “They know I saved the city; I won the war.” But, the images send another message. The trailer cuts to crows picking the fallen’s bones on a battlefield—there are no winners in war — and, as Joffrey’s father Jaime reminds the king, the war is not over yet.
Jorah Mormont, the banished but wise slaver, words reverberate throughout the trailer: “It’s tempting to see your enemies as evil. But, there’s good and evil on both sides of every war ever fought.”
In a war as personal as the Wars of the Roses, everyone had a grievance. The insatiable desire for justice from all the nobles who lost their fathers, brothers, and sons in the various battles like the first St. Albans fueled the other phases of the war. But, of course, war is futile and vengeance can’t bring back the dead. At the end of all the battles, there is no such thing as fair. Our preview ends with words from Tyrion that could have been the zeitgeist of the Late Middle Ages: “If you want justice, you’ve come to the wrong place.”
By Jamie Adair