EYESHENZHEN  /   Opinion

‘Game of Thrones’ and game of history

Writer: J. Liu  | Editor: Jane Chen  | From:  | Updated: 2019-05-06

The long-awaited final season of “Game of Thrones” is finally on TV for the millions of fans who marvel at the beauty of exotic landscapes, the intricacy of the plot, the twists and turns of events, and shocking computer-generated images. Some may wonder if any of these or similar events might have happened in real human history. Of course the part of fire-breathing dragons did not, nor the Red Lady giving birth to smoke.

George R. R. Martin himself is a history buff, and the Wars of the Roses in 15th-century Great Britain serves as the inspiration for this masterpiece. Some plots, the Red Wedding for instance, are based on real events that took place during that period of time.

For our readers more familiar with Chinese history, they would be surprised to see mirror images of “Game of Thrones” in their own past.

Trapped in King’s Landing after the death of her father, Sansa Stark was constantly humiliated by Cerci Lannister and her unbridled son Joffrey, and she had to reiterate, “My father was a traitor. My brother (Robb Stark, who was waging war against the Lannisters) is a traitor.” Such insincere statements against her will were merely for the purpose of survival.

Liu Xiu, the founder of the Eastern Han Dynasty (25-220), found himself in the same predicament. After his elder brother was wrongfully executed by Emperor Liu Xuan to eliminate a threat to his crown, Liu Xiu had to ride to the emperor to pledge his loyalty. He apologized for his brother’s treason, and pointed out that the death was well deserved.

We also see a lot of Ned Stark in Yue Fei, the national hero in the Song Dynasty (960-1279). Both were tested war commanders well loved by their followers, and both were beheaded when they tried to decide who should sit on the throne. Ned Stark wanted Stannis Baratheon to succeed as the king, because that was the right thing following the protocols. His uncovering of a Lannister scandal certainly sped up his death.

Yue Fei wanted to get the two imprisoned emperors back to their homeland, because that was what was expected from him as a general, despite the fact that those two emperors were proven to be horrible rulers and that the emperor in the south did not want those two back, for obvious reasons. Ned Stark and Yue Fei are both tragic heroes devoted to the highest moral standards of their times.

Stannis Baratheon killed his brother Renly. The much-hated bastard Ramsey Snow killed his father and his newly born brother when he saw his succession as the lord of his house was at risk, no matter how light the risk might be. Li Shimin, the well-acclaimed great emperor of Tang Dynasty (618-907), had to kill his two brothers to get to his throne in the first place.

When people have nothing to lose, everything to lose, and/or everything to gain, many will cast aside any moral constraints and employ all possible means to achieve their goals. The absolute power of a crown is just too tempting.

Luckily, most parts of the world are well past those norms of dictatorship. Republics are the more prevailing form of government. If any reader may pause to reflect upon our past, upon how we get to here and now, that would more than suffice for the purpose of this article.

That said, first things first, Monday (Sunday in the U.S.) is coming. Sit back, relax and enjoy the show. Get amused.

(The author is an independent financial investor and freelance writer.)