The Curse of A Game of Thrones

Although I’m thrilled that the popularity of the Game of Thrones series has thrust fantasy (particularly historical, political fantasy) into the pop-culture spotlight, I can’t help but feel like it’s also been a bit of a curse.

The thought has popped into my head quite frequently recently, but the other night whilst browsing the NaNo forums I came across a thread where someone was asking how much of GoT writing stuff (names, houses, setting, characters, etc) is standard in fantasy and how much is his own invention, as they really wanted to write fantasy but they’d only ever seen the TV series.

Fantasy is pretty well known for its tropes (probably behind only YA and romance). It’s pretty standard for fantasy to come in the form of a trilogy or series, for example.  People expect certain things from fantasy, but also reject those same things as being unoriginal.

I think about the curse of A Game of Thrones not because it’s the best fantasy series, but because it’s so well known.  Which means that for a lot of newcomers getting into fantasy as adults, it’s the first thing they read/watch.

It’s always annoyed me when, after describing my multiple POV political fantasy novel to people they ALWAYS so “oh, so like Game of Thrones”.  I’m sure they don’t mean it the way it sounds, that I’m copying George R. R. Martin, or that Game of Thrones is THE ONLY book that could have multiple POVs, as though it’s something that no one ever thought of until they read the books.  But it still irritates me.  It’s as though their reducing my work, my hours of passion, and beyond that an entire genre that existed for decades before Game of Thrones, into one series that happens to rate well on HBO.  It irks me, because I then feel the need to justify myself and explain I started writing the book with multiple POVs long before I’d ever heard of Game of Thrones, and that it’s political fantasy because I’m interested in power dynamics.

Do people who write other genres find this?  Do you always have your book compared to another, even though they’re not really that related/you’d never even heard of the book when you started writing yours, just because it’s the best known?  Does it annoy you as much as it annoys me?


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