Monday, August 12, 2013

The White Queen & A Game of Thrones

This Saturday I watched the U.S. premiere of The White Queen on Starz, a miniseries based on the Philippa Gregory novel of the same name. The story is set during The War of the Roses, which happened to be the inspiration for George R.R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones. Needless to say, I enjoyed stumbling upon this post from Vulture.com titled “7 Ways Starz’s The White Queen Is Like Game of Thrones.”


My favorite part of the post was the discussion on character correlations (though you can read the whole post here):
It's not always direct in Game of Thrones, as one of George R.R. Martin's characters might share personality traits with a certain historical figure or group, yet a situation or position in common with another. But some people see Cersei from Game of Thrones in The White Queen's Elizabeth Woodville, the commoner Edward IV married; others see her in Margaret of Anjou, the wife of Henry VI (the king Edward IV helped depose) because she's a commanding woman fiercely devoted to putting her sociopathic son on the throne. Yes, there is a Joffrey predecessor, and his name is Edward of Lancaster, a.k.a. the Prince of Ice. Although these aren't precise match-ups, The White Queen also has a mad king (King Henry VI of Lancaster), as well as an exiled heir to the throne (Henry Tudor). Edward IV, like Robert, also has two brothers vying for the throne. (His brother George, like Renly, doesn't even want to wait for his death, telling him, "I was hoping for your crown.") Bran and Rickon, meanwhile, are probably the Princes in the Tower.
I jumped to the Cersei/Elizabeth connection too – she married a so-called “usurper” after all – but then Elizabeth seems way too nice for Cersei (though the Lancaster/Lannister similarity still keeps me guessing). As for a mad king, the first connection that jumped to my mind was Aerys II. Of course, he’s long dead by the time A Game of Thrones begins. I’m at a loss as to who might be Tyrion’s doppelganger in this English civil war, but I’m looking forward to figuring that one out.
 
I will say that one thing I really enjoyed was the hint of magic in The White Queen. I know this drives devotees of “purest” historical fiction batty, but I write historical fantasy, so a little magic in the story always makes me smile. It’s still many months until Season 4 of HBO’s Game of Thrones, and I’m glad The White Queen is here to help to bridge that gap!
 
I am curious, however, if anyone has read anything more specific about the character connections between The War of the Roses and A Song of Ice and Fire as actually intended by GRRM. Please comment and let me know.

7 comments:

Karin Rita Gastreich said...

Hello, Joseph! I have not read anything by Martin himself that connects A Song of Fire and Ice to the War of the Roses. Though I have seen the idea batted around for long enough to suspect its true. Many, many fantasy writers draw their inspiration from real historical events, no matter how far the story itself strays from history.

I'm glad the White Queen is here to bridge the gap, too. I'm a long time fan of Philippa Gregory, so it's fun to see her work interpreted on screen. Looking forward to episode 2. . .

Joseph Finley said...

Karin - thanks for the comment! I wonder if GRRM has ever admitted to this in an interview? The similarity between Lancaster and Lannister, and even York and Stark, that I have to imagine some interviewer has asked him about it.

Bill said...

I was unaware of the comparison between Game of Thrones and the War of the Roses, so thanks for bringing that up. I personally watched the first season of "Thrones", then read all the books. This has made watching subsequent seasons something of a challenge, since I know what will happen (usually bad) to certain characters long in advance. I do consider the series to be some of the best TV I've seen. Martin certainly teaches us to not assume any character will survive, even one who might seem central to the storyline. Which leads me to ask, is there any information on a continuation after "A Dance with Dragons?"

Joseph Finley said...

Bill - thanks for the comment! I agree that the quality of Game of Thrones makes it among the best shows (if not "the" best show) on television. As for GRRM's series, I know he has two more books planned, but I don't know anything about the release schedule. Given the lengths of his tomes, he tends to take a few years writing each book.

Bill said...

Yes Joseph. Sadly for me, I find I can read books far faster than my favorite authors can write them. Looking at the series in question side by side on a shelf, I am amazed at how fast they went by. They need to do something about that!

Badger said...

I think it is a mistake to look for a one-to-one correlation between The Cousins' War and A Song of Ice and Fire. I had heard that The Cousins' War had been an inspiration, but inspirations are just that: inspiration.

Rather than basing each character on a historical figure, my (unsupported) theory is that GRRM was doing some reading about a tumultuous time in English history and thought "hey, here is a family that completely destroyed their country through personal greed and betrayal. How can I use that?"

Joseph Finley said...

I agree. I don't think there is a one on one correlation. In fact, I think GRRM has used his "inspiration" to purposefully mix up some of the characters. So far, Elizabeth is a little bit more like Caitlyn Stark than Cersei. And the "kingmaker" and "kingslayer" are similar concepts, but intentionally different.