Uh, oh. Magic. (Minor Spoilers)

by Jonah Goldberg

I am still loving Game of the Thrones this season. And no I didn’t read the books, so I’m sure there’s a good reason for everything. Nevertheless, I am not a fan of this new ghosty-black-misty creature (please, there’s no need to tell me what it really is or signifies etc. I’ll find out in due course). What I don’t like about it is the magicalness (magicality?) of it. One of the things I love about the Game of Thrones is its anti-Tolkienesque quality. There’s not much good-versus-evil in it (though there is a bit). The world is a dreary, dangerous, place where honor can get you killed and dishonor can make you rich and powerful. The strength of a man’s arm and his skill with a sword is its own reward. Even the supernatural stuff so far — the dragons, the white walkers — has been decidedly non-magical. When Drogo died at the hands of the witch, it seemed entirely realistic. She basically just poisoned him. No light shows. Just some blood and sleight of hand.

The dragons especially are great. They take a long time to grow up. They’re a pain to feed. In other words, they seem biologically plausible. The same goes for the walkers, to a lesser extent. Of course, it’s not all strictly speaking plausible, but there’s a consistent realism to it. They’re corporeal. You can imagine being in that world where dragons evolved and white walkers too.

This ghost-cloud thing breaks that agreement with the audience (as will, I fear, the warlocks of Quarth). Suddenly, you can cheat. You can kill people with invisible cloud assassins. I still have faith in the series,  of course, but this makes me nervous.

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