Tyrion Lannister: Impolite is Not Boring

I just finished reading A Game of Thrones (by George R. R. Martin) for the first time. I’ve been hearing about it ever since the TV series hit the air in 2011. As a fantasy fan, I should have checked it out right away, but I was leery. Some things with masses of devoted fans leave me disappointed or even angry. (Hobbit movies, I’m looking at you.) Nothing is loved by everyone. But A Game of Thrones was a pleasant surprise. Despite the challenge of being engaged by a story that jumps between multiple characters with every chapter, I was quickly pulled in. And now I’m hooked. As soon as I finished Game, I started reading A Clash of Kings. I am probably in it for the long haul.

Guaranteed to keep you up late.

The most embarrassing thing about enjoying these books isn’t admitting I was snobby enough to think I wouldn’t like them. It’s admitting that I am fascinated by the character of Tyrion Lannister. For those who don’t know, he’s the dwarf brother of a reprehensible queen and member of a family that engages in distasteful practices like poisoning and incest.

Tyrion Lannister (played by Peter Dinklage)

Tyrion may be my favorite character, because along with his willingness to manipulate, lie, and otherwise trick his way to where he wants to be, he is also an underdog. He is small, weak, ungainly, and racked with physical pain. In a world where swords and strength decide men’s fates, he is at a huge disadvantage. There is no question if he will be able to fight his way out of a trap — he can’t. What he can do is sweet talk someone else into doing the fighting for him.

The way he thinks and the clever ways he finds to use the people around him to get what he wants makes for fun reading. It does feel a bit like not being able to look away when driving past a car accident. It’s not anything we would want to experience ourselves, but some part of us wants to see the mess.

No one wants to read polite. It puts them to sleep. — Anne Bernays

Tyrion is not polite. He constantly speaks brutal truths, exposing the reality of the situation no matter how insulting to the hearer, or how much danger he will face as a result. When he does speak politely, even kindly, I find myself wondering: Doe he really mean it? I want him to mean it, but I’m not sure he does. There’s no telling when he is playing someone. And that makes for fun reading as well.

There’s a lot more about the Song of Ice and Fire series that is “impolite”: betrayals, slaughters, intrigues, rapes, and murders. Seeing an arrogant and cruel would-be king meet a violent end was one of the most satisfying moments in the first book. There’s no question about it: the car wrecks are riveting. I want to live in a polite world; but when it comes to reading, let everyone misbehave. Please.

What about you? Are you attracted to “impolite” characters and stories?


Published by

Kit Dunsmore

Kit Dunsmore has believed in the magic underlying the muggle world since she was a child searching for the Shetland pony pooka she was sure was hiding in her back yard. She learned early on that books were magic doors into other worlds, and that she could revisit a beloved character or place by opening the right book. As she grew, she decided she wanted to make magic with words, too. Today Kit writes about things she loves: poodles and dragons, witches and artists, quirky underdogs and loyal friends. Whether her setting is 6th-century England, the imaginary Twelve Kingdoms, or an art-obsessed version of modern America, magic always finds its way into her story. She enjoys turning fairy tales inside out and watching characters sacrifice everything to reach their goal, but she also believes in happy endings. When she isn't writing, Kit experiences magic by making things with her hands. Over the years, she's made quilts, fabric sculptures, collages, sweaters, and blank books. Her newest interest is learning how to spin her own yarn, a skill guaranteed to strengthen one of her many delusions: that she is a self-sufficient pioneer woman. She also thinks she is a hobbit, a witch, an artist, and a good cook. Living in the foothills of Colorado, Kit enjoys the giant skies and prairie landscapes which suit her need for wide open spaces. In addition to hiking through glorious scenery with her husband or imagining herself living in the Middle Ages, Kit works as a pillow for her miniature poodle and polishes the next small piece of her handmade life.

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