A disclaimer: I have read only the first novel in the Song of Ice and Fire series, and have watched the show to the current episode. Spoilers for the show follow.
In Season One of Game of Thrones, and by extension the first novel, I was — as anyone would be — “cheering for” Ned Stark. I think I even knew that he was going to die while I did it. But in Ned we had a character we could really root for, someone we could identify with and empathise with when things went to shit, but still hold out some hope that something would go right.
In season two, that character was probably Tyrion. We liked him; we liked to watch him succeed despite his troubles, felt for him when things didn’t go his way. We might cheer for other characters, be upset when they were killed or shat upon… but I’m starting to notice that I almost don’t care any more. Especially so with the Red Wedding. I was far more upset that Catelyn was killed than Rob — I was pretty sure he was doomed, and his storyline was less than compelling — but even she had lost a lot of my love in this last season.
What’s happened is that Game of Thrones has stopped being a story for me. A story needs to be something I can really engage with, something that invokes empathy. It used to be a bit of a Hero’s Journey for some of the characters. Now everyone just goes along until they die.
Game of Thrones has become a history.
Which is to say, it’s extremely interesting. I like the narrative. There are certainly characters I want to see succeed (Arya, Gendry, Dani, Sansa). But I’ve become jaded to the storyline. I’ve become less invested.
I watched the first season before I read the first book. I liked how that worked out for me, because it meant I could relive the good storylines while getting more detailed lore about the world; it didn’t feel like the show had spoiled it for me.
I’ll almost certainly keep watching the show. I do want to see where it goes and to some extent I still feel invested it in. But I don’t think I’ll ever finish the books. I just don’t care to invest 800 pages times 5+ novels in history. Game of Thrones has fallen into the same trap for me as The Lord of the Rings. It’s just…not a good story. It’s a description of events that happened.
I need some up with my down. I need some triumph. I need people I want to spend hours of my life with, and an emotional payoff for that investment. Otherwise — I dunno — I think you’re doing it wrong.