It is easy to be enraptured by the multiple story arcs in the relentlessly brilliant Game of Thrones. The gripping manoeuvres in the King's Landing, the smidgen of action taking place in Essos, the activities on the northern border where men guard the living, and the brief interludes to the creatures that lurk beyond the imposing wall—the wildlings and the dreaded White Walkers— hold the viewer in thrall.
Fantasy, you think? Think again. There are unmistakable parallels with the real world.
Sample the tweets, statements and well, quirks of US President DonaldTrump. (Which GOT character does he bring to mind? Dear reader, we’ll leave that to you to decide).
“We have people coming into the country or trying to come in, we're stopping a lot of them, but we're taking people out of the country. You wouldn't believe how bad these people are. These aren't people. These are animals," declared Trump in one of his typical searing assessment of the migrants entering the US.
And this is how Theon Greyjoy appraises the residents beyond the wall: “All wildlings are liars and savages with no loyalty to anything or anyone.”
There can be a whole “who said it” quiz on world leaders’ quotes about the ongoing migration crisis across the globe and the Westerosis’ descriptions of the people north of the wall.
Last month, the historic Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris was up in flames and by the time the fire was contained it had caused extensive damage to the eight-century old structure, including burning down its famous spire.
Before the Parisians came to grips with what transpired at one of the symbols of their city, several French billionaires had pledged millions for its restoration.
Ironically, the tragedy befell at a time when Paris witnessed the unrelenting gilet jaunes protests. The Yellow Vest protesters, among other things, are up against the disproportionate tax burden on the country’s working class. They also demand the reimposition of the wealth tax on the ultra-rich that the Emmanuel Macron’s government did away with in 2017.
The fact that the French elite leapt at the opportunity to burnish their reputations in the tragic fire but remain averse to contributing their fair share in taxes reeked of hypocrisy, and threw another uncanny parallel to the HBO blockbuster.
Here’s a lesson in austerity that the High Sparrow gave to Cersei:
High Sparrow: “Did you know this chapel is one of the oldest structures in King's Landing?”
Cersei: “I think I may have heard at one point.”
High Sparrow: “Baelor built his sept around it. But men worshipped here long before him.
“Who carved this altar? Do you know?”
Cersei: “I'm afraid I don't.”
High Sparrow: “No one does. There's no name on it or anywhere else in the chapel.
“No, the people who built this place didn't inflict their vanity on those who came after them the way Baelor did with that great gilded monstrosity up there.”
High Sparrow: “Their faith was clean.
“Strip away the gold and the ornaments, knock down the statues and the pillars, and this is what remains (points to the barren alter).”
There are surely lessons for the Pinaults and Arnaults of the French plutarchy in that conversation.
Apart from the migration and austerity debates, climate change is another topic generating heated discussions on both sides of the divide.
Over the past few months, Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old Swedish school kid, has been in the spotlight as she attempts to draw the world’s attention to climate change and especially the need for the influential political leaders to act quickly.
Last month, she gave a withering assessment of the dangers of climate change in a room full of Members of the European Parliaments (MEPs) and other European Union officials.
“If our house was falling apart our leaders wouldn’t go on like we do today. If our house was falling apart, you wouldn’t hold three emergency Brexit summits and no emergency summit regarding the breakdown of the climate and the environment”, Thunberg said.
The dangers of climate change are real. Her assessment of the dangers of climate change is real, as real as the dangers that the people north of the wall face from the army of the undead creatures led by the Night King.
And Jon Snow minces no words in letting Cersei, the ruler of the seven kingdoms, know the dangers of sitting idle as a certain death marches their way.
"There is only one war that matters. The Great War. And it is here”, he declares.How very prescient.