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Themes

In a book where the good guys are usually the first to die, justice doesn't seem to prevail. But this is what makes A Game of Thrones so engaging: the good guys might lose out and the bad guys might never get their comeuppance. (It's basically the opposite of every action movie ever made.) Because there's no set formula, we have to keep reading to find out who ends up on top and who ends up… with the fishes. In addition to the more universal concept of justice, individual judgment (or discernment) is also central in this novel. In a world filled with betrayal, the ability to see through lies and really understand the truth about people and situations is a necessary skill. At the same time, these characters live in a generally unjust world, so does it really matter whether they have a good sense of judgment?

Questions About Justice and Judgment

  1. What's the most unjust event or action in this book? What makes an action more or less unjust? (It might help to separate out those events which we just don't like from those that are actually unjust. What's the difference?)
  2. How does the presence of injustice in the book affect the way you read? Does it just annoy you? Or does it make you want to read more in the hope that justice prevail?
  3. What's the difference between justice and vengeance? Is it always easy to tell?
  4. Are there times in the book where mercy is favored over justice?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Judgment is the most important skill in this novel because of the ever-present threat of betrayal and deceit.

Martin's book is realistic because, in the real world, justice doesn't always win.

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