Picking Apart A Song of Ice and Fire Off-Screen Events

Picking apart

If you’ve read a Song of Ice and Fire, you may have noticed that a lot of nasty stuff happens in this fantasy series. Really nasty, usually. Actually, if you look closely, there’s some smoke and mirrors going on as well.

Below, I may spoil some things, but if you haven’t heard about the Red Wedding or Ned Stark, you were probably living under a rock. You’ve been warned.

What happens on-screen?

A lot of chapters in a Song of Ice and Fire end in cliffhangers. Or very bad things happen.

Remember when Ned Stark got decapitated and his head was put on a stake at the top of the castle in King’s Landing? Remember the red wedding, when Robb Stark was killed and his wolf’s head was sown on his body?

Actually, both things are never described directly in the book. They happen off-screen. Read them again if you want. Ned Stark’s beheading is viewed through Arya’s eyes, and she looks away just when the sword comes down on Ned’s neck. The scene of the red wedding ends just after Robb is stabbed to death.

Is this a problem? Of course not. What I find interesting is that our minds often fill in the blanks. Things we were sure we read, actually happen off-screen, and are just referred to later. And our minds picture these things more vividly than they could be described. It’s not just a Song of Ice and Fire, of course, but there are quite a few examples in that series. Scenes that end in a cliffhanger, then skip the actual resolution of the cliffhanger and pick up the story later.

I think the origin of this, is that George RR Martin is also a screen writer. In movies and television shows, a lot stuff happens off-screen, usually to save on budget. The whole reason we call it off-screen is because of it originated in television.

Can you spot any more examples in books and television shows?


Martin Stellinga Written by:

I'm a science fiction and fantasy author/blogger from the Netherlands