Photo by Tyler Meuter

The end of every Game of Thrones season brings a deluge of pain and emotion along with wild fan theories, and this season ending was no exception. The internet was flooded with millions of fans sharing their feelings with the world and for the first time, readers and watchers are on the same page.

I started reading the series after I watched the first season of the show, and I was hooked. Not only does George R.R. Martin vividly describe a world, he also writes incredibly realistic characters that aren’t one dimensional with their desires and motives. It’s often difficult to know who to root for.

Now, G.R.R.M., unlike most authors, managed to capture the fact that women are in fact, just as different in terms of personality as men are. While terrible things do happen to characters of both genders in this series, he hasn’t written off a woman character solely for a man character’s plot progression, and sadly, even this is considered groundbreaking.

Two wonderful examples of this are the Stark sisters. The younger, Arya Stark is currently off in the Free Cities learning how to kill people and exacting her revenge on the people who wronged her family. The elder, Sansa Stark, is gentler and sweeter, but is no less strong for it. While Arya learns how to fight with swords and knives in a very literal sense, Sansa learns how to fight with words and by understanding her enemies. Her sister can survive by fighting, but Sansa relies on her words and saying the right things to the right people to keep going. These two are very different characters, yet at the end of the day, they’re both doing what they’re best at to stay alive.

Daenerys Targaryen is another wonderfully written character. She’s introduced as a young girl who’s frightened of the world and her future, and has ended up being the ruler of several major city-states with three dragons to her name. However, she’s not free of flaw; she often makes misjudgments while ruling these cities, and isn’t always the most receptive to criticism. After all, she’s only a young teenage girl in charge of multiple cities, who was only recently made aware of her potential and given this power.

These are just four characters that are cohesive and have fully fleshed out storylines, and they take the fact that they are women, and completely take charge of it. Arya and Daenerys take people by surprise at what young girls can do. Sansa Stark has managed to live amongst her enemies throughout the story because they don’t realize how clever she truly is. Cersei Lannister, despite resenting her femininity, uses it as a weapon and a tool to get what she wants, and to get the best for herself and those she loves.

While the show doesn’t always capture the intricacies of female characters, it does show the variety of women in this series that make their own fates. They aren’t all necessarily strong in the traditional sense, but they’re very human and realistic for it. In a time when the media and world are obsessed with the idea of the “strong woman”, who can demolish a man’s self esteem in one sentence and look flawless doing it, its refreshing to see characters that subvert that trope, who are not used as mere fuel for the progression of a man’s storyline. It’s nice to see real women with a variety of motives and desires in mainstream media, and hopefully, it’s a trend that continues.