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Middle Ages without borders: a conversation on medievalism

Tommaso di Carpegna Falconieri
Pierre Savy
Lila Yawn

a) “Power lies where people believe it does. It’s a trick, a shadow on the wall.” Images and forms of medieval power in Game of Thrones

1) The game behind the throne: George R. R. Martin and the balancing power of game theory

Matteo Barbagallo

Texte intégral

1In 1996, the American author George R. R. Martin published the first volume of the overwhelming saga A Song of Ice and Fire. In this saga, noble families plot and fight against one another to rule the Seven Kingdoms from the Iron Throne, a seat created by melting together the swords of those who have fallen in battle against the king. The Iron Throne is there to remind both the members of court and the citizens that there will always be someone revolting against the king, just as there will always be someone countering the rebellion. In my paper, through the analysis of major characters and events I highlight how nobles and peasants in Westeros are nothing but pawns in the hands of skilled players whose aim is to gain ever more power. Indeed, both Varys and Baelish use people to reach different goals, but the way they play the “game of thrones” creates interesting parallels with Machiavelli’s theories and John Nash’s game theory, whose principles seem to have been remodeled by Martin to show a never-ending struggle for balance within the walls of King’s Landing.


University of Glasgow

© Publications de l’École française de Rome, 2021

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