Photo from belfasttelegraph.co.uk
There is always magic in the worlds of epic fantasies, but in the world of the Starks and the Lannisters and whatever is left of the broken House of the Targaryens, magic brings with it a sense of doom, and the smell of spilled blood. The dragons have fallen, the king has turned into a fat drunk who likes hunting more than figuring out how to save a kingdom deep in debt, and the gods are mere silent faces carved in the bark of trees. You can pray to them, but they do not answer.
This world, like most magical worlds, has a forest, but the forest is kept behind a Wall like the wild creature that it is. The phrase “to take up the black” means to be one of the men who guards the Wall. These men do not take wives nor sire children. The punishment for desertion is death. Not surprisingly they’re having serious budget and manpower problems.
All of the Houses have honor, and follies; all of the Houses have pain. They’ve all fought in a war where they’ve lost parents and siblings and children. Every House yearns for revenge, yet every House has also sinned.
In A Game of Thrones, the summer has lasted for years, and now everyone is fearing the bitter cold. The longer the summer, the longer the winter, they say.
The Stark words are, Winter is coming. To paraphrase: We are all going to be seriously fucked.
Oh, yes. And soon.