If you had to put your finger on why Game of Thrones stands head and shoulders above every other TV show made in recent years you’d probably agree that it’s George R. R. Martin’s ruthless capacity to shock us at every turn.
There have been some truly brutal, heart-stopping deaths in the show’s history including Robb and Catelyn Stark at the Red Wedding, Shireen Baratheon’s fiery sacrifice and, of course, Hodor’s tragic demise. I’m still not quite over that one.
And now the Thrones author, 69, has revealed exactly why he’s so willing to kill off so many of our most beloved characters.
Speaking on the PBS show The Great American Read, Martin talked about the impact of reading Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings when he was a youngster.
“And then Gandalf dies!” he says in his beautiful, charming manner. “I can’t explain the impact that had on me at 13. You can’t kill Gandalf. I mean, Conan didn’t die in the Conan books, you know? Tolkien just broke that rule, and I’ll love him forever for it.
“The minute you kill Gandalf, the suspense of everything that follows is a thousand times greater, because now anybody could die. Of course, that’s had a profound on my own willingness to kill characters off at the drop of a hat.”
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Spoilers! While Gandalf the Grey did indeed die fighting off the Balrog in the Mines of Moria, he was reborn as Gandalf the White which bears many similarities to Jon Snow being stabbed to death and then being brought back to life by Melisandre.
The final season of Game of Thrones is expected to return in the spring of 2019.
(Images: Game of Thrones / HBO)