Name Changes and Regime Changes

It seems I’ve been struggling to find an identity for myself lately as a writer.  This may or may not stem from the fact that I have written or edited little in the past few months, a fact that I intend to remedy.  In the past I changed my pen name of choice from Proctor to Rhodes, but now the name Kay feels wrong to me, like something old and dusty in my childhood that I should have thrown away years ago and have little attachment to anyway.

A little explanation:  the first name I chose for myself was Kay Proctor.  Proctor came from the last name of a maternal ancestor of mine who first came to the US from England.  (It wasn’t until much later that I realized I had misread the handwriting in what exists of our family records, and the name should have been Procter.  But the name stuck by then, and I felt little reason to change it.  After a while Proctor/er felt stale and I abandoned it in favor of a name that had more excitement to it.  Kay derived from a nickname I insisted on calling myself when I was a moody teenager to set myself apart from the many Christines and Christinas I knew, and I’ve long outgrown the shunning of my birth name.

The name I have in mind now is closer to my legal name with the same surname of Rhodes.  I won’t be using it yet, at least not until I keep kicking at it and feel sure it will stick.

Now that that’s out of the way, there is something else I’ve been wanting to say in line with current events in popular entertainment.  I’m speaking of the show Game of Thrones.  These thoughts below WILL contain spoilers if you have not seen the latest episode “Rains of Castamere,” so proceed with caution.

I’d recently finished reading the books and knew about the Red Wedding before this episode aired.  I’m not too proud to admit that I was among the book-readers who sat on the edge of their seats in anticipation, smirking at what the reactions will be of those who would be blindsided by the event.  I was still shocked and shaking when the credits rolled, because even though I’d braced myself for what happened I was not prepared for the execution (har) of the carnage on-screen.

There are many in the camp, including book-readers who made their opinions clear long ago, that believes the Red Wedding was unnecessary brutality that came out of left field, and the Stark rebellion could have been put down by other means.  There are suspicions that George R. R. Martin made up the Red Wedding as an attempt to be and edgier author and kill off main characters as violently as possible.  I disagree.

Ever since Robb took another woman as his bride, there were subtle hints that foreshadowed a brutal confrontation between the Starks and Freys.  In the books, you see the beginning of the fallout before you meet Robb’s wife:  The Freys in the northern rebellion angrily pack up and leave, and Elmar Frey who once bragged about his bring promised to a princess now mourns the fact that the agreement is nullified.  “The Rains of Castamere” as a song is introduced prior to the Red Wedding, and in the previous episode Cersei explains to Margaery the true meaning of the song.

Though Cersei turns her recollection of the story into a thinly-veiled threat against Margaery, this is the major hint that something will go horribly wrong.  The song describes a family that rebels against the Lannisters and is promptly slaughtered.  Which noble family is in rebellion against the Lannisters at this very moment?  And what is the title of the following episode?

The last words Robb Stark heard were, “The Lannisters send their regards.”  (Actually “Jaime Lannister sends his regards,” according to the books.)

In later chapters of the books (and hinted in the preview for the season finale,) it is revealed that Tywin has been plotting out this wedding slaughter all along.  The Freys and Boltons became his allies who carried out the necessary tasks for Tywin’s plan to come into fruition.  The Freys felt wronged because Robb Stark went back on the terms of their alliance, and the Boltons were rivals of the Starks from the beginning.  When Roose saw an opportunity for advancement, he took it.

Conclusion:  The Red Wedding was not a crime of passion or a senseless act of violence, but instead a coldly calculated maneuver to remove one more rebellious king from the equation.  The violence following Lord Edmure’s wedding feast was necessary for the completion of Tywin’s plan.  Robb Stark was just unlucky enough to give the Freys a motive to switch sides.

It can be dangerous to become attached to fictional characters.  (This is especially true if you’re reading a book by someone like George R. R. Martin.)  In a well-executed story the protagonist is not the clean-cut example of good pitted against a great evil.  There is no such thing as a hero.  In our world, those assumed to be “good guys” can fail when pitted against a stronger enemy, or become the enemy in the end.  Fiction can benefit from this quality and feel more “real” to the reader, no matter how much it hurts.

4 thoughts on “Name Changes and Regime Changes

  1. Name change – why not just use your own name? I think that putting your own name to your writing gives you an extra incentive to write the absolute best you can manage. Only exception I can think of is erotica or if you write in two very different genres.

    Regime change – I hadn't read the Red Wedding before the episode aired (I'm racing through the books at the minute) but felt it was warranted for the families involved. Not just Tywin's long game but also the Bolton's were clearly betraying the Starks already and old Lord Hoster never trusted the Freys so we knew treachery was possible. I think the plotting of the books is excellent and I can't wait to see series 4 now as that's my favourite book so far.

  2. Name change – I wanted to go with a name that's easier to pronounce, as mine is fairly difficult. Also.I didn't like the idea of my legal name being associated with my fiction. Should I become successful my only title would then be “author,” and I'm more than that. So I use the pen name like a mask I can put on at will.

    Also it turns out season 4 will be the remainder of A Storm of Swords because the book is so long. You may have to wait until season 5.

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