I am a full-time attorney and part time writer who is also a big fan of The Game of Thrones. While watching the show and reading the book I came to see a variety of legal issues intertwined in the narrative. Legal issues such as incest, succession to the throne, trial by combat and other issues led me to believe that our book on the Law of Game of Thrones would be both interesting and educational for fans of the show. As part of that process I created the following treatment which explains my hopes for the book as well as the legal issues I hope to explore. If any publishers have any interest in this work I would welcome their consideration for publication.
THE LAW OF
GAME OF THRONES®
GAME OF THRONES®
Michael J Posner, Esquire
The Game of Thrones universe presents a feudal world with magic, walking dead and dragons, yet also presents new legal challenges that include incest, legal succession, punishment alternatives (the Night’s Watch), trial by combat, slavery, prostitution, the power of the Church, and Kings as Judge and Jury, that will interest lawyers and Game of Thrones fans alike.
Game of Thrones is a violent, primitive, war torn society that still has substantial rules and laws that, if violated, can lead to severe consequences both secular and religious. Justice is meted unfairly and arbitrarily, and can be swift and deadly (from losing one’s fingers to losing one’s head). Using current and historic legal thought as groundwork, as well as actual legal issues raised in various episodes of the multitude of Game of Thrones episodes and books, a better understanding of current and past legal issues can be raised in a non-legal, highly entertaining format.
Legal issues have permeated throughout the long history of the Game of Thrones universe. Starting from the similarities to 12th through 15th century England, with an emphasis on the War of the Roses, the world created by George R.R. Martin is both historically familiar, yet with enough differences to both entertain and to raise questions, many of which touch on substantial legal issues. These stories, which were written from the context of a modern writer, create an unusual opportunity to attempt to impose modern legal thought on past events. However, the law, like science, continues to evolve, from both technological and sociological events, even in fiction.
Understanding the shape of the legal past is difficult for anyone, including experienced legal minds. That is possibly why, in the Game of Thrones world, there are multiple claims to the Iron Throne, knights of varying degrees of chivalry, religious zealots and slavery, that the law is still sacrosanct, even if applied in a highly uneven and unjust fashion. How these laws and rules are presented in the program and books shows both the good and bad side of the human condition, much of which is still relevant to the world today.
The legal issues raised in the various Game of Thrones have touched upon almost all aspects of our justice system, including both civil matters and criminal actions. The Law of Game of Thrones will review the best examples from Game of Thrones, explain the legal system used by the show to handle the issues presented, compare the approach to modern judicial thought, and then suggest several alternative methods based on possible judicial concepts that have evolved given the sociological and technological limitations posed by the Game of Thrones universe.
The Law of Game of Thrones will also examine the legal nature of the Westeros (Seven Kingdoms) itself. Neither a true modern country nor independent kingdoms, Westeros has its own legal basis for existence and action. The structure, command and legal authority will be compared to both our own modern nation states, both first and third world, as well as similarities to medieval England, Scotland and Wales.
Another major issue to be examined is the main thrust of Game of Thrones, the law of succession and who will sit on the iron Throne. Equally preached, bent and broken at an alarming rate, The Law of Game of Thrones will examine this important issue, its merits and drawbacks, and the legal basis for who should sit on the Iron Throne, from Stannis to Renly, Stark to Targaryen, the claims of the Cersei Lannister’s children, all “secretly” borne of incest and Cersei Lannister’s own crowing at the end of season six.
To aid legal fans in the future, a simplified digest of the laws/rules of Westeros, Dorne, Bravos and Dothraki, will be included, offering each realm’s unique brand of culture to various common legal issues such as criminal punishment, banking, leadership, slavery and more.
The Law of Game of Thrones will appeal to both members of the legal community and Game of Thrones fans who will enjoy the analysis of specific legal issues in the realm of the Game of Thrones universe. With the continued popularity of the Game of Thrones, The Law of Game of Thrones is a work that should have no problem being received by this enthusiastic group of potential readers.
Michael J Posner © 2017
1. The Law of Succession…. who can sit on the Iron Throne
2. Incest and its consequences, Cersei and Jaime/Craster’s Keep/Targarayan
3. Trial by Combat (sample chapter attached)
4. Slavery and slaving (the Ser Jorah Mormont story)
5. Emancipation and freedom
6. Alternative punishment, the Night’s Watch as Australia
7. Prostitution, homosexuality and morality
8. Canon law of the old and new gods
9. Westeros and its legal structure, seven kingdoms, four wardens, one king
10. Children as collateral; Theon Greyjoy and Myrcella Baratheon
11. The Marriage Contract (and the consequences of a breach)
12. Vigilante Justice; the faceless man and Ellaria Sand
13. The Law of Hospitality
14. Legal Digest