Well, if they met and were head over heels with each other, I don’t think that political antagonism would have stopped them from being together. Jon would overcome his abhorrence for incest, Daenerys would overcome the fact that he has a stronger claim, and they’d go down the aisle to complete their story. Narratively this isn’t an interesting story, because of what preceded it, meaning, it’s a very underwhelming ending to a very complex story.
If, on the other hand, a story starts like this, i.e. two people meet randomly or for whatever cause, discover that they are related and still go on being together, facing the obstacles as they come, it’d be much more interesting, because all the conflict would be in front of them. But as it is, mostly in the books (but also in the show even the way they told the story), these characters are accomplished characters, each with their own course, priorities, mistakes, decisions, etc., and these are in fact obstacles that lead them to conflict.
This is why I am saying it invalidates the entire story to have these two live the romance (whether they actually have romantic feelings or not). It is meaningless to have a hidden heir for five books; so hidden, that the master mind of the story invented a claimant (Daenerys) who overcomes all obstacles to reclaim what she believes is rightfully hers, and another hidden heir, f!Aegon, to confuse the story even more, diverge attention from the rightful heir, and lead to unexpected events that would strain the situation between Jon/Dany (in the books) even more. This story is designed from the beginning to pit them against each other as antagonists and Jon’s identity is designed to bring everything upside-down in Westeros (we’ll see in the books in which way).
ASOIAF is not a romance, like Ash said. Martin didn’t want to say the story of a romance, therefore romance (J/D and all the rest) become marginal in it. So this opinion of mine derives from the general structure of the book.
It seems kind of to me that R+L=J did mean nothing in the end because Jon went back to being an anonymous outcast.
You’re right, this is the reason why the story feels so off. Show-wise it wasn’t nicely told even though I can acknowledge the irony of the most important person in Westeros in the end being condemned or choosing himself to live in anonymity. Narratively it’s a nice twist; I don’t think it’s Martin’s solution, but if it is he’ll reach there infinitely better and rewardingly for the readers.
However, maybe that’s not a conclusion to a story but a continuation of one.
I believe it’s the content before the final clash. All the themes you have mentioned are explored before these characters meet in the books (and show, somewhat). What is the world they envision? What is their take on justice? What is their take on people’s rights?
You know, I’ve read a lot lately on ASOIAF. I am aware that some universities have even included it in their course material. It is considered a masterpiece, but time will tell if it will replace Tolkien’s LotR. One of the most interesting views is the one that views all the characters of ASOIAF as foils/parallels to each other, sometimes both foils and parallels. In this sense, all leading figures are foils to each other; and some are parallels. Apparently there’s a lot of discussion on the literary models of the book and the influences Martin has received, adapted and incorporated in his work.
In your view, does this lessen or compromise the romance factor in these relationships? But I don’t think GRRM is the only one at fault here. It seems quite common for fictional romances to have conflict, power dynamics, and antagonism.
Unfortunately most of these characters are not POVs, they are not mains. Alys, Gilly, Penny, we don’t see their POVs (we might at some point, but not yet). Ygritte is not, Val is not.
I don’t think that Martin’s relationships so far are healthy, they contain a significant amount of abuse and manipulation. Jamie-Brienne perhaps is healthiest than most but it’s not a love relationship yet, but Jamie-Cersei, Tyrion-Shae, Robert-Cersei, Tyrion-Sansa, Tyrion-Penny (not a love one, but with a certain “romantic” content), Daenerys-Hizdar, Daenerys-Daario… I’m forgetting. No, they’re not healthy. I’m also having problems with Dany-Drogo, because she idolizes him and she uses him. Perhaps Renly-Loras? But we only get glimpses of that and the actual powerplay about the throne obscures it. Stannis and Selyse, Stannis and Melissandre… Even Jon and Ygritte, because Ygritte pushed him too hard and he used her to be accepted by the Freefolk, no matter the feelings.
And it’s not just about characters. What makes these romances feel so off particularly in the books is that the broad strokes that define who the characters are pit them against each other. It’s not about who is the stronger personality of the two, e.g. Robert-Cersei, or Jon-Ygritte, it’s about who gets real power and what is accomplished through the relationship. Tyrion bought a whore and they treat each other for what they are, one a buyer, the other the object of the transaction. Tyrion marries Sansa because he is ambitious, but she’s a minor in the books and won’t ever get over the fact that he comes from the family that murdered her own, while he’s stuck with the trauma of his dwarfism and blames her for not wanting him because of that.
There’s not much room in these for any sign of a healthy relationship.
Not even Jon-Sansa, a sibling relationship; it’ll be undercut by the trauma of his recent murder and whatever she’ll carry with her from the Vale. Jon-Dany will be undercut by the mere fact that he wants her dragons already in ADWD.
Lol. Now that I think about it why do we even like this thing? If it ends in the books exactly as it did in the show, it’ll be the most nihilistc thing ever written in many centuries of literature. The show certainly made sure to sink each and every ship apart from Jamie-Cersei which was by far the sickest of all.
Is that healthy?