Behind the Thrones

If you’ve been watching Game of Thrones, then you’ve been enjoying the work of one of America’s smartest, most compulsively readable novelists. You know his name. Say it with me: David Benioff.

Yep, in addition to being the co-creator and showrunner for the HBO series, Benioff is the author of a short story collection and two excellent novels, The 25th Hour and City of Thieves. (Did you think I was talking about someone else?) You may remember The 25th Hour from the 2002 movie adaptation by Spike Lee. It includes a memorable monologue in which Edward Norton lists all the people in New York City who can go fuck themselves. The monologue, the screenplay, and the book it’s based on were all written by David Benioff. City of Thieves is an even better novel, about two young men in Russia during World War II who are tasked with an absurd quest in the middle of a brutal winter: to bring back a dozen fresh eggs. It’s a gratifying blend of high literary fiction and down-and-dirty cliffhangers.

Just like Game of Thrones. All those scenes in the TV series that didn’t appear in the books, where a main character commits a deceptively simple act that inadvertantly reveals the entire scope and ethos of the world? That’s very Benioff. In adapting George R. R. Martin’s books for the screen, it doesn’t hurt to have a showrunner who’s a gifted novelist in his own right. So if you reach the end of A Dance with Dragons and you still want more, you don’t have to wait for George to polish off another 1,000 pages. Just shift your sights to 9/11-era New York City, or Russia during World War II.

– Brian Hurley

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