How Salmon Rushdie “Satanic Verses” influenced Game of Thrones

As a writer, I read far and wide. I read so many various types of things (as well as watch many shows and listen to podcasts), that later I might vaguely recall an interesting detail, but not remember exactly where I read or heard it. Writers often read widely, and our creative minds then take disparate elements from everything we’ve experienced in life to create new ideas. Most of the time this is done unconsciously – it’s our funny, creative minds at work.

Salmon Rushdie Satanic Verses

Recently a funny thing happened. I had finally gotten myself into The Satanic Verses enough to keep reading it – I’d tried previously, but had trouble getting used to Salmon Rushdie’s style of writing, which is very good, but very different – he’s extremely loquacious. All of these extra words were forcing me to slow way down while reading his novel, which was an interesting effect and a welcome one. I was struggling to get into it, when I skipped ahead and speed-read a few sections, to try to see if it was worth the extra work. I also happened to be re-watching the Game of Thrones HBO series at the same time. And suddenly my mind started picking up on several similar particular details between the two stories – this was like finding hidden “Easter Eggs.” There are too many of them to be coincidence. Salmon Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses was published in 1988. George R R Martin’s A Game of Thrones A Song of Ice and Fire was published twelve years later, in 1996.

A Game of Thrones – A Song of Ice and Fire

I propose my theory that George R R Martin read and was influenced by Salmon Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses, in his writing of A Game of Thrones book series, albeit unconsciously. This is a guess on my part, my opinion, I have no idea which books George R R Martin has read. The Satanic Verses is not listed as one of George R R Martin’s favorites or recommendations. But I will go over the various detailed similarities I found in Salmon Rushdie’s Satanic Verses, some of which are very strong, some general or a real stretch, and let’s see what you think. When put all together, I think it makes a strong case. I’ve googled this, and no one else seems to have picked up on it. (Maybe it’s all in my mind…)

Game of Thrones Design

I found twenty correspondences between the two very-long stories:

  1. In overall story design, we have the similarity of both stories taking us all over the world to various cultures. In The Satanic Verses we go from the icy and snowstorm peak of Mt. Everest, to the ancient villages of the Arabian desert, to the busy metropolitan cities of London, Bombay and New York. In GoT it is all set in the same time period, but we go from the frozen north wastes beyond the Wall to the Arabian and Egyptian-like culture and cities in the far deserts to the east, to the busy, dirty, metropolitan cities on various continents.
  2. In both stories we have, right from the very beginning, characters dying or being killed regularly throughout the story in dramatic ways. More so in A Game of Thrones.
  3. In The Satanic Verses, in the sections about the ancient city of Jahilia (Parts II and VI), there is strong female character, Hind. She is a strong and beautiful, a seeming ever-vibrant queen-like figure (the Grandee’s wife, and generally the real power behind the Grandee, who rules the city), living in her high, majestic palace overlooking the city of Jahilia. Just like Cersei Lanister, who is actually a queen.
  4. Hind’s heraldic sigil is a red lion.
  5. When Hind’s husband describes his marriage, he says “We are a good pair, ice and fire. Her family shield, the fabled red lion, the many-toothed manticore…” [Italics mine] Of course, in Game of Thrones: A Song of Ice and Fire the story refers to Daenerys Targaryen and John Snow as the pair of ice and fire – the love interest. And Cersei Lanister’s sigil is a golden lion on a red background. But there are several other comparisons between these two interesting ladies, Hind and Cersei, as you’ll see next.
  6. Incidentally, the name “Circe” is mentioned in The Satanic Verses twice, referring to the ancient Greek tale of Circe the powerful enchantress, who turned a group of men into pigs.
  7. With Hind it is well-known (by her husband and the entire city) that she sleeps around with many men, especially younger men, even though she is married. Sexually scandalous, like Cersei.
  8. In The Satanic Verses, there is a religious temple which is Hind’s symbol of power, she is associated with it (a temple to a goddess and other deities). In one scene in Part IV, near the end of her story, Hind watches from a tall tower in her luxurious palace as this temple is destroyed by her enemies – signaling the end of her power and influence. In A Game of Thrones, also near the end of her story, Cersei stands in a high tower in her luxurious palace watching the destruction of the large city temple, destroyed by her own nefarious plans, because the temple power was threatening her own and had become her enemy. In this case the destruction of the temple was victory for the queen, not her defeat.
  9. When Hind realizes her power is over, she realizes “I may not be able to reverse the flow of history, but revenge, at least, is sweet.” She puts all her focus on revenge. Cersei is known to do the same – always after revenge, especially after she loses her three children.
  10. Near the end of the entire story, as he is becoming unhinged, Gibreel with his powerful magic trumpet Azraeel, causes great destruction with fire in the city – setting fire wantonly to buildings, things, people. Daenerys does the same with her powerful dragons – this is a turning point, the moment where she starts to become unhinged inside.
  11. Gibreel, one of the main characters, develops a god-complex more and more, becoming mentally unstable near the end, believing he really is the arch-angel Gabriel, doing God’s bidding. Daenarys suffers a similar inner journey, believing only she knows what is truly good and right – she starts developing a god-like complex and is just starting to become mentally unhinged at the end of her story. Both characters die at the end (yes, I know the game of thrones HBO series departed from the books actually written by George R R Martin in their later seasons).
  12. From The Satanic Verses, Part II: “Hamza, understanding that the night will be full of terrors…” Sound familiar? From Game of Thrones HBO series (and in the books I presume): “For the night is dark and full of terrors.”
  13. In the Arabian city of Jahilia, there is a festival night where everyone wears masks. Some young men take this opportunity to attack and kill their enemies while masked. In Game of Thrones, in the Arabian and Egyptian-style city of Mereen, wealthy young men form a group of assassins who wear masks to attack and kill their enemies.
  14. In Part V of The Satanic Verses, the word “imp” is repeated many times, especially by the character Sisodia, who stutters (which stutter Salmon Rushdie uses for his own diabolic purposes – brilliant!).
  15. There is a whole section in Part VI of The Satanic Verses which is all about a brothel and the whores who live there. There are many scenes in A Game of Thrones novel series set in and around brothels and whores.
  16. The female brothel-keeper in Salmon Rushdie’s Satanic Verses hides behind a black curtain. It is revealed that she is an imp – only three feet tall. GoT has a very famous imp main character, we all love him! By contrast, Tyrion Lanister doesn’t hide, but is in prominent circles, in the public’s eye by the end of his story – although he begins by spending most of his time in the brothels!
  17. In Part III of The Satanic Verses, we meet a female character who is “six feet tall, straight-backed, her hair hacked short as any man’s…” Just like Brienne of Tarth in GoT! Only in the first instance, Rushdie’s character is an old lady with this description, well past her youth of striking beauty. Brienne of Tarth is in the prime of her life – beautiful and powerful and tall.
  18. In Rushdie’s novel, there is a beautiful young lady with ice-white hair, who is often referred to as the “ice queen.” Of course, Daenarys Targaryen also has ice-white hair, and is also referred to as the ice queen – both for sometimes the same reason, that they are ice-cold towards men.
  19. These last two are a little bit of a stretch, but still. In The Satanic Verses a main character is called “Mahound.” Similar to “The Hound.”
  20. Here’s for a real stretch. In Gibreel’s angelic POV, he seems to be above the world sometimes, when he dreams, seeing things from an angel’s POV. Similarly, in the opening credit scene of Game of Thrones HBO series, we are looking through a POV of someone high above, looking at the world below, peering through and adjusting an eyeglass, etc. Like from an angel’s POV, above everything, seeing everything.

George R R Martin Homepage

Of course I don’t see anything to prove this on George R R Martin’s homepage, in the Game of Thrones HBO series, watching the game of thrones online or reading George R R Martin’s books (of which I’ve only read Game of Thrones A Song of Ice and Fire so far). My own creative mind just happened to make these connections this past summer. Funny how our minds work…

You can Watch the Game of Thrones Online

or on TV and also read Salmon Rushdie Satanic Verses. Can you spot these and maybe more hidden Easter Eggs? What do you think – are there enough clues here to make my theory seem plausible? Or is this all nonsense and am I totally full of it? Leave your comments below – I’m genuinely curious.