History and Legends of Game of Thrones: The Red God

WARNING: SPOILERS!

It’s Game of Thrones time!

Forgive my excitement but I’m something of a fan.

Last season I kicked off this entire website with a massive blog series on the history behind the show.  It was an in depth look at everything from the dragons to the Free Cities and how many parts of the show and books borrow so much influence from actual history.

For season 6 we’re going to take a more measured approach and release one article a week until the end of the season.  This will be more of a reactionary series talking about the historical parallels between things that show up in each episode.

So, without much ado, let’s talk about the Red God R’hllor.

In the show and books there is a god of fire named R’hllor.  He goes by several names such as “The Lord of Light”, “The Heart of Fire”, and “The God of Flame and Shadow”.

He’s a fairly popular god in the eastern continent of Essos and while he isn’t that popular in Westeros his servants have played a pretty big role in politics in that region.

The faith itself is monotheistic, worshiping only one singular divine being, and has a fascination with fire, which can be a good thing when dealing with something like the extreme cold but over the course of the show it’s been shown that the Red God is somewhat…demanding when it comes to sacrifice.

They also have a dualistic view of the world, believing in a single “good” god being opposed by a singe “evil” god, and believe that the world will be saved when a messianic figure named “Azor Ahai” will return to beat back the darkness and bring light to the world.

As for the servants of the Red God, they are known as Red Priests.  These servants of the Red God are often pledged to his service by They can be male or female and have been seen throughout the show preaching,

fighting,

and attempting to convert kings.

They also appear to wield some pretty potent magic

and are a faith that is slowly spreading its influence across the world.

With the blog last year we talked about the similarities between the religion of Westeros and religious history in early Europe.  The Old Gods of Westeros are similar to old Celtic pagan beliefs while the Faith of the Seven bears a striking resemblance to Christianity.

The religion of the Red God is a bit trickier than the other two.  On one hand their fascination with fire and belief in a single divine being bears a striking resemblance to Zoroastrianism, which is one of the world’s oldest monotheistic religions.

 

The Zoroastrians believe in the existence of a single god named Ahura Mazda, who is the sole creator of the world and the representation of all that is good.  It’s also worth mentioning that fire plays in important role in worship.

The thing is that while the faith of the Red God in Game of Thrones borrows things like monotheism and the fascination with fire from the Zoroastrians it’s place in the history of Game of Thrones and its rapid spread throughout Essos shares similarities with a more modern religion: Islam.

The first and biggest similarity between the two is doctrinal.  When Islam rose to prominence around 600 A.D it firmly believed that there was one God and one God only.  This was expressed in a Muslim belief known as Tawheed which confirmed that God ruled alone and was absolute.

This put Islam at odds with Christianity’s view of the Trinity, which stipulated that there was “One God in three parts”.  This bears a striking resemblance within the Game of Thrones universe to the Red God’s singular rule vs. the Faith of the Seven “one being divided into seven aspects”.

But doctrine isn’t the only thing that makes the faith of the Red God similar to Islam, it the religion’s place in history as well.

The Red God is something of a late comer to the religious scene and Islam was as well.  By the time the Prophet Mohammad received his visions from God, Christianity had been around in the ancient world for over 600 years.  Just like the Red Priests the prophet Mohammad and his followers spread the word of their visions throughout the Eastern Mediterranean through preaching,

fighting,

and engaging in political intrigue by converting kings and nobles.

Just like the Red Priests Islam followed a similar pattern by becoming very popular in the East, while experiencing resistance and outright hostility in the West.

It should be noted that in the show the Red Priests haven’t reached the point of controlling an empire of believers like the early Muslims did.

But I’m sure that if the faith of R’hllor is given enough time they will eventually reach a point where they become one of the most powerful religions in Westeros.

Crowdfunded comics that deserve your attention #1: Amiculus

Welcome to the inaugural post of a new blogs series “Crowdfunded comics that deserve your attention”.  It’s a weekly blog post about…crowdfunded comics that deserve a lot more attention then they are getting.  Every week I will select one comic series or graphic novel currently on Kickstarter, Indiegogo, Patreon, or any other crowdfunding site and write about what it is, what I like about it, and why I think it deserves to be funded.

A couple of things to clear up before we start:

1. I am not being paid for this and these posts reflect my opinion and my opinion alone.  If, for whatever reason, I receive any form of compensation for any article I write I will make it expressly clear who is paying and why.

2. This series is for comics and graphic novels only.  This blog and website is dedicated to comics and this rule is simply in place to keep it all consistent.

3.  If you are reading things and are currently running a crowdfunding campaign for a comic book or graphic novel of your own creation please let me know!  Leave a polite request and a link to your campaign on my Twitter account @CambrianComics and I will take a look.  Please only leave one request, anyone caught spamming tweets or acting in a rude or disrespectful manner will be ignored.

With that said let’s move on to our first candidate: Amiculus Volume II: Flagellum Dei

Author’s note: if you want to check out the campaign first feel free to click here to go directly to the Kickstarter page.  If you would like a little more convincing, read on.  The same link will be a the bottom of the page below.

What is it?

Amiculus Vol. II is the second Kickstarter campaign by creator Travis Horseman and artist Giancarlo Caracuzzo.  Fresh off the success of their successfully funded Volume 1: Roma Aeterna, which is now available on Amazon,

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this writer and artist take us to a war torn ancient Rome at the twilight of the Western Roman Empire and ask the question: did Rome fall…or was it pushed?

Why I like it:

Amiculus is ancient historical fiction at its finest.  I know this because I donated the Kickstarter campaign for Volume I and I was not disappointed.  Travis Horseman crafts a tale of blood, betrayal, and unimaginable violence at the twilight of one of the greatest empires the world has ever known.  The comic follows the quest of the ancient historian Procopius of Caesarea as he seeks the last words of the boy emperor Romulus Augustulus, the last truly Roman ruler of the Western Roman Empire.

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He finds a manuscript that takes him into the final days of the Roman Empire as the city that was once the jewel of the world is laid to siege by the barbarian general (and former Roman mercenary) Odoacer.

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Sadly, Rome is not prepared for this kind of fight.  The Emperor is a young boy, a weak leader who is controlled by his commanding and ambitious father Flavius Orestes,

Romulus

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And Odoacer seems to have help from a mysterious clocked figure that appears to know everything about the Roman defenses, a shrouded figure known only as…Amiculus.

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The reason I’m talking about this is because this is the kind of story I love to read.  I am a rabid fan of ancient history and I can personally attest that every name, every date, and every location within Rome is accurate.  With the exception of Amiculus (if we don’t take SOME liberty with the events that happened we wouldn’t have a work of historical fiction) all the major players are there.

Also, the art work is top notch.  Caracuzzo is a veteran artist who has been drawing for over thirty years, and his dedication and skill show in this comic.  Here the artist gets to showcase an impressive eye for action and some of the most effective emotional displays I have ever seen.

Why you should donate:

Amiculus is a work of historical fiction, a field that comic books don’t really explore too often.  Granted there are plenty of western and fantasy comics that take their inspiration from history but this is different.  This is a story filled with real people, in real locations, making real history and you don’t need that much embellishment to make it exciting.

Still, if that isn’t enough to make you want to donate there is the practical side to consider.  I’ll be the first to admit that one of the big problems with crowdfunded comics is that the creators of successful funding campaigns sometimes have a bit of trouble delivering promised rewards on promised shipping dates.  That is not a problem here, the creative team has already created a successful campaign that has delivered on its promises (like I said before, I donated to their first campaign) and will do so again.

This comic is a work of art and storytelling that allows an excellent storyteller and an excellent artist to tell an epic, complex, and incredibly violent story about an epic, complex, and incredibly violent period of human history.

If you liked what you read and want to either learn more or donate, please feel free to check out the Kickstarter page here.  Thank you.