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Kathelm said:
I've heard it said that the books are heavily based on The War of the Roses, a period of succession crisis and civil war in 15th century England. I don't know the details of the history to say anything more, but I don't think there are frost zombies, giants, or mammoths in Scotland, so I think it's safe to say he embellished a little.

And as to the sex and violence, I agree that a big part of it is showing the hedonism and abuse that comes out of huge power disparities between the ruling class and small folk.
I agree, you can't depict war and power struggles without keeping the sexual power plays.
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