I don't like grimdark. I have several reasons for this, but I came across one today that perhaps gets to the heart of the matter. I'm reading a novel by Lois McMaster Bujold. In it, she has a secondary character who is a standard sort--the tomboyish young woman who winds up a lady-in-waiting to the main character. Bujold takes care to make us like the character--she serves the MC well, is skilled and brave, and she's falling in love. And it struck me: this is exacty the kind of character who gets killed off in grimdark. It's practically a formula, isn't it? Introduce a character, make us like them or feel sympathy for them, and kill them. Realism! Nope, sez I. That good people suffer is certainly true (more than one is suffering cruelly in Bujold's book). That's realistic. But that's as far as reality goes. Reality doesn't make me care for that good person. Most good people I don't even know about. But it is absolutely not realistic to bring someone into someone's life, to contrive to make that person like them, and them kill them off. That's not reality, that's an author's choice. Reality doesn't care two nickels whether I like or even know that good person. My dislike of grimdark has more to do with the contract between author and reader. If the author is going to make me care about a character, then that character's fate--good or bad--has to matter. It can't be a mere device. It can't be decoration. So, I trust Bujold. She will do right by the characters and thereby do right by me the reader. With grimdark (looking at you, GRRM but also at many others), I don't trust the author. They'll have characters suffer for the sake of showing suffering. I don't find that interesting, still less do I find it moving. I have other complaints, and perhaps those can be separate threads. I wonder if you, reading this post, feel somewhat the same way I do.