On Sunday, April 17, 2011, HBO premiered the first episode of their adaptation of George R. R. Martins epic fantasy novel A Song of Ice and Fire – A Game of Thrones. If you haven’t read it, having an appreciation for the fantasy genre, I would recommend that you do. In fact, read along with the series. Each season represents one book, so to me that sounds pretty doable. Watch some, read some, repeat. It’ll be worth it.
The show opens with the Black Watch patrolling for Wildlings, and they find them turned to White Walkers. The White Walkers attack the Black Watch and leave one survivor. Instead of returning to The Wall, the survivor turns and runs south, is apprehended and beheaded by Eddard Stark, Lord of Winterfell. Get all that? That is just the first ten minutes, and it’s enough to immerse the viewer into this familiar, yet alien world, where winter is coming, and it will last for years.
You have to study this series. There are many, many players, and they are all important. So far, HBO has been very true to the novel; nothing has been left out. And the the feel and look of the series is comfortable to the way I envision the worlds.
The thing about it though, the fantastical elements, stunningly visualized, are simply set dressing to what the story actually is. It’s about……..a lot of stuff. Some of the typical elements of fantasy, like legendary deeds, kingdoms in peril, struggles for power, and magic have all been included, and it all works. But then as we learn the motivations behind
why they do what they do, things start to get dark, and sexy, and cruel, and extremely bloody. It’s all captured so perfectly.
Casting was key, and when they announced that Sean Bean (Boromir in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy) was cast as Lord Stark, I tittered with excitement. Then I heard that Peter Dinklage was cast as Tyrion, and I squeed with joy. The rest of the cast is just as perfect, and performances all around are as outstanding as the beautiful settings where they are placed.
I was worried for this series, but then I found out it’s already been picked up for another season, which is good, because there are a lot of seasons required to tell this story in its entirety. No one knows how it’s going end, the last of the story has yet to be released, and George has been tight lipped about it for the most part. It’s a tease that has lasted for a long time.
What I think people are going to have a problem with is the complexity of character relationships, and trying to keep up with who exactly is betraying whom. We’ll have to pay attention, and based on what I’ve seen in the first episode, we’re going to want to.
George R.R. Martin’s “Game of Thrones” airs Sunday nights at 8:00pm CST on HBO.