Saturday, April 30, 2011

Game of Thrones

Have you seen the newest Big Deal in the geek TV community? Two weeks ago, HBO aired the first episode of Game of Thrones, a ten episode season based on the book A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin, the first book in the Song of Ice and Fire series. For those not in the know, the SoI&F series is an epic fantasy series of political intrigue, murders, wars, magic, and several families all vying for the claim of a single throne. It's gritty, dirty, and holds nothing back; it's real. No one's head is safe from the ax that is Martin's pen, and the series lives by the idea that everyone is mortal, everyone can lose, no matter how righteous or good they may be. Life isn't fair, and neither is Martin as a writer, but it makes for a damn good read.  

I am in love with this series. DM and I were given the books by a good friend as a wedding gift. They're huge, 800 to 1,200 pages each, four in the current series with the fifth coming in the summer. I didn't expect to like them - I'm not a fan of politics. A Game of Thrones, though, ain't your momma'a politics, and I got sucked in. The books are separated by chapters with focus on the events in the lives of different characters, but they all interact amongst each other. I think by the end of the fourth book, A Feast For Crows, I counted at least 15 chapter characters over the series. Even if one chapter was uninteresting to me or focused on a character I disliked, I was drawn to finish it to get to the next chapter, focused on someone else. Despite the disconnected chapters, Martin manages to maintain an easy-to-follow flow and ties the events of the different lives together well. Don't let the density of these books intimidate you, you won't be able to put them down. It does NOT help that Martin is a master of cliffhangers. I often found myself flipping through the pages to see if there was another chapter focusing on that person so we're not left utterly hanging. He didn't always provide, so I had to start on the next book...until I ran out of books.

It's always a concern to me when someone takes a book, a game, a play, and decides to turn it into a movie or tv show. I'm usually left disappointed - book conversions leave out so much, game conversions as just unsatisfying to fans (ESPECIALLY if Uwe Boll gets his hands on them), and plays or musicals have to cut so much to fit into a set time limit. That did not stop me from anxiously waiting for 9PM on Sunday April 17th and the airing of the first episode of Game of Thrones. As much as I'm wary about converting books to visual media, I love it for one sole purpose: even if it flops, it gives you a visual of the characters that you never had before. You get to see them come to life, to put a face to the words and actions. In every sense, HBO's Game of Thrones does not disappoint. The characters are all perfectly cast (with Sean Bean [aka Boromir] as Eddard "Ned" Stark, the patriarch of the main family), and the budget of the show was high enough to make an amazing replica of this medieval fantasy world. My only issue is that they had to age some of the younger Stark children a few years, but they still maintain their personalities and are still recognisable as themselves. They all look and act the roles amazingly. It can be a little hard to pick out the less prominent characters, but it's still doable.

If you enjoy epic fantasy like The Lord of the Rings series, you'll probably find Game of Thrones up your alley, and if you're a little uncertain still, sit down with a bag of popcorn (and no kids, this is NOT a kids safe show. At all. Ever. Just don't do it) and enjoy the hour-long premiere (you can find it on HBO online or on demand). You won't regret it! And if you DO enjoy the books and the show, well, someone happened to dig up a Game of Thrones tabletop game...

Happy rolling!

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