By Becca Seel
HBO’s Game of Thrones is easily the most anticipated, heavily-publicized television series of the year. Thrones is HBO’s first foray into fantasy, with channel reps dubbing it “The Sopranos in Middle Earth.”
As a massive fan of the books, I and other admirers of George R.R. Martin’s epic A Song of Ice and Fire series have been waiting for Game of Thrones (or “GoT” to its fans) with excitement bordering on anxiety.
GoT makes Harry Potter look like a toddler’s bedtime story. There is graphic, gory violence, nudity galore, and a gruesome back-story of regicide and infanticide.
Power is the main theme of the books, and both the books and TV series will show how it corrupts, maddens, and destroys.
A criticism of the pilot of GoT is that it tries to cram too much into one hour. The sheer number of characters in the series is potentially overwhelming for a GoT initiate and it might take several viewings to fully grasp the events and the characters in them. It should be noted, though, that The Wire, HBO’s greatest achievement to date, was a slow starter with a similarly large cast.
One of the reasons the ASOIAF series is so beloved, and the best fantasy books written in the last decade, is that the many characters are so deliciously, morally ambiguous that the plot of the series hinges entirely on their ambivalent, sometimes contrary actions. From what I’ve seen so far, the same appears true for the show.
Though not to worry, there’s plenty of eye candy for those who tune in with little to no interest in characters’ plotting and political maneuverings.
The vivid characters of Martin’s work are brought to the screen by terrific acting, the special effects are believable, and the sets, costumes, and weaponry are authentic.
Settings such as the seven hundred foot ice Wall bordering the north of Westeros and the stronghold of Winterfell filmed on Northern Irish plains are breathtaking.
And sorry, Rome, but Game of Thrones has the best title credits of any television show I’ve ever seen.
Despite other reviews accusing GoT of being purely male-centric (one of which from the New York Times is both lazy and insulting to women), I can attest as a female fan that much of the show is universal, and it would be a shame to let the traditionally male fantasy genre deter women from watching the show.
Sure, the land of Westeros has magic (which is revealed in a satisfying pace through the series), but the characters and plots that comprise the show will banish any viewers’ reluctance to watch because of genre.
Will Game of Thrones top the books? Nope. But like Lord of the Rings, it will be a fine companion to them.
Game of Thrones will keep viewers engaged every week, and will doubtlessly gain a legion of devoted fans. And rightly so, as it is a stunning series of epic proportions.