In preparation for tonight’s much anticipated episode of ‘Game of Thrones’ let’s take this opportunity to look back over the series for those you who might have missed it. This show is directly based off the first book in George R.R. Martin’s ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ series which is called, no surprise, ‘Game of Thrones’. Martin is very much an enthusiast of historical miniatures, knights in particular, and based this work loosely off the War of the Roses. Although it is a fantasy series it is renowned for a gritty realism usually lacking in that genre, and for having 8.3 metric crap-tonnes of characters. Yes, the ‘tonne’ is already metric so that was redundant, but with that many characters it demanded extra emphasis.
So let’s focus on the series, which is following the book very closely so far. ‘Game of Thrones’ takes place in the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros. This is a kingdom forged by the Targaryens, descended from a race of Valerians (Atlantians, High Men, etc) who created a royal dynasty by conquering the seven kingdoms on the continent of Westeros with their dragons. Over the centuries their dragons grew twisted from inbreeding and died, as the royals themselves grew increasingly twisted from their own inbreeding. Recently in the history of this kingdom the Targaryens were overthrown in a coup and the war hero Robert Baratheon was made king, a poor king by the way. His best friend and brother in arms Eddard “Ned” Stark is the ruler of Winterfell, the greatest noble of the north, and his family make up the original ‘core’ characters of the story. We see the events of the narrative through their eyes, mostly, but later other characters grow to become just as important in their own ways. Oh right, we also have a young girl and her cruel older brother who are the last living Targaryens in exile, their story is sort of the counterpoint to what is going on in Westeros.
Anyway, the story kicks off with the death of Jon Arryn, the Hand of the King (basically the Chief Advisor/Vice President/Guy who does all the work). King Robert travels to the north to get his old friend Ned Stark to be the new Hand of the King, and Ned is just honorable enough to do it despite his better judgment. Combined with the stirring of strange, magical creatures in the far north, and changing political climates we get a complex and interesting story. Also we see Daenerys Targaryen being ‘sold’ as a wife to a great ‘horselord’ (similar to Genghis Khan) in exchange for her brother getting men to take back his kingdom, at least that is the idea.
What separates this series from any other more traditional fantasy work is the gritty realism. When watching the show it seems like anyone can truly die, and for those of you who read the books you know it to be true. Martin is not afraid to shatter fantasy traditions and put his audience through hell along with his characters. Even those who survive are not immune to maiming and torture, physical and emotional. Some people have trouble reading his work, and it can be brutal, but that only makes it more rewarding when things do go right. Much like real life, although I hope none of you live in a world like this one.
The other thing that makes this show a winner is the characters. A beautiful cornucopia honorable heroes, twisted villains, and all the types in between. Most of the people fall between, which is what makes the show great. When you see a character who did something completely reprehensible in episode one do something awesome and admirable in episode six, only then do you realize that Martin batting for the stands. Once you get to know them, not a single character is the typical fantasy ‘template’. Seeing them grow and wither, live and die, is what keeps us coming back each week.
Now the first season is nearly over, with eight episodes out of ten done, and the ninth airs in a couple of hours. This is the perfect time to get into this series for those of you who missed out, how many times I wished that I could watch the episodes one after another. Those of you who already watch this show have the right idea, now is the time to go back and refresh yourself before the finale next week. ‘Game of Thrones’ is one of the best shows on television, some might say it is the best, and I probably wouldn’t argue with them. Try not to miss out on this amazing series.