Many years ago, an acquaintance of mine stated the best fantasy series he had ever read was George RR Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, and suggested that everyone he knew that enjoyed fantasy read it. For years, I kept that in mind while I bought the books and had them sitting on my bookshelf, waiting to be read. It took me a long time to actually pick up the stories and go through them as I had other series I had already been involved in reading (including Jim Butcher’s Dresden books). Last year, I decided that I better get around to reading them as the books weren’t getting any smaller, and I was itching for an inspiring fantasy. I kinda fell in love. But then, I do that sort of thing.
Then, I heard the series might be made into a TV show. Later, it became: HBO is going to air it. Patiently, I waited until the first episode. Patiently, I waited to see how, after I had managed to get through the first two books, and am now working through the third, it would be interpreted.
I’m not disappointed. I want to get that out of the way.
For those not completely initiated, the book and tv series centers around a power struggle for the Iron Throne of Westeros, left empty after the King is assassinated and his Hand (2nd in charge) is murdered for treason. It follows several families, and is a heavy, convoluted plot. If you don’t take your fantasy with extra grit, politics, and betrayal, this book series (and in turn, tv series) might not be for you. While it is a Game of Thrones (in which every family seems to be playing their own version of chess to decide rightful kingship), it is also a game of life. Each choice you make leads to a multitude of ends, and sometimes, the most deserving people are set aside for those who own birthright.
Having watched four episodes of the television series, I can decidedly say that I will enjoy the fantasy epic on the small screen. The apparent involvement of Martin in the production of the series and the writers’ love to stay truthful to the books seems very prudent. Like Lord of the Rings, there is a lot encased between book covers, and some inevitably gets left for the waste pile, but as with the interpretation of the former, Song of Ice and Fire picks out the important events and signifies each character’s identity and importance to the storyline. Fans of the book series will probably share in my eagerness to learn of Arya (a young tomboyish girl stuck in courtly society) and how she plays out this season, while also waiting to see just how the producers handle the abusive relationship Sansa goes through as she tries to grow up in an uncertain world. My favorite character, both in book and screen, seems to be Tyrion Lannister. The snide attitude, coupled with a brief show in vulnerability as you realize he has always just wanted to be accepted make you sympathize, but not to much.
I think the part I enjoy the most, and is a huge aspect of the books, is that there is no one character that is truly good without having a bad spot. Even the villians have moments where you ultimately root for them. Even Cersei, probably the character I dislike second only to her son, has times where you can feel for her. That’s the beauty of life and the books; things are never so simple. The tv series captures this as well.
So, HBO gained me as a fan for another of their series. Along with Boardwalk Empire, I hope to keep this on my viewing schedule. I suggest any lover of high, epic fantasy do so as well.