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Sunday, April 17, 2011

Game of Thrones Begins Greatly on HBO

Game of Thrones began tonight on HBO.  It's adapted from George R.R. Martin's work.   I reviewed his novel set in this world back in 1996 - see the link to my review below - and enjoyed it.  But I'm going to review this series in its own right, and try not to let what I know about the story influence me overly, though it no doubt will.

Here are the basics of the complex, powerful plot.  King Robert - of the Seven Kingdoms, in a place much like medieval England - wants Ned Stark, Lord of Winterfell, the northern kingdom (he's also Warren of the North) - to become his "hand," or right-hand man.   Stark has five children, and a bastard son.  Before the first episode is over, the King's brother-in-law - brother of the Queen - will push Stark's youngest son out a high open window, because the boy saw the brother-in-law schtupping his own sister, the Queen (good to see Lena Headey of The Sarah Connor Chronicles and The 300 in this role).

Here, let me mention that there's lots of fine female nudity in this episode - and I presume series - if not quite as good as yet as on HBO's  Rome, I'd say better than Showtime's The Tudors.  And there's also a lot of love-making - to be genteel about it - and the characters talk about it a lot.   And, so far, they mostly seem to do it the really old-fashioned way, from the back.   I say mostly, because the Queen's other brother, a dwarf, is seen in bed with a bevvy of beautiful, procured women, and it's not clear how they did it in bed.

Meanwhile,  speaking of nudity, love-making, and politics, beautiful Daenerys is across the sea - in the equivalent of Normandy - and obligated by her brother to marry the young King of a fierce horsemen people, much like the Huns or the Mongols.   She's Tagarian, and her brother yearns for the throne now occupied by Robert.  A few years before the start of our story, the pair were driven from the Seven Kingdoms, when the King and his supporters swept the Kingdoms of Tagarians.

There's also a supernatural facet to all of this.   There are fossilized dragon eggs on the mainland - Daenerys gets one as a gift for her wedding.  And north of Winterfell is a wild, mystical, deadly land - north of the wall - peopled or zombied by "white walkers" (some kind of cold humanoid demons) and replete with dire-wolves.    Six of these baby wolves are now in the hands of Stark's children.  They - the wolves - grow up fast.  And one has seen Bran,  Stark's youngest son, pushed out of the high tower...

An altogether excellent start of what promises to be a superb series.  I'll be back here next week with more.

5-min podcast review of Game of Thrones

See also A Game of Thrones: My 1996 Review of the First Novel

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Will said...

Seeing the young boy pushed out of the window was like a kick in the gut. I think the show has a lot of promise.

Robert K. Blechman said...

I've found Martin's Song of Ice and Fire to be a multi-thousand page indictment of the practice of inherited monarchy, or even of a hereditary aristocracy. Beyond that it reads in print like an HBO series in waiting where it isn't enough for life to be nasty, brutish and short; the inhabitants of Westeros seem to relish extremes in cruelty and interpersonal abuse that make life even harder. Maybe the uninterrupted warfare, savagery, banditry and human destruction is the means by which the characters of Martin's world cull the human herd in anticipation of the coming long winter.