Gritty, gory, brutal, sexy, full of twists, turns, and shocking surprises. HBO releases R.R. Martin’s fantasy bestseller on April 17th. So what can we look forward to tonight?….
From book to blockbuster….
As a long time fan of Martin’s series, I won’t deny that I went into watching the series with some serious trepidation. It was like Lord of the Rings all over again where I absolutely adore a book series and panic that the on-screen version won’t translate well or be botched beyond recognition. Happily, I can say that this series defies expectations – it KILLED IT!
It’s running closely to the original storyline of the book and I love that the dialogue has not been dumbed down, or Disney-fied. Martin’s writing was a shocker to the fantasy genre when this book hit the scene in the mid-90’s. It rocked the complacent, PG-esque, hack and slash garbage that was being pushed out by the truck load during the late 80’s and early 90’s. Martin’s series, A Song of Ice and Fire turned the fantasy genre on its head – a much needed shake-up. It tapped into the need for something new, something real, and something honest. The book series is adult, fast paced, sexually explicit and coarse – definitely not for the faint of heart. I read it and fell in love instantly.
Fast forward to 2011. To my utter joy (and deepest fear) I see that HBO has taken over the production of my beloved saga.
The show is beautifully filmed; the dark grim colours of the north, the vast sweeping emptiness of the Wall, the warm, bright hues of the South and Pentos. Since it’s fantasy, the book can get away with a bit more in the medieval realism department then a purely historical fiction epic can and in some ways, it is more true to form than a lot of historical medieval movies out there.
Winter is coming…
We begin with the story being told just as it in the book – In the of the land of Westeros on the Wall, far north of Winterfell. A foray beyond the safety of the Wall goes terribly wrong and gets the show going to a bloody and eerie start.
We get a good look at life in the north and we’re introduced to the Lord of Winterfell, Ned Stark and his brood. The arrival of King Robert Baratheon and the Lannisters portends trouble for the Stark’s peaceful existence. The King’s Hand, Jon Arryn, has died suddenly and King Robert has travelled hundreds of miles to ask his long time friend (and the only person he can trust), Ned Stark, to take the position and join him in King’s Landing, in the south. This means leaving his wife Catelyn (played by Michelle Fairley) and his children behind. Catelyn points out the last time Ned travelled south, it did not end well and he came home with another woman’s son – enter Jon Snow. Beloved of his half-siblings, yet an outcast for being born a bastard.
We get a brief glimpse of the Lannisters, a powerful family married into the Baratheon house, and learn quickly about the political intrigue and suspicions surrounding the death of Jon Arryn.
We are also introduced to the former royal family, Daenerys and her brother, Viserys Targaryen who are plotting to take back their father’s throne by crossing the sea with a Dothraki horde. The Dothraki are a brutish, violent and uncivilized race of nomads; a horse people who live on the plains. A marriage is arranged between Daenerys Targaryen and the Dothraki Lord, Khal Drogo. In exchange for her hand, he has promised to cross the sea and take back the throne for the Targaryens.
The acting is fantastic. No need for an over the top cast. Sean Bean takes on the role of Eddard (Ned) Stark of Winterfell and I couldn’t picture anyone else doing a better job. He’s simply amazing. Is the boy typecast? (*cough* Boromir anyone? *cough cough* Ulric from Black Death?) maybe, but it doesn’t matter, he’s has the ace in the hole when it comes to this one. There’s also the lovely Lena Headey as Cersei, but the supporting cast are, for the most part, faces I’ve not seen before. It’s great to let young blood take centre stage, and thus far, the Stark children, Sophie Turner (Sansa), Maisie Williams (Arya), and Iaasac Hempstead-Wright (Bran) have turned out stellar performances at such a young age.
I am in serious LOVE with Peter Dinklage’s portrayal of the Imp, Tyrion Lannister, Can you say NAILED IT?! And how! Peter is making the dislikable dwarf a favourite of mine in that love/hate/you’re-a-jerk-but-so-damn-funny kind of way 🙂 Also, kudos to Kit Harington for his performance as Ned Stark’s bastard, Jon Snow. I keep wanting to reach through the screen and give this kid a hug – seriously, he’s doing a bang up job making you feel for him as the family outcast.
I have to applaud Emilia Clarke’s lovely, vulnerable portrayal of Daenerys Targaryen. She looks absolutely ethereal, and you really feel for her when she is forced by her heinous brother, Viserys Targaryen (played brilliantly by Harry Lloyd) into marrying a Dothraki barbarian brute, Khal Drogo (played by Jason Mamoa of Stargate: Atlantis fame). Also of note, Mark Addy is also doing a stellar job of bringing some comedic relief to his role as King Robert Baratheon.
Without giving too much away, there’s a lot of sex, plenty of violence and droves of intrigue bound to captivate book fans and hook new comers to the series. Tune in tomorrow at 9pm EST to catch the first episode of HBO’s new and exciting, 10-part fantasy series, A Game of Thrones.
Written by Sandra Sadowski. Check her out on Twitter @AriesBunny and stop by her frequently updated website perfect for the history buff in you – Medievalists.net – which has tons of Medieval Information.
Pictures from HBO.
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