I have, more often than not, avoided fantasy and science fiction novels. I usually find them overly derivative and cheesy to say the least… especially when it comes to naming conventions. Take as many consonants as possible and throw in some apostrophes and there you have it… a space or fantasy name. And the moment I heard the name George R.R. Martin, author of the A Song of Ice and Fire series of novels, my immediate reaction was that he was a rip-off of J.R.R. Tolkien… and really… I only based that on his middle initials… not really the best way to judge something or someone. Once a friend filled me in on the basic outline of A Song of Ice and Fire, of which Game of Thrones is the first in a trilogy of novels, I felt my original opinion was somewhat justified. And when I heard HBO was doing a series based on that series of novels… I became curiouser still.
Yes, the story is based in a fantasy world of swords and magic… but I understand that Martin is very aware of his influences… and instead of taking a more serious, heady route… his tales take a much more decidedly soap operaesque route. After watching the first episode of the show, which premiered April 17th, I reserved judgement until seeing the second episode last night. I think I can now safely say that this show is incredible.
The extremely convoluted story, which I looked up on both Wikipedia and IMDB so as not to be completely confused, is that seven families are trying to rule the land of Westeros. I don’t think this takes place in any sort of real history of ours… although it is based loosely on the War of the Roses. Sean Bean plays the head of the Stark family, Eddard “Ned” Stark, and has been asked by his long time friend, the king of Westeros, Robert Baratheon to become his chief advisor. On the sidelines are the King’s wife, Cersei Lannister (Lena Heady) and her twin brother and dwarf brother, played by the finest little man acting today, Peter Dinklage. It is already clear that Tyrion (Dinklage) is my favorite character by far… witty, funny and intelligent… not to mention boozing and fucking like a rabbit. The third of the families that are vying for the crown (amongst seven, four of whom have not yet been introduced) are the uber-blonde brother and sister team Daenerys (pic below) and Viserys Targaryen. They are both beautiful in a creepy pale way… and he has married his sister off to a ruler of a barbaric tribe played by the future Conan, Jason Momoa. The Targaryen family was deposed as rulers of Westeros and wish to regain the throne. Are you following all of that? No? Me neither….
What I can say for sure is that the show is splendid in it’s detail… and from talking with my friend I am realizing that both the novel and the show are chock full of symbolism that will come into play later in the story. From the color of each families hair to the animal each family takes as its crest… everything has meaning. The story is full of intrigue, back stabbing, bastards, intra-family fighting as well as heightened sexuality… both in and out of families… yes… there is some brother-sister loving going on in this… and in two families no less! There is nudity, sex and violence… in the first episode there are at least two beheadings and in the second episode a dire-wolf chews a man’s throat out. Thank goodness for HBO and what this network has done for TV.
As for the magical ends of this world, I don’t believe we have reached that point in the story yet. Early on we are given a glimpse of something known as a “white walker”, which for all intents and purposes seem to be zombies (all right!)… and something known as the wall, which I took as a mountain range, but was told today that it is supposedly the worlds largest structure standing 700′ high and 1000 miles long which protects everyone from “white walkers” in the north. Plus the blonde family’s animal is the dragon and they keep focusing on a trio of dragon eggs… but they say the dragons have been gone a long time… hmmmm… just like the deposed rulers… hmmmmm.
The best description of Game of Thrones I have heard so far is that it is a cross between The Lord of the Rings and The Sopranos. After watching these first two episodes I would have to completely concur with that. I have not read the novels and think I may let the story wash over me as opposed to jumping the gun and reading the novels so I will know what the hell is going on…. perhaps I can have some self control and allow HBO to tell me a tale. I’m looking forward to it…
What would my animal be?
Cornelius J. Blahg