HBO's Game of Thrones: Not Your Ordinary "Boy Fiction"


HBO’s Game of Thrones is definitely not fit for viewing during the Lent, but I have been putting it off for a while now – well several days – and I figured there’s no better time to watch it than now. I have been raving about George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series ever since I finished the first book. Much like any fan of the books, I had also been waiting for the series to actually air.

Before I got to watch the pilot, though, I had the pleasure – or displeasure – of reading a review at The New York Times. ((Read Ms. Bellafante’s review here.)) I have to be honest and say that I am already biased. I have been following the production of the series and Mr. Martin’s involvement in the production – he is a co-producer – has made me believe in the the show even before I had seen it. Needless to say, that NYT review tore me up.

Two reasons, really. One, what was supposed to be a review of a TV series pilot turned out to be a highlighting of the perverseness of the show (which is an arguable point) and a question of HBO’s selection. Two, the reviewer cannot distinguish between a dwarf and a person who suffers from dwarfism. (I won’t dare insult any of you by explaining the difference.) Here’s a snippet of the review.

The true perversion, though, is the sense you get that all of this illicitness has been tossed in as a little something for the ladies, out of a justifiable fear, perhaps, that no woman alive would watch otherwise. While I do not doubt that there are women in the world who read books like Mr. Martin’s, I can honestly say that I have never met a single woman who has stood up in indignation at her book club and refused to read the latest from Lorrie Moore unless everyone agreed to “The Hobbit” first. “Game of Thrones” is boy fiction patronizingly turned out to reach the population’s other half.

Illicitness = a little something for the ladies. If illicitness in TV shows is supposed to cater to ladies, maybe I am not a lady after all.

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A work of high fantasy = boy fiction. Yeah, maybe I am a boy.

Seriously, any decent fantasy enthusiast just might have an apoplexy reading such a post, which is supposed to be a review. But this is not a review of a review. It’s just one gal’s excitement over a TV show she had been waiting for since it was announced.

Moving on, I refrained from writing about the pilot until I had actually seen the show for myself. While I have read all the books, the details are now rather hazy (I need to read them again), and we all know that TV shows/movies are not always 100% the same as the book.

So, after having seen Game of Thrones, what can I say?

It seems that the producers have stuck to the “real” story as well as they could. Again, I may have missed out on some details from the book. As far as I can tell, the pilot was pretty accurate. It also presented an overview of the characters in such a way that you already get a feel for them from the get go. Well, as good as you can given a one-hour limit. If there is one thing that Ms. Bellafonte of the NYT is right about, this series has a plethora of characters that will make your head spin. And that’s one of the beautiful things about it.

The show has been shot mainly in North Ireland and Malta, which should give you an idea of just how breathtaking the scenery is. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that it’s as breathtaking as LOTR, but I’ve only seen one episode!

True, if the pilot is any indication, the series is not safe for work. It is not for children. There is sex and violence – some of it taboo. Those elements aren’t the focus of the plot, though. Early on, you see the political aspects being laid out. Early on, you see the undercurrents of family struggle. You get hints of fantasy elements such as dragons and night walkers (their version of the undead).

This is not a review. All I can tell you is that if you fancy yourself as a fantasy lover, then give Game of Thrones a chance. Here’s a mini-guide if you are unfamiliar with the story.

Major characters shown in the pilot

  • Eddard Stark – also known as Ned Stark; Lord of Winterfell
  • Catelyn Stark – wife of Eddard Stark; nicknamed Cat
  • Rob Stark – firstborn of Ned and Cat
  • Sansa Stark – daughter of Ned and Cat
  • Arya Stark – younger daughter of Ned and Cat; somewhat of a tomboy as seen in the pilot
  • Brandon Stark – or Bran; younger son of Ned and Cat; known for his extraordinary climbing skills
  • Jon Snow – bastard son of Ned Stark
  • King Robert Baratheon – King of the Seven Kingdoms
  • Cersei Lannister – Queen of the Seven Kingdoms
  • Ser Jaime Lannister – twin brother of Cersei and member of the Kingsguard
  • Tyrion Lannister – younger brother of Cersei and Jaime; suffers from dwarfism – he is not a dwarf;)

That list can go on and on – you can see just how complex the storyline is going to be as the series unfolds.

Plot

Game of Thrones tells the story of the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros and its numerous ruling families. This story is set in a fantasy world, with intrigue as thick as molasses and with each character surprising you at every turn. What’s at stake? The Iron Throne, which symbolizes the ultimate power in the Seven Kingdoms. It is a story of political games at their most intricate forms; a story of individuals who do what they must to survive.

I’ve rambled on enough about how good this show is. Just go ahead and watch it – by any means necessary. Then you tell me if I am biased or what. ;)

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