Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been burning through George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series again, thanks largely to the most excellent television adaptation of A Game of Thrones.
Having read books 1 – 4 already, I found the entire Season 1 (10 episodes) to be a faithful adaptation. Choice lines plucked out from the books translated well onto the screen, and if you’ve read the books, you’ll get a vivid re-creation of the scenes you’ve played out before in your mind. Only, this time, there’s live actors acting it out.
For the uninitiated, A Game of Thrones is a Medieval Fantasy-type drama set in against a backdrop of War and Politics. And more politics. The tale starts off with King Robert Baratheon of the Seven Kingdoms heading north to invite his war buddy and old friend Lord Eddard Stark (played by Sean Bean!) to be his Hand (which is to say – Prime Minister). Lord Eddard is reluctant at first, but eventually consents and heads south.
Only, the words echo as he departs. “None who have gone south have ever come back.”
The interesting thing about these “good guys” is that they were actually rebels who had dethroned the previous king. A “mad” king called Aerys Targaryen. But unbeknownst them, the daughter and son of Mad King Aerys had escaped to the East and are also hatching a plan to come back with an army to reclaim “their” kingdom.
And if that weren’t enough. Far in the north, zombies are about to come back and attack and kill everyone. This sets the stage for A Game of Thrones, a tale that spans many locations, and equally as many characters.
In the books, George R.R. Martin’s writing spins multiple threads, but manages to bring characters worlds apart into harmony with each other. Sometimes, the threads cross (kind off like how Jar Jar Binks started the Clone Wars in Star Wars) and the actions of one character, triggers consequences for another. Yet, the interplay does not seem forced or too unbelievable to be true. Instead, everything falls in place and seems to make sense.
Reviewers have called A Game of Thrones and the subsequent novels a modern successor to the Lord of the Rings, and I’d agree. The scale is epic. You get the feeling that there’s a lot going on in the world of Westeros at once. And yet, despite the vastness of scope, the tale still contains enough depth for you to identify with the characters.
And in the TV Series, I’ve found the actors have done a marvellous job bringing out the characters they represent. Sean Bean does a wonderful job headlining as Lord Eddard Stark, one of the central characters of the story. However, the winner for me must be Tyrion Lannister, a dwarf, played by Peter Dinklage, who gets the best lines in the entire series and executes them to perfection.
What works best for A Game of Thrones is that the subject matter is mature. Politics in its most vicious nature is played out, and loyalties are seldom black and white. Almost every episode brings a new surprise, and you won’t be able to wait for what happens next. You’d wish the second season was here already.
And if you can’t wait, you can always get the books from Borders. More on that later.