Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A Game of Thrones, Part 1 in a series

Sean Bean as Eddard Stark

Thoughts and reflections on George R.R. Martin's novel and the HBO series.

My husband and I are two very different book readers. He prefers high fantasy and science fiction, I'm a romance, history, and biography nut. And I'm not adverse to high fantasy or science fiction, but it's got to be something special to catch my attention.

About two years ago my husband listened to "A Game of Thrones" on Audible and said I would like it. I grunted. Then he said HBO was making a series out of it and Sean Bean was cast in the leading role. That caught my attention.

I loved HBO's "Sopranos" and "Rome." Both series had a high production quality, great characters, and pitch perfect storytelling. I knew Game of Thrones would be no different so I looked forward to watching the series.

I was not disappointed.

The production quality is fantastic. Game of Thrones is a high fantasy story set in another world, and as the series opening credits unfold, the "casual" viewer sees a map of the world to help them understand the lay of the land.


Several aspects of the series pulled me in immediately. To the north is The White Wall covered in ice and snow. "The Others" are past the wall and have recently been awakened. The Night's Watch, the guardians of the snow and ice infested land know something threatens them – but what? They have to figure it out. Theirs is not an easy job. It's a hard life and a man must not have a wife or start a family.

Jon Snow, Eddard's bastard

The Stark family of Winterfell is south of the wall. Eddard Stark is a good, honest, and noble man – a true hero who embodies courage and nobility naturally. His family is interesting as well. My favorites: Jon Snow and Arya. Why? Because these are characters struggling to fit into their world.

Another character that just captured my attention was Daenerys Targaryen. She is the daughter of the mad king, Aerys Targargen, who was overthrown by Robert Baratheon. Daenerys goes to live with the Dothraki and marries Khal Drago, their ruler. As Daenerys' story unfolds, I witnessed a naïve young girl gain courage, inner strength and find love. For me, her story was the most compelling because it's such a strong character-driven plot. And the dragon lore was cool, too.

Emilia Clarke as Daenerys

Side Note: George RR Martin won the 1997 Hugo Award for best novella for "Blood of the Dragon" which consisted of chapters only from Daenerys POV taken from the original book, Game of Thrones.

The casting is excellent. Peter Dinklage as "Tyrion Lannister" is dynamic as the clever, rude, and infuriating dwarf. Emilia Clarke portrays Daenerys with a subtle yet commanding performance that will have you cheering for every episode.

The series is deliciously close to the novel which I was inspired to read after watching the series. I'm only 150 pages into the novel and have only gleaned two tidbits of info from it that I didn't get from the series – one having to do with dragons and Tyrion and the other having to do with Jon Snow's mother.

Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister

The writing is top notch – engaging the readers with a great blend of dialogue and narration. It's easy to see how Martin was nominated for and won several of fantasy's top awards.

Did you know? David J. Peterson from the Language Creation Society was hired to develop the Dothraki language.

What makes Games of Thrones compelling for me are the characters. Even the heroes have flaws and the villains are capable of compassion, evoking sympathy for them.

Next Week:
My top 3 favorite characters:
Daenerys Targeryen
Tyrion Lannister
Jon Snow


  1. I absolutely am in love with this show. Something about pre-medieval times is so awesome to me. I love Spartacus, Borgias and now Game of Thrones. :Sighs: can't wait for the next season. Princess Daenerys (i.e. former Khaleesi of the Dathraki) is my favorite character.

  2. I never looked at "A Game of Thrones", I love historical shows but dark fantasy stories are not my cup of tea, although you present it really well Steph. I will tell my husband about it. He'd love it.

  3. Kelly, yes! I love Princess Daenerys, too. She's one of my favorites! Do you have any of the books?

    Mona, If you get a chance, check it out. You might be surprised. I was!


  4. That may be worth watching just to see Jon Snow!

    Morgan Mandel

  5. Thanks for making me completely jealous. I saw the advertisements for this show but I don't get HBO. I love Sean Bean even when he plays a villain. I thought he was amazing in Lord of the Rings. I wish my budget could afford HBO. Loved your blog.

  6. Wow. We've watch every episode, but I didn't glean half the plot points you did.

    Love the scenery, though.


  7. I don't have HBO but I've read the books and loved them. Sean Bean and I'm there. Wonder when the first season comes out on DVD.

  8. I don't have HBO, but when you mentioned Sean Bean, it caught my attention. Loved him (and everyone else) in LOTR. Would definitely be worth checking out on DVD. Thanks Steph! ";o)

  9. Morgan, Jon Snow is hot. LOL!! There's a bunch of hotties on the show.

    Sarah, maybe you can an episode or two when it goes to iTunes or DVD? It's well worth catching.

    I've always been a Sean Bean fan. I loved him in GoldenEye and he was fantastic in LOTR. He's the perfect Eddard Stark!

    Toni, I am totally hooked the series. I'm only 250 pages into the book. It's like JK Rowling's work. You can really get into it and then realize that something earlier had an inpact on something later. The writing sneaks up on you.

    Clover, I can't say when the DVD comes out, but I'm definately adding the show to my personal collection.

    Beth, if you get a chance, check it out. You won't be disappointed and you'll love Sean Bean in this series.


  10. Steph, I read all the Fire and Ice books and have the next volume on order. Since I found this series, I have praised it to everyone I know who loves fantasy and to those who don't as well. In my opinion, this is one of the best epic fantasy series written, and there have been many (Tolkien's come to mind), which are superb.

    I too have found Jon and Arya to be my favorite characters.

    Thanks for sharing your views on this show. I hope you get a chance to read the books. While the show follows closely, books are always better :-)

  11. Penny, thanks for popping in. The show is fabulous. I've just gleaned about 3 insights now reading the book that the show didn't cover. I'm on 250 pages now. Hope to bang out some reading during my vacation.

    I'll post a little later about my favorites. Hope you pop in.