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Winter has come.
HBO has been promoting Game of Thrones heavily and most fans of the novel have needed little help in salivating for the series to start. Even those normally without HBO (like me) had the chance to catch Game of Thrones this past sunday with their free weekend promo. Though we’ve been told by the Times and Slate all the reasons we aren’t allowed to like Game of Thrones, many of us watched anyways...
So how was the premiere?
Game of Thrones opens up in the far north at The Wall... a massive structure of stone and mostly ice that protects the seven kingdoms from the denizens of the north, even though most believe monsters of the past are long gone. Just the simple image of the wall gave viewers an idea of the scope of this series and personally sat just right with my imaginings from the novel.
We watch a trio of guards from the wall search the north and find what they didn’t really want to find... The Whitewalkers. One of the guards escapes the carnage and gets south of the wall, carrying the narrative to Winterfell and Ned Stark as the escapee is beheaded for deserting his post at the wall. Again giving the fans the tone of the series in showing how gritty and dark Game of Thrones can be at times. (OK, perhaps most times)
Along the way back to Winterfell the family discovers a litter of direwolves (monstrously large forms of normal wolves) with their mother that died fighting a buck and Ned at first orders the abominations killed, but relents as his children plead and then point out that it could be a sign as there is a wolf for each Stark child and that their family sigil is a direwolf. Even Ned’s bastard child, John Snow, gets one as the runt of the litter and stark white pup (pun intended) is found off to the side before they leave.
At Winterfell we meet the Stark family, young and old; and get a good glimpse of each of their personalities and I thought they a good job of staying true to the personalities of the characters in the novel. Sean Bean shines in the role of Ned Stark, delivering the line to his young son who was made to watch him behead the deserter that ’the man who passes sentence, should swing the sword’. I think this is an important line, showing the sort of honor Stark has raised his children with. That honor shapes his and his family’s future actions.
The Starks find out the Hand of the King has passed and that the King is on his way to Winterfell. We quickly begin meeting more of the huge cast that makes up this series as the king arrives with his entourage. Although plenty of characters play a role in the series, the Lannister family will be the one that comes to head against the Starks, plus has some of the more interesting characters. The Queen Cersei Lannister and her handsome twin brother Jaime Lannister plus their ’imp’ of a brother Tyrion Lannister. Tyrion being one of my favorite characters I was quite happy to see Peter Dinklage cast in the role, but I still look forward to seeing his role play out more fully than what we got to see in this glimpse of his character.
While the festivities for the King’s visit continue at Winterfell we get a narrative shift to the foreign lands of Essos. It is all bright sun and beauty compared to the harsh and cold environment of Winterfell. The players in this land however are far from bright and sunny- the banished prince and princess Targaryen; banished from when the Seven Kingdoms had their last power struggle and the Targaryen family was nearly all destroyed. The Prince, Veserys Targaryen, is focused on getting back to his throne and will do anything to achieve that goal- including treating his sister like a piece of meat to trade away for an army. He arranges a marriage for her to Khal Drago, the leader of a huge army of mongolian like warriors.
At Winterfell we find out that Ned is offered the position as Hand of the King and find out that he is asking Ned because he needs someone he knows he can trust. The last Hand did not die of natural causes and the King feels there is no one in the capital of King’s Landing he can trust, not even his own extended family. We further get to experience the king’s extended family as the young Bran Stark is climbing about Winterfell castle as he often does to his mother’s chagrin and comes upon the incestuous relationship of the king’s wife Cersei with her twin brother Jaime. Jaime stops the boy from running off while Cersei seems to be in quite a panic that he saw them. Jaime looks down the castle wall to the ground far below and casually says "The things I do for love" as he lightly pushes the boy off the window ledge while walking back to his sister.
The show ends with Bran’s body plummeting into the camera view at ground level to black out the scene.
As a fan of the book I have to of course talk about how it compares. I am not someone who reads books again before a movie or show is released because knowing how they often come up short to a novel I don’t see any reason to make it that much harder for them to measure up. I also feel like if I go by the scenes I have the biggest memory of, by what remains in my imagination about a story long after I’ve read - those are the best things to measure against how a story is turned into a movie and how well it translates.
With that being said I thought they did an amazing job. Every scene and set was spectacular, from the Wall to Winterfell to Kings Landing to Essos. The characters were pretty spot on as well for what I got to see of them so far, though like I said of Tyrion I think some of his best stuff is yet to come as the series progresses. The character I loved or hated in the books, I loved or hated here as well.
The first episode carried us up to about chapter eight of Game of Thrones so they setting a pretty good pace to move the story along while still doing a good job of telling it. And with all the drama, sex and violence natural in the series it will make a great series even for non-diehard fantasy fans. The premier must have done pretty well, Game of Thrones has already been picked up for a second season!
So what did you think?
Written or Contributed by: LOLtron
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