TV Review: Game of Thrones Episode 1

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Game of thrones is the first novel in the “A Song of Fire and Ice” fantasy series by George R.R Martin and the first episode of the television adaptation has hit the airwaves by the way of HBO, but does it stack up to the printed word?

Let me preface this by saying that I don’t have an extensive background with the story or lore of A Song of Fire and Ice so I did the next best thing: I purchased a copy of Game of Thrones and read as far as the television show got. I figured this would give me the best view into how closely they are following the novel. To say the least, I was a bit surprised.

To give a little bit of back story, Game of Thrones follows the Starks, a noble family, as they are thrust into the middle a struggle between serveral factions for the throne that unites the seven kingdoms of the land. It’s as basic as a summary goes, but anything else I would say would spoil this very carefully put together story.

Instantly Game of Thrones throws you into the novel’s prologue which follows a group of men who belong to an order called “The Night Watch”. These men patrol the kingdom’s northernmost border and keep the land safe from the men who wish to destroy the kingdom and the nature which has always been against man. From the first scene at the north border the glaring issue with adapting a novel from it’s original source becomes clear. Be it a comic or a film, the problem is the the lack of detail. The men of the Night Watch are attacked by unseen beings of the northern forest and in the novel they are described as fearsome creatures wielding blades of shining crystal that glow with a deathly hue, but in the show you see a shadow with glowing blue eyes. I’m not saying that HBO didn’t try, but you can only fit so much within an hour’s time span and sometimes you feel a little sad because of it, I know I did.

The casting and acting was superb. The actors didn’t try to oversell the fact that they were in a fantasy world nor did they sell the world Martin has crafted short. Every character looked and acted the part they were supposed to play very well and I even found myself brofisting the air when Peter Dinklage, who plays Tyrion Lannister (a little person), speaks one of the lines taken from the novel. I also have to mention that Sean Bean, who you might know as Boromir from Lord of the Rings, is every bit Eddard Stark.

The sets were beautiful to say the least. Every shot from the godswood of Winterfell to the haunted forests of the north, everything looked amazing and it was as if the pictures I painted in my mind as I read the novel came to life with every scene

The story and the way they presented it did leave a tiny bit to be desired. Again, they do omit and change little things here and there to make the show more user friendly and I understand why. There is a lot to take in while reading the novels and it’s not an easy read, but there is a good story to be had and HBO did a wonderful job weaving the tale of intrigue and mystery that is Game of Thrones. Everything that was important to the story was shown and I was even surprised to see lines taken directly from the novel spoken by some of the actors which adds to the authenticity of this adaptation. Martin is a fantastic writer and I’m glad that they didn’t mess with his dialogue too much.

Now that being said, here’s my complaint: There are many interwoven stories and because of that sometimes a few plot elements suffer because they weren’t made abundantly clear. For example, one of our main characters discovers that his old friend Jon has died and that he might have been murdered, but who they suspect to be behind the murder and their motives wasn’t very clear. It was only after I went into the novel and read that scene did I fully understand who was behind Jons death. Again, that’s the difficulty when you move a story from one medium to another.

Game of Thrones on HBO is for fans and non-fans alike. While HBO does take a few liberties, it’s nothing that distracts from the story as long as you pay attention. The casting is smart and every actor matches the characters almost perfectly in mannerisms and looks. It looks gorgeous and HBO did an awesome job making the novel come to life despite a few distractions. I definitely recommend this to anybody who is a fan of either drama or epic fantasy and wants to get their weekly dose knights, wenches, boobs, and violence.

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