Having recently concluded the last episode in the most recent season of HBO’s Game of Thrones, my enthusiasm seems to know no bounds. I’m ready to declare it the best damn thing I’ve ever watched, of all time. Then again, I’m fresh off the adrenaline rush, so I’ll hold off in making such sweeping declarations.
I initially held off on Game of Thrones. I haven’t been into epic fantasy since reading the first three or four books of Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series, back sometime when I was in junior high or high school. It’s easy to get hooked on Game of Thrones, though. I got so addicted to the show that immediately upon finishing the last episode, I started in on the books.
There’s a stark realism that draws us into the lives and psyche of the characters and their world, and at the same time there is a growing realization that the scope of events is bigger (even cosmic) than just the lives of the characters. The characters become real people, all flawed, who are (eventually) drawn into an epic battle for the survival of all of humankind. In other words, it’s deep and wide.
The HBO series was originally a series of novels by George R. R. Martin. Martin was originally a writer who did a good bit of work in television and film, but then he switched back to writing because he found film/TV too limiting. The result was his A Song of Fire and Ice, upon which the HBO series Game of Thrones was based.
I’m always intrigued by the crossover between books and film. We are used to thinking of books being written separate from film/TV, or visa versa in some cases. But Game of Thrones seems unique because the two overlap. Martin wrote a few of the novels, then the HBO show came out — but Martin was still writing the series when the show came out, a show he has always had an influence on. He’s currently in the process of writing book six.
The series also explores resistance within a culture where individual choice and freedom is restricted. A bastard and a dwarf emerge as heroes, despite the stigmas they face — and then there is gender. This series has some of the most compelling cast of female characters that I’ve seen.
So, I’m several hours into the Game of Thrones audiobook, and I’m hooked on that, too. Life being what it is, I’ve come back around to fantasy again.