Monday, April 18, 2011

Review: "Game of Thrones"

My reaction as the first episode of "Game of Thrones" wrapped up?

Holy. Shit. I am going to love this show.

I haven't read the books this series is based on. (Although the first one is sitting on my bookshelf, just begging to be read now.) And I was concerned about getting into an epic and sprawling fantasy series, trying to figure out who's who without having read the hefty volumes this show is based on. I've been burned before. But to my pleasant surprise, while the pilot certainly contained a huge number of characters and stories to keep track of, they managed to present everything in a way that was engaging, providing an intro without being overly clumsy and obvious, and allowed me to follow the story with relative ease.

I expected to have to slog my way through this first episode, trying to learn names and characters and figuring out what was going on where. But I very quickly picked up on who everyone was and their motivations, and that, even more than the sweeping sets and beautiful people, drew me masterfully into the story. I found the women in this story especially compelling - Daenerys, being married off to a savage king to further her brother's aspirations to win back his throne; Arya, the young daughter of a northern lord, fighting against the traditional roles her older sister embraces, preferring archery to embroidery and food fights to flirting with princes; Lady Catelyn, trying desperately to protect her family as her husband chooses to leave and help his king; and the Queen, who was giving me serious Lady MacBeth vibes in addition her creepy incestuous relationship with her pretty-boy twin brother.

Some of the men were pretty interesting, too - in particular, I was interested in Ned Stark's bastard son, Jon, who I would assume from this first episode will play an important role in the coming series, and Tyrion Lannister, the "Imp," is sure to be an interesting character to watch. Daenerys' brother was compelling, in an evil, creepy way; I expect to hate him with a passion. But it was the women of this show who really stood out. Not much good happens to them in the "Game of Thrones" pilot, but from what I've read about this series, I hope to see them come back with a vengeance throughout the season.

I'm sure I'll be looking up the characters' names at least a few times an episode for now, but that doesn't really matter. Their relationships at this point are clear, the story is compelling, and I fully expect that this is quickly going to become a new favorite series. I can't wait to see what happens next week. In the meantime, if you need me, I'll be devouring the first book.

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