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You win or you die
on 4 June 2012
The Fantasy genre gets the HBO treatment in the adaptation of George RR Martin's a Song of Ice and Fire novels.
The story take place in the mythical land of Westeros where seasons can span decades, it follows four central families the Starks, the Baratheons, the Lannisters and the Targaryens, allegiances shift, betrayal is rife as is the quest for power to be seated upon the iron throne, becoming more bloodthirsty and wider reaching as it goes on.
Game of Thrones pushes the fantasy genre into a truly adult realm without becoming hokey or silly like the recent Conan remake and while the likes of the supernatural and sorcery do feature, it paints a much more grounded world full of human characters with human flaws, the relationships they build and the ploys they use to outmanoeuvre each other becoming centrepieces for the show. Characters you love to hate quickly emerge though as time goes on it becomes apparent everyone is not who they seem and even the most loathsome characters have their endearing moments. Season 2 introduces even more players into the mix, quickly becoming part of the on-going story continually building momentum to a climatic battle.
Like HBO's other drama series the focus is on character, it develops into an epic sprawling story but it's the people that will keep you coming back for more. Sean bean effortlessly heads up the cast slipping into the title role with ease bringing gravitas to a demanding role of a man with honour in a realm that has none. Peter Dinklage also shines in his emmy winning role as Tyrion, the sharp tongued quick thinking dwarf who is a firm fan favourite for a very good reason, despite being in the most loathed family you will quickly find yourself rooting for him.
The production value of the show is immense, from costumes to locations everything is brought to life as a screen marvel, beautifully shot with the best directors working on TV giving an episodic program a truly epic feel every time, creating not just a story but a world. Season 2's siege episode 'Blackwater' is unparalleled in terms of quality, never has TV felt so epic. Bone crunching, unflinching violence and graphic sex feature throughout an adult show not for younger viewers.
As book adaptations go the show is largely very faithful, fans of the novels will delight in seeing Martin's vividly described fantasy world coming to life, while there are a few changes, the end product is close to the source material but still manages to throw in a few surprises along the way. Going in without having read the books provides many twists and turns but as the show progresses attention must be paid to which families side with which and whose related to who.
Even if fantasy is not your usual taste its well worth giving Game of Thrones a go, there's a lot to enjoy, in a world you will quickly find yourself swept up in, bring on season 3.