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A Song of Ice and Fire: Part 1
on 8 December 2011
Here it is then. the long awaited television interpretation of the first part of George R.R. Martin's epic fantasy series. This show will affect you in different ways depending largely upon two possible scenarios, 1. you have read the book(s) beforehand, or 2. you haven't.
If you have read the books then you will have the added advantage of going into this series with some serious background knowledge, which, given the expanse of Martin's literature, can only be a good thing. It is good (as a fan of the books) to see the characters portrayed on screen by, what can only be described as, an excellent cast. My personal favourites are Sean Bean (fellow Yorkshireman like myself) who plays Lord Eddard Stark, the proud, strong and brave (if not a bit stubborn and old-fashioned) Lord of Winterfell, the icy kingdom of the north. And, Peter Dinklage, who gives, as ever, a wonderful performance as Tyrion of House Lannister, a noble-born dwarf cursed by the hatred of his proud father but blessed with an unmatchable wit and intelligence.
The story is relatively straightforward insofar that nothing groundbreakingly orignal happens. Martin's fantasy literature is about believability and realism; it is completely unlike Tolkien in that way (I don't like to compare the two authors, but most people seem to be doing so lately). Whereas Tolkien favoured Orcs, Goblins, castles and wizards, Martin prefers the medieval touch, dealing with knights, lords and priests. The story is very intricate and may leave you slightly unfulfilled at the end of the series, but, bear in mind this is only the first part of seven.
One good thing, as a fan of the books, is that Martin had a very close hand in the production of this series which means very little tinkering has been done. If you compare it to The Pillars of the Earth for example, parts of the tv series didn't even come close to representing what happened in the book leaving hardcore fans a little bewildered, and not a little irritated. Martin's books though are so jam-packed with plot and character building that there really isn't much room for artistic license for the directors. They have a lot of story to get through, and only 10 episodes to do it in!!
If you have never read Martin before then, what can you expect? Well, it is fantasy first and foremost (like I said earlier, with a medieval twang). Without spoiling or giving anything away the main plot is basically this: the continent of Westeros, ruled by king Robert Baratheon, falls into turmoil amidst a hungry power struggle between the realms nobles and knights. Expect a lot of plot twists and cliffhangers at the end of each episode. A quick word of warning to any of those sensitive souls out there as well, this series contains graphic bloody violence, nudity (tactful), swearing and some scenes of a sexual nature. It certainly IS NOT for kids (like Lord of the Rings etc.).
Overall then I will sum up for you in some quick bullet points:
+ George R.R. Martin's literary masterpiece brought to life
+ great cast
+ wonderfully made, no corners have been cut, everything looks imacculate and professional
+ entertaining plot, good twists, beautiful ladies, handsome men, fighting, loving, laughing, crying (really, something for everybody here)
+ hour-episodes mean for a great amount of entertainment for your money
- series 1 deals with book 1 of 7, if you get into this now, don't expect to see the ultimate conclusion for at least another 10-15 years (the last two books haven't even been written yet)
- a little cliched in parts (I really didn't get this impression from the book though)
I would highly recommend people to take the time to see this series and get into the number 1 fantasy series of the modern era. I would also recommend that you buy and read the books. Thank you for reading.
(Thank you to everyone who found my review useful. I hope you are enjoying GOT!)