Game of Thrones is the first novel in the A Song of Fire and Ice saga and the teevee series adapting that string of novels. But you know that, everyone knows that. The popularity of this story is surprising to me; clearly the HBO teevee adaptation had a lot to do with it but it seems like the novels had gathered a lot of steam on their own.
I only read the novels last year and only just now, thanks to the free “preview” of HBO on the local cable system for a few months, have I caught the first
two three seasons of the television series. The show does a remarkable job of paring down the immense bulk of the first two novels’ plots and characters and set pieces. There is a different timing to a season of ten episodes than a novel filled with hundreds of chapters, each chapter told through a different characters viewpoint. The teevee show feels like a reduction in the kitchen — boiled down to a more concentrated essence.
But also different. I don’t know if its computer graphics, more money or just very talented cast and crew, but the visual scope of this show looks like as expensive a movie as I’ve ever seen. Very few scenes do not meet or exceed what my imagination created while reading the text (with perhaps the exception of Stanis’ attack on King’s Landing. The teevee version while dramatic and startling seemed more cramped and constrained than the vast battle I imagined. Perhaps it was intentionally so.) and regardless of any debate you or I might have with someone who absolutely disdains genre entertainment; no reasonable person can ignore the production value here.
And the actors are almost uniformly great. The performances are just very compelling. No wonder Peter Dinklage was nominated for an Emmy for his performance as Tyrion Lannister.
UPDATE: Okay I watched seasons 4 and 5 (season 5 just finished). I liked season 4 quite a bit. Season 5 felt a bit more like it was spinning about 20 plates at a time, each episode trying to keep all 20 plates going. And much was made of the fact that the show has now progressed into narrative that the books have not (Book 6 still not done…). This last season ending episode was brutal to say the least. Game of Thrones is all over the place, including the gutter. Still the acting is largely really good, the special effects, costumes, sets – spectacle – are first rate.
Having read the books before the show, it’s only now that I actually can speculate about the plot. Mostly every Stark character is dead or damaged at this point, except for the littlest one Rickon. Maybe he’s the one true hero that saves the world, but I seriously doubt it. I’m not sure I’d be surprised if George RR Martin ended his world zombie-style with the White Walkers overrunning everything.