Game of Thrones – Season 1 – A Reaction

Plot synopses and reaction to the HBO Television adaptation of George R.R. Martin’s book “A Storm of Swords.”  This article is part of a larger series of reviews on the “Game of Thrones” television adaptations of George RR Martin’s “A Song of Fire and Ice” book series.

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Upon watching the first episode, I began to think that the hype regarding how gratuitous the show was had been overblown. However, by the end credits, I didn’t have those doubts any longer.

The ending of the first episode virtually guaranteed that people would tune in for the second episode. Besides wanting one of the direwolves as my own personal pet, it was interesting to note how quickly the fan-favorite characters established themselves.  The Joffrey Baratheon character was a compelling young prince whom everyone would seem to love to hate. The character of Daenerys Targaryen was great as the princess in a jam who one could assume would eventually show some strength. And the Tyrion Lannister character had ‘fan favorite’ written all over him, being the comedic relief.

So much of the first few episodes hinted at what might be, from the awaking of threats not faced in a thousand years to the rebirth of dragons in the kingdom. But alas, so many of those hints would prove to be teases.

The violence and gore, at times, was pretty rough to watch. For example, I’m not a fan of seeing beautiful women eating bloody hearts. I get that it was HBO and that the source material was intense that way, but the dramatic elements were so strong that it was a shame that the show will never find a broad audience due to those elements. One could argue that a part of the appeal was those elements, but I actually think that it was a classic case of interesting character and dilemmas. To the show’s credit, most of the unsettling elements result in big dramatic payoffs later on. For instance, we can all assume that Joffery will die really, really horribly at some point down the line.

Unfortunately, it has been a hard show for me to widely recommend to people, simply because it was so brutal. I have a couple of friends, but I don’t see it being a good fit for a lot of folks at work, family, etc. Admittedly, it really isn’t as graphic as one assumes, but the bad things that happened were so bad that it felt more graphic than it really is. I know many people who simply wouldn’t have the stomach for it.

By mid-season, the episodes fell into a lull for me. When it was hot, it was really hot though. And it began to pick up more near the end of the season, when things felt as though they would be wrapping up in an epic manner.

I’d spoiled episode 9’s shocking ending when I’d read a bit about the books prior to the show starting. That had been held up as an example of how the novels – and, presumably, the show – didn’t play by normal ‘rules.’

By season’s end, it felt as though HBO had themselves some pickles to deal with though. I trust that they’d foreseen these issues, but I they kept sticking in my mind.

I suspect that the show will be getting more action-oriented, or that the books naturally go that direction as the stakes get higher. I mean, you can’t have three dragons growing up and flying around a couple of continents, along with a war between several armies on the cheap. Unfortunately, it felt like HBO’s budget was already stretched and there wasn’t exactly a massive amount of action or effects during the first season. I’m not sure how they’re going to be able to up the stakes, but maybe they will pour more money in now that it was a hit.

The lengths of the books will also prove problematic. “Game of Thrones” was around 800 pages and most of the later books quite a bit longer than that length. That means a lot of cutting. One hesitation that I’ve had regarding reading the books is that they’re massive doorstops… the upcoming 5th book was roughly the size of the entire “Lord of the Rings” trilogy. That’s a lot of material to read and, even more so, a lot of material to adapt.

The timing of the books would also seem to prove to be a problem. HBO could spread the longer books between seasons and they are apparently already doing that to some extent. However, there are going to be seven books in the series and I can’t see HBO committing to a ten season or more long monster-epic. Maybe they will, who knows. One thing going for it is that the show will likely only gather more viewers as it wins awards, but I hope that they managed to lock in the talent for that duration.

One other concern has been the fact that author George R.R. Martin has been at war with his own fans regarding how slow he has been to crank out books. It took him 2 years each between books one, two, and three. It then took five years to put out book four and other six years before book 7 appeared.

Given that Martin is, as of 2011, 62 years old and seems to be a perfectionist who gets distracted by other stuff, I have to wonder when he’ll finish the final two books that are planned for the series.  It would be an epic shame if he happened to die before seeing the series to its conclusion. One has to really hope that he has some sort of plan to either rapidly crank out the last two books or that he already has rough drafts in place.

 

Bibliography


Benioff, David, and D.B. Weiss. Game of Thrones. 2011. Film.

Jackson, Peter. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. 2001. Film.

—. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. 2003. Film.

—. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. 2002. Film.

Martin, George R.R. A Game of Thrones. Bantam, 1996. Print.

Tolkien, J.R.R. The Lord of the Rings. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1974. Print.

 

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