‘Game of Thrones’ is an Ideal Marriage Between Literature and the Small Screen

Rimpa Khangura


“Winter is coming.” These are the most dreadful words to be heard in “A Song of Fire and Ice” series, an emotionally intimate tale of intrigue, war and valor. What has now become a popular HBO television show named after the first book, Game of Thrones, started out as a fantastical book series written by George R.R. Martin. Upon the first book’s release in 1996, fantasy enthusiasts everywhere flocked to the bookshelves.  Then came the anxious wait between each release that kept fans waiting with anticipation, with the fifth book released this past winter.  


Martin’s thorough attention to detail and development of all his characters are remarkable and often hard to grasp (his writing qualifies as both loquacious and meticulous).  In these fictitious books, many of the characters are relatable and, for lack of a better word, real. Several of the perceived villains in the story are in fact humanized, and Martin often presents their personal viewpoints as well.


Thrones is set in the fictional land of Westeros, where various houses (clans) have lived and fought for generations in different realms, until the Targaryens invaded and united the Seven Kingdoms under the Iron Throne. Now, many years later, there’s a battle for the throne.  Each chapter is told from the perspective of a different character, so Martin makes certain to supply a variety of colors in this epic narrative, as well as providing an opaque and highly interwoven back-story to almost every character --  which would have made the task of turning the book series into a television show exceedingly complex, but not in this case.  HBO decided to pick up and turn it into what it is today: a mass phenomenon with a cult-like following. The TV series not only stayed true to the books, its casting is also immaculate. There is a balance striking many of Throne’s characters that habitually combine strength, vulnerability and humanity. 


While aesthetically pleasing, a considerable amount of money has inevitably been poured into making this show handsomely epic. Shot in the hills of Northern Ireland and Malta, HBO has dedicated every bit of resource it has into making this a success. In the April 14, 2011 New York Times, Ginia Bellafante wrote: “The show has been elaborately made to the point that producers turned to a professional at something called the Language Creation Society to design a vocabulary for the savage Dothraki nomads who provide some of the more Playboy-TV-style plot points and who are forced to speak in subtitles.”

Martin who is often referred to as the “American Tolkien” is one of the producers of the show and has a hand in guiding the TV version of the story.  He works closely with the show’s writers and executive producers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss to ensure that the diehard fans are not disappointed with parts that are either omitted or added that may have not appeared in the books.  Season 1 took on the plot line of book one, and book two will be split between seasons 2 and 3.


Thrones has received several critical praises, drawing comparisons to The Lord of the Rings. On April 15, 2011, Tim Goodman of The Hollywood Reporter stated that “There’s a real allure to costume-dramas that pair dense mythology with all of the crowd-pleasing elements of war, honor, pride, lust, power and, yes, even humor. Thrones has all of those in spades and supports them with exceptional storytelling, strong writing, superb acting and some stunning visual effects.”


What we have here is basically the triumphant pairing of a highly praised collection of fantasy books with a television series that illuminates and at times transcends what’s on the page.  Upon catching a mere glimpse of the show, it will become nearly impossible for audiences to be impervious to the charm and wit of Game of Thrones.


Ah, yes “winter is coming”. The Seven Kingdoms of Westeros — a territory where summers are measured in years, not months, and where winters can extend for decades.  And with winter brings cold, and with the cold, brings… The Others.


The second season is set to premiere on Sunday,  April 1 on HBO. 


Author Bio:

Rimpa Khangura is a contributing writer at Highbrow Magazine.

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