While my college is awesome and superior and all that (name another school with a sisterhood that bears Black Rings of Power—I dare you), it is quite small—any amazing event on campus is naturally open to the public. Ten minutes away, however, lies Emory, where, you may recall, I attended a lecture by the magnificent Margaret Atwood. On Thursday, my friend Natalya, to whom I owe Herculean favors now, invited me to a pre-screening of the first episode of Game of Thrones, HBO’s television adaptation of George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire.
Needless to say, it was amazing. I will do my best to avoid spoilers, but I can’t promise one hundred percent accuracy.
Alright, cards on the table—I started crying ten minutes into “Winter is Coming”, the pilot episode that was screened. I read A Game of Thrones two years ago, after I found out about this show, and I’ve been in love with the series ever since. The human complexity of each character, the sheer impressiveness of the scale of the story Martin is weaving, and, of course, the eternal battle over power is utterly fascinating and, I think, well-executed. I’ve been carefully hoarding the next two books, only to find out that the fifth book is coming out this summer. I came into this fandom at a wonderful time, and I feel quite blessed.
But Game of Thrones is something new to me, insofar as seeing a book I love adapted. The Lord of the Rings films came out at a key moment in my development, so the visual world of the films reigned supreme until, to be wholly honest, rereading the books last spring… and my internal Middle-earth is still not terribly different from Jackson’s gorgeous interpretation. But I have such a specific image of the throne room in King’s Landing in A Song of Ice and Fire, as well as several other locations—character faces, not so much, but locations? Oh yes. I was happy to discover that my interpretation of A Song of Ice and Fire and the television series’ interpretation can play nice with each other, despite being so very different from one another.
All of this is to explain why the title sequence affected me the way it did. I won’t spoil you for its brilliance, but it plays with a map of Westeros and the Free Cities in a stunningly beautiful and unique way. Just seeing the scope and geography of this world explored this way was absolutely overwhelming. I’m crushed it’s not available via the fifteen-minute preview HBO has made available to the public; it truly deserves to be appreciated by everyone.
…also, there was a show attached to this title sequence!
I was thoroughly impressed with how closely it hewed to the book; it even opens the same way. There’s definitely some trimming and compressing, but all in all, it feels true to the books in a way that goes beyond simply maintaining the spirit of the book. I have to wonder how involved Martin was in this series, considering his background as a screenwriter; but however it was done, this series feels like a natural extension of the books. It’s almost as if I’m seeing how someone else reads the books, which, of course, it literally is.
The cast is solid, with Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and Peter Dinklage standing out as the brothers Lannister; despite the transparency of Dinklage’s accent, his Tyrion is amazing. Emilia Clarke’s Daenerys is also quite good, although I can’t wait for her to come into her own. (Being my first time encountering an HBO series, all I have to say on the subject of nudity is this—I love that Clarke is shaped like a normal human being and presented as the most attractive woman on the show. I say “presented” because Lena Headey is dreamy.) It’s also an achingly gorgeous series—though, to be fair, I saw on a big screen. The landscapes are glorious, the architecture is brilliant, and the very scope of the series is downright impressive. There’s a wonderful scene where Daenerys stares out across the water, trying her hardest to try and visualize Westeros.
It wasn’t perfect—there were some bits with Khal Drogo I would have preferred to be played closer to the book—but it was pretty damn near it. I heartily look forward to the rest of the series when it comes out on DVD (hopefully by the end of this year). I can only imagine what people who have been following the series since A Game of Thrones was released will feel like come next week.
I’ve managed to get through Spellwright, Camera Obscura, and Bifocal this week—I’m still working on All is Vanity, which I’m enjoying so far. I enjoy reading novels about pretentious novelists getting their comeuppance, for whatever reasons, so it’s meshing well. I got tons of work done on Friday so I could spend the weekend celebrating my birthday, which is working well.
WETA Workshop and TheOneRing.Net are giving away a replica of Bag End until Wednesday. Eli at The Tainted Poet’s YA Book Review is giving away copies of Need, Wings, and Blue Bloods until Thursday. White Tree Press is giving away five copies of Lembas for the Soul until Saturday. TJ at Dreams and Speculation is giving away two signed copies of Skeleton Crew until the 18th. The Tor/Forge Blog is giving away a Hellhole prize package to newsletter subscribers until April 30th. Allie at Hist-Fic Chick is giving away five copies of Claude & Camille until an unspecified date. The Baen Free Library is full of free downloads, including The Shadow of the Lion and On Basilisk Station. Night Shade Books is offering Butcher Bird and Grey as free downloads at the moment. Vertigo Comics is offering free downloads of the first issue of several series, including Fables, The Unwritten, and Y: The Last Man. (And you will go download The Unwritten.) If I’ve missed your giveaway or freebie, drop me a line!