“GAME OF THRONES” (2011)

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Creators: David Benioff and D.B. Weiss
Writer (book): George R.R. Martin

Based on the first book of George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones series (A Song of Ice and Fire), this ten episode HBO mini-series introduces a fantasy world of political intrigue and rivalries that is at once horrifying and fascinating.  In a land that bears a striking resemblance to medieval England, Lord Stark governs some land in the North from his castle at Winterfell, while his friend Robert rules in the capital as king.  The Stark family is powerful, but not as powerful as the Queen’s family, the Lanisters—who are for the most part the villains.  Jaime Lanister is responsible for killing the former king and putting Robert on the throne; although, since the former king had gone mad and begun murdering his courtiers, this is not necessarily a bad thing.  Meanwhile across the channel to the East (in a country that is clearly not supposed to be France . . . at all . . . ), the children of the assassinated mad king live in exile, plotting their return.  The only person who doesn’t seem to want power is Lord Stark, yet he and his family find themselves in the middle of a vicious political struggle that cannot end well.  And in the country to the North where the barbarian tribes live (yes, we all know it’s supposed to be Scotland . . .) the deadly and mysterious “White Walkers” seem to have returned, murdering and dismembering members of the king’s guard who stand guard on the large wall that separate the barbaric Northern lands from the rest of the kingdom.

Not for the squeamish, this show is great for lovers of high fantasy who are comfortable with incredibly graphic sexual content and violence.   The characters are great, with some fantastic acting—especially, in my opinion, from Sean Bean as Lord Stark.  There are some who are mostly good and others who are mostly bad, but most characters have shades of grey in their actions and motivations—even the villains.  (My favorite character is Arya, Lord Stark’s youngest daughter, who wants to be a knight instead of a lady.)  Also, as you may have gleaned from the summary, it would be difficult to pick up this show from the middle.  I’d recommend starting with the first episode and watching it in order.   I haven’t read the books yet, but they are supposed to be excellent as well.

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