Late to the party, I know, but I finally got eyes on "Game of Thrones", the recently concluded HBO hit series. A summer cold, 48 hours in bed and an HBO Go pass created the perfect storm of circumstances to view it in a concentrated dose. This may color the review for those who had to watch it unfold in real time over weeks and months but I have taken into account, 'what if I had to wait a week to find out what happens?'
You may substitute that for 'when is Season 2 starting?' because that's what I was thinking when I saw the last frame of the last episode and it went to credits. Based on the "A Song of Ice and Fire" series by George R.R. Martin, "Game of Thrones" is the first book in the series. A quasi-medieval period piece, that hints at magical things, "Game of Thrones", is set in the mythical land of Westeros. The story comes packed with political and palace intrigue, enough swordplay to warrant carrying them around to begin with and a whiff of something beyond the realm of flesh, blood and steel.
Lynch-pin of the drama is Sean Bean (Boromir in LOTR) as Eddard "Ned" Stark, childhood best friend to King Robert Baratheon (Mark Addy "A Knight's Tale", "The Flintstones: Viva Rock Vegas"...he needs to own that one). A boozy warrior without a war and a poor executive manager, King Robert is at his wits end. "The Hand of the King", his most trusted adviser has died and King Robert insists that Ned take up the position. Previously held by Jon Arryn, Arryn was mentor to Ned and Robert as younger men and his death strikes them both hard. Further entwining them is Robert's doomed love for Ned's late sister, Lyanna. She was the queen Robert wanted
Instead he is married to Cersei Lannister (an icy blond Lena Heady, "Terminator: The Sarah Conner Chronicles"), daughter of Tywin Lannister, the richest man in Westeros. Cersei has a twin brother, Jamie and a younger brother Tyrion who is as different from them as they are alike. Tyrion is a dwarf and his mother died while giving birth to him, strikes 1 and 2 in the count of Life in the eyes of the family patriarch. Tyrion has not let his stature define him and, as played by Peter Dinklage, is a formidable presence from his first appearance.
At this point, I will stop linking lineages and mapping out the lands because "Game of Thones" moves quickly between vast distances in it's storytelling. The use of ravens as e-mail is a useful tool in keeping things moving but somewhere, somebody is probably calculating the airspeed of your average raven, triangulating it's points of travel and calling bullshite. I haven't even mentioned The Wall, the Night Watch who guard it or the Targaryen siblings and their Dothraki alliance, compelling parts of the story to be sure, but trying to tie too much together in this review will only lead to spoilers. Instead, I will say that I found the time I used watching "Game of Thrones" to be well spent. The job creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have done bringing this sprawling tale to the screen is very impressive. Because I did not avoid spoilers while it aired, I knew some of what was coming. I was satisfied on all counts as to how the story got to each place and the impact was fully felt.
I have only one complaint and it can be thought of as a spoiler. When you see a familiar actor from a familiar series behave in a familiar way, and you think "He's perfect for this" and then he does exactly what you expect him to do, it's a slight letdown. But kind of an unavoidable Catch-22 because he was perfect for this. WARNING: THIS LINK IS A REAL SPOILER
"Game of Thrones" lived up to its hype for me and I will be checking out the book and eagerly awaiting Season 2.