I finally stepped out from under the rock I have been living under and watched the first season of Game of Thrones. Although I am a science fiction nerd, I am not the biggest fan of the fantasy genre. Stories of rangers, elves and wizards haven’t really been my thing…that is, until The Lord of The Rings trilogy came out. The depth of the world Tolkien created (and portrayed by Peter Jackson) was unmatched by anything in both the fantasy and possibly the science fiction genres. The mythos of how things came to be, punctuates the legitimacy of the characters through out its story. How could some seemingly derivative story about a king, a dwarf and some dragons possibly live up to the only work of fantasy that I have ever really cared for. Those thoughts combined with the fact that I didn’t have HBO where my primary reasons for not really getting into Game of Thrones.
That all changed last week while I was on vacation. I told my buddy Luke I was thinking about watching it and one HBO subscription and ten hours later I was hooked. Firstly, to the two other people like me who haven’t watched the show, this isn’t anything like the Lord of the Rings. I can’t say it is better, but I can say that it shares a similar sense of mystery and grandeur. Unlike the Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones is almost completely driven by individual drama. It almost feels like a soap opera, albeit a well crafted one. There are three primary storylines; The feud between the Starks and the Lannisters; Jon Snow and his quest to become a knight of the watch and the Targaryen siblings and their pursuit to reclaim the throne.
Ned Stark’s journey from Winterfell to Kings Landing is captivating. My biggest complaint with the modern television drama is the addition of filler and fluff in order to draw out an otherwise mediocre story. I never felt this way when watching Starks story unfold. Each chapter had a place and meaning all the way up to the end…oh, and Sean Bean is pretty awesome.
Jon Snow, the introduction of the wall and the dangers that lie to the north were equally as compelling. I wanted to know the entire history of the wall, who built it and why was it needed in the first place. It is a good example of creating a mythology without actually telling you what transpired. I wish more was explained about the white walkers but I anticipate that will be addressed in subsequent seasons.
The story of the Targaryens (specifically Daenerys Targaryen) was the least interesting. I found it’s pacing too slow. I was often wondering what the point of her tale was. I thought I knew midway through the season but it became clear in the final episode. It’s a pity that it took that long to get going. I often wished they would switch back to Ned Stark or Jon Snow when watching Daenerys and the Dothraki wander around watching people dance and get killed. I hope her storyline picks up in the second season because it was really my only complaint with the show.
I can finally understand why everyone seems to love this show. It’s really just a well crafted drama disguised as a fantasy story. It has something for the nerds and something for the mainstream.