Game of Thrones – Winter is Coming Review

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This weekend, HBO premiered the first episode of George RR Martin’s Game of Thrones. Being a HBO series, the show is actually very faithful to the source material as the cable network doesn’t shy away from the content that Martin fills his books with. In fact, they embrace it and the amount of sex and nudity in the books is probably one of the reason HBO decided to go with the series.

The first episode basically covers roughly the first seven chapters of the book, and roughly the first 100 pages. It begins with the scene at the Wall, and it ends with Daenerys’ wedding and Bran’s fall. It’s a very, very, compressed version of the book. Nothing major is left out, just little bits here and there and those who never read the books can watch the show and really get the core story.

For those who did read the books, there are some strange alterations. For example, Daenerys’ wedding night with Khal Drogo is very different than in the book and is played off like more of a rape than it was in the novel. There are other small omissions, little character bits that some people may have loved in the novel but are out of the show due to how compressed things are, but it’s an overall very impressive adaptation. Thanks to broadcast decency, the ages of many characters have been increased to prevent some of the creepier elements of the novels from rearing their ugly head.

One potential problem is that the show is a bit difficult for people unfamiliar with the books to follow. I watched it with someone who never read any of the books, and they were having trouble following all of the different characters and motivations. We’ll see if this improves in future episodes, as it could be that the first one was really compressed just to introduce everyone.

The casting is spot on perfect. Sean Bean is the only person who could play Ned Stark, and despite some of the characters introduced this week being extremely doomed down the line you want to enjoy every second they’re in the show. The scene in the books with Robert and Ned in the crypts comes off just as perfect in the show thanks to the casting.

Game of Thrones has everything you’d expect from a HBO series; lots of nudity, sex, and violence. It’s based on one of the better fantasy book series out there, so we know where the story is going. It’s crafted well enough that the journey there will be worth it.