Game of Thrones, HBO Series

I had heard a lot about Game of Thrones, a TV series on HBO.

Some termed it as a mind blowing epic drama, others a grotesque fantasy. Such diverse views ignited my curiosity and I finally ended up biting the bullet this March.

And, once I began watching Game of Thrones, I realized it is indeed one of the most engrossing TV drama I have ever seen, though the excessive nudity and violence did put me off a few times. Still I have already finished watching the first three seasons and begun the fourth one. And, believe me, it’s getting better and better with each season.

So, what exactly is Game of Thrones and what is the reason of it’s astounding success?

For the uninitiated, the TV series, created by David Benioff and D. B. Weiss is based upon George R. R. Martin’s fantasy novel “A Song of Ice and Fire”. The book series had garnered huge commercial success and so does the TV drama, exclusively produced and showcased on HBO.

In essence, Game of Thrones, traces the story of Noble Families of Baratheon, Targaryen, Stark, Lannister, and a few others, fighting among themselves to rule the coveted Seven Kingdoms.

King’s Landing is the Capital and the seat of Iron Throne, witness to endless blood baths and political rivalries, while the Wall is the place of skirmishes and strange events. Till now, King’s Landing is the fixed seat of power whereas other kingdoms such as Dothraki, Qatar, Yunkai, Harrenhal enter and exit, as per storyline. Nothing and no one is indispensable here. Characters, including the main ones are killed in the blink of an eye, cities are razed into ground and formidable castles are breached and looted in every other episode!

But I am racing ahead, far ahead. I would recommend that you begin watching the series from the very first scene of Season One, to get a taste of the magnitude and intricacy of the storyline! The change in scenery, plot and twists are bound to impress the first time viewer.

The story begins beyond The Northern Wall, where dangerous fantastical creatures, like White Walkers and uncivilized Wildlings are getting ready to attack and kill people in Winterfell and walk all over Westeros.

Eddard Stark is the Lord of Winterfell and responsible for guarding the huge Wall. The Brothers of Night Watch are an ancient Order, entrusted with the security of the Wall. Though earlier it was known for its bravery and loyalty, in the first scene itself it becomes clear that the Order is not as sombre or organized as portrayed, and it is little more than a band of outlaws, punished for sultry crimes and sent there on their last journey; deserters are killed by the Stark Lord, and the sincere ones by extreme cold, fatigue, wildlings and other creatures!

Things are not what they seem, is the mantra of Game of Thrones. Winters are dreaded and Summers loved. And yet, it is the cold Winter that unites and breaks everyone. George RR Martin, has created a fantasy World, where people speak different languages, have unique religious beliefs, idolizing Trees to Fire to Sea, they even look and behave in different ways. And yet the intrigues, plots and politics is the same as in our Real World.

Here, the Iron Throne is the coveted prize. And each and every person is ready to usurp or punish the other for claiming the Seven Kingdoms. Right from Targaryens to Baratheons to Lannisters, each House is ready to undermine the other to get on the top. Here, no relation is sacred, no plot too devious, and no murder too gruesome. The only thing that matters is the Crown and the Throne.

And I guess, this is what clicks about Game of Thrones. It presents the World as it is. Greedy, Selfish, Cruel, Cold and Dark!

In Martin’s World, it’s impossible to brand people as good or bad. Here the worst person displays goodness and kindness, whereas the best ones are found to be lacking in courage and morality. One may indulge in the worst crimes possible, yet rescue a woman in need. The other may profess high values and yet fail to deliver justice at the opportune moment.

I would call this a brilliant stroke. The characters gain their depth, as it is difficult to decipher their true nature. The readers and viewers are free to choose their favorite characters, and yet receive the shock of their life at their conduct, a few episodes later. I personally found it very satisfying and interesting.

As far as I am concerned, I am yet to choose my favorite character, though I tend to lean towards the intelligent imp, Tyrion Lannister, who despite being mocked upon, shows exemplary courage and presence of mind. Or towards the dragon mother, Daenerys Targaryen, who transforms from a subservient teenager to a bold queen, all thanks to her formidable self confidence and unfaltering faith.

Though these two have struck a chord within my heart, I am often swayed to the other side, by favoring Jamie and Jon Snow. In short, many plots run parallel to each other and much drama is created, captivating viewers’ attention.

At the moment, I am in love with Game of Thrones, the HBO series. However, I would have preferred the nudity to be curtailed. There is seldom any reason for the characters to discard their clothes and indulge in orgies. The storyline is far too impressive to resort to such cheap tricks.

Also I am curious to find out whether the book series was similar or different from the present TV series. Often, creative liberties are taken while rendering a book into visual medium. However, it is one of the few instances where the original writer is also roped in to the making of TV series, as Martin is personally involved in the creative team, hopefully doing more justice to the written words.

Of course, it can be confirmed only if I end up reading the book after watching this series. As of now, I am anxiously waiting for the Winter to Come and for the Nightwalkers to run across Westeros. Game of Thrones is nothing if not addictive. Watch at your own risk 😉

Anupama Sarkar


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