When New York Times bestselling author George R. R. Martin created A Game of Thrones, it was almost in response to the limitations set upon him during his years of writing in Hollywood, where scripts would be cut because they were either too lengthy or expensive. He envisioned something so grand that it would be “unfilmable” – a tale with a cast of thousands.
With A Song of Ice and Fire he very nearly achieved this goal, but HBO just had to prove him wrong. A few reviews here and there may gripe about the purported sexist themes or gratuitous sex scenes, but no Game of Thrones HBO review can deny that the series premiere was an instant hit or that it was immediately renewed for a second season.
How did HBO accomplish it?
With similar, larger than life historical dramas such as Rome under its belt, producing a series that takes place in a quasi-medieval era and one that is more character-driven than fantastical is not that far of a stretch. The story of A Game of Thrones mainly revolves around noble families fighting for control of the Iron Throne. A long time ago, the fictional continent of Westeros comprised of several independent kingdoms until the Targaryen family invaded and unified all the noble Houses under one King who rules from the Iron Throne. The reign of the Targaryens ended when the House Baratheon, headed by Robert Baratheon, usurped the throne. Many years later, King Robert finds himself disenchanted with both his crown and his loveless, political marriage. Soon the Iron Throne will once more be up for grabs and many Houses lie in wait, preparing to strike.
The character-driven nature of the series amidst a complex political conflict is a huge chunk of what made Martin’s masterpiece so popular. The ten one-hour episodes comprising Game of Thrones HBO manages to capture the essence and depth of the novel. It is remarkably faithful to the book, a feat that can be attributed to Martin himself working closely with producers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss. There may be a few minor changes and cut-scenes, but none that hardcore fans were expected to complain about. The character of Daenerys Targaryen, for example, has been aged for the show and is played by an older actress. This deviation from the 13-year old child bride in the book can actually be viewed as a good (and more palatable) change.
In addition, no expense was spared for Game of Thrones HBO. Review the cast alone, which consists of well-known names such as Mark Addy, Sean Bean, Peter Dinklage, along with a well-rounded ensemble of actors who have had roles in film, television, and theater, and you will get the sense that the rumored 50-60 million dollar budget may very well be true. The episodes were mostly shot in Ireland and the stunning visuals are unlike any before seen on an HBO series, befitting the hauntingly beautiful fantasy world that Martin had crafted. Moreover, there was a keen effort to keep the production as detailed as possible, from the costumes, to the accents, to creating a full-blown, fictional language for the Dothraki tribe that Daenerys married into!
Whether HBO can continue to take on Martin’s huge novels without making the series unwieldy remains to be seen, but this Game of Thrones HBO review proves that the first season lives up the challenge and is a must-see for fans and new viewers alike. The HBO show is but a small part of this ongoing series. Check out Game of Thrones Review for more insights into the show and everything else related to this epic fantasy series.