Game of Thrones (further know as GoT) came out in 1996. It was the first book in the Song of Ice and fire series and was followed by three other books: A Clash of Kings (1999); Storm of Swords (2000); Feast for Crows (2005). Currently, George RR Martin’s rabid fans await A Dance with Dragons, which at this time does not have a release date. While it has had a strong cult following, it has never received the national attention that it is currently facing now. Why on earth, 14 years later, is GoT everywhere a fantasy reader looks? There are few reasons, but first a back-story.
My first introduction to GoT was in high school. My best friend and I both wrote stories; my characters changed monthly as I could never settle on just working one story. My friend on the other hand always wrote about her original character’s name was inspired by a name she had read in a book. She showed me GoT and while I picked up a copy of the book, I never read it. Ten years later, after getting married, I saw that my then husband had the book on his shelf and finally I found time to read GoT… and so began my personal obsession.
GoT has a unique style. While there are several characters (whom many of us struggle to keep all the names and families straight), each chapter features a single character. What I mean by this is: usually there are six to eight characters in each book whom gets their own chapter, which is told through their point of view. Sometimes you’ll have two chapters about the same event, where you get to see how two completely different characters (maybe even characters who are on opposite factions) react to said event. There are several households in the stories that all share a theme: The Stark’s always say, “Winter is coming” when some would say, “I have a bad feeling about this”. It’s an ominous phrase that is unique to these Lords of the North. On the other hand, the Lannister’s say, “A Lannister always pays his debts”. This can be something that is said in an annoyed manner when someone thinks that a Lannister is going to rip him or her off, or a promise of revenge. Martin leads you on a roller coaster of death (no one is safe from the all mighty Martin’s pen), intriguing politics, and intense characters. But even though it was recently rated by this site as the number one (out of 25) as the best fantasy series on the market, why the sudden rage of new fans and sudden burst of sales. Yeah, we know it’s becoming an HBO special but lets face it. Lots of books get turned into TV shows such as Terry Goodkind’s Sword of Truth’s series which was turned into the travesty Legend of the Seeker. What makes this book series and the upcoming show so special?
HBO is the network that has obtained the rights and produced the show. For most people this just means that we’ll have to pay $9.99 a month to watch one TV show. But having HBO behind GoT is actually one of the reasons that GoT has now gone mainstream. The first thing one should note is the distinct difference between a channel such as The CW and HBO. The CW who ran Legend of the Seeker is a public broadcasting station with a low budget. While some of their shows (Supernatural) are wonderful, they still have a limited budget. HBO on the other hand is a premium channel that one must subscribe to and is separate from your normal TV package. They do not have that limited budget that other networks have and they tend to go all out. Most of their TV shows have a huge following and they don’t have to censor because HBO is a premium channel. This means that GoT doesn’t have to be cut back, cut to pieces, and have a major portions of the book left out (or made up) to be aired. GoT will be portrayed in its sexy, bloody, and violent way. HBO has also been marketing it like crazy.
Each character has been selected with care and Martin has been directly involved. HBO has also pulled in some very talented actors. Sean Bean will play Ned Stark; Mark Addy will play Robert Baratheon; Peter Dinklage will play Tyrion Lannister for example.
What this means is HBO will be true to the story, will portray GoT uncensored, and have found a very talented cast of actors that fit and mirror the characters from GoT vs. finding a pretty boy to play the main character and then creating new episodes that have nothing to do with the book that has plenty of material to work from (which is exactly what Legend of the Seeker) has done.
And so HBO has rebirthed GoT, remarketed it, and has introduced it to a whole new select audience. Fantasy-lovers, new and old are scrambling to pick this gem up and get through GoT before it premieres on HBO on April 17th for the US and April 18th for the UK. And those already familiar with GoT? Well what better time to pick up our old favorite and reacquaint ourselves with it. Hopefully with the HBO mini-series as well as the graphic novel of GoT which was just announced will inspire our favorite author to return to the world of Westeros and bring out the long awaited Dance of Dragons. We await patiently, but at least we now have something to entertain us until then.