Tuesday, 19 July 2011

A Game of Thrones: Before I Read the Book

By now, most people would have experienced or at least heard about the Game of Thrones. For those of you haven’t, Game of Thrones is the first book in the fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire written by George R R Martin. The recent buzz around the series is because of two things: firstly, HBO has adapted the book into an incredible series that started airing in Australia this month; secondly, the much anticipated fifth book in the series, A Dance with Dragons was released last week. As a staunch believer in reading the book before seeing the film or the television show, I must confess that I have not read Martin’s novels. Furthering the literary shame, I loved HBO’s Game of Thrones so much that I am afraid to read all the books in case I ruin my experience of Season 2. Finding myself in this blasphemous predicament, all I can do is explain how I arrived here and hope that you understand.

It began when I noticed altered behavioural activity of some friends.Things like:
  • forced enthusiasm for being among people
  • general tiredness – dark shadows around the eyes and frequent yawning
  • animated discussions with each other that most people found impenetrable and slowly backed away from
  • surreptitious and early departures from events
As an unashamed addict of most things HBO or Showtime, I recognised the symptoms of discovering a good series.  Getting my hands on this Game of Thrones, I put it on one night without any knowledge of what it was about. What proceeded was a euphoric blur of distant lands, political intrigue, suspenseful dialogue and action, and beautiful cinematography that took me well into the early hours of the next day. I had watched 6 one-hour episodes in a row.

In one night I had joined my disappearing friends in the world of The Wall, Winterfell, King’s Landing and the fight over the Iron Throne. I had become strangely sympathetic to Kahl Drogo (calling him ‘my little pussycat’) and passionately hateful of the Lannisters, except for Tyrion ...

What followed were ‘Medieval Mondays’ when each week my friends and I gathered to watch the latest episode. After a rocky start in which people who had read the books revealed crucial plot points to the shattering dismay of others, Mondays became the event that we all looked forward to. As I sat with my prescription glasses on and a throw rug draped over my lap in a living room with appropriately dimmed lights and the cone of silence in place, I realised I could reveal my inner nerd. It was a safe place.

The season finale came upon us all too soon. We celebrated with dinner and home-made medieval mulled wine. One hour passed in rapt silence. The suspense and excitement were palpable. As the final credits rolled and we returned to the real world, I had to quickly jerk my head back - I had a bleeding nose. Some might say that the next 15 minutes spent with a rolled tissue up my nose was because of the heat or an over-exposed blood vessel in my nasal passage, but to be honest, it was because Game of Thrones is that good.

I am about to read the first book to further fuel my obsession. As to whether I will read the second book, Clash of Kings before the second season comes out, I haven’t made up my mind. All I know that watching Game of Thrones was an unmatched experience and I don’t want to ruin the possibility of experiencing something like it again.

Written by Natalie

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