Revisiting George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire: A Game of Thrones

With HBO’s adaptation of Martin’s epic fantasy series almost finished, even if the series itself certainly isn’t, I will be revisiting my original reviews from 2011 of the five books in the series completed by Martin.

A Game of Thrones invites comparisons to J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings and Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time.  The series rivals those in quality but is very different in style and tone.  The Lord of the Rings and The Wheel of Time are about epic battles between good and evil; A Game of Thrones is similarly epic in scope, but the good and evil are contained within each character.  It is, at its heart, about power and its acquisition.  The tone is far darker than the aforementioned series and is unrelenting.

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Game of Thrones Recap: Season 8, Episode 1

It’s happening!  Episode one of Game of Throne’s final season is mostly about reunions and moving pieces around the board.  Too much time for the former, I think, as much as we fans want to see them.  We learn almost nothing in this episode.  The characters, on the other hand, learn a lot.  The writers also put an enlarged F/X budget to great use.

Full SPOILERS under the cut.

Photo courtesy of HBO

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Happy Game of Thrones Final Season Premiere Day!

This is it!  It’s hard to believe that Game of Thrones is almost over.  The first season aired in the spring of 2011.  I had heard of A Song of Ice and Fire from fellow The Wheel of Time fans, but I didn’t pick up the series until the show was ordered.  I pounded through the first four books.  I remember throwing A Storm of Swords across the living room of my now-wife’s apartment after reading the Red Wedding.  I took a few days off from studying for the bar to read A Dance With Dragons as soon as it was released.

I was living in Chicago when Game of Thrones aired.  I remember how exciting it was to see ads for the show featuring the iron throne around the city.  After growing up with the Conan movies and the sword and sorcery movie boom in the 80s, then an almost entirely fantasy-free decade with the 90s, it is just cool to see a high-quality fantasy show on television that is part of the cultural conversation.

I rewatched all 67 existing episodes of Game of Thrones in anticipation of the final season.  You can find my reviews of the first seven seasons below the jump, as well as several other Game of Thrones and A Song of Ice and Fire-related content I have featured at Every Day Should Be Tuesday over the years.

I will be resuming the recap posts I did for season 7.  You can find those posts below and expect my recap of the season 8 premiere tomorrow morning.

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Game of Thrones: Season 7 Review

Done!  I finished my rewatch of all 67 existing episodes of Game of Thrones last night.  I am all set to watch the final season live via a Hulu Live subscription and an HBO add-on.  As I did last season, I will be posting recaps of each episode.

On rewatch, I have season 7 pegged in the bottom half of all seasons.  It has what we have come to expect from the latter seasons: shocking twists, a measure of catharsis, outstanding and astounding effects work and CGI and sometimes clumsy storytelling, lack of attention to details, and massive plot holes.  Almost all superfluous plotlines have been discarded, but the pacing is both hurt and helped (mostly hurt) by the short, seven-episode season.

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Game of Thrones: Season 6 Review

Only. Four. More. Days. Until the final season of Game of Thrones premieres.  With just seven episodes left in my great rewatch—67 episodes in 67 days—I am definitely going to make it!  My review of season seven should go up on Friday, I’m planning one more Game of Thrones post on Saturday and Sunday, and then I will recap the premiere on Monday.

Season six benefits from a tremendous amount of much-delayed catharsis, but tons of time is burned moving pieces around the board, the writers are still furiously junking Martin’s plotlines, and the show writers’ weaknesses are starting to show.  One big WHAM! moment (or maybe two, depending on how you count) is much less effective because the writers drop the ball in season 7.

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Game of Thrones: Season 5 Review

We are in the homestretch, with less than a week until the final season of Game of Thrones begins.  I remain behind, but I will finish my rewatch in time.

Season Five is probably the weakest season of Game of Thrones.  It suffers mightily from having to deal with the twin problems of two books full of wheelspinning and no books beyond (I understand George R.R. Martin has been hard at work on the next book for the past eight years—given that any number of writers can churn a book out every year, surely Martin will be done any day now).  I remember this as the season that furiously dispenses with those of Martin’s storylines the writers don’t care for.  Some of that actually happens in season six, but there is a lot of it, and it hurts season five far more because it lacks the catharsis of season six.

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Throwback SF: Check out my Guest Post on Tolkien at Pages Unbound

I am pleased to announce that my guest post on my personal journey reading Tolkien has been posted at Pages Unbound for their Tolkien Reading Event.  Here is a taste.

Tolkien chose to live his life as a certain kind of man.  He came from and re-entered the upper middle class.  He held a chair at the most prestigious university in England for 34 years and published two landmark works in his field (his edition of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and his lecture Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics).  He of course came to international fame with The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.

But he chose to live a “middle-class, conventional, well-regulated existence . . . because he believed it was the right way to live.”  He learned respect for working class Brits “in the trenches” of France and maintained “a deep admiration for ordinary people—butchers, police officers, mail carriers, gardeners” throughout his life.  For all his success as a writer of scholarship and fiction he was infamously dilatory in completing projects—perhaps because he attended Mass daily and wrote elaborate Christmas stories for his children.  The views reflected in The Lord of the Rings—with its heroic, deeply admirable working class Sam and its esteem for nature and the simple life—were reflected in his personal life.  (All quotes from The Fellowship by Philip and Carol Zaleski.)

Want to know what that means to me?  You can find the full post here.

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