I was sorely tempted to post this picture as reason enough to watch HBO's Game of Thrones, the new show based on George R.R. Martin's still unfinished fantasy series. Look at those sideburns tied into a beard, I think any viewer would agree that this is costuming genius and reason enough to watch.
But I can't leave it at that.
My wife was halfway watching with me, even though this is nothing like what she usually spends her precious few viewing minutes on. Her sole comment was "Is that a midget getting a blowjob?" Indeed it was, the first of many if the show stays true to the books. Clearly another mark in the show's favor.
I just finished the series of books the show is based on literarily known as A Song of Fire and Ice and I read them specifically to prepare for this show. Never mind that for years I had friends telling me I had to read the series. Since Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time books I've been wary of far reaching series of books that aren't finished written by older authors.
The funny thing is that when I worked in a bookstore a few years ago this George R.R. Martin series was the go-to recommendation for anyone just finishing the Harry Potter series or Tolkien's books. I personally probably sold hundreds of copies of these books and it's nice to know my recommendations were for good reasons. In my defense, two employees nerdier than myself raved about these books on a weekly basis.
The books are really, really good. The world Martin has created feels real, avoiding that trap that fantasy writers fall into of just taking our world and adding dragons. It has a medivel feel but with a deep history to it. The world has its own mythology and gods that have a real sense of being developed over time within the world Martin has created. The strangest thing is that the seasons aren't fixed. When the novel starts there hasn't been a true winter in years although we get the feeling that one is coming.
The characters are very well crafted. The first book is almost overwhelming with the sheer number of characters that seem important. But Martin has created this vast cast for a reason and quickly (SPOILER ALERT) begins killing off characters that seem intrigal to the plot, it's bewildering and awesome. I found myself going back and rereading paragraphs as soon as I finished them because I couldn't believe my eyes.
Based on the first well-done episode of the show and what I can find online it looks like the books will be followed pretty faithfully. The first season is based on book one A Game of Thrones. The casting looks pretty spot on to what I was envisioning. The show didn't shy away from blood, midget blow jobs, creepy siblings or nudity in the first episode although they may have overdone Drogo's eye makeup.
The television series has already been picked up for a second season so no worries about getting emotionally invested and having the show canceled right away (Caprica). Another possible plus is that if the show continues Martin may be forced to get the books written in a more timely manner than he has managed over the last several years. The next installment of the series comes out in July and here's hoping he is busily scribbling down the next one.