If you’ve never been much of a fantasy fan, then you may be surprised as you succumb to a glorious screen obsession. I’m referring, of course, to HBO’s superb mega-hit series Game of Thrones.
It’s been described as “The Sopranos in Middle Earth” and “Shakespeare on steroids” and, really, it’s just amazingly good fun. Brilliant dialogue, superb characters, a dizzyingly complex plot and an alluring cast combine to produce a masterpiece of political intrigue, human skullduggery and epic drama.
Game of Thrones introduces us to the medieval world of Westeros where summers last for years, winter can last a lifetime and evil is afoot. While sinister forces gather to the frozen north – behind the kingdom’s huge protective wall – in the temperate south the Iron Throne is up for grabs. This power vacuum elicits a deadly battle between the implacable Stark family and its enemies, all of whom want the throne for their own purposes.
All the actors give stand-out performances. In particular, Peter Dinklage, whose eye-popping work as the canny, charismatic dwarf Tyrion, has to be seen to be fully appreciated. Despised by his cruel sister, Queen Cersei (Lena Headley), and his tyrannical father Tywin (Charles Dance), Tyrion must use his considerable intelligence and charm to survive in these perilous times. Sean Bean, as the noble Ned Stark, is also a knockout as he battles smarmy eunuchs and plotting councilors in the dysfunctional court of King Baratheon.
The child actors, often a weak link in many productions, are uniformly excellent. Maisie Williams – as the plucky young Stark warrior – and Isaac Hempstead-Wright, her younger brother Bran, give faultless performances, inhabiting their characters with focused intensity and determination.
As if all this isn’t enough, another spectacular plot involves an exiled princess – played to perfection by Emilia Clarke in her first job out of acting school – and her arranged marriage to warrior king Kahl Drogo. Initially terrified by her predicament, Daenerys gives new meaning to making the most of a seemingly hideous situation.
So, overcome whatever aversion you have to the fantasy genre and get ready for a hell of a ride – on horseback – through the frozen ground of the North to the barren red – desert wastes at the far southern outpost of magnificent Westeros.
Oh, and did I mention the dragons?
Game of Thrones, Season 2, is currently screening.
Editors note: This review was written in 2012 and long before the atrocious 8th season. Midlifexpress sincerely apologies for encouraging anyone to watch this show given its ultimate outcome.