The first season of HBO’s Game of Thrones has reached its completion, though I’m still having a hard time believing that it even existed at all. HBO took one of my favorite fantasy novels, a book that while well written, belonged to a genre fairly or unfairly associated with socially awkward asthmatic nerds, and turned it into a critically successful series that has only gained viewers as as it wore on.
The writers faithfully adapted the main plot points of the series, while also conveying some of the main themes raised in the novel; family versus duty, the consequences of imposing one culture’s values on another, the weakness of adhering to a rigid code of honor in the face of a world of practicality, and the thin veneer of respectability that society uses to disguise the naked exercise of power. The writers did all of this in their own way, remaining faithful to the scenes of the novel when they felt they needed to, and departing from the source from time to time to give us all new scenes that worked out wonderfully (think of the verbal sparring between Varys and Littlefinger, for example).
It wasn’t perfect. There was a lot of ground to cover, and a lot of exposition in the early episodes that felt clunky and hard to follow. It makes me worry just a bit for the second season, which has been approved for only ten episodes, but will be based on a book that is much larger than the first one. I can’t be too worried, though, as the show only got better and more confident in itself with each episode.
Creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss will figure out a way to make it work, and I can’t wait. There’s so much more ground to cover, so many more great scenes that I can’t wait to see translated to the screen. I won’t spoil anything for the upcoming season, but I will say that the first book of the series, and by extension the first season, is really more of a prologue to the overall story rather than its first installment. Ned’s execution on the steps of the Sept of Baelor has set much of what is to come into motion. Next April is a long time to wait to find out what happens to Jon, Dany, Arya, Sansa, Catelyn and Robb, Jamie and Tyrion.
What will the Rangers find beyond the wall? How will Sansa survive in the court of the sadistic young Joffrey? Will Tyrion be able to control the brutal young king? What will happen with Robb’s war for independence? What will Dany do with her dragons? I’m confident in the answers that the show will give us for these questions. If you really liked this season, go out and buy the DVD set when it comes out, to let HBO know that you appreciate the risk they’ve taken.
If you’d like to read our thoughts on individual episodes, check out our week-by-week episode reviews and analysis.