Salon has an exhaustive primer on HBO’s Game of Thrones. It should be considered essential reading for anyone that hasn’t read the books yet (wouldn’t hold it against you they are, after all, 800 pages each) but wants to jump right into the new show.
“A Song of Ice And Fire” is to normal fantasy what “The Wire” was to typical cops-and-robbers drama, packed with grit, complexity and flawed human beings making their way through a corrupt and intimidating world. Heroes die, villains triumph, peasants and slaves suffer horribly and knights are as likely to be plate-metal-encased thugs and hoodlums as they are noble icons of chivalry. Loosely modeled on a medieval-era England ravaged by the Wars of the Roses, Martin’s world does not gloss over the starvation, rape and murder that follow in the wake of war. The class stratification and brute injustice of feudal society screams out of nearly every page. The HBO catchphrase for the series is “Game of Thrones: You Win or You Die,” but the truth is that the vast majority lose when the mighty roll the dice.
I also threw in the 25 minute making-of documentary that was released last week, simply because I finally had the time to watch it this weekend, natch.