Game of Thrones (Season One)
George R.R. Martin is a friend from way back, albeit one I haven’t seen in a long time. We first met when both of us were new to the SF scene, each having sold a few stories here and there, each of us working the convention circuit. I think he worked it harder than I did, and suspect he enjoyed it more. He was, and still is, one of the very best stylists and storytellers in the field.
And now he’s one of the richest. I couldn’t be happier for him. (I’m also jealous as hell, but I’m a big man, I can hold jealousy and happiness in my heart at the same time.) You want to know how successful this book and TV series is? I was in Costco the other day and saw a pop-up book of the various locations and characters of the realm of Westeros. A freakin’ pop-up book! You know you’ve arrived in the land of the best-sellers when they make pop-up books of your work.
I have to admit, this one snuck up on me. I don’t read a lot of SF these days, and medieval sword and sorcery is so not my style. I had never even heard of this series. So for twenty years George has been crafting this epic, completely under my radar. The books are way beyond massive. They would intimidate Stephen King. They were not a hit, initially, but at some point they were discovered by a larger audience, and now there are five of them, with either two or three more to come, depending on the story you listen to. There are about a thousand named characters. There are thirty-one major, point-of-view characters. How George keeps it all straight is far beyond my comprehension. Writing complex histories with that many characters and that level of palace intrigue is totally beyond my talents, and I am in awe of those who can do it.
Another thing I will admit is that, once I learned of the books and the TV show, there was a high level of resistance on my part to reading or watching them. (I still haven’t read the books, but I plan to, after watching the show.) We don’t get HBO, so it was all passing us by, and I can’t say I felt the lack. But now the first three seasons are on DVD, and we have plunged right in. As of this writing, we have seen six episodes of Season One, and we are as hooked as everyone else is. The writing is great, the acting is fine, and Peter Dinklage steals every scene he is in. What fun, to realize that we have no less than thirty-four hours of sizzling drama ahead of us!