Game of Thrones is not an easy show to describe. Based on George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, it sees a number of different families from all over the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros all vying for dynastic power and control. That’s it in a very small, anaemic looking nutshell, but trying to adequately describe the storyline is damn near impossible. There’s the Starks (essentially the good guys), the Lanisters (the bad guys), the barbaric Dothraki, and other clans and families fighting for control of the Iron Throne. There’s also another plot line revolving around The Wall, a barrier between the rest of the world and the freezing cold North where there have been reports of long-thought-disappered creatures killing those who misadventure too far. Add to that a smattering of other bits and bobs and it starts to get a little complicated.
But that’s always the way with HBO dramas – there’s loads going on with loads of characters and it takes you a while to get into the story and understand everything that’s going on. Once you do get to grips with things, however, Game of Thrones is thoroughly absorbing viewing. The world of Westeros is brilliantly realised and totally believable, and its inhabitants are intriguing and varied in their personalities. Very few of the characters feel surplus to requirements and there’s a genuine desire to see how each of the storylines develop, from the power struggle between the Starks and the Lanisters to little Arya Stark learning to swordfight.
There are characters you’ll love and root for and characters who will make you seethe with rage, but you simply can’t deny that even the most hateful of characters are brought to life superbly. Standouts include Ned Stark (Sean Bean going all Boromir), Petyr Bailish (Aiden Gillen) and Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke), although you could to pretty much any of the others for further examples. However, without a doubt the best performance comes from Peter Dinklage as the diminutive Tyrion Lanister, known also as The Imp. His wit and sharp tongue is blended seamlessly with more sensitive moments; inviting you to root for him even though the rest of his family are the most abhorrent of the lot.
Spread over a rather thin ten episodes, this first season very much feels like a prelude to what’s to come. Very few of the storylines are resolved, but you’re never left frustrated, simply eager to see what’s to come next – a sign of truly great story telling. Game of Thrones is definitely not for those who struggle to keep track of multiple story arcs, but if you have the time to invest, then you’ll discover a rich world teeming with fascinating characters and enough blood and boobs to make even the heaviest eyebrows rise a little.
Words: Chris Thomson