Gripping primetime fantasy

2011-10-07 08:36

You can trace back the success of M-Net’s new series Game of Thrones to Peter Jackson’s epic trilogy The Lord of the Rings.
JRR Tolkien’s fantasy masterpiece as reimagined by Jackson on film allowed the fantasy genre out of the geeky corner and into primetime.

The Emmy-winning Game of Thrones, written by another author with a pair of R’s in his name, George RR Martin, has the same sweeping scope as Jackson’s film, though it is made for the small screen.

Martin has written five books so far in his Song of Fire and Ice series - based loosely on England’s War of the Roses but with dragons, dire wolves, the walking dead and other fantasy elements thrown in - and there are two more books to come.

Game of Thrones is the name of the first book – so you can expect this series to be with us for years.

For this reason, if you haven’t started watching it, firstly, what have you been up to on Monday nights? and secondly, with only two episodes gone it’s still possible to catch up with the myriad characters in this dark, lascivious, blood-splattered story.

Martin wrote his first book in the late 1970s, and has written episodes of The Twilight Zone and he wrote and produced the popular 1980s TV series Beauty and the Beast with Linda Hamilton and Ron Perlman.

Game of Thrones was first published in 1996, and 15 years later a list of actors who are no strangers to the fantasy genre on the big screen have signed up to make this family saga flesh.

Sean Bean, who was the greedy Boromir in Lord of the Rings, leaves the dark side in favour of the light as the heroic Lord Stark, forced to take up the dangerous role of the king’s right hand.

Mark Addy is the unfortunate king who lives in a nest of vipers. And the most venomous of all is his wife Cersei Lannister played by Lena Headey, who starred as Gerard Butler’s brave queen in 300.

A truly diabolical woman, she has already tried to murder a child twice and in last week’s episode had another killed and to top it all off murdered one of the Stark children’s pet wolf. She also has a steamy affair with her brother, adding incest to her list of sins.

On the other side of the narrow sea the nasty Viserys Targaryen (Harry Lloyd) is planning to take the king’s crown.

To do it her marries his young sister Daenerys (played by newcomer Emilia Clarke) off to the savage Khal Drogo, played with lashings of mysterious sexiness by Jason Momoa, who most recently starred in the reboot of Conan, another fantasy favourite.

Martin’s story is creepy and dark and many of the characters are twisted beyond salvation, there is more than anyone’s fair share of sex, and a fake blood river runs through it.

These are the things that will keep us all in and up late on Mondays. Oh, and indulging our favourite collective fantasy - that good always triumphs over evil.

I will keep watching just to see the likes of Cersei and Viserys get their comeuppance, but will they?
>>Game of Thrones is on Mondays on M-Net at 9.30pm

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