Monday, April 7, 2014

Hooked on #GameofThrones - Kathryn Knight

I read all five books in the A Song of Ice and Fire series in 2012, and when I did my round up of favorite books of the year, they were on top of the list.  High fantasy is not my usual go-to genre, but a friend recommended the series, and at that point the television show had already premiered.  I didn't watch--I don't even have that channel--but I figured all the buzz had to mean something.

When I started the first book, A Game of Thrones, I was almost ready to give up after the first few chapters.  The writing was incredible, but the many characters, their relationships, houses, and siguls were confusing, to say the least.  Throw in the fact that each character has about 5 different names, and things get overwhelming fast.  I wish I'd had the sense to check the back of the book, because I later discovered handy "cheat sheets", with characters, nicknames, and relationships arranged by house. 

Before I gave up, I reminded myself that I'm a fairly smart person (despite my failure to find the charts in the back), and if so many others could figure all this stuff out, so could I.  And I did.  It took a lot of paging back at first to connect each character to multiple nicknames, but it also made everything more colorful and realistic--the characters were starting to come off the page.  "The Kingslayer" reveals so much more about Jaime Lannister than just his birth name alone; the same can be said about Tyrion Lannister's unkind nickname "The Imp".  "Arya Underfoot" really sets the tone for what that character represents, and where her journey will lead.

The world building in the books is incredible as well.  I truly felt as though I could picture each land, village, castle, keep, and ocean.  Descriptions of The Wall made me shiver.  King's Landing felt dirty and desperate beneath the shadow of The Red Keep.  The Iron Islands stood by the merciless sea, bleak and damp.

I didn't feel like I needed to watch the shows, because I could see the characters and settings so clearly in my head.  Besides, I knew exactly what was going to happen--and some of it was so brutal, I wasn't sure I needed a visual to compete the picture.  The biggest factor, though, was the fact that we don't have HBO.

But then my brother-in-law gave us the season 1 DVDs as a gift, and I was incredibly impressed.  The casting could not have been closer to what I imagined, the costumes and settings were brilliant, and the writers and actors truly captured the essence of the first novel.  Most importantly, to me at least, the show stayed true to the events in the book.  And even though I knew what was coming, I still felt the suspense, laughed at the clever dialog, and enjoyed the breathtaking views of the lands in my head.

Shae looking down over King's Landing

After my husband and I had watched the first season, though, we were stuck--no HBO, and no season 2 DVDs available yet.  While I felt like I was missing out, I told myself eventually I could go back and watch the entire show with no painful wait between seasons.

Then, my teenage son broke his leg.  He had emergency surgery and could not go to school for over a week.  He was laid up on the couch, and since he's unfortunately not the reader my other son is, he spent most of his time watching TV.  I tried to keep him company, but eventually I thought I might scream if I saw one more silly, raunchy sitcom.

So I pulled out the DVDs.  Yes, I know, some scenes are fairly graphic in terms of sex.  But I'm not a mom who pretends sex doesn't exist--after all, I'm a romance writer.  A few scenes were a little uncomfortable to watch together, but I also knew which scenes could be fast-forwarded through without losing necessary information.

My son loved it.  We were both hooked, and even after he could return to school, it became our "thing" to do together.  Which is fun, because other than watching this and The Walking Dead, there aren't many activities we can't wait to do together.  I ordered season 2.  We finished that.  I ordered season 3, which we just started watching.

Last night, around 8:00 pm, my son came to me and suggested we get HBO.  "Why?" I asked.  "We just started season 3.  It's season 4 that's premiering tonight."

"We're going to want to watch season 4 right away.  We're not going to want to wait until the DVDs come out.  We could record the episodes so we have them."

I opened my mouth to argue that the last thing we needed was more television channels, but I realized he was right.  At 8:30, I was on the phone, holding for a Comcast customer service rep.  At 8:45, we were going over pricing plans.  Somehow, we were able to get all the premium channels for not much more than we already pay, for one year anyway.  By 8:59, HBO was no longer a blue screen with access denied.  That fantastic music began to play, and I had to set up the recording and turn it off.  For now.

I imagine we'll be caught up soon, and then Sunday night will become our night, and we can watch with the rest of the world.  And I'm so glad, because after last week's The Walking Dead finale, I felt a little sad--we wouldn't have our show together for another seven months or so.  Now we have this.  Unless the show catches up to the fifth book before the sixth one is finished.  I know a series like this can't be rushed, but I hope George R.R Martin is making progress on The Winds of Winter.  What a book release day that will be!

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