Written by Nikhil Taneja (@tanejamainhoon) for The Juice.
A storm of swords is brewing. The Khaleesi and her dragons are going strength to strength in the East, the Lannisters are now reunited and pose a potent threat to anyone who tries to take over King’s Landing, Arya Stark has come of age and is looking for vengeance in the Riverlands, but there is a more dangerous enemy lurking in the shadows beyond the wall. Will the war for the Iron Throne be put on hold to counter the white walkers and the wildlings, even if Stannis Baratheon and his black magic mistress are the only ones taking caution? Or should we be prepared for the ominous forewarning of the season 4 trailer of The Game of Thrones: ‘All men must die’?
If these sentences don’t make any sense to you, I urge you to break free of whatever television prison you have locked yourself in, and WATCH GAME OF THRONES NOW! Because this is the only television series in history that has the words ‘throne’, ‘war’, ‘black magic’, ‘zombies’ and ‘dragons’ in the same synopsis. And if that sounds like the description of a B-film, you only need to experience the show to believe it.
Created by DB Weiss and David Benioff for HBO, and based on the George RR Martin’s bestselling series, a Song of Ice and Fire, Game of Thrones isn’t merely an ambitious television show, it is a concerted effort in trying to change the landscape of what conventional television is. Think the production, scale and quality of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings and episode-by-episode drama on the level of a Sopranos or The Wire. And the themes that the show tackles, from honour and justice to greed and jealousy to vengeance, give the series a humanity that goes hand in hand with the grandeur, instead of conflicting with it. Also, there is plenty of gratituous nudity, and that can’t hurt, right (if you are into that sort of a thing, *ahem*)?
So here’s a handy guide to the world of Game of Thrones, to entice you into watching, what is possibly the greatest event TV series ever made by man:
THE SETTING: The world of Game of Thrones essentially revolves around Westeros, which contains the Seven Kingdoms, each belonging to a different ‘house’ but ruled by one king, as well as the region beyond a great wall constructed to keep out whatever the hell resides beyond it (think an unpleasant cocktail of zombies, ghosts, wildlings and unheard-of animals). The seat of power in Westeros resides in the Crownlands, whose capital city King’s Landing is home to The Iron Throne, which, basically, everyone in the seven kingdoms want to get hold of.
HOUSE STARK: The quintessential heroes are House Stark – the rulers of The North, led by Lord Eddard Stark, and his family, that consists of the most honourable people on celluloid since The Fellowship of Lord of the Rings (Think of Lord Stark as Aragorn). But as we soon come to realize, being good is of no good in Westeros, where everyone has the propensity to be killed at an alarming rate.
HOUSE BARATHEON: At the beginning of the series, Robert Baratheon is the King of Westeros, and Lord Stark, his liege. But as events unfold in the world of the Seven Kingdoms, we realize his family, the Baratheons, which rules from The Stormlands, may want to claim the throne to themselves, particularly Stannis Baratheon, Robert’s elder brother, who is supported in his cause by the sexy priestess (never thought I’d say this), Melisandre, who practices some insane black magic.
HOUSE LANNISTER: Undoubtedly the most interesting family in the history of celluloid families, House Lannister is ruled by Lord Tywin Lannister, the richest man in the seven kingdoms, and also the most powerful because his daughter, Cersei is married to Robert Baratheon, who *may* be more than just a sister to her dashing brother, Jamie Lannister, and whose son, Joffery Bratheon, *may* be a Lannister, if you know what I mean. Yes, it’s a twisted family. The smartest Lannister, Tyrion, born a dwarf to Lord Tywin, is almost an outcast to his family, but if there was a single reason to watch Game of Thrones, it would be Peter Dinklage’s portrayal of Tyrion. Possibly my favourite TV character of all time!
HOUSE TARGARYEN: The rulers of the Iron Throne before Robert Baratheon took over, whatever’s left of House Targaryen after a war in the past – Viserys Targareyn and his sister, Daenerys – now resides in Essos, the landmass across the narrow sea, inhabited mostly by barbarians like the Dothraki people. Danaerys is married off to the Khal of the Dothraki, and becomes ‘The Khaleesi’, but Danaerys is more than just an ordinary human being – she is the mother of dragons. Yes, real, huge-ass, fire-spitting, multi-coloured dragons!
OTHERS: Apart from these four houses, the major houses are also House Tyrell, that rules The Reach, and that may have soon have a bigger role in the story than we think and House Greyjoy, who rule the Iron Islands, and who’ve never for a moment stopped thinking of the throne for themselves. But possibly the group of people more important than all the houses themselves are the Night’s Watch, who guard the Wall, and protect the seven kingdoms from the creepiness beyond it.
SO, BASICALLY: A war for the Iron Throne is raging in the seven kingdoms between the different kings, and each has his/her own reason to claim the throne – the most important being vengeance. The ‘others’ beyond the wall are suddenly coming back to life after years of being undead, and so are the dragons who everyone thought were extinct, and Danaerys is not going to be shy to use them to get the throne herself. In short, the baap of all TV series, Game of Throne is NOT TO BE MISSED!
FIVE OTHER CURRENT SHOWS TO WATCH IF YOU LIKE GAME OF THRONES:
- HOUSE OF CARDS: Think the struggle for power, the deceit, the greed and the drama of Game of Thrones, set in modern day, in the White House no less, and you get House of Cards. Starring Kevin Spacey and executive produced by David Fincher, this show will have you addicted.
- THE WALKING DEAD: An event series that not only matches GOT in production quality and scale, but also in non stop action and nail biting drama, The Walking Dead is based in a post apocalyptic world where zombies have taken over and a group of humans are trying their best to survive. Created by The Shawshank Redemption’s, Frank Darabont.
- BOARDWALK EMPIRE: Executive Produced by Martin Scorsese, Boardwalk Empire is a slow burning period drama about the rise of mob culture and the mafia, during the prohibition era. Starring Steve Buscemi, the show concocts a fictional narrative around real life historical figures, from Al Capone to J. Edgar Hoover.
- THE RETURNED: A creepy, haunting and surprisingly touching French horror Television series, The Returned is about a set in a town where the dead suddenly come back to life, but not as zombies. They are their own selves, and have no recollection of ever having been dead. One of the most accomplished supernatural dramas in recent times.
- MOST SHOWS ON HBO: The truth is HBO is responsible for upping the ante and pushing the boundaries of what television is supposed to be. So whether it was Sopranos, the mob drama that started the revolution, or the western Deadwood, or The Wire, arguably the best TV show of its genre, or Rome, True Blood, Band of Brothers and the recent True Detective, if intelligent and fantastic dramas are what you seek, try the HBO library, and you shall be occupied for months!
Note: An edited version of this article first appeared in The Juice in the April issue.
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