By Sean Harris ’11
Winter is coming.
So says Eddard Stark in the book “A Game of Thrones,” part of the George R.R Martin fantasy series “A Song of Ice and Fire,” novels that have gained significant press now that HBO has decided to adapt it for the small screen.
The series could not be more deserving of this honor. This is fantasy at its finest.
The story takes place in the fictional continent of Westros, a land where seasons could last years and the faintest hint of magic still clings to the world threateningly.
Taking center stage is the Stark family, one of the seven noble families who control Westros.
Eddard Stark, lord of the North, is summoned to the political minefield of the South after the adviser to the King, otherwise known as “the Hand,” dies under mysterious circumstances.
Eddard accepts the King’s request and travels to the South in order to investigate the Hand’s death, an investigation that might throw him into hot water with the Lannister’s, House to the Queen, and the proudest and richest family in Westros.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the ocean, an exiled prince plots to make his triumphant return to Westros by offering his sister up to a ferocious warlord.
There is far more to the more than 600-page book, which spans multiple perspectives from three-dimensional characters that cannot simply be described as “good” or “evil.”
One of the most interesting characters in the book is Tyrion Lannister, a dwarf who feels he must make up for his physical disability by keeping his mind sharp.
His actions in the book are far from what one would consider good, and yet that doesn’t stop him from being a complex and likeable figure.
This is a fully formed world, a fantasy land that feels fresh mostly because everything is so grounded in uncompromising realism and grit.
The drama in the series comes from R-rated material.
Thank God this series was picked up by HBO, because an average chapter of “A Game of Thrones” wouldn’t make it past any normal television censor.
Adding to the fresh feeling of the series, “A Game of Thrones” goes through many different twists and turns.
The plot changes at the drop of a hat and characters thought to be untouchable are often killed in brutal fashions.
None of this feels cheap either—it sets up the story in new and exciting ways.
If there is anything that is wrong with the book, it’s the fact that some of the characters are unintentionally despicable.
Eddard’s wife Catelyn is particularly annoying, a neurotic bundle who makes some of the biggest blunders in the book.
Since the reader is forced into her perspective a lot, this is far from a minor nitpick.
On April 17, HBO viewers will be immersed into the land of Westros. Only time will tell if it lives up to its promise, and if it doesn’t, readers will always have access to the books.
Winter is coming. And it couldn’t come fast enough.