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The Rebirth of A Game of Thrones

A Game of Thrones (further know as GoT) came out in 1996. It was the first book in the series A Song of Ice and Fire and was followed by three other books: A Clash of Kings (1999), A Storm of Swords (2000), and A Feast for Crows (2005). Currently, George R. R. Martin’s rabid fans await A Dance with Dragons, which at this time does not have a release date. (Edit – it was announced yesterday!) While the series has had a strong cult following, it has never received the national attention that it is currently facing now. Why on earth, 14 years later, is GoT everywhere a fantasy reader looks? There are few reasons, but first a back-story.

My first introduction to GoT was in high school. My best friend and I both wrote stories; my characters changed monthly as I could never settle on just working one story. My friend on the other hand always wrote about her original character whose name was inspired by a name she had read in a book. She showed me GoT and while I picked up a copy of the book, I never read it. Ten years later, after getting married, I saw that my then husband had the book on his shelf and finally I found time to read GoT…and so began my personal obsession.

GoT has a unique style. While there are several characters (whom many of us struggle to keep all the names and families straight), each chapter features a single character. What I mean by this is: usually there are six to eight characters in each book that get their own chapter, each being told through their point of view. Sometimes you’ll have two chapters about the same event, where you get to see how two completely different characters (maybe even characters who are on opposite factions) react to said event.

There are several households in the stories that all share a theme: The Stark’s always say, “Winter is coming,” when some would say, “I have a bad feeling about this.” It’s an ominous phrase that is unique to the Lords of the North. On the other hand, the Lannister’s say, “A Lannister always pays his debts.” This can be something that is said in an annoyed manner when someone thinks that a Lannister is going to rip him or her off, or a promise of revenge.

Martin leads you on a roller coaster of death (no one is safe from the all mighty Martin’s pen), intriguing politics, and intense characters. But even though it was recently rated by this site as the number one (out of 25) as the best fantasy series on the market, why the sudden rage of new fans and sudden burst of sales. Yeah, we know it’s becoming an HBO special but let’s face it. Lots of books get turned into TV shows, like Terry Goodkind’s Sword of Truth’s series which was turned into the travesty Legend of the Seeker. What makes this book series and the upcoming show so special?

HBO is the network that obtained the rights to produced the show. For most people this just means that we’ll have to pay $9.99 a month to watch one TV show. But having HBO behind GoT is actually one of the reasons that GoT has now gone mainstream. The first thing one should note, is the distinct difference between a channel such as The CW and HBO. The CW who ran Legend of the Seeker is a public broadcasting station with a low budget. While some of their shows (Supernatural) are wonderful, they still have a limited budget. HBO on the other hand is a premium channel that one must subscribe to and is separate from your normal TV package. They do not have that limited budget that other networks have and they tend to go all out. Most of their TV shows have a huge following and they don’t have to censor anything, because HBO is a premium channel. This means that GoT doesn’t have to be cut back, cut to pieces, and have a major portions of the book left out (or made up) to be aired. GoT will be portrayed in its sexy, bloody, and violent way. HBO has also been marketing it like crazy.

Each character has been selected with care and Martin has been directly involved. HBO has also pulled in some very talented actors. Sean Bean will play Ned Stark; Mark Addy will play Robert Baratheon; Peter Dinklage will play Tyrion Lannister for example.

What this means, is HBO will be true to the story, will portray GoT uncensored, and have found a very talented cast of actors that fit and mirror the characters from GoT. As apposed to finding a pretty boy to play the main character and then creating new episodes that have nothing to do with the book, which has plenty of material to work with (which is exactly what Legend of the Seeker did).

And so HBO has rebirthed GoT, remarketed it, and has introduced it to a whole new audience. Fantasy lovers new and old are scrambling to pick this gem up and get through GoT before it premieres on HBO on April 17th for the US and April 18th for the UK. And those already familiar with GoT? Well what better time to pick up our old favorite and reacquaint ourselves with it. Hopefully the HBO mini-series, as well as the graphic novel of GoT that was just announced, will inspire our favorite author to return to the world of Westeros and bring out the long awaited A Dance with Dragons. We will wait patiently, but at least we now have something to entertain us until then.

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5 Comments

  1. Avatar Overlord says:

    Another fantastic article – congrats Jamie!!!! 🙂

    Really dying to see this now… 😀

  2. As your own sidebar says, A DANCE WITH DRAGONS actually now does have a release date: 12 July 2011.

    As for the current profile, a lot of that is to do with the HBO series, some of it indirectly. For example, a whole bunch of major TV critics started reading the books a year or more ahead of the TV series’ debut, loved them, and started talking about them. This started a chain-reaction where many other websites and critics started doing the same thing, and then their readers started taking notice. That’s why the books have now crept back into the lower reaches of the bestseller list. In addition, there has been some controversy over the books due to the long wait for Book 5, with a simple mention of the book or the author being enough to drag in dozens of frothing fans/critics in multiple forums and discussions to argue about it. That gives rise to a profile that is above its sales-weight.

    However, the series has been selling well and rising in profile for a while. The last book did between 50% and 60% of the business of the comparative WHEEL OF TIME book released in the same year in the same time period, which is huge, and sales of the entire series have doubled or more since then.

  3. Avatar someone says:

    I read GoT years ago, and all I can remember about is rape and incest and misery. Easily the worst fantasy book I have ever read. Of course HBO is a natural fit since they, too, like to produce garbage.

    The series is popular because grimdark gray morality torture porn wankery is in fashion now, just like vampires.

  4. You are absolutely right. HBO has the ability to market and create a better minseries than any other network and viewers trust that HBO will do the series justice because of their past shows and the popularity/accuracy of those shows.

    The great thing about HBO’s marketing is that they are calling for people to pick up a copy of GoT and read it vs. just watching the mini-series. HBO is bringing a whole new generation and fan base to the Song of Ice and Fire series and now with DwD coming this summer, the mini-series, and the comics/various games the series’ popularity with shine anew!

    The article was actually written before DwD was announced and I figured we should leave the article intact because of the humor of it being announced the day after writing it =D

  5. […] can read a recap of the book by Jamie Procencher here, as she looks ahead to the HBO TV show soon to air on US and British television! VN:F […]

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