Fans of the George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones have waited anxiously for 15 years to see the epic fantasy to make it to the screen. And this Sunday, winter will finally come. But for those of us unfamiliar with the series, there’s still plenty to warm up to. Namely, Lena Headey is back on your television.
Lena joins a sprawling cast in Game of Thrones, the first book in the series that is set in a magical kingdom filled with kings, queens, knights, rogues, mercenaries and more in a struggle for love, power and everything in between. Martin is often called “the American Tolkien” and his A Song of Ice and Fire series spans four books so far. A fifth will be released in July.
HBO has mounted a lavish production with an impressive and impressively large – I really can’t overstate the large – cast of characters. I feel like I might need a flow chart and cheat sheet to keep up. The Daily Beast even published a very helpful “Game of Thrones for Dummies.” The cast is pretty heavy on the men (and big burly hairy men at that), but there are key female figures including Headey’s scheming Queen Cersei. And, yes, I know – it takes a little getting used to her as a blonde.
The series is set in the fictional land Westeros. The land is run by several clans, or houses as they’re referred to, who have been warring with each other for generations for control, land, money all that good stuff. A very quick tour around the key players includes the House of Stark, lead by Lord Eddard Stark (Sean Bean) and his wife Catelyn Stark (Michelle Fairley); the House Baratheon run by King Robert Baratheon (Mark Addy) and Queen Cersei Lannister (Headey) and the House Targaryen with Prince Viserys Targaryen III (Harry Lloyd) and his sister, Princess Daenerys (Emilia Clarke, pictured below). I’m leaving tons of people out, but if I don’t it might take you until next winter to read this.
Many critics have lavished praise on the series already. The Hollywood Reporter said “It’s the kind of drama where, when the first episode ends, you wish the nine others were immediately available.” Entertainment Weekly gave it an A- and said “there’s a magical realism to Game of Thrones.” But not all the reviews were glowing. The New York Times did not care for it much and called it “boy fiction patronizingly turned out to reach the population’s other half.” Ouch. Of course, she also said women don’t read fantasy novels, so make of that what you will.
Well, you can judge the first 14 minutes for yourself. HBO released the clip of the start of the series to give fans and newcomers a proper taste. Just a word to the wise: If you don’t like beheadings, these are not the 14 minutes for you.
Game of Thrones premieres at 9 p.m. Sunday on HBO. So, will you be tuning in? And if you do, be honest, is it for the books or for Lena? You can tell me.