Recapping Episode One of Game of Thrones From a Reader’s Perspective

Geek Culture

Game of Thrones premiered last night and we thought it would be fun to review the first episode from two perspectives. First, I’m going to look at it from the view of someone who’s familiar with the books. A little later, Corrina is going to tell you what she thought as someone who has never read a single page of A Game of Thrones.

Spoiler note: while we will discuss what happened in last night’s episode, we’ll avoid talking about any future plot details.

To say that last night’s episode of Game of Thrones was highly anticipated is quite an understatement. It’s difficult to remember the last time there was so much excitement over an unseen television program (or a movie, for that matter). And no matter how you judge it, it’s easy to say that last night did not disappoint. After the show, watching the #GameofThrones hash tag, my Twitter feed spun by like the wheels of a Las Vegas slot machine and almost all of it was very positive. (And so many fans who enjoyed it were women, who ever would have imagined such a thing?)

By my count, the premiere episode covered about 70 pages, or about 10%, of the book. It ended right where many thought it would, with brother and sister caught doing something they really shouldn’t and Bran falling and falling. It was an ending that, even if you knew what was coming, still delivered quite an impact. But what about the hour of story before it – did it deliver, as well?

Most of us had seen the first 15 minutes, with the black brothers venturing beyond the wall, the white walkers’ attack, the desertion and the beheading. The credits were impressive and an appropriate use of intricate mechanics, given that this game of thrones involves delicate relationships and perplexing power plays. The sets were massive and awe-inspiring and the difference between the harsh north and lush Pentos was great.

With only a few scenes, Peter Dinklage stole the show. His character, Tyrion Lannister, is one of the most intriguing in all of the books and he should feature heavily in coming episodes. It was exciting to hear his advice to the bastard Jon Snow, “Never forget what you are. The rest of the world will not. Wear it like armor, and it can never be used to hurt you,” which is one of the standout lines from the first book. It’s not too far of a stretch to expect to see Dinklage winning an Emmy for this role if he figures as prominently in the series as the books. Another great character was newcomer Maisie Williams as Arya Stark. With hardly a word, she nailed the essence of the youngest Stark daughter. It will be fun to watch her character develop in coming episodes.

However the show was not without concerns, specifically the amount of information and character introductions that were packed into this first hour. Did newcomers understand that Cersei and Jamie are sister and brother? Was the opening sequence too confusing? In the books, there are complicated relationships that take pages to develop and understand. Huge chunks were boiled down to a single scene or a quick exchange between characters. Time will tell if too much of the nuance has been left out for people unfamiliar with the books.

That said, the first episode was magnificent. It was hard to believe that this epic tale, which so many have come to love, was not just on the screen, but had been adapted pretty faithfully. As geeks, many of the books (and comic books) that we hold close to us are often co-opted by Hollywood for movies and television. Most of the time, they are significantly altered to be made more “mainstream friendly” and, in the process, the magic and everything we hold dear about these books is lost and we hardly recognize the characters and stories any longer. Not so with Game of Thrones. HBO has preserved the things we love about Martin’s writing — and that’s a lot to be thankful for. Oh, and one more thing: next Sunday cannot get here soon enough.

That’s what we thought. What did you think about the Game of Thrones premiere?

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