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Game Of Thrones: Review

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There's been much excitement and fanboy fervour surrounding HBO's epic fantasy series Game Of Thrones.

Violence, sex and supernatural horror all combine in this intriguing series in which The Sopranos meets Lord Of The Rings - sort of.

It must be said first that all the excitement is for good reason. Based on George R.R. Martin's best selling and much-loved novel series, A Song Of Ice And Fire, the books have sold more than seven million copies worldwide, won countless awards and hit the top of The New York Times bestseller list, so it's no surprise that HBO saw the potential in it. But there's one possible snag - the fantasy genre hasn't traditionally done well on the tellybox. Will Game Of Thrones fare any better?

From the first couple of episodes, we reckon it just might. With a narrative that jumps directly into the action, we're introduced to the seven kingdoms of Westeros, and the things - both human and supernatural - that threaten its peace. In the far north, beyond the wall that protects the kingdoms, the wight walkers - reanimated corpses - of ancient fairytales are moving. Meanwhile, King Robert Baratheon (Mark Addy) travels to Winterfell to ask his trusted friend Eddard Stark (Sean Bean) to rule at his side, while in the south the last remaining heir of the previous dynasty, Viserys Targaryen, sells his sister Daenerys to buy himself an army and reclaim his crown.

With so many characters, plotlines, locations and backstory to introduce, the worry with Game Of Thrones was always that the series would be confusing. But the filmmakers have found the perfect balance, introducing the world of Westeros at a relaxed pace, while continuously moving the story along. The show's production values are key, not only because it looks so good (and it does look incredible), but because each kingdom is given its own distinct visual identity; the Wall is bleak and miserable, Winterfell is dark and dreary, King's Landing is lush and green, while Pentos in the south is exotic and vibrant. The series' complex mythology is woven into everything from characters' costumes to their accents, all of which are carefully conceived in order to tell us more about our heroes and villains than any lengthy monologue ever could.

That said, the concept of heroes and villains isn't really one that's relevant here. Regardless of its setting, Game Of Thrones is ultimately a tale of humanity. The story is rooted in it's protagonists' ambition, greed and lust, giving Game Of Thrones a realism that helps it to rise above the usual historical costume dramas. Every character has their dark side and cross to bear, no intentions or alliances are clear giving it a thoroughly enjoyable unpredictably quality. It's clear from the outset that each of this large cast of characters has a journey to undertake, but whether they'll make it to the end of the season is anyone's guess.

The characters are, though, perfectly cast - from Sean Bean's noble lord to Lena Headey's performance as conniving queen Cersei, Emilia Clarke's shy and delicate princess Daenerys and Mark Addy's turn as a once powerful soldier who won a crown and went to seed. Rarely does such a large ensemble cast maintain its quality throughout but even the younger members hold their own in this very adult drama, though it's Peter Dinklage who steals the show as the witty, womanising, drunken dwarf Tyrion Lannister.

The daunting task of turning a massive epic fantasy novel into a merely huge fantasy TV series has been met with bravery by the makers of A Game of Thrones, who have succeeded in creating a faithful adaptation for its large fan base. But that shouldn't deter newcomers - this dark, gritty and grim fantasy adventure show has something for everyone. Fingers crossed it's here to stay.

Read more at:http://tv.sky.com/game-of-thrones-review

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