Sunday, April 1, 2012

My Two Cents on Season Two of 'Game of Thrones'

If you don't already know, Game of Thrones, HBO's stunningly dark and gritty fantasy, adapted from George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series, is returning for its second season tonight at 9 PM. And my, what a great season it promises to be.

I've read all of the books in the Game of Thrones saga (twice, actually, and currently on my third time through), and I am convinced that it is, by far, the best fantasy series I've ever read. It may even be one of the best series of books, out of any genre, that I've read. Martin's story isn't your standard romp through quasi-medieval world with armored knights and dragons, though it has all these elements. A Game of Thrones and all the succeeding books are stories about people, compelling in their very human flaws and weaknesses. There are few paragons of virtue in A Song of Ice and Fire, and those that are have the unfortunate tendency of dying.

As many fans of the series can attest, I was, at first, apprehensive when I learned that Martin's work was being adapted for HBO. I worried about gratuitous, unnecessary sex scenes and violence, and while the first season is chock-full of these instances, it still amazed me by how faithful it remained to the original work. Every episode was crafted perfectly, completely capturing the ebb and flow of the novel.

To call the premiere of season two one of the most hotly anticipated events on TV this year is an understatement. Game of Thrones won critical acclaim and has brought the fantasy genre well into the limelight. Folks who have never read a fantasy novel in their whole life have devoured Martin's books, eager to consume more of the stories of Jon Snow, Tyrion Lannister, and Daenerys Targaryen. 

However, I would be a terrible fan of the books to not mention my own apprehension for this season. Yes, I am totally excited, almost as giddy as I was before the Skyrim release, but rumors across the Internet and my own fears also rumble in my belly. You see, in A Clash of Kings, the second book in the A Song of Ice and Fire cycle, Dany, one of the established main characters, has (if you don't mind my saying) a pretty boring story arc. But the TV show can't just ignore Dany for an entire season so, based entirely on what I've seen in trailers, it seems like the show runners, D.B. Weiss and David Benioff, are changing up the Qarth sequence more along the lines of what happens in A Storm of Swords, the third book in the series. 

Also this:

This is Nonzo Anozie who is playing the character of Xaro Xhoan Daxos, a merchant prince of Qarth. I really don't have a problem with the casting except for the fact that Martin describes the Qartheen as being pale - the Dothraki even refer to them as "Milk Men" for their complexion. I don't know about you, but Anozie does not look like a "Milk Man" to me.

A minor detail change like this isn't really anything to cry about, except for this worry chewing away at the back of my mind. If you remember Khal Drogo's Dothraki horde in season one, how it seemed like the most random mish-mash of non-white actors were chosen to play this barbarian horde? It was like the producers wanted to remind the audience with: "Hey, look, these guys aren't white. That means they are barbarians, right?" Now, I feel like they are extending this idea to the Qartheen, by making them non-white as well to keep pushing the idea that only the Westerosi are white.

Okay, who are these two pictured above? Well, that's Meera and Jojen Reed, the children of Howland Reed,  Lord of Greywater Watch and one of Ned Stark's closest friends. In fact, it was Howland Reed who was the other sole survivor of the battle at the Tower of Joy. Meera and Jojen arrive at Winterfell and become fast friends with Bran and play a rather large role in his story arc.

However, they have not been cast in season two, in addition to Reek, an unsavory individual who plays a large part in Theon's arc. I'm afraid that these critical characters won't be included in the TV series, their parts instead folded into other existing roles. Of course, this may not be the case. Weiss and Benioff have already confirmed that season two will include elements of A Storm of Swords and that other elements of A Clash of Kings may be moved to later seasons. If that's the case, then as long as there is sound reasoning behind the change, I'll be appeased.

It comes down to trust. Despite my fears, despite my apprehensions, I am trusting that Weiss and Benioff, who come off as true fans of the series, know how to adapt the books for the screen. It isn't a perfect art, but they've already proven with season one that they know what they're doing. And, they have Martin's approval. That is enough for me.

Below are the trailers for season two. Enjoy!

"Shadow" Tease

"Power and Grace" Trailer

"The More You Love" Trailer

"Price For Our Sins" Trailer

My personal favorite: "Seven Devils" Trailer

"You Win or You Die" Sneak Peek

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