By now you've likely heard all about Game of Thrones, which just started its third season last Sunday. This season begins to tell the story of A Storm of Swords, the third book in the A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R.R. Martin. There are no spoilers ahead, so read on.
The first episode of the third season illustrates the quality of the source material well: this is a world where set-up and exposition is exciting. Some events from the novel were rearranged freely in order to better set up the remainder of the season, but nothing is harmed in the process. This episode keeps the viewer rapt even though it's almost completely free of action and includes but one brief scene of the series' oft ridiculed/praised/eyebrow-raising “sex-position”. It's good, and I loved it.
It's easy to be apprehensive about Season 3 of HBO’s Game of Thrones, especially for a fan of the source material. A Storm of Swords is my personal favorite entry in the book series. It's packed with notable events cover to cover, so I was pleasantly surprised when HBO announced the book would be split into two seasons. Though it's just as likely that the decision was made to lengthen the run of the TV series while George R.R. Martin finishes the books, I believe the decision is in the best interest of the source material and the fans. Fans are already privy to the episode titles, and there don't appear to be any upcoming issues with pacing. The ninth episode of this season, as with previous seasons, seems particularly primed for shocking events.
Also, while on the subject of the TV series catching up to the books, we can look to a two year deal George R.R. Martin recently signed with HBO to both work on Game of Thrones and develop a new series — a prequel series, apparently. It seems there's no reason to be afraid for any unnecessary lengthening a la Hobbit.
This first episode certainly contains the same award winning acting and fantastic atmosphere that has made the series a success so far. Peter Dinklage once again manages to steal whatever scene he is in, though at this point the Emmy winner’s acting skill hardly needs proving. It's a shame that he'll have less screen time this season. Few other cast members have the same opportunities to shine, however Aiden Gillen as Petyr Baelish receives a subtle moment to remind the viewer that in the long run there probably is no one in the Game of Thrones universe that plays “the Game” harder.
Kit Harington will hopefully get his chance to show us that he can do more than look angry later on this season. His performance wasn't bad here, but among the immense talent of the rest of the cast it's easy to notice the moments that could have been better. Thankfully, the quality of the costumes, music, and cinematography do much to hold up even the weakest scenes.
This episode definitely proves George R. R. Martin's world is exciting even without conventional action one tends to associate with this series. However, if the A Storm of Swords is any indication, this last Sunday night was truly a calm before the storm... of swords (I ask you pardon that impossible to avoid pun). I am waiting anxiously for more, and I hope that the level of quality of the show remains high enough that a fanboy like myself can let the show do the talking while I do the praising.