Monday, November 22, 2010

Game of Thrones

Quick show of hands. How many of you have read the fantasy classic GAME OF THRONES by George R.R. Martin? HBO is making it into a series now which comes as such a relief. Long novels are so much better suited to series format than movies and yet they're rarely adapted that way. You can follow the production diary here. I'm only 650 pages into the first novel -- god this is long -- but it's a page turner: superbly paced, tense, multi-layered, fine prose, and unpredictable plotting (a rare thing in fantasy novels).

Peter Dinklage has quite a role in his hands. He plays Tyrion Lannister, the manipulative, whip smart "imp" of the royal house of Lannister (the Lannisters are the villains mostly... Martin does a fine job of making sure your allegiances shift on occasion.)  Tyrion  is possibly the most complex character in a book that's teeming with vivid personalities. Not all of them are multi-faceted exactly but they all pop out from the page.  Do you think other vertically challenged actors applaud or resent him? There aren't that many roles out there and doesn't he gets them all. I remember registering shock when I saw Jordan Prentice in In Bruges. I was like "Peter Dinklage missed out on a role?"

EW has a new photo gallery of the characters. Looking through it I'm a bit worried about the budget (something about the costumes or armor seems too simple?) and I don't like how they've visualized Daenys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) at all though that whole thread is my least favorite part of the stories many tentacles.

Are you excited for this production?

20 comments:

JA said...

Yay I'm psyched you're reading these, Nat! God I just wanna badger you about where you are because oh my god there is so much craziness to get through. I pretty much just plowed thru the first three books over the Summer and now I'm sitting on the 4th holding out for an announcement of when the 5th will come out before I move forward. (Course a lot of people have been waiting for that announcement for years now so we'll see.) But it seems logical to me that he'd get the new book out around the same time as the show, cross-promotion and what not. Anyway totally agree with you on Dany looking wrong, but otherwise I'm pleased.

Univarn said...

Tyrion is an absolute delight in the 2nd book, all his manipulating and back talking, he really makes that Book fun, in a cynical sort of way. The third took me forever to get through but it was a worth every page. The evolution of the characters really brings a lot to the table. Martin thrives on 'if only' moments. Especially once you get into the 3rd book. I'm curious to see how they handle the progression of the series as it can only get more expensive as the world expands more and more (and more things are introduced - going to avoid spoilers for now).

Martin has a blog on livejournal if you're looking for more updates (though he spends most of it talking about events he's been too and the NFL right now).

JenSmall said...

I am a huge fan of the books, having discovered them a few years ago, and now having read the series (so far) twice. I am both really excited about the series (the casting, the fact that they're doing 1 book a season), and extremely worried (the production looks cheapish). We shall see! Enjoy the books, and when you feel totally upset and like giving up in book 2, KEEP GOING.

Volvagia said...

(sigh) I still have to get through The Wire before I even THINK of moving onto another HBO show. And you're right. This looks very cheap. So...It's not going to be this. I can buy a "fly on the wall" cop show or a comedy looking cheap, but not a fantasy show. I like HBO for trying, but this doesn't get the blood pumping at all. As of this moment, I'm most interested in Luck (crackerjack cast) and Spider and Son. (Anthony Kiedis reflecting on his youth. It'll at least be interesting.)

Nate Tyson said...

It helps that Dinklage is just a fantastic actor, height aside. I think a lot of actors of all body types have to be jealous of that talent.

Nate Tyson said...

PS: Off topic I know, but did you see Hathaway's hosting gig on SNL this week? She must have heard your prayers, Nat, because she exhibited a pretty much perfect Judy Garland impression.

Beth Anderson said...

So...the first three books in this series are great. And then it goes off the rails. In the fourth book, which came out FIVE YEARS AGO, Martin's story got so big that he stripped out half the characters, intending to put them in the next book, which we are still waiting for FIVE YEARS LATER, and the plot gave no indication that he was planning on wrapping up this series anytime soon. That's the point at which I gave up. 30 years from now, when he finally finishes, if he doesn't die first a la Robert Jordan, I'll read them all.

So...I have mixed feelings about the HBO series. Frankly, the first three books have enough plot to keep a show going for years. Maybe if the show is successful that will be the kick in the pants to get Martin to actually finish the effing series.

NATHANIEL R said...

JenSmall -- but... but... i already feel like giving up and i'm nearing the end of book 1. I mean. I think it's very well written and exciting but NOTHING GOOD EVER HAPPENS. it is all depressing blow after depressing blow. i don't know how much more i can take.

sorry. one of my fav characters just died. blarrrrrggggh.

Univarn said...

Martin does a great job of supplanting great characters that get killed with other great characters (and in turn not so great ones) but A Game of Thrones sets the tone for the entire third series. If that did you in, Book 2 should be fine, but approach the third with caution.

Owen said...

I've just started the second book. I was going to only read the first one and then dive into the second between season 1 and 2 of the tv show, but I couldn't wait. It's great stuff, highly addictive.

NATHANIEL R said...

nate -- good point. on the fantastic actor thing.

Joel said...

if you aren't good with grim ASOIAF isn't the one for you, but the series (all four so far anyway) is so compelling it is worth the wallow.

Rob T. said...

That would depend on how you define "completing", Joel, seeing as how Martin hasn't finished the series yet. For what it's worth I don't recommend reading book 4 until after book 5 comes out, since the story threads in those books run concurrently. (They were originally going to be one book before Martin split it in two.)

I've been a fan of George R. R. Martin's since I ran across his hair-raising novelette "Sandkings" in Omni when I was a teenager. Despite having written a few well-regarded novels in the late 70s and early 80s, until Game of Thrones Martin was best-known for his short fiction and for coordinating the "Wild Cards" shared-world series.

Much of Martin's writing in the late 80s and early 90s was for television, and he had some cherished projects fall through or misfire. I imagine that having been stymied in his Hollywood work, Martin started writing prose fiction again and this great flood of story just came pouring out of him. Channeling that flood--or maybe that should be classed as a tsunami by now--has been something of a challenge for Martin, to say the least.

As someone who thought adapting "Song of Ice and Fire" for film or TV would be impossible, or at least beyond anything most producers would want to attempt, I'm excited about the series even though I don't even have HBO! I'll probably rent (or possibly buy) the series on DVD. (Yeah, I'm old-fashioned, haven't got with the whole downloading video thing yet.)

By the way, Nathaniel, belated thanks for promoting one of my comments to the "du jour" spot!

starfish said...

This is one of my favorite books, and i tend to avoid adaptations of favorite books (haven't seen the Lord of the rings trilogy and have no desire to see it.. same for any Jane Austen adaptations). Plus i'm not thrilled by the photo gallery. On the other hand HBO has a good record with series.. So i'm not sure yet.
I'm just lamenting the time it's taking George R.R. Martin to finish A Dance With Dragons..

I think I know whose death you're lamenting, I can still remember my shock and despair when I read it the first time!

Volvagia said...

Nothing's impossible. All that's needed is the will to adapt.

Emily said...

Loved the first book in the series, but now that I'm mostly through the third I am starting to lose faith a little bit. GRRM is a really compelling author, but I think in a story of this size it's important to have at least one or two characters whose version of events you can trust and who are likable enough to root for...and then the author needs to LET THEM LIVE.

I'm definitely interested in watching the HBO series, though. The photos are OK but I prefer the teaser trailers - they capture the bleakness of "Winter Is Coming" and all things Stark better than the photos have.

poopface said...

I hope they don't have a skimpy budget. If the direwolves end up looking lame, I don't think they have the show.

adri said...

I read the books mostly as they came out, so there was gaps of years and I'd have to reread the previous ones to remember where I was.

And it seemed like every time I got involved with a character, they'd die off, until I wondered who was going to be left to have a story about.

I kind of admire Martin's ruthlessness with his characters dying though. So many SF authors can't bear to part with their characters, and eventually their characters are great-great-grandparents.

PS. Nathaniel, did you ever cast Scar Night, like you'd planned?

M said...

I discovered George Martin in 2001. He should be more well known but isn't - why? He's better than King.

It's true that the 4th book has slightly gone of the rails, isn't as tight, and he's taking a long time with the 5th. But he has written other books before and they are excellent.

His horror novel "Fevre Dream" should be made into film. Neil Jordan or Sam Mendes to direct. Annette Bening as the vampire Katherine.

Ryan said...

hopefully will be good. plus, Dinklage totally rocks