Box Set Review: Game of Thrones series 1-3

The wildly popular HBO series Game Of Thrones kicked off its 4th season recently and boy did it start with a bang. Its usual abundance of sex, violence and intrigue will almost certainly continue to pull in viewers from all over the world.

It has been acknowledged that the show is presently the most downloaded on the internet, but it is also available via HBO Go. Its unprecedented popularity is demonstrated by the fact that the HBO Go server crashed due to incredible demand for the show during the première of this season’s first episode.

Game of Thrones on HBO

HBO series Game of Thrones, already in its fourth season, is a surprise to me, as each season is supposed to be based on George RR Martin’s books, but these books have a 5-year gap between each one. The first book in Mr. Martin’s epic saga A Song of Ice and Fire was first published in 1996, the second in 1999, the third in 2000, the fourth in 2005 and the fifth in 2011. With the exceptions of the second and third, readers have had to wait many, many years between each installment.

You can find out more about the whole series at The first season was aired in 2011 and every year a new season has been released. Seeing as the books take so long and the producing juggernaut that is HBO churns out the series at a lightning pace, what will happen when the next two seasons are complete and Martin has not finished the next book? Surely die-hard fans will wait, but will it have an impact on the popularity of the show?

As Martin has already discovered, from his rabid fans, the next book is highly anticipated, but along with the fans, he’s also under pressure to write faster due to the need to make the TV series. No doubt writing such a tome of a book is difficult enough, without having people breathing down your neck. It has been rumoured, however, that Martin has already told the show’s producers his planned ending, so that they can wrap up the show in case he kicks the bucket. Taking into account his age, this sounds like a pretty good idea! Whether or not HBO will do the show justice if he is no longer with us remains to be seen.

As far as the show goes, it has been divided roughly by season and book. Season 1 was adapted from Martin’s first book entitled A Game Of Thrones. Season 2 adapted from A Clash Of Kings. Season 3 is where things depart. Season 3 was based on the first half of A Storm Of Swords, with Season 4 being the second half, along with some plot points from the following two books, A Feast For Crows and A Dance With Dragons. The 5th and 6th seasons have been approved, last I heard, however their plot points remain unknown. It should be mentioned that there are still two more books planned for Martin’s series – The Winds Of Winter, which is rumoured to be due soon, and the final book A Dream Of Spring.

Season 1

season1 - Game of Thrones on HBO

Filmed primarily in Croatia and Iceland, the beauty of the show’s locales is a big part of its appeal. Mirroring the book in many ways, it introduces us to the main characters of the series, many of whom die (something you should get used to). For the most part, it pits the Stark family, who you could say are the main protagonists of the series, against the Lannisters.

Starting off with murder, incest, and full frontal nudity, I can see why people love this show. King Robert asks his old friend Ned Stark to fill in as King due to the suspicious death of his old friend John Arryn. Reluctantly, he heads off to the capital where he is met by a cast of liars, each of whom have their own agenda. Deceit is the name of the game, and sadly Ned Stark is one of the few men of honour and is thus handicapped.

After an attempt on Bran’s life, it is suspected that Tyrion Lannister is the culprit and it’s here that things go downhill. Before it could be proven, the always-hasty mother, Catelyn Stark decides to kidnap Tryion and take him to her sister to await justice. Of course Tyrion’s older brother, Jaime Lannister, does not take this lightly. Rumoured to be one of Westeros’s greatest swordsmen, behind captain of the Kingsguard, Barristan the Bold, Jaime confronts Ned in the capital, ending with the murder of all of Ned’s men and Jaime fleeing.

On the other side of the pond, the last of the Targaryens are plotting to retake the throne with Viserys selling his sister to Kal Drogo in return for his army. This of course doesn’t turn out as planned and Viserys’s impatience leads him to offend Kal Drogo and you can guess how that turns out.

A common meme on the internet shows Sean Bean’s death in many a movie he stars in and this is no exception. His character’s sudden death caps off a series full of main characters dying. No one is safe.

Season 2

season2 - Game of Thrones on HBO

Following the first season, the second season was adapted from the second book A CLash of Kings. Back in the seven kingdoms, Rob continues his war against the Lannisters, this time even more furious because of his father’s untimely beheading at the hand of Joffrey. Now that the King is dead, Renly Baratheon calls himself King despite his older brother’s rightful claim to the throne. On the other continent, Daenerys has lost her Kalazar but has been able to hatch not one, but three dragons, much to the dismay of king Joffrey. Finally to the north “The Old Bear” Jorah Mormont, has decided to lead a search party north of the Wall in search of wildings, grumpkins and whatever else is rumoured to be out there.

Season 3

season3 - Game of Thrones on HBO

In a change, Season 3 is based on the first part of Martin’s third book A Storm of Swords which, in my opinion, was the most captivating of them all. With Renly Baratheon dead at the hands of a shadow demon born from the seed of his brother and the Red Woman, there is one less who wants to be King. The Lannisters eventually form an alliance with High Garden because of this and the defeat of Stannis Baratheon at Blackwater Bay.

While Robb has not lost a battle, his good friend and almost brother, Theon Greyjoy, betrays him. He decides to take Winterfell to impress his estranged father. While Bran and Rickon escape, Theon is taken captive by the bastard of the Dreadfort and tortured for fun. Bran is revealed to be a Worg who is capable of controlling animals and even humans with his mind, but must make a journey north of the Wall to find his instructor.

Daenerys has come into her own now and has been able to secure her own army made up of freed slaves. Her dragons have grown substantially and are able to torch cities on command.

North of the Wall, the White Walkers are marching south with their own army of the dead, which seem unstoppable.

And there’s our round-up of the first three seasons of Game Of Thrones. We can’t wait for Season 4 and all the intrigue that will no doubt unravel!