The Wire...But With Dragons
A lot can happen in eight years; one day you're off to join the Night's Watch, opens a new window and seventy-three episodes later you're....well, let's try to avoid spoilers. When the first season of Game of Thrones (GoT) premiered I had never heard of the A Song of Ice and Fire series of books by George R.R. Martin, but I did love dark fantasy and HBO television.
As soon as my local library had the season one DVD available I ordered a copy and finished the whole season in two days. Perfection! 😛 It was like The Wire in that its characters were diverse and its focus was political, but there were also magic zombies and baby dragons.
At the time I never imagined such an apparently niche story would become an enduring cultural relevance.
What Is Dead May Never Die
GoT has transitioned from successful TV show to international mythology. Travel to a place where you can't speak the language and you may have trouble veganizing an order of paella, but people you encounter will likely recognize the word Khaleesi, opens a new window.
Much of that shared experience was based on anticipation; we were all wondering what would happen to our favorite characters. Now that the series is over we can watch from the beginning and appreciate how each character's decisions and actions are a fateful thread woven into an elaborate narrative tapestry. There are also many interesting podcasts such as A Cast of Kings, opens a new window that can offer some alternate perspectives and insight while you go through the story for the first or second time.
Winter Came...Now What?
Our watch has ended, but that doesn't necessarily mean the GoT story is over. The first six seasons of the show followed the books more or less, and the remaining two seasons were written by GoT producer/writers David Benioff, opens a new window and D.B. Weiss, opens a new window (known collectively as D&D) with reportedly nothing more than basic plot points given to them by Martin.
No one has disclosed which aspects of the show's ending are Martin's and which are D&D's, but Martin can also choose to change the arc of his characters as he writes the rest of the story. For many people, the last two seasons of the show felt rushed and are hoping Martin can deliver the closure they are seeking in his novels with the two more books on the way, opens a new window that promise to conclude the A Song of Ice and Fire saga.
There are five GoT novels currently available in Martin's book series as well as a smattering of side stories and histories set in the GoT world. And now that there is no more show, many are starting to delve into the books for the first time, enjoying the rich insights into the inner lives of the characters as each chapter is written from a particular character's point of view. I recommend listening to the impeccable show score from Ramin Djawadi while you read.
For those craving more original screen content, HBO is currently in production for a prequel series, opens a new window that takes place thousands of years before the events in GoT, which Martin is reportedly involved in.
Share in the comments below whether you plan on staying in the world of Thrones and what you're most looking forward to!