Monday, October 10, 2011

A Game of Thrones, revisited

R. recently started watching the HBO adaptation of A Game of Thrones. I'm skeptical of video adaptations of my beloved books; there simply isn't a way for any visual representation to match the universe I've imagined. In addition, they often cut or alter bits of plot, which messes with my memories of how the story worked. Even earnest adaptations like The Lord of the Rings or the BBC Pride and Prejudice must exist as separate from the fantastic books they are based on.

I have absolutely no complaints in this respect about HBO's "Game of Thrones." The TV series medium means that there is plenty of time to explore the entire plot of the book, and the HD video makes it beautiful. (Plus, spoilers are nearly impossible.) Of course there are limitations: the actors are all too pretty, not as human-looking as I imagined their characters. And also, almost no time is spent describing clothing, flags, weapons, or food. (Tycho had very strong feelings that these books constitute some kind of literary food pornography, but I disagree. If anything, they are a kind of historical-genealogical glut of words. I end up recognizing even background characters in the show, and know their names, favorite foods, relationships with other characters, and lineages back several generations.)

So I reread A Game of Thrones, in order to refresh my memory and for ease of comparison with the series as we watched it. It was just as good the second time. I was particularly watching for the HBO series' interpretation of Renly Baratheon as homosexual; there is one semi-reference to it in the book, so ok, I guess they can get away with it. I learned new things, because the first read-through was so fast and the details too numerous to remember the first time through.

For example, the seven "great houses" are Highgarden, Storm's End, Winterfell, Riverrun, Casterly Rock, Sunspear, and the Eyrie. Inexplicably, King's Landing and Dragonstone are not "great houses," even though one is the capital of the continent and the other is the seat of the ruling family for the past thousands of years.

I continue to recommend A Game of Thrones, book and TV series. The book is slightly more appealing to me because of its lovely words, for which I know no match in visual appeal.

This post's theme word is anabasis, "a grand journey" or "a long military march." "A Song of Ice and Fire" contains many anabases, and attempting to read it takes nearly as long.

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