The Norman Transcript


April 6, 2012

When you play a game of thrones, you win or you die

NORMAN — Sixteen years ago, George R. R. Martin started the “A Song of Ice and Fire” series. One year ago, HBO turned the first book of the series, “Game of Thrones” into a TV show. Martin’s fandom is long lasting and far reaching. People from all walks of life pop up with a love for the book, a love for the book and show, or just a love for the show.

How did this obsession start? Why is Martin a household name and why are the Simpsons making spoofs of the show?

Because Martin created a beautiful and fascinating world that obsesses readers and watchers alike with characters and events.

“Game of Thrones” is the first book and it introduces Westeros, a fictional kingdom ruled by one king and filled with seemingly thousands and thousands more who fancy themselves better kings than that guy. They all want the Iron Throne. The most uncomfortable sounding (and looking) chair ever.

The eponymous HBO series, now rolling out its second series to record ratings, has translated Martin’s creation into a darkly beautiful universe of backstabbing, medieval espionage, incest and a whole lot of brutal death. And it’s done so with an astoundingly nimble cast who can make you love a character in one scene, only to make you wish they’d be fed to a direwolf in the next.

But that’s the genius of Martin’s sprawling narrative: There is no black and white in Westeros. He achieves this moral murkiness with the ambitious strategy of alternating narrators. Each chapter is told third person from a different character’s point of view. Reading the same events through different lenses fleshes out characters you might once have formed a cut-and-dry opinion about.

Martin’s first novel focuses primarily on three storylines: the ever-roiling power struggle in the capitol city, King’s Landing, and two very different threats from outside of the kingdom’s borders.

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