HBO has unveiled a Visual Guide to the new Game of Thrones. Featuring interactive maps—including an excellent look at the coast of Essos and the placement of most (but not all) of the Free Cities, apparently based on GRRM’s own maps—and details on various characters, organization, and history, it’s a great guide to the TV show’s version of the novels. There are little changes, here and there, and it’ll be fun spotting some of the departures from the setting’s history in particular.
Ever wondered what an arakh is? Or a weirwood? Game of Thrones will introduce those new to the series to more than a few new words. In the Citadel we have extensive resources for A Song of Ice and Fire but some of it is too extensive to serve as handy guides for newcomers and others contain spoilers. Because of this we are planning to add some resourced geared specifically towards TV-show viewers to the Features section of our Game of Thrones site. The first such resource is A Lexicon of Ice and Fire, covering some of the words you might want to look up. Enjoy, and let us know about any additions you want to see to the Lexicon or any ideas you have for other Features in this vein.
Ah-ha, this is the last Artisans featurette before the premiere on the 17th. Graphic artist Jim Stanes discusses a subject near and dear to our hearts: Heraldry and Maps. This video’s full of some of the heraldic images I had a sneak peek at when I visited the production in Belfast, and now everyone else can see them too!
Bryan Cogman has a new post at Making Game of Thrones, describing a bit of post-production life, his visit to the food trucks in Los Angeles, and an update on what he’s currently doing (extras for the season 1 Blu-rays [and, presumably, DVDs, though really, you’ll want this show in Blu-ray we suspect…])
But, as it happens, that’s not all that features Bryan out there. As he mentioned in our interview with him, he’s a trained actor. A trained actor with a focus on Shakespeare. Yes, ladies and gentleman… he’s a Shakespeare guy. As he proves in this short webisode of Tiny Apartment, a comedy created by some friends of his:
As the premiere of Game of Thrones barrels along, we have an exclusive interview with Kit Harington, who plays one of the most significant of the young leads in the series, Jon Snow. We discuss his early career and how he got into acting, the audition process, his interactions with some of the other actors, and his views and hopes for the second season if it goes forward.
If you’re in New York City, you may see the Iron Throne whizzing by… on pedicabs, offering complimentary rides through the city streets. And that’s not the only place where you’ll find them it, as HBO reveals that you can sit in a replica of the throne at various locations, not just in New York City, but in several major cities in the United States: Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Los Angeles join NYC as seats of kings. It’s all part of an incredible campaign to make sure everyone knows that Game of Thrones will be premiering this Sunday, April 17th at 9PM.
And just to whet the appetite further, there’s a massive billboard featuring the Wall, the towering structure that defends the realms of men from whatever lives in the frozen heart of winter beyond, at Hollywood and Highland in Los Angeles. Every evening through the 16th, the Wall and Westeros is brought to life using architectural projection and audio. Learn more details about time and locations below!
Ryan McGee and Maureen Ryan invited Linda and I to a special, Game of Thrones-centric podcast, along with Phil of Winter is Coming. It was a good discussion of the series, including the voicing of some questions from Ryan and thoughts from Maureen Ryan that both have since expanded on on their reviews (McGee at his site, Boobtube Dude, and Mo at AOL’s TV Squad). The reviews are worth reading carefully—they’re not unmitigated praise, and because they want the show to be a great success, they discuss the flaws in detail in a way that may be helpful to the showrunners going forward if there’s another season of the series; but on the whole, both like it, and both see a great deal of potential.
To listen to the podcast, go here!
The latest (and last before the premiere?) Artisans is now up, featuring the production designer Gemma Jackson as she gives viewers a detailed look at the throne room in the Red Keep… and, of course, the Iron Throne:
Boy, these things are piling up! A quick roundup of the latest reviews, interviews, and other Game of Thrones-related items:
Just finished a great conference call with George R.R. Martin regarding HBO’s Game of Thrones, with a full write up later in the week. But there was one very interesting piece of information that we thought fans would want to know now, rather than later:
According to GRRM, a character is killed in this 1st season of the series who does not die until the 3rd novel. Because of spoilers, he chose not to discuss it further (I tried!), but he did indicate it was a male character.
Benioff and Weiss deliberately made the change, which has interesting implications all of its own… such as already looking to find ways to trim down a potential third season by closing out or greatly compressing elements of A Storm of Swords.
And now, let the speculation begin! For our part, we’ll note that we’re quite certain it’s not a “POV” or “major” character, but someone who might be considered on the second or even third tier.
The final reward in the Maester’s Path promotion from HBO (created by Campfire) is now available! It’s meant for those users who managed to gain five “novices” (people who completed at least one puzzle after following your custom link to the game), and includes a video message from George R.R. Martin himself, plus some excellent “sigil packs” from which you can choose your allegiance as a maester!
Hat’s off to HBO and Campfire, as this was great fun!
For those HBO subscribers lucky enough to have access to HBO GO through their cable provider, the Wall Street Journal has revealed very interesting news: some episodes of the series will air on HBO GO even before they air on television! No specific details of this initative, such as how much earlier (an hour? a day?), are provided in the article. However, it does have a lot of very interesting things to say about the prospects of the show…
This Friday, George surprised fans by appearing at the last of the Game of Thrones food trucks (a great hit—thanks, Campfire, Chef Tom Colicchio, and HBO)—and trying some of the venison and lemon cake, plus chatting a bit with those going up to the truck. It was also a great publicity occasion, with several interviews being conducted both with fans and George.
Two of them featuring GRRM were conducted by HitFix and another fun one—with video and pictures!—can be found at Think Hero. Some interesting remarks in there, including George’s reminder of Faulkner’s quotation, “the human heart in conflict with itself”, is a central tenet of his writing. We expect to see more videos and photos in the next few days.
As to guides, Andrew Leonard of Salon.com has published an essential guide to the series which is, admittedly, rather spoilerish. But as it happens, Leonard also seems to make his feelings on the episodes he’s seen quite clear:
“A Song of Ice And Fire” is to normal fantasy what “The Wire” was to typical cops-and-robbers drama, packed with grit, complexity and flawed human beings making their way through a corrupt and intimidating world… HBO’s treatment of the text is scrupulously faithful—and terrifically entertaining in the best HBO high drama tradition…
That sounds promising. As does, Variety’s very positive review from Brian Lowry:
Although “Mad Men’s” Don Draper partially scratched the itch, premium TV has been actively seeking its next Tony Soprano. While Showtime’s medieval “The Borgias” directly promoted that analogy, HBO comes much closer with “Game of Thrones,” which reaches even farther afield—to Westeros, a mythical land of seven kingdoms where dragons once lived—to deliver a mob boss (OK, king) beset by plotting, intrigue and fractious families on all sides. Massive in scope and cinematic in detail, this dense piece of storytelling should resonate beyond just fans of George R.R. Martin’s novels, providing HBO its own formidable seat of power.
Interestingly, Lowry felt the pacing uneven in the later episodes, while Linda and I preferred the greater room for scenes to breathe in in those late episodes; it was the earliest episodes where we felt that the pacing was not utterly ideal as they raced to cover a great number of pages). Finally, Matt Fowler of IGN has some glowing words for the show:
As with any book adaptation, fans will worry and wonder as to what will be left out and what will be kept in, but the premiere episode, “Winter is Coming,” not only effortlessly takes us along, faithfully, through the book, but it also manages to capture the majestically morbid spirit of Martin’s pages and turn them into thrilling television.
Not all the reviews have been unanimous in their praise, unfortunately, but in some cases some of the remarks may appear aimed more at the story’s genre than the story itself: Wall Street Journal, IndieWire, and Zap2It. If you feel like remarking on these reviews in their comments, please be respectful, no matter how much you might disagree with them or believe them to be unfair.
This is probably not what you’re expecting—someone fisking the bare handful of negatives reviews, pointing out how awful they are. Instead, this is largely about the impulse to indulge in that sort of meta-criticism in the first place. Myles McNutt—who’s quickly becoming our favorite commentator on the intersection between media and culture—has a terrific piece that examines and ultimately calls into question the reactionary response of some fans towards negative criticism, especially when there’s a danger of that response being characterized in some unsavory ways.
If you’re the sort of fan who can’t help but respond to reviews you disagree with, McNutt’s post is one you really ought to read.
A brand new promotional trailer for the show, perhaps the very last full trailer before the premiere on April 17th. Titled “Poison”, it has a handful of shots we’ve never seen before, including some moments late in the series (Rugen!)