Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A Game of Thrones, coming soon to a television near you

If ever there was I time I was inclined to have “OMG OMG OMG!” as a post title, this would be it.

Ever have it happen that two of your very favourite things combine? Like chocolate and peanut butter, only better?

I am an avid but selective reader of fantasy novels—avid because I’ve loved the genre since discovering Tolkien and C.S. Lewis at the age of eleven, and selective because so much of the genre is cliché, borderline misogynist, and generally really badly written. There are however some authors who raise the genre back up to Tolkien-esque heights, whose novels are innovative and well-written. Canada’s own Guy Gavriel Kay is one of my favourites; Robin Hobb’s recent “Soldier Son” trilogy was a splendid allegory of imperialism and indigeneity; readers of this blog know me as a Harry Potter fan; Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials is mind-blowing; and of course I have become a recent devotee of Sir Terry Pratchett. (I also play World of Warcraft on occasion, though right now my enthusiasm for the game is at low ebb—it goes in three to four month cycles).

There is however one fantasy series at the apex of the genre right now, and that is George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire. I starting reading it in 1996, when the first installment—A Game of Thrones—was out in hardcover. It was an accidental acquisition: my brother Matt worked then at Chapters doing IT, and as part of their bonus they were taken into the overstock room and allowed to grab an armload of books. Not knowing much about my reading habits, but knowing I liked fantasy, Matt grabbed it.

That was thirteen years ago, and if I have any complaint about the series it’s that Martin is exceptionally slow in writing the novels. The series is now projected to run to seven novels, and in those thirteen years he has produced four: A Game of Thrones (1996), A Clash of Kings (1998), A Storm of Swords (2000), and A Feast for Crows (2005). Considering the heft of each installment, two years between each of the first three is reasonable; but then we have to wait five years for number four, and we’re still waiting on number five … with two more projected after that. Never have I been so deeply invested in an author’s continuing good health.

HOWEVER … for some time now, there has been speculation about the saga being turned into a television series, with each novel comprising one season. Now there is confirmation that this is happening, with season one starting next year.

That’s exciting in and of itself. What puts me over the moon is that the series is being produced by HBO!! H, B, fuckin’ O, as Deadwood’s Al Swearengen might say … so not only is my favourite ongoing fantasy series making it to TV, it’s going to be GOOD.

Long-time readers of my blog know my love for all (or, well, most) things HBO, and that I have picked up a little side-scholarship writing articles on such key series as Rome, Deadwood, The Wire and, most recently, Oz. I look at HBO as the flagship of the smart TV fleet, consistently producing brilliant cinema-quality series that make television watching almost a literary endeavour. My favourite fantasy series on my favourite cable network?? Too … much … goodness …

Breathe, Lockett … breathe …

What doubles down today on my geeking out is that Martin announced on his blog the other day some key casting for the principal roles. Some are actors I don’t know, or know tangentially, but they all look perfect.

What follows will make little sense if you haven’t read A Song of Ice and Fire. Just warning you.

Tripling down on my geeking out is who they’ve cast in the central role of Ned Stark:

Sean Bean.

Yes, that’s right … Sean. Fucking. Bean. Boromir himself. Richard Sharpe. And now Ned Stark. It’s like someone gave him a reading list of my favourite things and he’s made it his life’s work to act in the film adaptations of as many as possible.

Next, Ned’s long-suffering wife Catelyn Stark: Jennifer Ehle.

For those who find her vaguely familiar but can’t place her, here’s a picture from her best-know role:

Robb Stark: Richard Madden.

Sansa Stark: Sophie Turner.

Arya Stark: Maisie Williams.

King Robert Baratheon: Mark Addy.

Now, this is the one I’m not sold on. I like Mark Addy, but I don’t know if he has the presence to play King Robert. Robert is described as a massive man gone to fat, oversized in all his appetites and, ultimately, something of a blowhard and an asshole. But with a heart.

Jaime Lannister: Nikolaj Coster-Waldau.

I don’t know this actor, but wow … does he ever look the part.

Tyrion Lannister: Peter Dinklage.

Of course, Peter Dinklage. It’s a bit of a shame that an actor as talented as him should of necessity be limited to the dwarf role in whatever he does … but he’ll be amazing as Tyrion. Tyrion is such a great character, too—Dinklage should really be able to get his teeth into this role.

Daenarys Targaryen: Tamzin Merchant.

Again, not someone I’m very familiar with—she plays Katherine Howard on The Tudors, but she really looks the part.

Theon Greyjoy: Alfie Allen.

And lastly, Ser Jorah Mormont: Iain Glen.

This one makes me very happy as well—I don’t know much of Iain Glen’s work, and the only two Hollywood films I’ve seen him in (Resident Evil: Extinction and Tomb Raider) were baaaaaaaad. He played Hamlet in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead however, and played him brilliantly.

Excited yet, fellow Ice & Fire fans? Further updates as events require.

1 comment:

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