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Spring is here for everyone else, but for fans of author George R. R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series, Winter Is Coming.
The second season premiere of the series’s Emmy award-winning television adaptation, entitled Game of Thrones, aired on HBO April 1 to 3.9 million viewers.
The Game of Thrones phenomenon popped up overnight, despite the books having been out since the late 1990s. The second book in the series, A Clash of Kings, was on The New York Times Bestsellers List for a short period in 1999.
However, many hadn’t heard of the series until HBO announced the television adaptation, which premiered in North America in April 2011.
In an interview on The Hour with George Stroumboulopoulos this March 13, Martin says he has two different audiences: those who have read the books since 1996 and those who have come to the books through the show.
Cheryl Cleland, a linguistics student and teaching assistant at Brock University, in St. Catharines, says she was one of those that hadn’t read the books prior to watching the show.
After watching the opening credits, Cleland, 24, saw it was based on the books. She says after finishing the first season, “I thought, ‘OK, must read that now.’”
“It completely takes over your life and drags you in.”
With any adaptation from page to screen, not everyone is keen on seeing a beloved book make the jump into Hollywood.
Martin says the people who have read first are seeing the series through the prism of the books.
“They tend to react – and I think sometimes overreact – to any deviation from the books.”
Set in a fictional medieval world called Westeros, the Song of Fire and Ice series follows several factions all vying for power in the western Seven Kingdoms using war and politics.
The main faction is the family Stark, rulers of the northern Winterfell and whose house words “Winter Is Coming” are the motto of the show. Other factions include the conniving Lannisters, the Baratheons and the tribal horsemen Dothraki, who reside across the sea in the east.
The fifth book in the series, A Dance with Dragons, was released in July 2011. Martin has at least two more books planned for release.
Bobby Kaspar, a writer for social media and search engines, says what draws him into the series is the character development. He says it deconstructs character morality so it’s unclear who is right and who is wrong.
“There is no good and bad. Everyone is just existing and trying to get ahead.”
Kaspar, 30, makes an example of one of the characters, Tyrion Lannister. In the series, Lannister is a dwarf and actor Peter Dinklage won an Emmy portraying the character in the first season.
“With Tyrion, dwarf characters are usually comedic [in fiction], but the dwarf here is a normal and witty person.”
For new fans wanting to jump into the second season, Cleland advises starting from the beginning of the series, book or show.
“New people may be lost, but it’s enticing for the current fan base. It doesn’t stop to explain where things are at. It just goes.”
The second season continues Sunday nights at 9 p.m. EST on HBO.