When I was in middle school, I went to the bookstore (remember Waldenbooks?) in search of my next read. I wanted some sort of fantasy/sci-fi book, but didn’t know what to get. I ended up picking up David Eddings’ book, “Pawn of Prophecy,” probably because of the cover art. I was hooked. I devoured all five books within that particular series (“The Belgariad”), and then later on, five more with its sequel series. I’ve read the books dozens of times since.
Then I got a couple friends in school to read it. Then they told a couple of their friends. It was like our odd little reading club. Decades later, one of those friends suggested I read George R. R. Martin’s “Game of Thrones” series. Several years ago, I picked up Book 1 and started it, but never really got into it, not like I did with Eddings’ novels, but then I started watching the series on HBO. I devoured the show like I devoured those Eddings’ books. I got sucked in from the very first episode.
But why am I so into the series, yet never got into the books? Is it because the sci-fi/fantasy genre is sorely lacking on television today? There’s no equivalent of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Firefly,” “Angel,” “Eureka,” “Stargate SG-1 (and all its incarnations) on TV today. Sure, I can stream most of those series on Hulu or Netflix, but perhaps I’m just craving something fresh and new. Well, I certainly found it with “Game of Thrones.”
All the characters are so complex, and the storylines weave in and out of each other so that sometimes, I’ll admit, it’s a little hard to keep track of who’s who and who has slept with who, but I manage. There are so many great characters I can’t really name a favorite, but I rather enjoy the spunkiness of Arya, the unbridled sexiness of Jon Snow (look at those lips!), the bad-ass-ness of Daenerys Targaryen, and the complexity that is Jaime Lannister.
I find the most enjoyable bits of the show are things like the unexplained sexual prowess of squire Podrick and the complex relationship between Jaime Lannister and Brienne of Tarth. Podrick’s little side story is rather intriguing and adds a comedic element to an otherwise serious and sometimes dark show.
If you’re not familiar with or missed his evolution, Podrick (Daniel Portman) is a young squire to Tyrion (Peter Dinklage). Pod saves Tyrion’s life on the battlefield and to repay him, Tyrion hires three wenches to take young Pod’s virginity. When Pod returns from his dalliance, he returns with all of Tyrion’s money. Apparently, whatever Pod did, he did it so well the prostitutes refused to take payment for the evening. Several scenes are spent trying to divulge information from Pod and the prostitutes as to what it is that he did, but it is never revealed. It’s an odd aside to the whole show and particular to the television series, but it’s an amusing one.
Though I think my favorite pairing on the show is that of Jaime Lannister and Brienne of Tarth. The dynamic between these two characters is most compelling. She is a true knight (though she does not have the title of one), bound by the ideals of chivalry, faith, loyalty, courage, and honour, and she has the build to go with it (Gwendoline Christie, who plays Brienne, stands easily at 6’3″ and is quite beautiful, despite her character being known for her “ugliness” in the books).
He, on the other hand, is an arrogant but skilled swordsman, the youngest ever to be knighted. They go on this “Two for the Road”/”Odd Couple” journey as Brienne is tasked with bringing Jaime to King’s Landing. While on this journey, Jaime spends most of his time taunting or mocking Brienne, while she returns with jabs of her own about chivalry and honour.
For the most part, we find Jaime a bit abhorrent. He’s had a longstanding incestuous relationship with his twin sister, Cersei (yeah, gross, I know), and he’s known as the Kingslayer, a moniker he isn’t that fond of, even though it conjures up the strongest of knights, but also brings up the fact that he betrayed his king by killing him.
His character is so fascinating. Even though he leans toward the amoral (that’s the way he was raised), he’s probably one of the more honourable of the Lannisters, as he’s the only one that shows kindness and respect toward his little brother, Tyrion, and acts with honour, even though no one realizes it.
In what can only be called a “hot tub confessional,” Jaime and Brienne literally bare all to each other in the most recent episode. It was such a compelling scene, both actors bringing their “A” game to it. Jaime taunts Brienne once again, but quickly apologizes for it. He has been humbled with the loss of his hand, and over the course of their journey, he has come to trust her and feels a sense of protection toward her.
Jaime reveals that while he did, indeed, kill the King, he did it to save thousands and men, women, and children, so we’re a little sympathetic. And then there’s that sword hand of his that was recently lopped off. Brienne’s wall starts to crumble as she realizes she has a kindred spirit in this man. Right before he faints (from the sheer pain of having his wound cleaned prior), he says quietly to her, “Jaime. My name is Jaime” … asserting that the Kingslayer and Jaime might inhabit the same body, but they’re not the same person. That one moment seemed to have sealed an everlasting bond between the two.
The love-hate relationship between Jaime and Brienne is made even more exciting by the chemistry between actors Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and Gwendoline Christie. The duo have a friendly banter off camera, and while the characters aren’t going down a romantic road, their chemistry is palatable (and it doesn’t stop rom-com spoofs of their relationship).
I could go on and on about other things I like about the show. The Jon Snow and Ygritte storyline, Kit Harrison’s (who plays Snow) eye candy status in my book, the great casting choices (Diana Rigg! Iain Glen! Charles Dance!), how much you love to hate Joffrey and blatantly root for Sansa to get some backbone and plant a knife in Joffrey’s heart, the unrequited love of Ser Jorah Mormont for Daenerys … but perhaps I’ll save that for another post.
Now, I may have to try to dive into the books once more after watching the show.
Are you a fan of the show or of the books? Who’s your favorite character? What would you like to see happen with your favorite characters (regardless of what is already preordained with their development in the books)?