Sex and violence power 'Game of Thrones'
Entertaining cable series may rankle devoted book fans
'Game of Thrones' second season began April 1. Based on George R. R. Martin's epic fantasy series "Song of Ice and Fire," the HBO television show has proved to be incredibly popular, and has inspired many new fans to read the books. Of course, readers will unavoidably have issues with the new version.
Set primarily in the fantasy realm of Westeros, the second season begins just as a civil war threatens the lands. King Robert Baratheon is dead under suspicious circumstances, the legitimacy of his children questioned.
The Queen Regent Cersei Lannister (Lena Heady) is trying desperately to keep her sociopath of a son, 13-year-old King Joffrey Baratheon (Jack Gleeson), under control. In the season premiere, he attempts to drown a knight in wine, before setting into his mother with a vicious verbal attack. Standing in the middle of the throne room, surrounded by subjects, she slaps him, in one of the most satisfying scenes the show has ever seen. Gleeson shines as the series' easily most vile, hateable character.
And now that her brother, Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage), is serving as the King's Hand in their father's absence while at war, "the Imp's" constant presence at court, and his control over the kingdom is driving Cersei utterly insane. The tension between the two actors is brilliant, their rivalry and unbridled hatred of each other a driving force behind the show.
Renly Baratheon (Gethin Anthony), the deceased king's youngest brother is well-loved by his subjects, has a very large host of soldiers, but has never fought a battle and shies at the sight of blood. Stannis Baratheon (Stephen Dillane), the next in line for the crown, is a hard, just man, and a very capable battle commander, though he inspires no love or loyalty amongst his men. Under his employ is a Red Priestess, a follower of the Lord of Light, R'hollor. Using visions from her flames, she swears to give him a son, and true to HBO style, they have sex.
This scene was one of many that didn't happen in the book, although it did make explicit something that was merely implied. In the second season the writers at HBO have inserted countless gratuitous sex scenes that do not serve to move the plot forward, a change from the previous season where at least then the scenes were intended to reveal details about characters motives and actions.
Now it seems that the cost of adding all that unnecessary sex is the forced removal, or unrecognizable warping of many characters and story lines.
Several small but endlessly fascinating characters have been completely removed from the storyline. In the novels, Stannis has a daughter, Shireen, who was afflicted as an infant with the terrible disease grey-scale, leaving her disfigured. Her jester Patchface was nearly drowned as a child, resulting in a mental stunting and bizarrely mottled face. These roles are small but may signify an alarming departure by the writers from their commitment to accurately retelling the tale.
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