Anyone who hasn’t been living under a rock has heard of Game of Thrones, so an intro to the show would be kind of redundant. But after nine years, and seven seasons, of scheming, murdering and woeful personal hygiene, the weather outlook is freezing cold with a chance of dragonfire. Winter is here.
What’s the deal with Game of Thrones? Why is everyone crazy about it?
Game of Thrones is a kind of restatement of the fundamentals of heroic fantasy. Instead of taking the myths of the Norse and Anglo-Saxons as the starting point, George RR Martin uses the Wars of the Roses and the violence that ravaged 14th-century France as his jumping-off point.
And rather than positing a world where people are either Good or Evil, and where racial characteristic are character-defining, Martin gives us a world where people are made by what they do and what is done to them. Case in point: there is a dwarf in Game of Thrones, but he doesn’t belong to a sturdy race of underground delvers any more than he sings the hiho song. He’s a character, who is a dwarf — and so well-loved by viewers that Martin joked that if readers of the original series of books, on which the show is based, didn’t stop pestering him to write faster he would kill the character off.
Was Martin kidding? Its hard to say — but he has such form exterminating his cast that no-one felt fully confident calling his bluff.
In fact that’s one of the things that gives the show its appeal: injuries don’t heal right. Pain hurts. Life matters. The good and brave and true get stabbed in the back. Heroes die. For all its ‘tits and dragons,’ it’s got more realism than Suits.
The title of the book series the show is based on is A Song of Ice and Fire: full marks for high-fantasy portentousness, but its also Martin telling us what to expect. between the rebirth of magic in a world where it has been a dead letter for centuries and the imminence of an invasion by the living dead White Walkers, or maybe between dark, brooding Jon Snow and white-as-ice Danaerys Targaryen, we’re always somewhere where anything can happen – except cosy certainties.
What’s happening in Game of Thrones?
We left GoT in bad shape. One of Dany’s dragons has been co-opted by the king of the dead. Dany’s dragons are the only means in Westeros to melt rock to make dragonglass — which is the only effective weapon against the White Walkers. But only a couple of people know this and they’re a long way from the centres of power.
Circe Lannister is betting the world to keep her throne, even if it means sovereignty over a heap of ashes. Jon and Daenerys are brother and sister — confirming a longtime fan theory — but neither of them knows it yet. All the major players have plates in the air and the maximum possible amount of skin in the game.
What should we expect from Season 8 of GoT?
The next season of GoT is one of the most speculated-about events ever. It’s been the subject of more scrutiny than real political events, possibly because the cast is better-looking than most parliamentarians (or maybe because by this late stage in the Game if Thrones we’vefigureds out who the good guys are).
There’s a lot we don’t know. Cast have signed NDAs that would make James Bond’s conditions of employment look like a Saturday gig at Carphone Warehouse. Showrunners tease and stonewall. George RR Martin is as always a limitless fount of gnomic silence — and besides, this season won’t be based on his books. Even he doesn’t know what’s coming.
What’s unbelievable is that A Song of Ice and Fire end on a slushy note. There may be no final, climactic battle. There may be no lasting union between Jon and Dany. Varys might die. Even Tyrion might die, running the risk that a fantasy tv show could spark real-life riots.
But we can expect to see the central themes of the show addressed. With a true existential threat in the north, dangerous bad actors in charge of major parts of the world, dangerous sleeper agents with unclear agendas dropped like breadcrumbs in the wake of every episode and a plot like a 5-dimensional corkscrew, GOT might even leave us with an ambivalent answer to its central question: can humanity solve its problems?
When got becomes available you’re going to want to inhale watch it straight away. So when is it out and how can you watch it?
It will come out first on HBO, where it will hit screens on April 14th.
If you’re located outside the USA, that won’t be much help to you: you won’t be able to see it on HBO thanks to geoblocking.
But there’s a way around that.
First, get yourself a good VPN. We recommend NordVPN, with its unbeatable server net size, great price on long-term contracts and reliable obfuscation that unlocks geoblocked sites every time.
From there, fire up Nord on a US server and go to HBO’s US address at order.hbonow.com and sign up. Get a free trial if you’re a new subscriber.
All you have to do then is find GoT on HBO’s US site and start watching!