Tom Stangl

Saturday marks the tenth anniversary of the premiere of the Home Box Office (HBO) series “Game of Thrones.” The series ran for eight seasons over the next eight years. Based on a series of fantasy novels by George R.R. Martin, the show became a pop culture phenomena and money maker for HBO.

HBO has ordered at least one “Game of Thrones” prequel series and a couple others are in discussion.

I remember watching the first episodes of the series and then subscribing to HBO. I read the first five novels in the series and continue to wait for the sixth and seventh novels. Martin has been working on the sixth novel “The Winds of Winter” for the past 10 years. Martin thought he would have it done before the television series caught up with him but didn’t make it.

The creators of the series did an excellent job adapting the novels, but when they ran out of the source material and were forced to operate on an outline proved by Martin, the quality dropped. The final season, highly anticipated by fans was universally hated. There was an online petition asking to re-do the season.

I enjoyed it all, even the bad parts. Could the last two seasons have taken more time to draw out the end of the character arcs for the large ensemble cast? Sure. I am displeased they combined some of the minor characters to simplify storytelling? Sort of. If you read the novels (and if you enjoyed the show, you should read the novels) you will learn there are many characters. Each novel has an appendix in the back to explain who each person in the story is and which house (family) they belong to.

Martin’s characters are complex. There are no clear cut “good” and “bad” guys, just like real life.

The author has drawn on historical wars and feuds to give some context. The feud between the two primary houses, Stark and Lannister, comes from the York and Lancaster families that fought the War of the Roses for the control of the throne of England in the 13th century.

The notorious Red Wedding in “Game of Thrones” is based on an event in Scotland in 1440 when members of the Black Douglas clan travelled to meet with the King of Scotland in Edinburgh Castle. The Douglas clan members were murdered at dinner.

So, how obsessed were we about “Game of Thrones”? GetCenturyLink.com, sales agents for Century Link, last week released a survey of the most Googled character from the series, by state. Daenerys Targaryen was the most popular character in 16 states. Khal Drogo was the top search character in six states. Tyrion Lannister, Joffrey Baratheon and Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish each were tops in four states.

The top searched character in Minnesota was Eddard Stark. In Wisconsin it was Bran Stark. Jon Snow, the anti-hero of the series, was the most searched in one state: Massachusetts. 

I am looking forward to the last two novels. I think Martin will probably go in a slightly different direction than the series. I will also tune into the prequel, which is set hundreds of years before the series and is based on House Targaryen, who ruled for generations.

It’s fun to look back on these milestones, but there’s always something new on the pop culture front.

As always, I welcome your comments. You can reach me by email at tstangl@theameryfreepress.com, telephone 715-268-8101 or write me at P.O. Box 424, Amery, WI, 54001.

Thanks for reading. I’ll keep in touch. Feel free to do the same. 

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