A Helpful Primer for HBO’s Game of Thrones

Guest post by Samantha. If you want to guest post too, see the requirements here. So you only recently paid attention to the buzz surrounding the HBO hit-series Game Of Thrones, and it sounds like something you’d totally watch, but you’re a season behind the current action. Also, you’re intimidated by all the media coverage of the series that describes the series as dense, complex, rich with dozens of characters, and filled with countless settings. Don’t be intimidated! The series is much more approachable than critics would have you think, and it’s definitely worth your time to watch.

That being said, I should warn you: when you start the first season, you will feel intimidated at the sheer number of plots and characters introduced within the first half hour. But don’t despair! The writers of the show do a great job of explaining events and characters as the show progresses. If you want a little extra help understanding people, places, and events in Game of Thrones, consider this straightforward (and spoiler-free) primer.

The basics: setting

Game of Thrones is primarily set on the fictional continent known as Westereos, a world imagined by the author George R. R. Martin, whose books—collectively known as A Song of Ice and Fire—serve as the source material for the series. Westeros is a fantasy realm set in a medieval time, where lords and ladies rule territories, knights fight for honor, and hardships abound for the vast majority of peoples without means. the continent is divided up by the various royal houses that rule them, and are collectively called “The Seven Kingdoms,” all of which swear fealty to the king, Robert Baratheon, who lives in the southern part of the continent in King’s Landing.

The Seven Kingdoms are varied at unique, each one dominated by the distinct personality of their ruling house. For instance, the Lancasters rule the Midwestern area of the continent, whose capital is Casterly Rock. To the north is the wintery land ruled by the Stark family (who are the main characters of the series), and to the very south of Westeros is a desert like country of the Dornish ruled by the rich Martell family. Though The Seven Kingdoms are at peace at the opening of the series, they all have a history of waging wars among each other, for many royal family want to consolidate their power and extend their influence.

To the north of the Seven Kingdoms is the Wall, a huge structure miles long that spans the icy northern wilderness. Much of the series takes place along the Wall, as this is where strange events occur that lead those who defend it, the Night’s Guard, to think that trouble is stirring which could threaten the whole kingdom.

The basics: story

The story begins during a relatively peaceful time in The Seven Kingdoms. Robert Baratheon has ruled for some years since leading a rebellion to oust and kill the then-king, whose daughter and son (Daenerys and Viserys, respectively) are now on the run in a continent outside of Westeros and serve as main characters of the series. The events of the pilot episode are sparked by a death in King’s Landing of the king’s most trusted advisers, which causes him to travel north to ask the head of the house Stark, Lord Eddard Stark, to become his new adviser. Thus the pilot episode focuses on the goings on at Winterfell, the seat for the royal family of Stark as they prepare for the arrival of the king.

You’ll meet a seemingly endless array of characters in the first episode, but there are two main houses to keep in mind as you watch: the Lannisters and the Starks. These two houses are diametrically opposed from the very start, and their conflicts serve as the impetus for many of the events in the series. The Lannisters are a powerful and wealthy family, and Cersei Lannister is the queen of The Seven Kingdoms, married to Robert Baratheon. The Lannister’s wealth, cunning, and elitist attitude have made them the most powerful family in the realm, and none of them are happy at the prospect of doing business with the northern Starks, a comparatively modest and humble family.

The events that unfold between these two families in the first episode will almost definitely make you want to watch the next episode and the one after that. It’s a lot to take in for a one-hour TV show, but the characters are complex and the stories are fascinating, so why not give the series a try?

About the Author:

This guest contribution was submitted by Samantha Gray, who specializes in writing about online bachelors degree. Questions and comments can be sent to: samanthagray024@gmail.com.

Review: Is The Hunger Games An Unfaithful Adaption Of The Book, Or Are The Odds Really In It's Favor?

Now a days in Hollywood book to movie adaptions are almost as dangerous as video game adaptions. Most of them are negatively received from frustrated fans because of changes and eliminations of certain aspects of the book, and I have to admit to being one of them. Well in recent months I've become a huge fan of The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins, and the film adaption has made it's way to one of my most anticipated films. And now it's arrived, and while it's no Harry Potter, it's also no Twilight, and it's probably one of the most faithful book adaptions we've seen yet.

 In the near future, an event known as The Hunger Games is taken place each year in a country known as Panem, which has replaced the now fallen North America. Panem is split into twelve districts, each one making it mandatory that every boy and girl between the ages twelve and eighteen participates in the annual Reaping, where one boy and one girl are chosen from each district (Known as tributes). Then they are trained and prepared before they must battle to the death in an arena controlled and designed by the Gamemakers of the Capitol.
Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) is a teenage girls living in District 12 with her mother and her sister Prim. District 12 is by far the poorest district (1 and 2 being the richest), and the only way Katniss manages to maintain her family's survival, is by hunting with her best friend Gale Hawthorne (Liam Hemsworth). But thing take a drastic turn of events when Katniss' sister Prim is chosen as the District 12 tribute, only to have Katniss volunteer to take her place.
It is then that Katniss meet fellow tribute Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson), and together the two are brought to the Capitol and are mentored by previous District 12 Hunger Games winner Haymitch Abernathy (Woody Harrelson), who is more of a drunk than actual help at first. They are also supported by perky chaperon Effie Trinket (Elizabeth Banks), and stylist Cinna (Lenny Kravitz), the two are quickly well supported to share the arena with the likes of fellow tributes Foxface, Rue, and Thresh, and also survive the Career Tributes; Clove, Glimmer, Marvel, and the vicious Cato (Alexander Ludwig).
For the most part the story stays intact and in order, which is something rarely done in most book adaption. What really kept the movie from just being an average teen film was it's spot on casting, especially the casting of some actors other book adaptions would kill for (No pun intended). Woody Harrelson and Elizabeth Banks both gave spot on performances as Effie and Haymitch, bringing the same fun polar-opposites relationship they had in the first book to the big screen. While I had my doubts about Harrelson as Haymitch (Mainly because he didn't fit the character's physical description), he nailed everything from his sarcastic humor to his drunk antics.
While the tributes didn't last too long or have many lines, for the most they all physically fit they're book counterparts, and seemed just as threatening as I had imagined while reading. Two spot on tribute castings were Dayo Okeniyi, who fits Thresh like a glove, and as does Jacqueline Emerson as the sneaky scavenger Foxface (She really does have a fox's face, no offense to her). The career tributes are also all pretty well casted, looking vicious during fight scenes, and physically imposing in comparison to their fellow tributes, especially Alexander Ludwig as Cato. And of course Amandla Stenberg couldn't have been a better choice for Rue, becoming a likable character in an instant despite her lack of screen time.
The people of the Capitol were also just as over the top and crazy as they were described in the book. A big highlight of both the book and movie for me was the character Caesar Flickerman, a TV host played brilliantly here by Stanley Tucci (The man's a chameleon), and he makes the character a complete scene stealer, and one that you'll remember long after the films over. One of the main difference between the book and movie is the fact that we finally get to see the Gamesmaker's at work  behind the scenes of the games, and with that comes the inclusion of new character Seneca Crane (Wes Bentley). While he gets some cool lines with President Snow (Donald Sutherland), he really isn't a necessary character, and his importance is sort of forced onto the audience, when we really want to see more of other characters (Notably Rue and Peeta). Speaking of President Snow, Gary Ross nailed it on the head with the casting of Donald Sutherland, who is Snow in the flesh from his menacing voice to his snake like eyes. I'm definitely looking forward to seeing more of Sutherland in Catching Fire.
As for the main players in the movie, while I was a bit optimistic at first, it seems Gary Ross' unexpected casting choices for Katniss, Peeta, and Gale all turned out to be close to perfect. While I was wondering why the marketing of the film has advertised Gale as a main character (When he really is hardly in the book), the film manages to make Gale a very likable character, he gets quite a lot of screen time in the beginning and even during the games (Via watching that is). Liam Hemsworth actually turned out to be the spitting image of the Gale I imagined, and the relationship he has with Katniss is portrayed perfectly. Jennifer Lawrence was also an excellent fit for Katniss, showing all of Katniss' emotions and anger during the games nearly identically to her book counterpart. 
Peeta on the other hand was probably the character who I was most disappointed with. Not because I think Josh Hutcherson did a bad job, if anything he could've been a perfect Peeta if hadn't been for the fact that Peeta was completely robbed in the film. He was robbed of character development and screen time, and even importance. While some will complain that Rue's screen time wasn't as long as it should have been, I can except that much more than less time for a character as important as Peeta. Towards the beginning of the movie Peeta had equal importance to his book counterpart, and he had many lines and scenes before the games started, but from then on the character sort of faded.
BE CAUTIOUS SPOILERS AHEAD. I've read the book so I understand that Peeta is supposed to disappear when he joins the Careers, but after that his relationship with Katniss felt very rushed, as well as his time being sick. In the book Katniss and Peeta's relationship really flourishes in the cave, and you care much more about him because he's dying of infection. I can understand why some unnecessary time was cut from the cave, but they even cut off some parts that wouldn't have taken too long, and could've really developed his character (Such as him nearly being dead when they win the games, and his leg being amputated). Because of this the pacing felt off since the movie started off at a slow pace, and hardly missing any detail (To the point that it actually got kind of slow at parts) but in reality that time could've been used for much stronger character development for Peeta.

Ultimately, The Hunger Games is a great movie and a great adaption of the novel. Despite some important parts and character screen time being cut from the film, fans of the books shouldn't be disappointed by the film's amazing cast and preservation of the story. It manages to pull off all of the crazyness and evil of the Capitol, hardships and cruelty of the games, and the standard slums of District 12 from Suzanne Collin's book all with pefect balance I'd go as far as to say that The Hunger Games has been my favorite film of the year as of yet. With a whole series still to come, The Hunger Games has a very bright future ahead of it, but unfortanelty Katniss Everdeen doesn't.

I give The Hunger Games 4 out of 5 stars:
And here's the trailer for The Hunger Games:

What did you think if the Hunger Games? Are you going to see it?