Winter is coming

I am completely aware that spring has just arrived, but that does not negate the fact that the long-awaited winter is, in fact, coming this very weekend.

I speak, of course, of the Season 5 premiere of Game of Thrones, the HBO series set in the fantasy world of Westeros and its neighboring lands. In Westeros, seasons can last for many years, so many that the younger people of the land have never actually lived through a winter. And the winter that is creeping in from beyond the Wall promises to be one for the songbooks.

I'm not quite sure how this television series has become such a fascination for me. I've never been a big fan of fantasy. My eyes glaze over when people start talking about Star Trek, and I've yet to see all the Harry Potter movies, let alone read the books. I believe it was a childhood attachment to Chiller Theater that led me to start reading the Sookie Stackhouse novels, which were the very distant inspiration for the HBO series True Blood. The books were great, but the television series devolved into one lame excuse after another to show lots of blood and naked people.

After becoming annoyed with True Blood last year, I decided to use my HBO subscription to check out another series about which I'd heard people talk. I found myself binge-watching the first three seasons of game of Thrones and catching up as the fourth season came to a close. I was securely hooked. Since the season ended last summer, I have read all five of the GoT novels by George R.R. Martin. Given that each book is about 800 pages, I haven't had time to read much else in the past year.

So far, the books have differed a bit from the television series, but not so much as to harm, in any way, the incredible world created by Martin. As the television show begins its fifth season, it will move into the time period covered by the fourth and fifth books. The pre-season glimpses indicate that the television show will take a rather sizeable turn from the books this year, detouring through Dorne for more emphasis than the area was dealt in the books.

Most fans of the books assume that Martin will write a sixth. There are too many storylines left hanging in the fourth and fifth books. And the way that the fifth book ended was just, well, cruel.

So this weekend, we will get our first look at some new lands, meet some new characters, and catch up with the people we both love and loathe. For the next 10 weeks we will step into this fantasy world each week, fully expecting to be shocked and awed at some point along the road.

Winter is coming. Enjoy.

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