HBO’s upcoming television show, “A Game of Thrones,” is a dark medieval fantasy where seven royal families compete against one another to take control of an iron throne. Amidst all of the political intrigue and bloodletting, an evil supernatural force called “the others” has returned to destroy humanity. The series is an adaptation of author George R.R. Martin’s bestselling “A Song of Ice and Fire” novels. So far, this television series is shaping up to be a faithful interpretation of the books and features great casting, high production values, and strong source material that comes from an author who Time magazine decreed “Americas Tolkien.”

The noble Lord Neddard Stark (Sean Bean/Lord of the Rings) is asked by King Robert (Mark Addy) to become his chief adviser. After a mysterious accident critically injures his son, he accepts the king’s proposal and journeys to the castle with most of his family. For years the king has been surrounded by deceitful politicians that have led his kingdom to economic ruin. To make matters worse, the king’s previous adviser was poisoned under mysterious circumstances. Neddard is tasked with regaining order in Robert’s kingdom and also uncovering the reason for his sons crippling injury. Along the way he must deal with Robert’s treacherous wife, Queen Cearsi (Lena Heady/300) and her cruel son Prince Joffery (Jack Gleeson).

The second plot-line follows Neddard’s bastard son, John Snow (Kit Harington). John has no place in his family and decides to devote his life to serving in the military guard. After training and excelling past his peers, John must deal with the threats of raiders and the mysterious others. Their only protections are their swords, bows, and an amazing 800 foot ice wall.

The third plot-line takes place on an entirely different continent, resembling the middle east. Exiled Princess Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) and her abusive brother Visyrs (Harry Lloyd) must barter with a warlord named Kal Drogo ( Jason Momoa/Stargate SG-1) in exchange for his massive army. It is their hope that this army of horse riders will allow them to reclaim their land from King Robert. However, Robert is aware of their ambitions and takes measures to stop them.

Cearsi’s dwarf brother, Tyrion (Peter Dinklage/ In Bruge) is sure to be a fan favorite as the short villain that everyone loves to root for. Tyrion is a crafty and multifaceted character that is often at odds with the series’ heroes. The characters witty humor and underdog demeanor make him easily the series best character. Dinklage is already receiving praise from early screenings. He should redefine what most viewers think of the villains.

This fantasy is largely grounded in reality with elements of magic throughout. All characters are subject to any number of horrible things and all of them are expendable. This show features gratuitous violence, coarse language, and strong sexuality. This HBO offering is essentially the Lord of the Rings’ mean brother and is sure to feature mature themes uncommon in modern fantasy. The show also features great costume designs, jousting tournaments, epic battles and several dragons. The setting of this story takes place in a land where summers can last decades and winters a lifetime. As the shows tagline cryptically states “Winter is coming.” This show has been painstakingly crafted toward all fantasy and science fiction lovers. Due to the mature content of the show it will likely reach a wider audience. This show is likely to be HBO’s next mega-hit when it is released April 17, 2011.

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