November 17, 2022

#08-256: A Game of Thrones

The Iron Throne as seen in the TV series

Note: George R. R. Martin, the "American Tolkien," has created a complex world of medieval warfare that has spun off numerous books and TV series. Let's find out the secret of their popularity!

Get Ready: What sort of books or stories translate well as television shows or films? What types are harder to adapt?

In 1996, with little fanfare, American author George R. R. Martin (known to fans as "GRRM" and called by some "the American Tolkien") published a novel called A Game of Thrones. It was meant to be the first in a trilogy called A Song of Ice and Fire; the concept has now grown to seven books. Five are finished; Martin is working on the sixth; and the seventh has not yet been begun.

Martin had been working as a writer of fantasy novels and short stories for two decades, supplementing his income as a director for chess tournaments, as a teacher, and as a Hollywood screenwriter. A Game of Thrones and its sequels became big hits after an eight-season TV series was based on them. Since then he has been able to write full-time, as well as taking a hand in the TV projects and others. Besides the main series of books, Martin has written several prequels and references about the series.

According to Martin, the books are inspired by several historical and quasi-historical sources, including England's "Wars of the Roses" (a series of civil wars that lasted over a century); a French series of historical novels about the French monarchy in the 14th century called The Accursed Kings; and Sir Walter Scott's novel of the Middle Ages, Ivanhoe.

A Song of Ice and Fire is set in an imaginary world (not connected to any real-world geography) that resembles Europe's Middle Ages. The main continent is Westeros (in the west, more or less where we would find England); but unlike England, Westeros extends far to the north, into "The Land of Always Winter." Its rival is Essos (in the east, like the location of the European mainland). There are several other continents besides.

The story has three main threads, all woven together. The first, to which the title Game of Thrones mainly refers, is about a dynastic war among several families or "Great Houses" for control of Westeros, including House Stark, House Lannister, and House Baratheon. It is Robert Baratheon who occupies the "Iron Throne" as the story begins.

A second thread is the ambition of Daenerys Targaryen, daughter of King Aerys II Targaryen, to regain the Throne her father lost. House Targaryen once held all of Westeros through their power to control dragons; Daenerys is sometimes called the "Mother of Dragons."

The third thread is about the threat of a group of supernatural "Others" called "the White Walkers," who threaten to come over the Wall in the far north that protects the Kingdoms.

The books, so far totaling a whopping 4,244 pages, have been translated into more than 30 languages.


Practice: Match the term to its definition below:

  1. accursed
  2. dynastic
  3. fanfare
  4. prequels
  5. quasi
  6. rival
  7. sequels
  8. threaten
  9. whopping
  10. woven

  1. regarding the sequence of rulers
  2. somewhat; partially
  3. intend to do harm
  4. books or films that follow other ones
  5. an advertising push
  6. an enemy
  7. large; impressive
  8. books or films that come before another
  9. doomed; the opposite of blessed
  10. combined into a connected whole

Answers are in the first comment below.

Submitted to the Shenzhen Daily for November 17, 2022

1 comment:

  1. Answers to the Practice: 1. i; 2. a; 3. e; 4. h; 5. b; 6. f; 7. d; 8. c; 9. g; 10. j