I came to George RR Martin's epic fantasy series A Song of Fire and Ice through the TV show Game of Thrones. I knew noting about the show except that it was on HBO (which almost always does excellent TV) and that it was getting some pretty big nerdy Internet hype. I watched the first few episodes and quickly realized I was missing a great deal of what was going on. It didn't help that at the time my daughter was but a few weeks old and needed constant attention, but the show is grand in scale with a myriad of plot lines and so I decided that checking out the book my help.
At nearly 1,000 pages the first book in the series (aptly titled A Game of Thrones) is even more detailed, massive, and complicated, and I understood why I felt so lost in the series - the story is one of the densest things I've ever read. And awesome. Still, it took me a couple of months to get through it by which time I'd forgotten most of what I'd seen in the series so I decided to start from the beginning. I was glad I did. There are lots of little details in the show that I had missed but totally understood now that I had read the book. Everything made much more sense and I was now completely engrossed in the show.
Over the next months turning into years I read the subsequent books in the series (well I'm still only a few hundred pages into the last one written, A Dance with Dragons) and am completely mesmerized by a story that can only be called "epic." The cast of characters has grown into the hundreds. There are plots, subplots, mysteries, tangled webs of stories and back stories mixed with plans and schemes so complicated one would need a an enormous flow chart to understand all the connections.
The series remains outstanding as well. While Season 1 more or less kept to the plot of the book, Season 2 made some fairly significant changes. Some understandable within the context of a television series; others seemed a little out of left-field, but ultimately the show stands on its own as a tremendously ambitious and ultimately satisfying (so-far) fantasy tale. Which is why The Complete Second Season is my Pick of the Week.
Extras include features on creating the Battle of Blackwater Bay, characters, religion, the war of the five kings, and the history of Westeros. There are also 12 audio commentaries with cast and crew character profiles, iIn-episode guides, and hidden dragon eggs.
Also out this week that looks interesting:
Argo (Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy): I generally hate Ben Affleck but it's getting a lot of buzz and the story based around the true-life events of the Iranian hostage crisis sounds interesting. Reviewed by Steve Geise.
Monsters Inc.: Ultimate Collectors Edition (Blu-ray 3-D/Blu-ray/DVD/Digital copy): Just in time for the sequel, Pixar has created a big boxed set full of extras.
Battlestar Galactica: Blood and Chrome: Initially airing as a web series, this prequel to the recent re-imagining of the series is set during the first Cylon war and features a young Bill Adama aboard the Battlestar. I was a fan of the original series as a kid and loved the reboot as an adult. With just 10 episodes clocking in at 10 minutes a piece I can't imagine this gets too in-depth or good, but it sounds fun.
Anna Karenina: Someday I'll get around to reading this Tolstoy epic but maybe I should first watch one of its cinematic adaptations. This Keira Knightley/Jude Law match-up might just do the trick.
The Terminator (Remastered Blu-ray): This one sports a new print that is getting raves, but leaves out all the special features of earlier issues.
On the Waterfront (Criterion Blu-ray): Elia Kazan's masterpiece where Marlon Brando could have been a contender gets the Criterion treatment.