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An epic fantasy book series bought to life spectacularly, with dragons, mystery, magic and a stellar, mostly British cast. No, it’s not Harry Potter or LOTR, it’s HBO’s Game of Thrones.

Season six of Game of Thrones finally arrived on our screens back in April, and it was hotly anticipated, with the previous season ending with numerous cliff-hangers and loose knots that needed tying up. So far, it has lived up to the expectations, and tied up those loose ends. There has been the emergence of previously bit-part characters, family reunions and the return of some of the shows well-loved players. It’s been a triumph.

George RR Martin, author of the books that the show is based on, has created an entire alternative world, with a complex history and social system.  Different religions are littered throughout, with a distinct social ladder. With knights in armour, horses, and powerful royal families, it has a strong historical fiction feel to it. It is laced however, with fantasy and mythical creatures.

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The opening few series dealt heavily with political turmoil, and different families/houses vying for power, in essence playing the ‘Game of Thrones.’ Recently though, it is slowly turning into a Good v Evil battle, with the wall in the north threating to be breached by an army of undead, led by a creepy guy with a questionable clothes and blue eyes, and I don’t mean Donald Trump and his fanatics.

Some devotees to the books may be frustrated with changes the showrunners have made. Some key elements have been altered and many original characters have been left out or merged with other, established ones. However, with adaptions, this is almost an inevitability, and shouldn’t be held against the show. Plus the fact of the matter is, the show has now run out of book material to adapt.

The latest episodes has seen the show actually overtake the book, treading new territory for the first time. This hasn’t been a hindrance however, and I think in some ways it may actually be a blessing. The audience has no idea at all what is going to happen as there is no source material to give away spoilers. The show can step out of the shadow of the books and take on a life of its own, and such is the quality of writing and production this is a certainty to happen.

One worry though as a fan of the books, is for the author George RR Martin. His output has always been sporadic and inconsistent, and with at least a reported two books minimum left to complete, I’m not convinced he has the time left to finish them. He looks about as healthy as a hobo with herpes. But, time will tell how it pans out and I genuinely hope I’m wrong.

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The popularity of the show is something that cannot be ignored. It seems like there are more people out there who do watch it then don’t. The incredulity given to one who does not watch it is similar to other modern outrages such as “What? You don’t even lift Bro?” or “What? You actually voted conservative?”

This obsession has seen online phenomena such as whole websites dedicated to theories and fan fiction, as well as social media death threats due to some people giving out spoilers onto unsuspecting timelines.

This season has been one of the strongest yet. As a fan of the books I approached with caution, worried about being disappointed with the direction the show was taking. Any fears were quickly assuaged however, and the show appears to be stronger now it is developing its own voice. The shows ability to answer old mysteries and pose new ones at the same time is strangely satisfying.

The highlight for me so far has been the scene relating to cult character Hodor, which was an excellent piece of telly and very moving. I have also loved Bran’s flashbacks and excellent cameos from British acting heavyweights Richard E Grant and Ian Mcshane.

One thing that is missing so far is a truly epic battle scene, but this will soon be fulfilled though with tensions bubbling in the north, the clang of sword on sword is surely just round the corner.
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Game of Thrones is on Sky Atlantic at 9pm on Sunday and Monday evenings. It shows on HBO in the US.

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