My love affair with the people, the direwolves, and the dragons of Game of Thrones' Seven Kingdoms began the summer of 2011, when, very bored, I began reading the books in George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series. Yet while I loved the books and happily worked my way through them, that was only the start of my interest in the world of Westeros; the real moment I became of fan of Game of Thrones came much later.
It's not that I didn't get into the show right away, but that it took me, like many others, a bit to get used to how the series separates itself from the books. Season 1 of Game of Thrones made me frustrated, and like many others in the how-dare-they-the-book-was-so-much-better camp, I found plenty of issues to pick at. Peter Dinklage, for instance, doesn't have one blue eye and one brown one, like in the books; the Stark children, meanwhile, are much older than then how they started out in the series.
Yet despite these flaws, I soon became a fan of the show — but it wasn't until the final episode of season 1 that I became a devotee of GoT. Up until then, I had spent every moment of watching the show with an "that's not how I imagined that" badge and the "that's not the actual dialogue!" pin. But in the Season 1 finale, when Daenerys Stormborn started her ascent as the queen she was meant to become by rising fro the ashes, I became hooked. As Dany hopped into the funeral pyre she had created to burn the body of Khal Drogo, I was amazed by how concerned I was for her, even though I knew she was going to make it out alive. And when she hopped out of the fire stark-naked, with her little baby dragons, I was in awe.
What got me hooked wasn't just the greatness of the scene, because that was present in the novels, but everything the show could do that the books couldn't. The characters I obsessed over in the books were just as fascinating in the HBO series, if not more so, because the acting was, and is, amazing. I still get chills thinking about Dany's face when she sauntered from the ashes, an expression that was surprised, confident, and vulnerable all at the same time. And the scene was grander and more epic than anything I could've imagined from the books. When Daenerys became the Mother of Dragons, I became an intense Game of Thrones fangirl, because it became clear that this show stood alone as its own wonderful entity.
All the pain and emotion present in the books is often portrayed even better in the show, too. The talent of the actors brings a whole new level to the series' drama — you truly feel their pain, in a way that the books couldn't always provide. The fact that all the costumes, makeup, and hair of the characters are always on point helps to create the illusion that these characters really are from The Seven Kingdoms, and they actually are dealing with the losses of their beloved family and friends. Never is this more felt than in the Season 1 finale, and with that episode, I finally saw GoT as capable of being a stand-alone television show, rather than just a decent adaptation of a beloved book series.
And years in, it's only gotten better. What started for me as a weekend affair with the books out to boredom has turned into full-fledge fan-obsession. I read every spoiler, every cast interview, and every fan theory. I feel confident saying that Game of Thrones is one of the best fantasy series I've ever seen, and even when it gets a bit too violent, I'm always in awe of the strength of its characters and the scope of its scenes. I can't wait to see what Season 6 brings.
Images: HBO; Giphy (2)