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Silver Lining Part Two

By Steven Lloyd Wilson | Industry | September 2, 2009 |

By Steven Lloyd Wilson | Industry | September 2, 2009 |

George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, as you’ve probably heard previously, has been bought up by HBO and a pilot is being put together. The project has been described as using each season to cover one of the novels in the series, which is currently up to 4 books out of an author-projected final tally of 7. That’s problematic, since Martin originally envisioned only three books in the series and has gradually slowed down his release pace: book one 1996, book two 1998, book three 2000, book four 2005, book five … nobody knows and he ain’t saying. Some book sellers have jokingly put the release date (which in a manner similar to the date when we will have fusion energy, is always one year away) as 2035 instead of constantly updating it every few months. So if the show is good, expect pauses between seasons that make those “Sopranos” gaps look like bathroom intermissions by the third or fourth season.

If you haven’t read it, you might not be a morally suspect person, but you are walking on thin ice. It’s been described sometimes as “the Sopranos in Middle Earth,” but I think that the closest comparison would really be “Battlestar Galactica in Middle Earth.” This story is dark. Really dark. People die, manipulative bastards win while good men lose. It’s one of the very few fantasy novels that don’t read like modern society projected onto horses, swords and castles. This is the middle ages and life is cheaper than the shit tossed out of the rickety windows and into the streets. It will rip your heart out, not just by showing you the brutality of man, but by having main characters die by the cart load, sometimes for no good reason at all, and then twist the knife by spending half the next book sympathetically telling the story from the point of view of the evil son of a bitch who killed those protagonists. It’s bloody, dark, and beautiful.

George R.R. Martin summarized his approach as having been vaguely sickened by reading dozens of fantasy novels in which vast continent spanning wars are fought, and nobody who matters actually dies, or at least they are carefully selected to die in the most heroic way possible. A Song of Ice and Fire is a counterpoint to those novels. As Martin put it: “When you play a game of thrones you win or you die. There is no middle ground.”

The real news here is that primary casting has finished up, with yet another silver lining coming out of the “Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles” cancellation: the part of Cersei has been filled by Lena Headey. That brings us to a final main cast of:

Sean Bean (Eddard Stark)
Jennifer Ehle (Catelyn Stark)
Richard Madden (Robb Stark)
Sophie Turner (Sansa Stark)
Maisie Williams (Arya Stark)
Kit Harrington (Jon Snow)
Alfie Allen (Theon Greyjoy)
Mark Addy (Robert Baratheon)
Lena Headey (Cersei Lannister)
Shia LaBeouf (Sandor Clegane)
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Jamie Lannister)
Peter Dinklage (Tyrion Lannister)
Jack Gleeson (Joffrey Baratheon)
Tamzin Merchant (Daenerys Targaryen)
Harry Lloyd (Viserys Targaryen)
Iain Glen (Jorah Mormont)

Nifty. Filming for the pilot begins October 29th.

****Take a deep breath. Shia was just a test to see if you were reading or skimming.

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Steven Lloyd Wilson is the sci-fi and history editor. You can email him here or follow him on Twitter.