NR Digital

A Game for Our Time

by David French

The eerily contemporary morality of Game of Thrones

In 2011, HBO gambled. It launched a massive, sprawling fantasy franchise around a story — George R. R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire book series — that was popularly known mainly in the nerd circles that read epic fantasy. Sure, the books were hits, but they were also difficult to adapt for any screen, big or small. And if HBO wanted to capitalize on the recent, runaway box-office success of the film adaptations of J. R. R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings series, one could think of any number of books better suited for television.

But HBO rolled the dice anyway. Backing then–relatively unknown creators David Benioff and D. B. Weiss, it went anti-Tolkien. Indeed, if you dared to call their creation “Tolkienesque,” the esteemed deceased English author might well rise from the grave in protest.

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