Showtime: Get Ready for 'Game of Thrones,' Season 2
Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister, The Imp
HBO's mega-production "A Game of Thrones" begins its second season on Sunday (April 1). While not about technology, the medieval fantasy saga is as close to a nerd's heart as any smartphone or video game. And AGOT has plenty of tech tie-ins, including video games, elaborate fan sites and countless online videos.
What's it about?
Based on George R. R. Martin's "A Song of Ice and Fire" series, the story stretches across five books (so far), two continents, and more names than you'd find in a small-city phone book. Here are the highlights:
- A medieval-inspired world, with imaginary continents á la "Lord of the Rings"
- Battles upon battles among and within rival families for the throne
- Winters and summers that last for unpredictable numbers of years
- Dragons, zombies, witches and many gods
- Sex, incest, prostitution
- Lots of severed heads and other gore
How can I catch up?
Start with this 22-minute piece 'You Win or You Die' by HBO. It's more character-driven than a straight synopsis, but most of the key events from Season 1 are in there, along with Season 2 teasers.
You'll also find a thorough summary on HBO's website.
You could still watch Season 1 (nearly 10 hours) if you dedicate yourself.
Season 1 is available on Blu-ray for $44 and DVD for $34. You can get it quicker and cheaper from both iTunes and Amazon's streaming video service at $39 in HD and $29 standard definition. It's not available on Netflix Watch Instantly.HBO is airing segments all this week, from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. So set the DVR, or watch anytime with the HBO GO on-demand service. The app runs on iPads, iPhones, Android phones, some Samsung Internet-connected TVs and the Roku Internet-connected set-top box.
As for the books, the prose is brisk but plentiful — 720 pages in the first volume alone. But if you are good at skimming, this could work. Book one, "A Game of Thrones," sells for about $9 as an ebook (from Amazon, Apple and Barnes&Noble) and $10 in paperback.
What if I don't have HBO (or even cable)?
You'll have to find a friend who does, unfortunately. As with Season 1, the second season probably won't make it to disc and download until shortly before the next season airs. But this would be a great time to read along with "A Clash of Kings," the book that Season 2 is based on. Pricing is the same as for the first book.
What else is there?
HBO has plenty of other video snippets about seasons 1 and 2, such as a portrait of the mad boy-king Joffrey. And iTunes has free bonus videos such as "History of House Stark." Or simply type "A Game of Thrones" into YouTube and dedicate the rest of your day to viewing.
Among fan sites, the standout is titled simply Westeros (the fictional setting of the saga).
You also have opportunities to play the game yourself. "A Game of Thrones: Genesis" is a strategy game for PCs ($40) set in the prehistory of the current story.
On May 15, "A Game of Thrones: The Game" debuts for PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 ($60). It's a role-playing game that takes place in the same setting but with unique characters and events.
While it's not AGOT-specific, the video game "Dragon Age 2" ($20-$30, for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PCs and Macs) features a similar type of world and characters.The Facebook app, "Game of Thrones: Dethroned" lets you challenge an online buddy in a battle to the death.
You can also go analog with the Game of Thrones board game or card game.
And you can read along with the comic book series "A Game of Thrones" from Dynamite Entertainment ($4).
Get ready, because war is coming!