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Jake Old: Winter is coming...

Jake Old • Updated Jul 6, 2017 at 1:00 PM

If you’re not a fan of the HBO show “Game of Thrones,” when I tell you winter is coming, I might sound like a crazy person to you, since it’s early July. 

Several characters in the fantasy drama repeat the phrase “winter is coming,” and since the show’s seventh season starts July 16, it’s now an apt phrase to use in our world. If you’re not quite caught up, don’t worry; I’ll steer clear of spoilers. 

I was slightly late to the party with “Game of Thrones.” I started watching when season two was on the air, back in 2012. 

After binge-watching the first season and change, and living and dying week-to-week as I counted down the days to see how things would unfold in the seven kingdoms of Westeros, I made the plunge and started reading the books. 

The show is an adaptation of a series of books by author George R. R. Martin called “A Song of Ice and Fire.” 

Five books were released, and there are plans for at least another couple of books before the series ends. The problem is Martin is deliberate in his writing. The first book was released in 1996, and the most recent one was released in 2011. The newest book in the series, titled “The Winds of Winter,” was originally scheduled to be released in 2015, but was delayed several times. 

I read up on all of the novels, and understand the back-story for all of the characters way more than any normal functioning adult should. 

As Democrat editor Jared Felkins said to me, there are three types of “Game of Thrones” fans: casual fans, who like to watch the show but are not obsessive; intermediate fans, who know everything about the story and characters and maybe wade into obsessive territory every now and then; and, of course, the people who are completely obsessed and go to extremes, such as dressing up like the characters and going to conventions.

I’m not sure where writing a column about the show fits into the fandom, but it might have nudged me from the intermediate category into the extreme category. 

I cannot wait for the show to return, and I urge anyone who doesn’t watch it to give it a try. The writing, directing and acting are all top-notch, and the story and characters are incredibly engrossing. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say it’s among the finest dramas on TV. 

One of the things the show does so well is that it definitely takes place in a fictional fantasy world, but it eases the viewer into that world by starting with mostly realistic happenings and characters. 

By the time the show runners start to pepper in the more fantastical elements, the viewer is already hooked (or, possibly, lost interest and isn’t watching anyway). 

If you’re not sure what I mean about fantastical elements, think about “The Lord of the Rings,” movies and literature.  There’s not much subtlety to the fantasy in that world, and it turns off a lot of people who would otherwise be interested in the characters and the drama, simply because they don’t have the motivation or ability to suspend disbelief for such an unusual world. 

“Game of Thrones” does so much so well, and it’s a treat for viewers. Part of the delight is in the discussion in the week after an episode airs, when we try to analyze out what happened, and figure out what comes next.  

July 16 can’t come soon enough. Winter is coming; I hope you’re ready.    

Jake Old is a staff writer for The Democrat. Email him at jold@lebanondemocrat.com and follow him on Twitter @wilsonnewsroom.

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