It seems like only yesterday we were all on the edge of our seats waiting for HBO’s Game of Thrones to premiere. It is now eight weeks later many of us are realizing that we won’t be visiting Westeros again for at least another year after the show’s season finale airs in just ten days. So what’s a Song of Ice and Fire fan to do for the next 10+ months whilst waiting for A Clash of Kings (Game of Thrones Season 2)? Part of the allure of Game of Thrones is the fact that the show is the only one of it’s kind to ever exist on the silver screen. You won’t be able to feel the gaping void in your life by finding a similar program because there just isn’t one available. We’ve thrown together a list of ideas that we hope get you through the long winter of waiting for Game of Thrones to return to HBO next year.
Read the Novels – I don’t think we’re spoiling anything when we say that Game of Thrones (the novel) does not tie all of its plot lines together in a neat little bow at the end. If you’re new to the series and you’re expecting resolution in the season finale then I hate to be the one to break this to you but- it isn’t happening. The only way to find out what happens to your favorite characters before next year (or before some jerk spoils it for you) is to read the source material for yourself. I know what you’re thinking- “But they’re 800 pages, man! I haven’t read 800 pages in total since I left college!” If you’re worried about being able to delve through 800+ pages of fantasy epic I would encourage you to break the novels up into 300 page chunks. Maybe you could read a third of the book one month, skip a week or two and come back to it. I’ve even purchased the audio books on tape to listen to in my car when I’m stuck in ridiculous Seattle traffic jams for an hour each day. Skip the morning shock jocks on the radio and turn up the Ice and Fire, I guarantee you’ll have a better work day!* (not guaranteed) Personally, I finished A Game of Thrones just before the series began and I couldn’t have been more happy with my decision. Both the novel and the screen adaptation are amazing and it’s a lot of fun to compare and contrast the two as you watch the show. I also enjoy knowing what’s going to happen before any of my other friends on the couch. They’ll beg you to tell them who lives and who dies but never waver, my friend! Reading the novels is the most obvious and rewarding way to get more from the world of Westeros while the HBO program is off the air.
Watch the show on BluRay or DVD this Holiday– Of course you’ll always have access to the show via On Demand services such as HBOGo, but you know you’ll be buying that Game of Thrones BluRay special edition if only to get access to the special features you won’t find anywhere else. We’re speculating when we say they’ll be available in time for Holiday 2011 but we think it’s a fair assumption to say that HBO enjoys making money and can see the benefit of releasing these episodes while the blood still runs warm and certainly before the next season ramps up. Expect a full video release in Q4 of 2011 and hopefully we’ll all be treated to some behind the scenes action that we haven’t already seen in the featureettes available online.
Play the Game – There will also be a Game of Thrones video game released some time late this year entitled “Game of Thrones: Genesis“. The game focuses on Ned and Robert’s adventures together just before the events you see occurring in the show. To my knowledge, most of this information was gleaned from the other books so as far as I know it will be considered cannon. There are a few screenshots floating around the web but for now, not much is known about the game itself. Head over to IGN for an interesting interview about the game, where it will fall on the Westeros timeline and which characters we can expect to run into along the way. As of now the game is for PC only but that could change in the future.
Get your Friends Excited about Game of Thrones – With a bit of arm twisting and the promise of free food you’ll have no problem getting at least some of your friends to give Game of Thrones a try. Don’t be afraid to mention the gratuitous amounts sex and gore if that’s what it takes to persuade them. You’ll be glad to have someone to rewatch the series with and if you’re really lucky they might even pick up the novel and read alongside you. The more people around you who are excited about a show like this, the more you’ll enjoy it yourself. If you’re one of those guys that have Torrented every episode and watched them on a 15 in monitor in your parent’s basement I urge you to give the series a proper viewing on a home theater system surrounded by other fans of the show. Sites such as HBOWatch, Got-Forums and Winter-Is-Coming are great resources to keep in touch with the latest news about casting, premiere dates and behind the scenes tidbits as they make their way online. All of the emotions you’ve felt while watching Game of Thrones alone are amplified when you’re amongst friends.
Other HBO Programs – So you finally subscribed to HBO just to watch Game of Thrones and now that it’s coming to an end you’re considering giving Comcast a call and getting rid of it. Don’t make this mistake. This year, HBO is going to be jam packed with shows that you won’t find anywhere else and, I would argue, have much of the same appeal as Game of Thrones does. True Blood is the most glaring example of another high budget, fantastical drama that fans just can’t get enough of. The new season starts just as Game of Thrones closes out so tune in at the normal time (Sundays at 9) for a taste of what HBO is doing with vampires. You’ve also got a new season of Entourage, Curb Your Enthusiasm and Boardwalk Empire on the docket for 2011 so there’s more than enough incentive to keep your subscription to HBO. Plus, with your subscription comes access to HBOGo, a mobile app designed to let you access all of HBO’s content, including older programs you may have missed, via your phone, tablet or computer. You also won’t have to worry about frantically resubscribing when you find out that Game of Thrones season 2 is premiering sooner than you’d anticipated.
I know this humble fan’s words are hardly enough consolation for the loss of such a great program from your weekly routine. The good news is, Game of Thrones season 2 is most likely in pre-production as I write this so another season of quite possibly the best fantasy program on TV is on its way. Read the novels, get your friends into the series or just rewatch every episode on DVD until your home theater speakers blow out; either way I hope you’re able to muddle through the crushing depression of losing such a great show. Until next year rest assured- Winter will come again.