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Friday, March 21, 2014

Winter Is Coming

Written by Jon Williams

I can hear the shrieks of frustration over this headline, as News and Views readers look at their calendars. “Wasn’t yesterday the equinox?” I hear you asking. “Isn’t winter finally over?”

In one sense, yes, that’s absolutely true. In another sense, however, the harshest days of winter are still on the horizon. “Winter is coming” are the words of the Starks of Winterfell, one of seven families locked in a war that has swept through the kingdom of Westeros in HBO’s hit series Game of Thrones. The show’s fourth season premieres on Sunday, April 6, at 9:00 p.m.

The first season of Game of Thrones made its HBO debut on April 17, 2011. It quickly won acclaim from viewers and critics alike. The first episode (itself titled “Winter Is Coming”) scored 2.2 million viewers, and that number grew to over three million before the season was over. It was nominated for thirteen Emmy Awards, winning two of them, including Best Supporting Actor for Peter Dinklage, who plays Tyrion Lannister, better known as “The Imp.”

Upon seeing the numbers for the first season’s premiere episode, HBO executives immediately renewed Game of Thrones for a second season, which began on April 1, 2012. That season built upon the critical and commercial success of the first, growing to over four million viewers for the season finale and garnering another eleven Emmy nominations and six wins.

The third season grew to even more notable heights, averaging more than five million viewers for its ten episodes, plus sixteen Emmy nominations and two wins. The ninth episode, titled “The Rains of Castamere,” featured the Red Wedding, one of the most shocking scenes ever shown on television. I won’t give away any spoilers, but those of you who watch—you know what I mean.

The series, of course, is based on bestselling author George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series of fantasy novels. The first season covers the first book, A Game of Thrones (originally published in 1996), from which the series took its name. Likewise, the second season follows the second novel, A Clash of Kings. The third season, however, only covers roughly half of A Storm of Swords; the fourth season, reputed to be the darkest yet, will take on the rest. Two other books in the series have been published: A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons. The sixth book will be titled The Winds of Winter; no release date has been announced, but it’s close enough to completion for Martin to have released excerpts onto the Internet. The series will conclude with the seventh book, A Dream of Spring.

The Game of Thrones series and Song of Ice and Fire books are extremely popular right now. Make sure you have them all on your shelves so patrons can catch up on what’s happening in Westeros in advance of the Season 4 premiere.

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