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    First Impression – Ruma Singh

    Fans of the hit series have mixed reactions after its much awaited return

    By the time you read this, season 6 of the Emmy award-winning Game of Thrones TV series would have started and many questions been answered, sighs heaved, tears shed and blood pressure raised. I’m not putting out any spoilers here for the sake of those who have yet to catch up, but let me just say that ‘the’ question from the season 5 finale has been addressed – is Jon Snow dead?
    Of course, with GoT (as its fans call it), nothing is what it seems in this tale about dungeons, dragons, monsters and resurrection in ye olde land of Westeros.
    On my catch-up spree, I wasn’t surprised to read that the GoT fan base is larger and more loyal than those of other famous franchises — from Star Wars and Star Trek to Twilight, Harry Potter and everything in between — the book series by George RR Martin, called A Song of Ice and Fire has sold more than 70 million copies to date and has been translated into at least 45 languages — and it’s not over yet. Yes, fans are dressing, eating and drinking a la Westeros — barbecued goats and red wine, teaching themselves the mythical Dothraki language, and sporting hairstyles like Jon Snow’s. Truly.
    So what’s so magical about this TV series which is into its 6th season and still going strong? A GoT scholar (yes, they have those too!) has likened GoT with Shakespeare’s works — the characters are as complex, the story as compelling and the line between good and evil is thin. It also has manipulative, Machiavelliean characters, plenty of sex and violence, and more twists and turns than Daenerys Targaryen’s braids. There are political analogies — (does The Wall remind you of a certain Trump?) as well as fantasy and redemption.
    Wine trainer and fan, Anatara Kini is both sad and happy after season 6’s first episode. “Things are moving along in the story, yet there are developments I’m sad about,” she says. For her, GoT’s appeal lies in the “combination of politics and history – close enough to reality to make it feel authentic. While dragons and magic lift the story into the fantasy realm, the struggle for the Iron Throne is believable – we see similar fighting and manipulation in everyday politics.” Avid reader and behavioural therapist, Chantelle D’Mello believes GoT works because “its characters are human with raw reactions to life. But special excitement comes from the magic, which makes the show unpredictable.” She doesn’t mind that the story changes from the book: “The show’s creators deviate just enough to maintain realistic and appropriate arcs.” Unusually, Chantelle’s favourite character is Cersei, “ruthless, unstoppable, a victim of her own hubris, who finally comes to terms with her own flaws.”
    So will we see any of the late lamented resurrected? More spectacular magic from the red priestess? More revelations? Shocks? Both Antara and Chantelle want to see more of “independent and strong” Daenerys Targaryen and her dragons. “The show’s subplots are leading to this,” says Chantelle.
    Time will tell, and soon. Winter, like the next few seasons, is coming.

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