When it comes to “Game of Thrones” on Blu-ray, you lose or you buy: there is no middle ground.
Fans of Ice and Fire can get their hands on the HBO fantasy series’ first season today (March 6), with a whole world of extra features and episode enhancements coming along for the fight. From audio commentaries with actors and writers to in-depth looks at the show’s production, the “Game of Thrones” Blu-ray is an absolute can’t miss for the Westeros faithful. Keep reading for five reasons to claim “Thrones” on Blu-ray today.
» First and foremost, let’s get the coolest feature out of the way: The Complete Guide to Westeros. There are several resources both in print and online (such as Westeros.org and Tower of the Hand) that are more than equipped to give you loads and loads of background detail on all things “Thrones.” Another amazing resources has arrived in the Complete Guide to Westeros, a visual encyclopedia that invites you to hear the tales of the Seven Kingdoms and their greatest houses. Learn about the history and lore of the First Men and the Andals, the destruction of ancient Valyria, and the entirety of Robert’s Rebellion; all events that occur prior to “Thrones,” but all events crucial to the story currently being told. It’s fascinating stuff, less a history lesson and more like fantastic legends, not unlike the ancient tales Old Nan often reads to Bran.
» Speaking of, the Complete Guide comes to you from the perspective of your favorite “Thrones” characters. Bran Stark reads to you about the Children of the Forest, Viserys Targaryen recalls Aegon’s landing, as examples. But what’s really great is that, as is the case in the novels, some of these histories and lores are told from multiple perspectives. Robert Baratheon, Tywin Lannister and Viserys all give their own personal takes on the sack of King’s Landing. There’s truth to all their tales, but their telling of the events is so painted in bias that it’s hard to know what to take literally and what to take with a grain of salt. As a result, the Complete Guide isn’t just an entertaining information dump; it’s an exercise in character study, with each actor’s voice over revealing more and more about the personalities of their respective characters. Very, very cool stuff.
» The “Thrones” Blu-ray collection offers an amazing amount of in-depth looks at what went into translating George R.R. Martin’s revered novels for the small screen, and the various processes are nothing short of breathtaking. The amount of detail in the Dothraki language is stunning. The work that went into building sets, both physical and graphically enhanced, is a wonder to behold. Truly, the makers of “Thrones” are, as they say, walking in George’s dream, and it shows.
» As for the episodes themselves, if you’re buying the Blu-ray, chances are good that you’ve seen them already. Well, first of all, they’re worth multiple viewings; this show is fantastic, full-stop. But you can also rewatch “Thrones” with some excellent enhancements, including audio commentaries (my personal favorite is George commentating on the episode he wrote, “The Pointy End,” discussing changes from both his script and his novels — changes that are going to have a “butterfly effect” on future seasons, he promises) and the In-Episode Guide, which essentially allows you to access portions of the Complete Guide to clarify which characters are which, who they’re fighting for and against, the significance of their current location, and more. Very useful feature for those overwhelmed by the show’s admittedly complicated narrative.
» Perhaps best of all, the collection isn’t just a valuable resource for fans of the show, it’s also an excellent tool for fans of the novels. In addition to providing background on Westeros history pre-“Thrones,” the various stories told by the Complete Guide—the pact between Men and the Children, their alliance against the White Walkers during the Long Night—add context to many of the events that happen in later books, helping you understand some of the more complicated threads put forth by theorists at Westeros.org, TOTH and beyond. The in-depth documentaries, too, show just how rich and detailed George’s novels are; more than just fantasy books, this man has truly created his own universe. If the “Thrones” Blu-ray’s epic episodes and fantastic features inspire even one viewer to go back and read through the “Ice and Fire” novels—and I think “one viewer” is an extraordinarily conservative estimate—then this collection will already be a monumental success for that reason alone.