What Crawls Out of Nightmares: GAME OF THRONES, Season 3, Review

No S3 Spoilers

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Based in part on the first half of A Clash of Kings, Book 3 of George R. R. Martin’s best-selling fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire, the third season of HBO’s Game of Thrones, created and written by David Benioff and D. B. Weiss, the stories of the inhabitants of Westeros and the Lands beyond continue. Love, power, and betrayal are its major themes as the War of the Five Kings intensifies. The third season of Game of Thrones gets viewers more intimately involved with the peripheral characters, bringing them to the forefront.

Season 3

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Though there are multiple, ultimately converging storylines, the excellent writing and powerful acting keep the viewers engaged without confusing them. Even the scene transitions flawlessly guide viewers from one character — or group of characters — to another, and back again. The acting is riveting, with some previously minor characters taking center stage, and some previously “evil” characters gaining the sympathy of the audience.

The Lannisters

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The head of House Lannister, Tywin (Charles Dance, above L) fights the rebels, takes his position as the Hand of King Joffrey (Jack Gleeson, above, center), and brokers political marriages for his daughter Cersei (Lena Headey, above R) and his youngest son Tyrion (Peter Dinklage, below L).

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The eldest son of the House Lannister, Jaime (Nicolaj Coster-Waldau, below L), accompanied by the Knight, Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie, below R), struggles to return to King’s Landing to be reunited with his family.

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Tywin’s grandson, King Joffrey, becomes more unmanageable as his latent violent tendencies surface.

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Who will rule in King’s Landing? The Lannisters or the Tyrells?

The Starks

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Robb (Richard Madden) — the King of the North — is winning every battle against Tywin and the House Lannister, yet he cannot seem to win the war. When Lady Catelyn Stark (Michelle Fairley) sets hostage Jaime Lannister free in an attempt to bargain for her daughters, her son Robb declares her a traitor.

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 Robb further isolates himself from his own military forces by breaking his oath to one of his Bannermen, Lord Walder Frey, causing enmity within the ranks and setting the stage for unforseen difficulties. Eventually, Robb needs the help of his mother’s brother, Edmure (Tobias Menzies) to try and solve these problems.

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Sansa (Sophie Turner), now abandoned by King Joffrey but not permitted to leave the capitol, tries to maneuver the dangerous political environment while staying out of Joffrey’s increasingly cruel grasp.

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Hunted by the House Lannister as well as by anyone who thinks he can profit from ransom, Arya (Maisie Williams, below, center) hides among runaways, thieves, and murderers as she travels to her home in the north. She pretends to be a boy: a dangerous charade for a girl too young to defend herself.

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Despite warnings from the Wildling Osha, Bran (Isaac Hempstead-Wright), accompanied by his younger brother, treks toward the North beyond the Wall in an attempt to understand and fulfill his prophetic dreams.

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The members of Stark House are fighting for survival, but each person’s survival might endanger another’s in the same family.

The Targaryens

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With her dragons growing, Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) is still raising an army so that she can return to Westeros and claim the Iron Throne of her father. Betrayed by virtually everyone she encounters, she must learn whom she can trust, if anyone. Her dragons, once thought extinct, are coveted by virtually everyone who wants ultimate power. Can Daenerys retake the throne?

The Baratheons

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With the help of the witch Melisandre (Carice van Houten), Stannis uses black magic to murder his younger brother Renly and to restore his military standing. Stannis (Stephen Dillane, below) is willing to commit any atrocity in order to sit on the Iron Throne. But will his followers stay loyal?

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The Greyjoys

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After Theon’s (Alfie Allen) treachery at Wintefell, he finds himself betrayed by his Iron Brothers and by his own emotional weakness. But who is holding Theon hostage: his father, House Stark, or House Lannister?

The Tyrells

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As clever as Margery (Natalie Dormer) is at infiltrating King Joffrey’s emotions, she doesn’t seem as politically manipulative as her grandmother Lady Olenna (Diana Rigg), who is working hard to establish even more Tyrell power at court. She may even usurp Cersei in this game.

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The Night’s Watch

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Having gone beyond the Wall into the North, Jon Snow and his fellows encounter clans of Wildlings, who are not only moving South en masse, but who have declared Mance Rayder (Ciarán Hinds, below) their own King of the North, calling him The King Beyond the Wall.

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To further complicate matters, Jon (Kit Harington) is isolated from the others, and becomes involved with the Wildling Ygritte, who threatens to kill him herself if she discovers any treachery.

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The White Walkers are also making their way south to the Wall, to the terror of the Wildlings and to the men of the Night’s Watch, none of whom knows how to stop this army of  paranormal creatures.

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The Men of the Night’s Watch fear the Wildlings and the White Walkers. The Wildlings fear the White Walkers and something else that’s roaming the woods. Do the White Walkers fear anything at all?

No matter how much the show Game of Thrones may diverge from the series of books on which it’s based, the writing is so strong that anyone can follow the story with ease. Considering how many characters are involved, that’s a major accomplishment. The writing and the acting are powerful, the dialogue important, the characters complex and sophisticated.

HBO’s Game of Thrones is one of the best series since its own Deadwood (created and written by David Milch), and Showtime’s two hit series,  The Tudors (created and written by Michael Hirst) and Penny Dreadful (created and written by John Logan).

Game of Thrones Season 3 is available for purchase for $19.99 from Amazon (or free with a 30-day HBO trial), for $28.99 from GooglePlay, and for $38.99 from iTunes. The season is always available free of charge for HBO subscribers.

Rated Very Mature for Graphic Violence, Explicit Sexual Situations, Nudity, Adult Content, and Adult Language.

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