Bluray review: Game of Thrones

The bluray boxset of last year's TV hit Game of Thrones is a must-have for fans of the show and the novels.
The bluray boxset of last year's TV hit Game of Thrones is a must-have for fans of the show and the novels.

Game Of Thrones S1
Created by: DB Weiss, David Benioff
Based On: George RR Martin's A Song Of Ice & Fire novel series
Starring: Sean Bean, Kit Harington, Peter Dinklage, Emilia Clarke, Iain Glen, Lena Headey, Nikolas Coster-Waldau

What can I say about Game Of Thrones, the biggest television hit of 2011, based on one of the most popular fantasy novel series ever committed to print, and now one of the most anticipated returning shows of 2012?

Unless you've been under a rock for the last year, you must be familiar with the show: set in the fictional land of Westeros, Ned Stark, lord of the house of Winterfell, is called to King's Landing to serve as the Hand of close friend King Robert Baratheon and navigate the complicated political landscape of the kingdom, sorting his way through conflicts between House Baratheon and House Lannister and dealing with a wide range of wannabe powermongers.

Meanwhile, his bastard son Jon is heading to a freezing northern outpost to join the Night's Watch as a protector of the realm, the Lannister clan is suspected of attempting to murder Ned's son, and the surviving members of House Targaryen - whose father was king before Baratheon - try to raise an army in an attempt to recapture the throne.

The story is equal parts action-fantasy and political-thriller; creator Benioff describes the show as a cross between The Lord Of The Rings and The Sopranos, and he isn't too far off. A riveting tale, as engrossing as any story ever written, creators Benioff and Weiss have done a remarkable job adapting the first novel in Martin's A Song Of Ice & Fire series - including bringing Martin himself on board as a writer and producer.

The show also benefits from wonderful performances from the core cast: Sean Bean does a great job as loyal, traditional Ned Stark, while Emmy-winner Peter Dinklage steals every scene in which he appears as Tyrion Lannister.

Lena Headey and Nikolas Coster-Waldau stand out as his siblings Cersei and Jaime, while Emilia Clarke (Daenerys Targaryen) and Kit Harington (Jon Snow) are legitimate talents to keep an eye on.

The bluray package is phenomenal - all ten episodes are presented in full 1080p resolution at a 1.78:1 aspect ratio, accompanied by a Dolby DTS-HD Master 5.1 surround audio track. They are truly stunning to watch, delivering a viewing experience that is as clear and pristine as any available.

But the real star here is the range of additional features which, if you let them, will keep you occupied for an entire afternoon. There are a handful of commentaries from cast and crew, as well as a range of Making Of featurettes, but the highlight is an encyclopaedic guide to Westeros: characters like Robert Baratheon, Bran Stark and Tywin Lannister deliver a full oral history of the fictional land of Westeros, while pages and pages of information teach you everything from family histories to the reach of their lands.

It is an amazing way to learn about the fictional universe Martin has created; it's almost worth paying the cost of the bluray package just so you can take in this incredible guide.

This is the perfect way to revisit such an amazing show before it returns for its highly-anticipated second season (starting April 16 on SoHo, with the first episode available on from April 4), and a must-have for fans of the show and the novels.

Special Features include: Complete Guide To Westeros (interactive); In-Episode Guide; Anatomy Of An Episode; Character Profiles; Five separate making-of featurettes; 7 separate audio commentaries; 3 Hidden Dragon Eggs.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars