James Delingpole James Delingpole

His dark materials | 28 April 2016

Now that TV has overtaken the books, will season six of HBO’s cult fantasy live up to George R.R. Martin’s sinister genius, wonders James Delingpole

So: Game of Thrones. Finally — season six — the TV series has overtaken the books on which it is based and the big worry for all us fans is: will it live up to the warped, convoluted, sinister genius of George R.R. Martin’s original material?

As regulars will know, the great thing about Martin is that you never know which of your favourite characters he’s going to kill off next. Really — and I can’t think of any other series of which this is true — they could die any moment, which is one of the things that makes it such gripping, unsettling, memorable TV. (The ritual immolation of that little girl last season, for example. Will it ever be surpassed?) It takes steel to kill your darlings as brutally as Martin does and I wonder if the series showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss will have the stomach for it. Perhaps. But I did get the slight feeling — multiple spoilers alert! — in episode one that we were just going through the motions rather than being taken to terrible dark places that we would have preferred not to visit.

Daenerys Targaryen: so she’s been captured by the Dothraki horde (I thought they’d all been wiped out in season one, but still) and brought before a new Khal. Obviously, she didn’t tell any of this Mongol-like tribe on the journey that she was once married to one of their warlords because that would have spoiled the moment. Still when she did reveal her royal heritage to the new Khal, it all seemed sort of obvious: the initial scornful disbelief; a rare flicker of vulnerability from the haughty Mother of Dragons; then the Khal’s judicious acceptance. Still I’m holding out hope for this place he mentioned where the widows of all Khals are obliged to live out their lives.

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