Graphic Novel Review: A Game of Thrones Vol. 3

HBO’s wildly popular Game of Thrones series is well into Season 4 and, not surprisingly, regaling fans with bloodshed and debauchery aplenty. The  Random House graphic novel based on the series is also chugging along with its recent release of Volume  3, and you can read on for my review. (For my review of Volume 2, click here.)

Back Cover Blurb

In King’s Landing, Lord Eddard Stark of Winterfell—the Hand of King Robert Baratheon—is surrounded by enemies. Some are openly declared, such as Ser Jaime Lannister and his sister, Queen Cersei. Others are hidden in the shadows. Still others wear the smiling mask of friends. But all are deadly, as Eddard is about to discover.

The Review

A Game of Thrones: The Graphic Novel: Volume 3 is a hardcover compilation of the bimonthly Game of Thrones comic Issues 13 through 18. This volume’s narrative begins with King Robert traipsing off to his ill-fated final hunt and ends with Sansa pleading Joffrey for her father’s life.

In the TV series, Eddard seemed soft in the head for not telling Robert about Cersei’s bastards. While he still seems stupid for confronting Cersei directly about her twincest, the volume provides some background and flashbacks that explain why he’s so determined to spare her. However, his failure to include the pride and power of the Lannister family in his calculations make him look like an idiot. The lack of emotional nuance in Patterson’s artwork doesn’t help. Cersei looks like she’s constantly PMSing, and in the pivotal scene where she declares, “You win or you die,” her expression is so blatantly murderous you have to wonder if Eddard’s blind not to notice.

His sons and Arya fare much better. Jon demonstrates compassion when he speaks up on Sam’s behalf, bravery in a tussle against a White Walker, and heart-wrenching anguish when he gets news of his father’s imprisonment. The Rob Stark that rode to battle in the TV show looked a born leader, but the comic shows the lengths he went to convince his bannermen to follow him. As for Arya, you can smell her fear as she escapes the Lannister’s clutches.

As for the level of violence in this installment, there’s plenty of bloodshed and dismembered limbs between the walking dead attacking the Night’s Watch and Eddard getting sacked at King’s Landing, but probably the most disturbing illustration is Drogo (bloodlessly) dispatching Viserys. As for sex and nudity, there are a couple of post-lovemaking scenes, but the most provoking is a full frontal illustration of Hodor.

The actual cover is plain white with the title in shiny blue letters on the spine beneath the dust cover that features Patterson’s pencil art. Speaking of pencil art, Volume 3 also includes “The Making of A Game of Thrones: The Graphic Novel: Volume 3″, where Editor Anne Groell explains the character design process for the comic series. So those who do enjoy Patterson’s illustrations will probably want to pick up this volume for its character pencil sketches.

In Summary

Volume 3 continues to provide flashbacks and insights not included in the TV show. While Eddard still seems an idiot when he confronts Cersei about her bastard children, you get a better idea of what motivates him to do so. However, as in the series, everyone gets scattered after Eddard’s imprisonment. With Arya on the run, Sansa with Joffrey, Jon at the Wall, Rob and Cat on the march, and the boys at Winterfell (to say nothing of the Lannisters or Daenerys), it will be interesting to see how the graphic novel handles the dispersion of characters.

First published at the Fandom Post.

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