'The Histories & Lore', a series of animated video chapters, is a crash course on things that the show couldn't dwell on but which enrich our understanding of its world
The HBO show Game Of Thrones (GoT) is almost always rooted to events, places and people from the past. The Mad King. Lyanna Stark. The cataclysm that wiped Valyria off the face of Westeros. The Targaryen civil war. The various houses—their traditions, ecologies and allegiances.
All this is drawn in precise detail in George R.R. Martin’s Song Of Ice And Fire series of novels. The show, however, has allowed the viewer to explore the universe without having to read the books.
The Histories & Lore, a series of animated video chapters, is a crash course on things that the show couldn’t dwell on but which enrich our understanding of its world. Released at the end of each season, with 15 episodes of an average length of 4 minutes, they are included as a bonus feature on GoT Blu-rays. They are available on YouTube as well.
Each episode is narrated by a character from the show, voiced by the actor who plays that character. Brandon Stark (Isaac Hempstead Wright), accompanied by the sad and beautiful House Stark Theme, tells us about the legend of the “Children of the Forest", the soul-inhabited trees that were butchered at the hands of the First Men. Oberyn Martell (Pedro Pascal) gives us a clandestine tour of the varieties of poison: They are known to be a woman’s weapon, and are often more effective than men’s swords. “Basilisk blood", we are told, gives cooked meat a celery-like smell but, when eaten, “produces a madness violent enough for a mouse to attack a lion".
We are told that the greatest civilization in Westeros was founded by a community of shepherds who, while grazing goats one day, discovered “scaly, monstrous creatures with roots in magic": Dragons.
The unconventional animation is a relief. It is more like motion comics; the camera moves within beautifully realized still frames that include charcoal and colour drawings. The videos have the imagination and finesse of an art form.
The most impressive aspect of The Histories & Lore series perhaps is that it is, just like the show and the book, more interested in the truth of human experience than the simplistic binary of right and wrong. For instance, each player involved in “Robert’s Rebellion"— an event to which possibly every conflict in GoT can be traced back—gets to tell the story from his point of view. If Robert Baratheon’s tone throbs with self-righteous pride, Viserys Targaryen, the son of Baratheon’s opponent in the war, makes a case for the innocents slaughtered on their side.
The world premiere of GoT’s seventh season will be available for streaming on Hotstar in India on 17 July.