I was told beforehand that this series was a lot less exciting than the first one, but I didn't believe what anyone else had to say and was fully expecting another ten episodes of pure mind-blowing awesomeness. Unfortunately, it turns out those people had been right and this series was a bit of a let down.
It's so hard to give a quick plot summary of this series because so much happens and if I'm perfectly honest, I don't think I understood it all. Key things going on in this series include: Joffrey continues to be King but different families from all over the country who believe they have a right to the throne are coming for him and war spreads all across the land. Joffrey's true and cruel nature becomes much more evident but Sansa is bound to be his wife and dutifully obeys him. Jaime Lannister has been captured by the Starks and remains their prisoner but Lady Stark wishes to trade him back to the Lannisters in exchange for her two daughters, Sansa and Arya, whom she believes to be held captive by them. Although Sansa is still at King's Landing, Arya managed to escape after her father's beheading. She is now pretending to be a young boy and travels with a group of young boys who are bound for the wall where she hopes to be reunited with her half brother Jon Snow. Jon is now a member of the Night's Watch and continues his duties at the Wall, eventually venturing over it where he runs into some trouble. Rob Stark has amassed an army of his father's followers and is planning to take back the crown and rescue his siblings. Bran and Rickton remain at Winterfell, but Bran has lost all feeling in his legs. Meanwhile in Qarth, Daenerys Targaryen is trying to find ships so that she can sail back to her 'homeland' and claim the throne with her three new dragon babies, but there are many things standing in her way. This is just a very brief outline of the key events happening in this series, but believe me, there's so much more going on and this doesn't even dent it.
I thought that this series was all a bit of a jumble and half the time I had absolutely no idea what was going on or who any of the characters were. I'm pretty sure I fazed out for just about the entirety of episode three because I was so confused and nothing exciting seemed to be happening. In the first series there were lots of different sub-plots going on in different parts of the world and that was really interesting, but what was less impressive, was that after the sub-plots all collided there still remained a distance between them all which made it so much harder to keep up with what was going on. I haven't read the books so I can't say whether or not this series has kept true to the original novels, but I would say that the producers are probably trying to cram a bit too much into the television series and they should either cut some parts of the plot, or increase the number of episodes per series (the latter, please). This series got a lot more exciting towards the end but the beginning and middle parts were a disappointment in my opinion.
The main thing that bothered me about series one, was that although The White Walkers were mentioned about every five seconds, no-one ever clarified who or what they were or what they did, despite the fact that the series both started and ended with them, implying they've got a really big role to play. Eventually I decided that this was okay because it had built up a sense of anticipation and suspense surrounding this strange and dangerous species and I was excited to find out more about them in series two. To my great disappointment, there is very little about the White Walkers in series two, that is, until the last three minutes of the last episode. Here, we find out what they look like but I'm still not really any clearer on how they came about or what their intentions are - suppose I'll have to wait for series three where I hope things will become clearer.
The acting remained just as impressive as in the first series with the majority of the cast remaining the same plus a few additions. The only character that started to annoy me towards the end of the series was Sansa, Ned Stark's eldest daughter, played by Sophie Turner. (Just checked her out on Wikipedia and she's only 16 - what?!) In this series Sansa remains at King's Landing with Joffrey, her future husband, and despite the fact that she's treated awfully by him she remains stoic and carries a blank expression on her face most of the time. In some ways I can see that this portrayal reflects the feelings of her character who is just pretending to be devoted to Joffrey, but mostly it's just irritating in my opinion. I'm probably still most impressed by the acting of the children in this series so Maisie Williams and Isaac Hempstead-Wright who play Arya and Bran Stark. Arya has quite a large role in the new series as she has been separated from her siblings and has is pretending to be a boy in order to protect herself. I think that this young actress is extraordinarily talented and I hope to see more of her work in the future. There is an incredibly large number of actors and actresses in this series so it would be impossible for me to comment on them all, but other notable actors for me included all the Lannister children: Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Peter Dinklage and Lena Headey. All of these actors do evil and sentimental so well and they were the most memorable actors for me. Peter Dinklage's character, the 'Imp', becomes a lot more prominent in this series and he is probably my favourite character now. I enjoyed seeing his character develop further because there are just so many different sides to him which you can see for yourself when you watch this series!
If you're a fan of series one then this is a must watch; however, don't expect this series to be of the same calibre as the premiere series or you will you sorely disappointed. I can only say that I hope series three will bring more clarity and excitement to our screens in March 2013. Although this series wasn't as great as the first series, it is still a much better series than most other television shows so Game of Thrones remains one of my all time favourite programmes.
P.S. Happy New Year everyone!