The world – at least the bit of world that goes nuts for great fantasy – has been gushing about Game of Thrones for quite a while. I’m late.

Through an unfortunate accident, I lost my GoT books. I am just starting on the series and have watched 2 episodes of season one.

I’m a Game of Thrones noob.

I listen to people talking about it: which characters they love and hate, what happened that shocked them and what they suspect will happen next. I’m eager to join in, but I have a lot of catching up to do.

So far? I like it. I like the very gritty and dark realism of it. I like all the men in leather. I like the continuous hints of something (Winter?) coming that will be much worse than all the other horrible things that are already happening.

This type of gritty realism is something I think many fantasy writers strive for. The days of gleaming castles with friendly dragons and fairies flitting about in the garden may be gone. Besides the nods to modern sensitivities to sex, gore and violence in general, there’s something visceral that strikes chords much deeper in us. It’s not a dreamy “Oh, how I wish…” but instead something that grabs at our guts.

And yet people still wish they could enter the GoT world and live in it. I do, sometimes when I’m watching. As hard as something may be, the “other” is still always attractive. That’s what makes fantasy so loved.