Season Two of the HBO series Game of Thrones delves deeper into author George R.R. Martin's fantasy world. It's based on A Clash of Kings, the second book in the series A Song of Ice and Fire.
The show is addictive, even if you aren't a fantasy fan. There is intrigue, sex, magic, dragons, barbarism and even some tenderness. But while there are some clear villains, it's also hard to know for whom to root because everybody seems to have a dark and light side. And there is another reason: Characters, even ones you like and expect to continue on, are often killed off suddenly.
Martin has written five books and has promised two more. One book already is scheduled to be divided into two seasons. So this might take a while to resolve. The story has gotten so entwined that when Thrones returns for a third season March 31, the episodes will be five or six minutes longer because the plots are so complicated.
For fans of season two, there are plenty of bonuses to immerse yourself in. In addition to the 10 episodes, the five-disc set includes these extras:
■ "War of the Five Kings": an interactive guide that follows the movements of various armies detailing their victories and defeats.
■ "Histories & Lore": 19 animated histories detailing the mythology of the fantasy world.
■ "In-Episode Guide": background information about on-screen characters, locations and relevant histories.
■ "Hidden Dragon Eggs": uncovering even more never-before-seen content.
■ Creating the Battle of Blackwater Bay: a 30- minute feature showcasing never-before-seen interviews with cast and crew.
■ "Game of Thrones: Inner Circle": stars Emilia Clarke, Kit Harington, Lena Headey, Michelle Fairley and Liam Cunningham talk about their experiences shooting season two.
■ "The Religions of Westeros": Martin and series executive producers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss discuss the competing religions in the series.
■ "Character Profiles": profiles of seven major characters as described by the actors portraying them.
■ "Audio Commentaries": 12 of them altogether, including from Martin, Clarke and Peter Dinklage.
Game of Thrones: The Complete Second Season retails for $59.99 or $79.98 Blu-ray.OTHER RELEASES
These DVDs also were released this week (when two prices are listed, the second is for Blu-ray):
New films: Argo ($28.98, $35.99); Atlas Shrugged Part II ($22.98, $29.99); Sinister ($29.95, $39.99).
Television: Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome ($29.98, $34.95).
Older films: On the Waterfront: The Criterion Collection ($39.95, $49.95); Monsters, Inc.: Five-Disc Ultimate Collector's Edition ($39.99, $49.99); Prison: Collector's Edition ($29.93 Blu-ray); The Thief of Bagdad ($24.98 Blu-ray); That Cold Day in the Park ($29.95 Blu-ray); The Running Man ($24.95 Blu-ray); Les Misérables (French, 1958; $24.95, $29.95); Julius Caesar (1970; $29.95 Blu-ray); The Terminator: Remastered ($19.99 Blu-ray); Bagdad Cafe ($9.99).