Boxed set gets you into 'Game of Thrones'

If you haven't gotten on the Game of Thrones bandwagon, I suggest you do so before it returns for a second season April 1 on HBO.

The first-season DVD box set is chockablock with extras, including an interactive compendium of the noble houses and the lands that are part of the fantasy series.

Game of Thrones is based on the first of George R.R. Martin's best-selling novels set on the mythical continent of Westeros. It is filled with kings, queens, barbarians, giant wolves, dragons, black magic, palace intrigue and bloody wars.

As one of the series producers-writers, David Benioff (Troy, 25th Hour) has said, "George's fantasy is not for children. It's sexy and it's violent, and it's brutal, and none of the characters are safe."

That became apparent not long into the 10- episode series. Game of Thrones was partly inspired by England's fratricidal Wars of the Roses. So the machinations of the men and women in pursuit of power are a lot of fun to watch.

The box set also offers handy profiles of the series' 15 major characters. Included are a behind-the-scenes featurette and one on how the book — considered by many to be unfilmable — was turned into a series, plus audio commentaries.

There are a couple of series on TV that might run a bit deeper than Game of Thrones, but none delivers as much fun.

It has a top-flight cast, including Peter Dinklage, who has won an Emmy and a Golden Globe for his role as Tyrion Lannister. A sly and shifty figure, as a dwarf, he's not taken seriously by anyone, including those in his powerful family. But we see him, almost by accident, begin to carve out an important role for himself. It will be fascinating to see what's next for him and for Emilia Clarke's Daenerys Targaryen, a young woman from another family vying for the throne. At the end of last season, she literally had given birth to a Game changer.

The set retails for $59.99 or $79.98 Blu-ray.