Unless you have been living under a pop-cultural rock, then you have already heard of HBO’s epic fantasy, “Game of Thrones.” Based on the immensely popular A Song of Ice and Fire trilogy by George R.R. Martin, this hit new season promises just as much sex, violence and political conniving as the first and more, as the world we thought we knew from season one has grown exponentially. New strongholds, citadels and vast barren wastelands are filled to the brim with an entirely new crop of characters that all have their own parts to play in this complicated and deadly game.

At the outset of the second season, the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros are at war. JoffreyBaratheon’s (Jack Gleeson) claim to the Iron Throne is under assault from all sides. The young king’s uncles, Stannis (Stephen Dillane) and Renly (Gethin Anthony), are marching both on the capital of King’s Landing and on each other, motivated as much by brotherly animosity as by the desire for the throne,  but they are not alone in their quest to rule. Robb Stark (Richard Madden), the eldest son of the recently-executed Lord of Winterfell, has established himself as king of a newly-independent North while far away across the Narrow Sea, Khaleesi Danerys (Emilia Clarke) of the HouseTargaryen seeks the kingdom that was stolen from her father by Robert Baratheon the Usurper. Yet while all these kings and queens play their petty games, a cold and silent threat rises in the furthest reaches of the North beyond The Wall as the sworn brothers of the Night’s Watch fight to protect all from the frozen dead that walk again in the coming winter.

This may seem like a lot of fantasy to process, but therein lies the beauty of “Game of Thrones.”  The writers of the show have managed to take an incredibly complicated world and make it human. While they may come for the battles, beheadings and provocative cable television-approved sex scenes, it is this humanity that has viewers across an incredibly broad spectrum hooked. Luckily for these new fans, reading the huge book series is not a requirement to enjoy the show.  The fantastic cast in “Game of Thrones” demonstrates that shows with  mythical elements appeal to more than just my fellow nerds and geeks, in the words of Ben Wyatt from NBC’s “Parks and Recreation.”

“It’s a crossover hit. It’s not just for fantasy enthusiasts, they’re telling human stories in a fantasy world,” Wyatt said.

“Game of Thrones” tells the stories of the Starks and the Lannisters; the Baratheons and the Tyrells. It tells the stories of protective motherly love, struggles for parental affection, loss, betrayal, love, death, violence and heartbreak that we can see reflected in our own lives.

So the night may be dark and full of terrors in the world of the second season of “Game of Thrones,” but this pulse-pounding season is truly a light in the darkness.throne

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