The throne of Martin's saga, made from melted down swords, serves as a brilliant symbol for the perils of rulership and the pain of being "king." Literally.

Here’s a whole new reason to get HBO if you don’t have it already (as if REAL TIME, TREME, and CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM weren’t enough!). The biggest and possibly best fantasy epic of the last two decades, George R. R. Martin’s A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE will soon be an HBO series. Taking the name of Martin’s first book in the series, A GAME OF THRONES premieres in 2011.

Here’s the first preview trailer, which promises great things:

Based on HBO’s track record of high-quality series, this bodes well not only for the legion of Martin’s fans who love the series (count me in) but also for anyone who enjoys quality television shows. The last time HBO tried something this ambitious they launched the amazingly good ROME, which ended after its second season due to its high production costs. But, man, it was good.

Anyone who has read A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE knows that Martin’s fully-realized characters are the key to his genius. And the producers of this show obviously have taken this focus on charaterization to heart by choosing wonderfully capable actors to bring the cast to life. A few highlights: The terrific Peter Dinklage (The Station Agent) plays the series’ most likeable character (arguably), Tyrion Lannister, an intellectual in a world of brutish men whose dwarfism only makes him more the hero (albeit a misunderstood hero and the black sheep of his decidedly evil family). Sean Bean (Lord of the Rings’ Boromir) will doubtless make a perfect Eddard Stark, the loyal patriarch who tries to bring integrity to a power-hungry mob of royalists. Lena Headey (Terminator: The Sarah Conner Chronicles) will play the deliciously evil Cersei Lannister.

The fifth of seven proposed volumes...long overdue and highly anticipated.

The goal is reportedly to cover one novel per season (10-12 episodes). That is a noble goal and let’s hope it flies. Maybe it will be the final burst of inspiration that will get Martin to finish the long-awaited fifth volume A Dance with Dragons. But perhaps the best result (besides hours of quality fantasy entertainment) will be that thousands of new readers will discover the series and actually READ one of great works of modern fantasy.