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ODU Professor and “Game Of Thrones” Expert Myles McNutt Pens New Book on the Hit HBO Series

By Braden Fairchild

"Game of Thrones"fans have something to look forward this holiday season: Old Dominion University's Myles McNutt has published a book about the series that goes into extreme detail on beloved characters and the seven kingdoms of Westeros.

"Game of Thrones: A Guide to Westeros and Beyond, The Complete Series" is available at bookstores and online. The officially licensed book containing professional pictures and stills from the show was released Nov. 5.

McNutt, assistant professor in the Department of Communication & Theatre Arts, started writing about the HBO fantasy series on his blog "Cultural Learnings"in 2009, when the adaptation of George R.R. Martin's novels was first announced. His reviews of the show gained in popularity over the show's early seasons, and in 2015 he began writing the "Experts" reviews — for readers of Martin's books — for pop-culture website "The A.V. Club," garnering hundreds of thousands of readers through this year's series finale.

Watching and writing about the show was a critical outlet for McNutt, but he also used his reviews to explore the show from a cultural studies perspective consistent with his research and teaching at ODU.

"'Game of Thrones'is a show that managed to become a cultural phenomenon at a time when audiences are increasingly segmented due to having so many different options," he said. "Writing about the show was a chance to analyze the themes, character arcs and ideologies central to the series with an audience who desperately wanted to dissect and debate the show's merits each week."

It was this work that led to McNutt's involvement with HBO and publisher Chronicle Books, which approached him to create a coffee table book covering the entire series in late 2016. Chronicle had previously published two books by writers and producers of the show, but they focused more on behind-the-scenes aspects. McNutt's book focuses more on the story; it illustrates the big-picture ideas central to the series as well as diving into the characters and breaking down their journeys.

It was a difficult project given that it was being written while the show was still on the air.

"Every week in the final season," McNutt said, "something would happen that would force us to make various adjustments, as story arcs shifted and themes became more or less important."

The book required this kind of careful consideration because it was being designed to appeal to a wide audience of fans, from die-hard to casual viewers, McNutt said.

"The book forced me to think outside of my normal train of thought and to try to make sense of what the show's writers were trying to accomplish, and how a diverse viewership would engage with the narrative on different levels," McNutt said.

With the book being translated into multiple languages and released across the globe, a similarly diverse readership no doubt awaits.

To read McNutt's reviews of the series, visit Cultural Learnings and The A.V. Club.

Braden Fairchild is a junior communications major from Herndon, Va. This article was written as part of a public relations class to give students real-world experience in interviewing, writing and publishing news releases.

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