"Game of Thrones" Season 3 Soundtrack Review: It's Just As Good As the Show


The soundtrack for the third season of HBO's hit series Game of Thrones, based on the popular "A Song of Ice and Fire" saga by George R.R. Martin, was just released for download on iTunes and Amazon. The music is composed by Ramin Djawadi, who wrote the "Main Theme" and has scored all Game of Thrones seasons to date. Djawadi's previous work includes the blockbuster film Ironman and contributions to films such as Pirates of the Caribbean. [Alert: Season 3 spoilers ahead]

In addition to Djawadi's score, the soundtrack includes two songs. The U.S. indie rock band The Hold Steady recorded "The Bear and the Maiden Fair" for the show. The lyrics are from a popular folk song in George R.R. Martin's series. While it may seem odd to have an indie rock band sing a song in a show with a decisively medieval tune, the crazy fun performance seemed to perfectly match a song about a bear saving a maiden who wanted to be saved by a knight. The energetic song also added further shock value as it played right after Jaime Lannister had his hand chopped off by Locke.

The second song is a hauntingly delicate rendition of "It's Always Summer Under the Sea" by Kerry Ingram, who plays King Stannis Baratheon's daughter Shireen in the series. The eerie lullaby is sung beautifully and helps to expertly capture the mood of Stannis Baratheon's camp. Well done to Kerry Ingram.

As Game of Thrones is guided very heavily by dialogue, crafting a memorable score for it can be difficult. In Season 3, Djawadi managed to flesh out some thematic elements in the series. He did this most noticeably with the Lannister Theme. Since Season 2, he has been drawing "The Rains of Castamere" as the show's ultimate leitmotif.

The third season represented the triumph of the Lannisters: Jaime Lannister has escaped his captors and recovered some of his honor, and now goes home to King's Landing. Tywin and Cersei have outmaneuvered the Tyrells and secured Sansa Stark. Tyrion Lannister, while suffering several misfortunes, has survived his near-death from the Battle of Blackwater and regained at least some position. And, ultimately, the Lannisters orchestrated the destruction of House Stark by working with Lord Walder Frey and Roose Bolton to kill Robb Stark, Catelyn Stark, and most of the Northern army at a wedding, ending the rebellion and putting to rest the primary conflict in the series. Throughout all of these triumphs, the Lannister tTheme haunted the background, - most notably at the Red Wedding.

The theme of the Red Wedding, the climax of Season 3 as shown in Episode 9, is aptly titled "The Lannisters Send Their Regrets", after Roose Bolton's final words to King Robb before killing him. It is a powerful, sinister, energetic track capturing the shock and action of the massacre. The five-minute track alternates between the action of the drums and the sadness of the strings, with elements of both the Mmain Ttitle and the Lannister Ttheme thrown into the mix. It is the longest track on the album, fitting to the most dramatic and important scene in the series. It was one of many with excellent music accompaniment. 

Littlefinger's now-famous speech to Lord Varys was made all-the-more dramatic and powerful by the "Chaos Is A Ladder" track. The build in that, growing with Lord Baelish's voice and ambition, was tremendously well done. Similarly, the "Kingslayer" track that played during Jaime's confession to Brienne in the tub, one of the single most powerful scenes with fantastic acting by Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, beautifully added to the drama of that scene. The hints of the Lannister theme in the piece, saddened by Jaime's of how he came to be known as the Kingslayer, added even more of a punch to his cry, "By what right does the Wolf judge the Lion?"

Here are the rest of the tracks:

1. "Main Title"

Some interesting previous previews for Episode 10, perhaps. "Heir To Winterfell" implies we might get to see who claims the former keep of Ned Stark in the season finale. "Mhysa" is the name of the Season 3 Finale, and it is Valyrian for "mother,", which is likely a reference to Daenerys Targaryen -... who just conquered the slave city of Yunkai. The track contains an uplifting choir singing over the main title theme; perhaps an indication of some major advancement for Daenerys in the finale. "For the Realm" is a beautiful guitar rendition of the Main Title, and while the "realm" is the battle cry of Lord Varys it could also be applied to pretty much anyone with a claim to the Iron Throne of Westeros.

Game of Thrones Season 3 Episode 10, the Season Finale, premieres on HBO this Sunday. The soundtrack is available on iTunes and Amazon..

Tune in here next week for a recap of the show and the season, or follow me @RobinsonOB for more.