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Game of Thrones: Early season 5 premiere reviews say...

And the verdict is…

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HBO

UPDATED: Game of Thrones season 5 had its world premiere at the Tower of London on Wednesday night and UK critics are scrambling to post the first early reviews. 

Their verdict? … C’mon, what do you think? 

Here’s a rundown of what has been posted so far about episode 501, titled “The Wars to Come.” 

The Guardian: “All the elements that have made Game of Thrones notorious, from copious nudity to moments of unexpected violence, were present but this was a notably confident series opener, one which mixed humour and pace to demonstrate how secure [showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss] now are in this world – and how happy they are to take risks … well-paced, intriguing opening episode.”

Forbes:  “This is a season opener that will have you gripped from the get-go … It’s a relatively quiet episode by GoT standards – and certainly by comparison to that gory season 4 finale … Game of Thrones is HBO’s most-watched series ever for a reason – and its many fans will be tantalised and intrigued by this new season..”

The Evening Standard: “This was a measured scene-setter, with breasts and buttocks bared as per, but less of the blood or other bodily fluids that will surely be spilt later on. A palpable sense of weariness pervaded many of its characters without afflicting the show itself … [Characters] began moving into position for what is starting to resemble — brace yourselves — an endgame … The next head to roll could be that of the HBO executive who dares call time on a series that gets better and better.”

The Independent: “There weren’t many new introductions, but several old characters are revealing new sides … HBO have recently hinted that they’d like Game of Thrones to go on for decades to come, but so far this season definitely feels like the beginning of the end(game). We know because characters and storylines that have been distinct for so long are unmistakably beginning to intertwine.”

The Telegraph (warning: This one is very spoiler heavy, it basically ruins the ending): “Essentially, this was an exercise in scene setting, the chess pieces being laid out on the board … Encouragingly bold.”

Regarding “relatively quiet” comment: I would point out Thrones seasons tend to start softly (especially compared to finales) as they re-introduces characters and storylines, then pick up steam as the season progresses (also, season 5’s first episode is actually not as quiet as some previous openers…). Thrones returns April 12 on HBO. 

UPDATE: Here’s our post — no spoilers — revealing which characters are in the first epiosde, and which don’t show up until later in the season (there’s one big fan favorite on the bench the first week). 

Also: Here’s what the Thrones stars were wearing on the red carpet for the London premiere, the arrival of the Iron Throne in London and check out these two new clips from the first episode: