By Wendy Mitchell
Updated March 02, 2010 at 09:47 PM EST

HBO is moving ahead with its fantasy epic Game of Thrones. Tom McCarthy (The Visitor, The Station Agent) will direct the pilot, which David Benioff and D.B. Weiss adapted from the George R.R. Martin novels. HBO has given the go-ahead for the pilot plus nine episodes. It will debut in spring 2011.

Game of Thrones starts shooting in Belfast, Northern Ireland, in June. Sean Bean will star as the head of a noble family caught in a power struggle in a mythical kingdom. Other cast members include Jennifer Ehle, Lena Heady, Peter Dinklage, Mark Addy, Alfie Allen, and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau.