Andrew Drummond talks to the stars and creators of the fantasy taking TV by storm
From a fantasy land where everyone has a stroke of evil and incest is considered "love", spawns a successive series of swords and sorcery in the television hit, Game of Thrones.
"It is a lot of blood and guts and sex and stuff," star Emilia Clarke says of the screen adaptation of George RR Martin's best-selling book series, A Song of Ice and Fire.
The dainty British actress, 24, has just finished filming series two of the R-rated Game of Thrones and said fans should prepare for a second course that is better than the first.
The story follows a struggle for power across the seven kingdoms of the mythical and medieval country, Westeros.
As her white-haired character Daenerys Targaryen - a guise which requires more than two hours in makeup - Clarke has embraced a role requiring nudity and presenting confronting themes.
"I would let his whole tribe f*** you, all 40,000 men and their horses too, if that's what it took," a timid Daenerys is told by her brother of his obsession with becoming king.
Indeed, the entire production is filled with social taboos, acts of savagery, revenge and betrayal.
Incest may be an act shunned in real life but in the context of Game of Thrones it is love, says star Nikolaj Coster-Waldau.
The suave Danish actor, 41, whose on-screen lust is for his fictional twin sister, is nonchalant about how viewers perceive his character's graphic sexual activities.
"Usually when you say incest ... you think of someone taking advantage of [another], something despicable, something horrible. Here, it is two consenting adults, it is love," Coster-Waldau says, sweeping a hand through his long hair.
Says British actor Kit Harrington, 25, who plays Jon Snow:"I think people can relate to [the series] because it's about people's faults. It's about what people do for power. It's a fantasy that's based with a real sense of reality and the characters are faulted, every single one of them, in some way. I think the appeal of this is that there is no [inherently good person] who's wonderful and does everything right.
Production network HBO have spared no expense on Game of Thrones, with filming in Ireland, Iceland, Croatia and Malta.
Writers and executive producers David Benioff and Dan Weiss say they are not surprised by the global interest in Game of Thrones.
"We did think it would appeal internationally more than any show, because it is not set anywhere in particular, so it doesn't exclude anyone," Benioff says.
Both men refer to a third series but refuse to give away details of the upcoming production, except that viewers can expect to see more fantasy, including dragons.
"It doesn't get any easier to watch, but there are certain elements of humour that come in, which act as a balance," Harrington says.
What: Game of Thrones, second season
When and where: Mondays 8.30pm from April 16 (double-episode premiere)
Also: Season one screens on SoHo's Box-Set Weekend, March 31 and April 1