capsule review

HBO Game of Thrones

At a Glance
  • Generic Company Place Holder HBO Game of Thrones

    PCWorld Rating

    This free Windows 7 theme puts iconic "Game of Thrones" images on your desktop, including the Iron Throne.

Made of sharp swords, the Iron Throne is uncomfortable, even known to draw blood from the unwary. If it were merely a chair, no one would try to sit on it. But the one who takes control of this dangerous symbol of power rules over the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros, the setting of George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire fantasy book series and HBO's television adaptation, Game of Thrones. The throne, and some of the characters who battle to seize or protect it, take over your Windows 7 desktop with this free themepack.

It's clear very early in both the books and the TV series that three of the strongest players are the families of Stark, Lannister, and Targaryen. We paired HBO's quotation-captioned photos of the characters with their house sigils and mottoes, and looped them in rotation with an image of the Iron Throne itself.

Eddard "Ned" Stark (Sean Bean), Lord of Winterfell and Warden of the North, appears after the Stark direwolf and its "Winter is Coming" motto. The Lannisters' gold lion on a red field heralds the crafty, brilliant Tyrion Lannister as played by Peter Dinklage in an Emmy-nominated performance. "Hear me roar," the Lannister lion says, while Tyrion's photo promises, "A Lannister always pays his debts." Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) is a lovely young blonde whose gentle appearance is downright disquieting when it follows the Targaryen's arms: A black field with a red three-headed dragon and the motto "Fire and Blood."

HBO's images and quotations are high-resolution and well-chosen. The house sigils look particularly appealing, with their strong colors and parchment-like texture. My only complaint is that the sans serif font used for the quotations looks too light and modern. It's jarring after the more formal display font used for the mottos. I'd prefer a manly Nordic font such as PR Viking for Ned, a cunning blackletter like RM New Albion for Tyrion, and the graceful but deadly Yataghan for Dany. At least the characters' lines are all spoiler-free for both viewers and readers.

The sound design is unobtrusive, with one satisfying surprise: When you empty the Recycle Bin, it sounds like you're really killing those files dead.

The HBO Game of Thrones themepack shows arresting images from the first season of the show and whets the appetite for the next season. When the summer is long and hot, and there's little new on the tube, let this themepack remind you that winter is indeed coming.

--Laura Blackwell

For more great wallpapers from the series, download HBO Game of Thrones: King's Landing and HBO Game of Thrones: Winterfell.

Note: To install this Windows 7 theme, unzip the downloaded archive and double-click the themepack file within. Windows does the rest. All wallpaper images are courtesy of HBO; sounds are courtesy of Freesound Project members. See the readme.txt file included in the zip archive for full attribution information.

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    This free Windows 7 theme puts iconic "Game of Thrones" images on your desktop, including the Iron Throne.

    Pros

    • Entertaining scenes from series
    • Terrific sound effects

    Cons

    • Limited to HBO-licensed images
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