Game of Thrones Season 7: Iran Goes Crazy For Show Ahead of Premiere

Game of Thrones
A woman takes a photograph of her son dressed in a Game of Thrones costume at Castle Ward on August 13, 2015 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Charles McQuillan/Getty

Iranian fans of the HBO show Game of Thrones are in a frenzy as the buildup to the July 16 premiere of the seventh and penultimate season continues.

Persian-language social media pages adoring all of the wonders of Westeros have emerged in the Islamic Republic, some with more than 100,000 followers. Fans use the sites to share images of the actors in the show as well as video clips of its music and trailers.

Websites such as winterfell.ir are dedicating their content to Game of Thrones for Iranian fans, where you can download Persian translations of the original Game of Thrones books. Meanwhile, the wider fantasy genre is represented by sites such as fantasy.ir and arda.ir, according to Middle Eastern news site Al-Monitor.

The show's theme song has also become a popular ringtone in the Islamic Republic.

The theories behind the Iranian love for Games of Thrones vary: At the center of the George R. R. Martin universe is an ancient Persian God known as Azor Ahai, a warrior who overcame darkness in a battle in which he carried a weapon blessed by R'hllor, a demigod known as the Lord of Light.

Game of Thrones 7x01:
"Game of Thrones" Season 7, Episode 1: "Dragonstone," airing Sunday 16 July on HBO. Helen Sloan/HBO

Fans see comparisons between such fantasy worlds and seminal Iranian works of literature such as the "Shahnameh" poem by the Persian poet Ferdowsi, written between 977 and 1010 CE, and pre-Islamic folklore.

But another reason for its popularity is Iranian-German dual national Ramin Djawadi, the composer behind the show's dramatic instrumentals. Last month when weapons experts at an Iranian university unveiled a new assault rifle, it was presented to the theme music of Game of Thrones.

The instrumentals have proven so popular that Djawadi even took a live concert experience based on the show's music on a tour of the U.S. and Canada earlier this year.

"The show has good music and is unpredictable," Iranian fan Mohammad Reza told Al-Monitor. "The fact that some parts are inspired from real history makes it much more addictive."

The show's Iranian fans love it so much that they will go to greater lengths to watch the latest episodes than their American counterparts. Fans in Iran say they mostly watch the show through illegal downloading on torrent websites, or exchanging clips on USB sticks with friends.

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American and Western television shows are viewed as un-Islamic in the country and Game of Thrones' frequent sex scenes and violent battles fall foul of censors in the country.

Game of Thrones Season 7 will premiere on HBO on July 16.

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