'Game of Thrones' really hit its stride in the second episode which saw the family of Lord Eddard Stark torn apart by conspiracy and attempted murder.

Sean Bean was once again splendid as Stark, giving the role a massive sense of understated strength and fury when roused.

The events at Castle Winterfell and the intrigue between Stark's family and the wife of King Robert Barathon, Edward's childhood friend, presage the massive clashes to come.

The roles of the direwolf pets was critical in the second episode. One saves Bran's life when an assassin tries to kill him. Another saves Stark's daughter Aria from harm when the Prince Joffrey tries to kill her after a joust goes wrong.

Meanwhile on the sunny side of the kingdom the prince's sister must learn to pleasure her man in order to have him join forces to attack King Robert.

Dany discovers how to make love to her savage Dothraki king after learning from a former sex slave.

The drumbeat that 'The Winter is Coming' hangs over the series like a ghostly pall. At the end of the earth the bastard son of Stark and the dwarf have a conversation that is full of omens and intrigue for the future.

The Game of Thrones, filmed so splendidly in Northern Ireland had 22 million viewers its first week and was picked up by HBO for a second season.
It is easy to see why.