This Week's Cover: 'Game of Thrones,' the battle to make season 2 epic

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To create the hugely anticipated second season of HBO’s Game of Thrones, the cast and crew were — in the words of dragon queen Emilia Clarke — “battling everything.”

The Thrones team fought heat in Croatia, mud and rain in Belfast, and a blizzard in Iceland in their globe-trotting quest to bring the next installment of George R.R. Martin’s beloved fantasy series to life. And if warring against nature’s elements wasn’t enough, showrunners Dan Weiss and David Benioff faced the hefty narrative challenge of adapting an increasingly complex tale, introducing of a slew of new characters and figuring out how to pull off the most epic climactic battle ever attempted for television.

“This is season is about a country at war,” says Benioff, who along with Weiss, successfully lobbied HBO for a 15 percent budget increase to stage the second season. “And we felt like if we didn’t see the most important battle of this entire war onscreen, we’re going to shortchange viewers.”

Oh, and lest we forget, the team had to throw in a few realistic-looking dragons and direwolves too (the latter played by real wolves this time, enhanced by CGI, instead of dogs).

“To my knowledge, a story of this scale has never been told within filmed entertainment,” Weiss says. “There’s so many characters and locations and storylines, so many things that are atypical in television — and for good reason. You could do this show relatively easily with twice the money that we have, then after a couple great seasons it’d collapse under its own weight and cease to exist.”

But no pressure! We’ve seen the first two episodes and they’re … fantastic. How did the Thrones team pull it off? What can fans expect this season? And what do Thrones newbies need to know to catch up?

EW visited the Thrones set in Croatia to get the scoop and interview the producers and cast, and went to Belfast to snap some exclusive behind-the-scenes photos (including this priceless gem).

Pick up this week’s Entertainment Weekly featuring four different Game of
Thrones covers to get all the details on newsstands or buy them right now at ew.com/gameofthronescovers.

Plus keep an eye on the InsideTV blog for more Thrones coverage to come.

Entertainment Weekly is now available on most tablets, including the iPad, Nook Color, Kindle Fire, and Samsung Galaxy. Think of it like the EW you already love, but on steroids: With our digital magazine, you can buy the recommended movies, albums, books, and DVDs while you’re reading about them. Plus you can watch music videos and film trailers, and find movie showtimes in your neighborhood. Current subscribers can access the digital version of EW for free by downloading EW app (also free) and logging in using your name and address or the information on your subscription label. Single copies of the magazine are also for sale through the app if you prefer to read EW that way. If you’re not a subscriber, but would like to become one, you can can do so by going to ew.com/allaccess.

Read more:
‘Game of Thrones’ potentially controversial new poster — PHOTO
‘Game of Thrones’ new twisted romance trailer (aww…)
‘The Simpsons’ meet ‘Game of Thrones’ in intro — VIDEO

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