Now in its penultimate season, HBO's epic fantasy series has moved far beyond where author George R. R. Martin has got to with the source novels and is carving its own path to a suitably big finale.

Perhaps the most surprising thing is that after six seasons of careful build-up, this truncated seventh season sprints through its storylines. As exciting as it is to see so many dangling plot-threads and characters being pulled into place, the downside is that this narrative momentum means that some storylines don't get the attention they deserve and come across as slightly rushed. It also plays havok with the exact chronology of events being depicted in relation to one another – which, to be fair, has never been one of the show's strong points.

Still, for all of these quibbles, Game of Thrones remains one of the most unpredictable and gripping pieces of TV drama around. And with its dragon attacks and forays beyond The Wall, it also serves up the sort of spectacle that could make many Hollywood blockbusters weep with envy.

Picture: Anybody familiar with HBO's previous six Game of Thrones Blu-ray releases will already have a good idea what to expect from the 1.78:1 Full HD encodes served up by this three-disc set. The only real difference this time out is that with Winter finally casting its shadow over Westeros, the overall palette of the show veers even cooler and darker than usual. Even so, there are plenty of brighter highlights (like all of that dragon fire) that pop against the cooler tones, and detailing remains as exquisite as ever.
Picture rating: 5/5

Audio: As with the past few seasons, these episodes arrive on Blu-ray with Dolby Atmos soundtracks (although the discs annoyingly default to alternate Dolby Digital 5.1 mixes). As is so often the case with TV material, much of the focus is on dialogue and general ambience, all of which is well-conveyed.

When the action scenes come (as in Episode Four, Chapter 6's wagon train attack and Episode Six, Chapter 5's battle beyond The Wall) the audio grows in ambition, unleashing thunderous LFE and surrounding the viewer with positional effects. The Atmos height layers adds a tangible vertical dimension to the soundscape.
Audio rating: 4.5/5

Extras: Bonuses are commentaries for every episode (even doubling-up on chat-tracks for four of them); an interactive In-Episode Guide; a two-part look at the production design; seven more Histories & Lore vignettes; and a chat with the cast and crew about the season's key events.
Extras rating: 4.5/5

We say: HBO’s epic fantasy saga begins its race to the end with another well-produced Blu-ray boxset.

Game of Thrones: The Complete Seventh Season, HBO, All-region BD, £50
HCC VERDICT: 4.5/5