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Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

Game of Thronesby George R.R. Martin

Game of Thrones
by George R.R. Martin

A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire #1)

By: George R.R. Martin

Release Date: August 6, 1996

Rating: 5 stars

Summary: Long ago, in a time forgotten, a preternatural event threw the seasons out of balance. In a land where summers can last decades and winters a lifetime, trouble is brewing. The cold is returning, and in the frozen wastes to the north of Winterfell, sinister forces are massing beyond the kingdom’s protective Wall. To the south, the king’s powers are failing—his most trusted adviser dead under mysterious circumstances and his enemies emerging from the shadows of the throne. At the center of the conflict lie the Starks of Winterfell, a family as harsh and unyielding as the frozen land they were born to. Now Lord Eddard Stark is reluctantly summoned to serve as the king’s new Hand, an appointment that threatens to sunder not only his family but the kingdom itself.Sweeping from a harsh land of cold to a summertime kingdom of epicurean plenty, A Game of Thrones tells a tale of lords and ladies, soldiers and sorcerers, assassins and bastards, who come together in a time of grim omens. Here an enigmatic band of warriors bear swords of no human metal; a tribe of fierce wildlings carry men off into madness; a cruel young dragon prince barters his sister to win back his throne; a child is lost in the twilight between life and death; and a determined woman undertakes a treacherous journey to protect all she holds dear. Amid plots and counter-plots, tragedy and betrayal, victory and terror, allies and enemies, the fate of the Starks hangs perilously in the balance, as each side endeavors to win that deadliest of conflicts: the game of thrones.

Unparalleled in scope and execution, A Game of Thrones is one of those rare reading experiences that catch you up from the opening pages, won’t let you go until the end, and leave you yearning for more.

 

Review: I was about 70 pages into A Game of Thrones,the first book of George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Fire and Ice , when I made up my mind to invest in a spiral notebook and several colored markers to keep track of all the characters, kingdoms and alliances – so dense was the story I found myself immersed in.
But fortunately for me, and the rest of Martin’s legion of fans, the fantasy master was ever a step ahead of me, as I found out when I turned to the back of the book to find every single character broken down by house and relationships, along with two excellent maps to give my imagination a geography to fall back on.
Now a part of our collective pop culture due to HBO’s smashingly successful television series by nearly the same name, A Game of Thrones is fantasy at its best, thrusting the reader into a story line so fluid and intelligent that I often found myself upset that I had missed the land’s history so far, only to remember that most of it is still locked away in Martin’s head.
Set in fictional Westeros, which looks a good bit like the United Kingdom on the aforementioned maps, A Game of Thrones drops the reader straight into a medieval soap opera of powerful families, seeking to gain favor, land and fortune, all the while stepping around, over or on one another. There are kings and knights, pirates and princesses and even a few things that go bump in night.
A Game of Thrones is perhaps most memorable for its multi-person narration. There is no first person, nor an omnipotent third-person view of things, but rather nine different characters sharing the job, six of them from House Stark, the lords of the north , whose family crest bears the ominous warning “Winter is Coming ” – leading them to be conservative, patient and always ready to circle the wagons.
Stark patriach Eddard (Ned) is a hero from another age, and best friend to the current king, Robert of House Baratheon. The pair led a civil uprising in Westeros’ near past to unseat the mad king of House Targareyn, whose ancestors ruled the continent for centuries thanks to their command of dragons, which have since gone extinct.
A Game of Thrones opens with Baratheon riding north to Stark’s Winterfell to ask Eddard to become the Hand of the King – basically his prime minister- replacing both men’s boyhood mentor, who died suddenly in the kingdom’s capitol.
Barely has Eddard said yes to the honor than his world begins to unravel, with his wife Catelyn receiving a dire warning that the previous Hand was murdered, and the Starks’ young son catching Baratheon’s queen in a bizarrely compromising situation.
While things unfold in the north, across the Narrow Sea, the last remaining children of the Targareyn house are enveloped in schemes of their own, as petulant young heir Viserys barters his teenage sister Daenerys in exchange for an army of barbarians who he plans to lead to Westeros to claim what he feels is his rightful crown.
But neither Daenerys nor her new husband – the warlord Kaol Drogo – dance willingly to Viserys’ tune, and Daenerys grows to be one of the book’s most intriguing characters, especially once her eyes are opened to a larger world beyond her brother’s cruelty.
Like Daenerys, the book’s other two most intriguing characters own parts of the narrative and are lesser children of noble houses. One is Jon Snow, Eddard’s bastard son who shares the Stark children’s home, eldest son Robb’s friendship, but not the love of his step-mother, Catelyn. When King Robert comes to visit, Jon must sit among the commoners at dinner, rather than elevated with his brothers and sisters, cementing his decision to “take the Black” – joining a specializied milita know as the Night’s Watch, who patrol a massive wall of sheer ice in the distant north, tasked with keeping the realm safe from unspeakable horrors said to lurk beyond.
The third fascinating narrator, and perhaps the most popular character in the entire series, is the Queen’s youngest brother, Tyrion Lannister, a dwarf despised equally for his size and for the fact that his mother died delivering him. While Tyrion has neither his sister’s beauty nor his brother Jamie’s skill with a sword, he has made himself all the more dangerous with his wits – reading everything he can get his hands on and getting to know the average people of the realm by spending great amounts of time learning how things work in the markets, on the docks, and in the brothels, especially in the brothels.
Tyrion is ostensibly a villain in A Game of Thrones, and yet, I couldn’t help but find myself rooting for him. Like a bad seed on the reality show Survivor, he keeps outwitting, outplaying and outlasting all those that would oppose his plans, and it’s absolutely delicious to see.
As a writer, Martin spares no expense, particularly when it comes to descrptions of food, the gory side of war and bantering dialogue. There is enough sex to warrant keeping the book out of the hands of younger readers, but not nearly as much as HBO has thrust into the television series. Perhaps the most commonly-known trait of the books is Martin’s propensity to kill off characters, seemingly at will and without just cause.
While this does happen – both in A Game of Thrones and its (to date) four sequels, once the initial surprise wears off, the reader can usually understand that those who meet their doom do so only because Martin has determined that their story arcs have reached their ends – it’s not merely for shock value.

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  1. December 22, 2012 at 6:18 am

    Brilliant review! i’ve only read the first book so far…and the whole killing off thing has put me off reading the sequels.
    i really like the storyline and world building, though honestly martins writing style is not one of my favorites.
    Tyrion is probably one of my favorites of the book and in the series as well 🙂
    and for the sex scenes… well, have you read one of those romantic novels all them girls are reading? these arent THAT bad in compare!

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