Wow. Just wow. I am blown away by George R.R. Martin’s A Game Of Thrones. I know I’m a little behind on jumping on the Game Of Thrones bandwagon, but my interest was piqued when the HBO series came out, and I vowed to read the book before I watched the TV series. It took me until now to find the time.
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.
I had a few misconceptions about this book. I thought it would be dense and hard to read. It is long— a little over 800 pages — but it was so easy to read. I thought there would be so many characters it would be hard to keep track of them all like in epic Stephen King novels. However, I never once was confused about who was who. Also, I never realized the characters in this series were so young! As a lover of Young Adult fiction, I was surprised there were so many young adult elements in this fiction book meant for older readers. I was ever so pleasantly surprised!
A Game Of Thrones is the first book in the A Song Of Ice and Fire saga. I found myself wondering, why had I never heard of this book until it was turned into an HBO series? All I ever read growing up was fantasy novels. A quick glance at the copyright page answered my question; the book was released in 1996 (I was only seven years old!). So I’ve forgiven myself the folly of not recognizing the genius of Martin earlier.
This novel is truly, truly epic. Martin crafted each character so carefully that I fell in love with each of them — even though each possessed both good and evil. The game of thrones is a tricky one, simply because at any given time the tide will turn. People change. People cave. People fight to live.
I thoroughly enjoyed the characters: my personal favorites being the rebellious daughter of Lord Stark, Arya; the bastard son, Jon Snow; and the younger Stark, Bran. Each character has their strengths and weaknesses that draw you in and make you become attached, even the “malformed” son of Lord Lannister, Tyrion. I also loved the direwolves, characters in their own right.
My biggest grievance with this book is the series-of-unfortunate-events tone. I found my heart both soaring and despairing as each character rises to the top only to be cut down. I fear nothing good will ever happen. That said, Martin does accurately reflect the hard truth of life in this mystic tale, especially a world as dark and dangerous as this one.
If you have any interest in epic adventures filled with knights set in a world filled with dark forests and colorful countrysides, or enjoy books filled with political intrigue that follow characters through their lifetime, this is the book for you. I highly recommend this intoxicating read that will get under your skin and invade your mind— it’s all you will think about! I’ll be indulging in the first season of the HBO series very soon. The next book, A Clash Of Kings, is on my to-be-read list. I may even have to move it up the line because A Game Of Thrones leaves the reader panting for more. After all, winter is coming.