A Game Of Thrones – George R.R. Martin
In a land where summers can last decades and winters a lifetime, trouble is brewing. The cold is returning, and in the frozen wastes of the north of Winterfell, sinister and supernatural forces are massing beyond the kingdom's protective Wall. At the center of the conflict lie the Starks of Winterfell, a family as harsh and unyielding as the land they were born to. Sweeping from a land of brutal cold to a distant summertime kingdom of epicurean plenty, here is a tale of lords and ladies, soldiers and sorcerers, assassins and bastards, who come together in a time of grim omens. Amid plots and counterplots, tragedy and betrayal, victory and terror, the fate of the Starks, their allies, and their enemies hangs perilously in the balance, as each endeavors to win that deadliest of conflicts: the game of thrones.
Review: I’m a massive fan of the Game of Thrones TV show, and I’ve wanted to read the series for years, but I put it off for three reasons:
Reason 1: I have zero faith that the author will actually finish writing the series. It’s really frustrating to start a series and never know how it ends.
Reason 2: George R.R. Martin’s writing style is very average. There’s nothing wrong with it, but there’s nothing about it that makes me go, “OMG, I can’t wait to read 837 pages of this!”
Reason 3: 837 pages. The other books in the series are even longer than the first one. I didn’t know if I could handle it without getting bored.
After years of putting off the series, I finally gave in and read the first book. And . . . I thoroughly enjoyed myself.
The first season of the TV show follows the first book pretty much exactly. The book has all the same death, destruction, and decapitations as the show. The story mostly centers on Eddard Stark and his children. Eddard accepts a job as Hand of the King, but when the king suddenly dies, Eddard is arrested for treason, and a power vacuum ensues. Several people promptly declare themselves the new king. Eddard’s children set out to rescue their father from jail, but their lives are threatened by all the wannabe-royals.
“The things we love destroy us every time, lad. Remember that.” – A Game of Thrones
I had so much fun reading this book, which is weird because I already knew the plot. None of the deaths were shocking. Still, I loved being back in Westeros and seeing all my favorite characters again. If you like the TV show and can handle reading 837 pages, you’ll probably like the book.
I was shocked by how young the kids are in the novel. Jon and Robb are 14. Danerys is 13. I can understand why the show decided to go with older actors because reading about a 14-year-old fighting a war, and a 13-year-old being raped is icky. The older actors cut down on the ick factor a little.
Since I liked this book, what I’m about to say will sound weird, but here it goes. If I wasn’t already a fan of the show, I probably wouldn’t have finished the book. I’m not a patient reader. I don’t like books that have big learning curves. A Game of Thrones is massive. The world is complex; there are tons of characters and plotlines. Since I was familiar with the show, I got to skip the learning curve. If I hadn’t already known about the characters and their relationships, I don’t think I would’ve had the patience to learn. There are so many characters! I can't remember all those names.
“And I have a tender spot in my heart for cripples and bastards and broken things.” – A Game of Thrones
If you can keep all the characters straight, this is a twisted and action-packed story. Like I said, George R.R. Martin isn’t a great writer, but he’s a wonderful storyteller. The world in this series is immense and creative. I love that the story is told with short chapters and multiple perspectives. For such a big book, the plot moves surprisingly fast. I never got bored. It also doesn’t have those massive info-dumps that make me dislike fantasy novels. I liked this book a lot more than I thought I would.
I’m glad I finally read this one. I will happily move on to the next book in the series.
“Why is it that when one man builds a wall, the next man immediately needs to know what's on the other side?” – A Game of Thrones
TL;DR: If you like the TV show, give the books a shot.