A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin
Author: George R. R. Martin
Series: A Song of Ice and Fire #1
Release Date: August 6, 1996
Dates Read: June 19-July 10, 2012
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 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.
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; and a determined woman undertakes the most treacherous of journeys. 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.
I don’t expect to be able to add any original or innovative thoughts about this series when it’s already been picked apart and talked about by so many readers since its release sixteen years ago. However, I just wanted to jot down a few thoughts about the book. First of all, despite all the hype and my fondness for fantasy novels thusfar, I didn’t actually pick up the book entirely for the book’s sake. I decided I should finally watch the HBO show. But because I’m me and have certain quirks, I felt compelled to read the book first. That wasn’t quite what happened. Thanks to some wonderful wiki contributors, I found a guide to which episodes corresponded to which chapters online (the “Notes” section of the episode guides on the wikia GoT wiki). So, I read the chapters for each episode, then watched the episode shortly afterwards. This approach really worked for me, and I found myself enjoying both the book and the show immensely. This approach helped me picture some of the areas and characters, and helped me keep everything straight. If you haven’t watched the show or read the book but you want to, you might consider doing the same. I was glad I did.
Overall, I’m glad the show adhered quite closely to the novel, because I loved the book. For me, it definitely lived up to the hype. George R. R. Martin has a true talent for world-building and story crafting. While some might complain that the novel is too complicated, has too many characters and intricacies, I was blown away that Martin was able to craft such a detailed world. But just because he obviously spent so much time on the environment, surroundings, and lore doesn’t mean that the characters suffered for it. Quite the opposite, actually. The characters were are a real strong point in the novel. I particularly like Tyrion and Daenerys, was interested in Arya, Bran and Jon, looked forward to major events happening with Catelyn and Eddard, was disturbed by the events in the Eyrie, and loved to hate Cersei and Joffrey. This is a strong fantasy novel. As long as dwarves and elves aren’t a prerequisite for you enjoying a fantasy world, Game of Thrones has plenty to offer you. A detailed world, interwoven characters and events, plenty of intrigue and betrayal. I expect you won’t be disappointed.