Saturday, August 13, 2011

Book Thoughts: A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin

A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin
published 1996
835 pages

Synopsis from publisher:

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.

My thoughts:

I was not going to start this series until the author was done writing it. I'd heard how fantastic it was, but I'd also heard that there were still (at the time) 2 books left, and the author tends to take 3-4 years between books. Given that I really hate cliffhangers, I didn't especially want to get sucked into something that I would have to wait 6+ years before I got to finish. And then that dratted HBO series started, and I accidentally got involved in it, and then it was too late - I had to start reading.

Having watched the series, I already knew the story for this first novel in the series - I was already familiar with the characters, and I was prepared for the book to seem just a bit stale. Boy, was I wrong.

This is easily the best novel I've read so far this year. The characters are so rich, and so completely realized - Martin gives them each such incredible depth and scope. Each chapter is told from an alternating point of view, giving the reader a chance to experience the story from all sides. And there are no "good guys" and "bad guys" in this novel - even the heroes and heroines make hard, sometimes brutal decisions, and even the villians are given a human side. (Except Joffrey. What a little twit.)

A Game of Thrones is 800+ pages, and at no point did I feel like Martin was writing to fill up space. There is nothing in this book that shouldn't be there - every single scene is necessary to the greater story, and the pacing of the novel is perfect. Martin manages to introduce an extremely complex, vast, and wholly unique world within the confines of the story, while still keeping the reader anxious to turn the next page. This world has fascinating religious, moral, political, and military maneuverings around every corner, and Martin handles them all perfectly.

There is literally no way to cram all my thoughts about this novel into one blog post - for the next book I will definitely have to write as I go. I was truly blown away by this novel, and I can't wait to start reading the next one. And it is going to KILL me to have to wait for the series to be finished, but I know it will be worth the wait. If you are a fantasy fan, I cannot recommend this highly enough.

Finished: 8/5/11
Source: my shelves
MPAA rating: R for violence, sexuality, and brutality
My rating: 10/10


bermudaonion said...

My son loves this series, but I'm pretty sure it's not for me.

Kailana said...

I was going to wait to read this series, too, but I read the first book this year. It takes me a while to read series anyway.

Zibilee said...

I started reading this book a few years ago, and it didn't go well. But to my defense, I had never read any fantasy before, and knew nothing about this particular series or the genre at all. Since then, I have read a few very interesting epic fantasy tomes, and have really enjoyed them, so I went ahead and bought a boxed set of the first four books not long ago. My husband is reading them now, but I look forward to starting over and revising my opinion with them! This was a great review, Elizabeth! I am glad you loved this one!