Series : A Song Of Ice And Fire
Volume : 1
Year Published : 1996
Genre : Fantasy
# of Pages : 837
Time Spent Reading : 19 hours
In A Game of Thrones, George R.R. Martin has created a genuine masterpiece, bringing together the best the genre has to offer. Mystery, intrigue, romance, and adventure fill the pages of the first volume in an epic series sure to delight fantansy fans everywhere.
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.
As someone who has typically avoided lengthy fantasy novels after trying and failing to connect with several lauded ones (not because I found them bad, but because they were so description-oriented as to be exhausting) this book has been phenomenal and been a sort of entryway through the door of the genre.
I went into A Game Of Thrones expecting to just try a bit and most likely set it aside due to the massive length and what I’d heard was a huge cast of characters to keep track of. It just sounded imposing. But after hearing enough about the show (haven’t watched it yet) to get a cursory idea of each character and after playing the Telltale Games Game of Thrones game (which is a charming, honestly very captivating sort of reimagining/fan fiction in game form) I decided to dig in and was surprised to find this novel to be an inviting pageturner.
The book is split up into a large number of chapters, each chapter pertaining to different characters of the main cast. Though told in third person, each character feels so distinct and their chapters exude a unique style. Tyrion’s chapters are often funny, Arya’s are charming and youthfully adventurous, Eddard’s are down to business with revealing the main plot, Denaerys’s seem to take place in a different and exotic world- fitting as she is far removed from the other characters, etc. This approach to storytelling made the pace amazingly fast. If I tired of one character, chances are within a few minutes the focus would shift to a different and more intriguing character or scenario. Often times (especially toward the hectic and exciting climax) chapters would end in cliffhangers, making it even more compulsively pageturn-ey. This is definitely an ambitious approach that I’ll be looking for when considering other fantasy novels.
Amazingly, 800+ pages didn’t feel long. There was so much more I wanted to know and so much room for other developments. The focus was rarely on minor details and pretty well focused on a grand-scale plot with rich sub-stories and characterization, which is exactly what I’d hoped for. Great read, it lives up to the hype and fandom surrounding it.
My only complaint is that there are just too many characters. Some are mentioned in passing and seem of such minor significance that they’d just be another name on the already too bloated list of names to keep track of.
This is not the ideal novel to read, take a large break on, and read again and just jump into things cleanly. I think my reading it in a shorter and sustained timespan made the large cast and involved little sub-plots much easier to follow, as did my small knowledge of the TV show. I read this book with a Kindle and heavily utilized X-Ray and Word Wise (plan on making a post on these amazing features later) making for a much easier time at grasping the occasional dated terminology and keeping the characters in order. I suspect it would have been easier to mix up characters and gloss over some of the world building without that nice little aid.
I’m hoping that the sequel, in addition to continuing the main story capably, contains more character back stories and expositions. And maybe a bit more humor, as the few humorous moments were quite effective at diversifying the typically heavy mood.
Overall Rating – 10/10
Why You Should Try It – Impeccable character development. Short and diverse chapters keep the pace nice and brisk though the attention to detail remains high. As someone who has minimal experience with fantasy, this was surprisingly compelling and addictive.
Critique – A warning more so than critique, this series has not been finished after 20+ years. I’m not terribly happy at that thought of getting so attached to all these misfits and never knowing their end, but it’s worth it.Click This Link To Read A Sample of A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 1) on Amazon.