A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin is the first in the A Song of Ice and Fire series and is the story of adventure, family and intrigue in a world were winters last for years, dragons fly, nobels fight and White Walkers stalk the night; it’s also not for the faint of heart
There is a lot of hype around this series that is now an HBO series as well, and it’s honestly well deserved. Martin weaves many perspectives together to create an intricate and captivating plot. That plot also unfortunately involves a lot of sexual violence, which has brought a fair amount of criticism to the series. If you go into the book knowing that that is the case, however, it can be an excellent read and I look forward to the rest.
Title: A Game of Thrones
Author: George R. R. Martin
Pages: ~800 pages (paperback, first in series)
Genre-ish: Adult Fantasy, through and through
Rating: ★★★★☆ – Really great story, jarring flaws for some
Setting: A Game of Thrones is set in a world where summers and winters last for years, and the most recent summer has been the longest in a while, meaning that the coming winter could last decades. It is a world of kings, queens and all the intrigue that comes with court, as well as dragons (though they have been long absent from the land) and white walkers (though they are just ghost stories… right?).
Premise: The recent rebellion has left King Robert on the throne with a treacherous wife and exiled the children of the former king. Robert has asked his dearest friend Ned to come to court to be his right hand and rule the kingdom that Robert has no interest in. Robert’s wife has other plans, however, and as A Game of Thrones says, “In the game of thrones, you win or you die.”
- A very intricate plot that is woven throughout the book
- The setting is a nice twist on traditional fantasy, with the extinct dragons (but skulls to show their existance) and years-long seasons, oh and direwolves
- Well developed characters that all have their own strengths and weaknesses and reasons for their actions
- Large world and the spread out characters and perspectives allows for a lot of world building
- As many critics of the series have pointed out, there is a lot of incest, rape, statutory rape (by our definition of adult), molesting and violence towards women; as someone who has stopped reading a trilogy because of sexual violence, I didn’t find that it broke the book, just a bit excessive, but you’ve been warned.
- Most of the characters are in a grey area, so it’s hard to really pick out the “good guys” and “villains” past the few obvious ones, so A Game of Thrones is definitely not an easy read.
- I’m still trying to figure out how it could be possible for a planet to have erratic and extremely lengthened seasons from an astronomical perspective and it’s just not working for me; I realize this is fantasy and dragons aren’t real either, but the seasons just don’t fall under the same “it’s fantasy” excuse to me….
- I’m personally not a fan of multiple perspectives, because I find the character switches jarring, but that’s just me :)
This series is turning out to be very controversial, and I don’t especially agree with a lot of the criticism that has been thrown onto what I found to be a rather enjoyable plot. I don’t find the violence overly disturbing or detailed (though if Martin could stop using the word “nipple” so much I’d be happier), and I found that I could still easily enjoy the deep characters and wonderfully woven plot for their own merit. If you think you can handle the grittier scenes, I really recommend this series, as most people seem to be doing these days.
Similar Stories Reviewed:
Inheritance series by Christopher Paolini – Another rich world filled with political intrigue and dwagons :D
Mistborn by Brandson Sanderson – If you like political intrigue and fantasy, this is your trilogy.