A Game of Thrones
by George R. R. Martin
Publisher: Bantam Spectra
Length: 694 pages
About the Author: George R.R. Martin is the globally bestselling author of many fine novels, including A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings, A Storm of Swords, A Feast for Crows, and A Dance with Dragons, which together make up the series A Song of Ice and Fire, on which HBO based the world’s most-watched television series, Game of Thrones. Other works set in or about Westeros include The World of Ice and Fire, and A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms. His science fiction novella Nightflyers has also been adapted as a television series; and he is the creator of the shared-world Wild Cards universe, working with the finest writers in the genre. He lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Summary: A Game of Thrones is the first novel in George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series, and is the perfect set up for the major characters we will see throughout the series. Enter Westeros, a land where summers and winters come and go for years at a time and a claim to the throne lurks around every corner.
George R. R. Martin is a master in the art of writing, creating in-depth characters and worlds that accomplish more in one novel than most can do in an entire series. This first installment drops you into the land of Westeros, where complex culture, history, and families dynamics come alive with every word. While the novel does move a little slowly, the depth of information and tactful use of dialog goes unmatched. Where many authors struggle with convincing dialog, Martin’s book conversation-heavy style is foundational in building both the world and character relationships.
Martin’s characters are as human as human can be, and where many characters in other novels fall short, Martin’s flourish. Every motivation is questionable, and the ambiguity of each character is a breath of fresh air compared to other fantasy novels where the dichotomy relies on the strictly good or strictly evil. From protagonist to antagonist, every person believes in their own struggle, and every one of them leaves you with a reason to root both for and against them.
Unfortunately, if you want to learn how the story ends, you will need to continue reading on through the rest of series and hope that Martin’s 6th installment comes out soon! With that being said, however, this epic start to the fantasy powerhouse that is A Song of Ice and Fire is a must read, if not for the end, then at least for the journey along the way. While it takes Martin a long time to come out with each novel, it’s clear how much time, care, and attention he puts into making every word ion his novel’s perfect.
If you are anything like me, you might have found the HBO adaptation to be lacking in major character development and depth, but have no fear. Martin’s book, though demanding of its reader, backs the characters, events, and histories of Westeros in far more compelling ways. If you happen to live under a rock or haven’t, for whatever reason, happened to see the show in the past 10 years, I might have said you were smart. However, after reading the book, I have been singing a different tune. While I do not recommend watching the show in place of the books, I DO highly recommend embarking on the journey with George R. R. Martin before committing to an HBO subscription. At least, for the first book. I know they’re a commitment, being written as a series and not stand-alone stories, but it is worth the effort. While both the show and the novels are a hefty time commitment, the surprises within the book will be so much more rewarding if you haven’t seen the show. In any case, I imagine that to be unlikely, since HBO’s GoT is a HUGE success worldwide, so I’ll leave you with this: If you ever wondered why a character acted the way they did, give the books a read. All your questions will be answered, if not in the first 800 pages, then certainly in the subsequent novels. Here’s hoping that Martin finishes them.