Monday, April 9, 2012

Review: A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin

Title: A Game of Thrones
Author: George R.R. Martin
Series: A Song of Ice and Fire #1
Pages: 835
Publisher: Spectra
Date Published: August 6, 1996
Format: Paperback
Genre: High Fantasy (Adult)
Source: Gift from cousin's fiance

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: thegame of thrones.

My Review:
This is one of those books that I kind of feel a little pointless for reviewing. I mean, there are enough actual scholarly articles and professional reviews about Game of Thrones that whatever I have to say has no doubt been said before, and in either a much more professional or entertaining way....Nevertheless! I will still tell you what I think because I'm stubborn like that and there are lots of people out there who don't read scholarly articles...unlike me...because I'm a student....and my life is owned by Satan and his insurmountable amount of scholarly essays...I first heard of this series when all of the hype about the HBO show was going on. The show was intense, detailed, and totally bad-ass so I was super excited to start the actual book series. I am really glad that I watched the show first too, because I doubt I would have been able to keep all of the characters straight without the visual aids of the TV show. In fact, there is so much story, so many characters, and such a tangled web of story-arcs, that it is really impossible to give you an accurate summary or even begin to start on the I will just touch upon a few of my favorite things, drop a few quote bombs, and leave it at that :) Game of Thrones is an epic adventure that totally thrown the modern concept of a "hero" on it's head. I say this simply because there is not a single character in the book that is unspeakably good. Everyone has their own personal agenda, drives, wants, and especially cruelties and prejudices. In addition, everything you expect to happen with a series (Such as the main protagonist living past book 1) is shaken up. At the end of this book the only thing you know for certain is that war is coming to the 7 Kingdoms...whether that war will be House against great House, Kingdom against Daenyres and her Dragons, or every living man against The Others...we really don't know. It just makes you want to run out the the store and by book two, even though you probably just spent weeks of your life reading this book. There is just so much greatness wrapped up into book one...prophecy, magic, truth, incest, love,'s everything that a fantasy lover wants without all the cliche "hero's quest" type plots that are the central line for almost every other fantasy series to date.

I think my favorite characters have to be Tyrion and Daenerys. I'm always a sucker for the underdogs and you can't get much lower than the despised midget son of a great lord and a banished princess sold into marriage by her vicious, arrogant brother. Both Tyrion and Daenerys have complicated and traumatizing paths ahead of them. Tyrion is kind of a bastard, but he makes up for it with quick wit, sarcasm, and a thirst for books and knowledge that would make any bookish person love him. At the same time, he's on the much more evil side of the war. You hate his family, but love it's hard to really side with him one way or the other...I just know that I always got excited when I opened the chapter and found that he was the narrator of that particular section...he always said the dirtiest and most hilarious things while making all the stuffed shirt nobles uncomfortable with his midget-ness. Daenerys was also a favorite narrator, but for different reasons. She is the rightful heir to the Seven Kingdoms, but her family was overthrown by "the Ursurper", the current king. Her sadistic and arrogant brother sells her to the Dothraki, a violent and extremely...savage people...and then she really grows into her own among this sex-crazed, blood-frenzied people. It's a great thing to see because when she first married her husband she was weak and insecure, but by the end she is so terrifying and kick-ass that you can't WAIT to see what she does next. Oh, and she can walk in fire and is the mother to baby :)

Favorite Quotes
Never forget what you are, for surely the world will not. Make it your strength. Then it can never be your weakness. Armour yourself in it, and it will never be used to hurt you.
What is honor compared to a woman's love? What is duty against the feel of a newborn son in your arms . . . or the memory of a brother's smile? Wind and words. Wind and words. We are only human, and the gods have fashioned us for love. That is our great glory, and our great tragedy.
A mind needs books as a sword needs a whetstone, if it is to keep its edge.
I give Game of Thrones the coveted 5 Stars! Believe me, it is not a book to read in one sitting. It is truly the definition of epic high fantasy, and should be savored over weeks of enjoyment. It's the kind of book that you should probably devote an hour of good reading time every night before bed...preferably with hot chocolate or some other hot beverage whilst curled in a comfy chair. Even someone who reads as much as I do should probably take their time with this one...sure I COULD have read it in a few days of hard reading if I really tried...but it's too good of a story to rush through. You want to let the material percolate in your brain while you're at work or school until it occupies all of your thoughts...I admit that I was so involved in the book that I actually dreamed about like, dragons and swords and all that for a week or so while I was reading... seriously...Game of Thrones is something special and if you like High Fantasy, save it for a week's vacation or the summer when you actually have the time to devote to it. You will definitely be happy with the complexity of the story and the pure...I dunno...depth that such a crazy web of characters can weave. At 850+ pages in paperback, it is surely a Chunkster, but definitely worth the time that it takes to read it. Enjoy! :)


  1. I am reading this book right now. :) I am loving Tyrion. A lot.

    Great review. :D

  2. I'm glad you reviewed this one because it is my first time reading a review on it :) I think I'll try to catch the TV show first but I've been wondering about the hype.

  3. Tyrion is my favorite. I'm on the third book in the series now & loving it. The books are just incredible. I'm glad they are lengthy.

  4. You are my hero! I wouldn't have had it in me to read it all, even though I like the TV show very much! You made some great points :)