A Game Of Thrones: A Song Of Ice And Fire Book 1 – George RR Martin

Posted: January 15, 2013 in fantasy, Review

a game of thronesThe men of the Night Watch guard the giant wall of ice that keeps the kingdom below safe from wildling raiders, outlaws, and scarier things.  They have learnt of the return of the Others, unseen for thousands of years.  The Others are dead men come to life, who can’t be killed by sword or dagger.

The Starks of Winterfell are one of the northern-most families of the kingdom and Lord Eddard Stark is the Warden of the North.  He’s summoned by King Robert, a close friend, to become The Hand Of The King, the second in charge of the throne.  Ned reluctantly travels to King’s Landing to take up the office of the Hand, taking his daughters, Sansa and Arya, to experience life at court.  His sons – Robb, Brandon, and Rickon – remain at Winterfell with their mother, Lady Catelyn.  Jon Snow, Ned’s bastard son, travels to the Wall to join the men of the Night Watch.

Daenerys is the daughter of the mad king who was overthrown when Robert came to power.  Raised in exile along with her brother, they’ve spent years trying to find the support to raise an army to reclaim the throne.  Her brother trades Dany in marriage to a Dothraki khal to get a 50 000 strong army of Dothraki warriors.  Dany gets three petrified dragon’s eggs.

These are the three interconnected storylines that form TGOT.  They are woven together very neatly, with each chapter being told from the perspective of a different character.  I thought Ned was an idiot for warning Cersei he was going to tell – how could he think she’d meekly slink away.  Sansa was a drip, thinking life was like a romantic tale.  By the end she showed some strength, even if it wasn’t sticking a knife in Joffrey’s ribs.  Other characters, like Joffrey and Cersei, need a discreet execution and some others, like Lysa Arryn, need a good smack.  There was a lot of violence, especially toward women, and young girls being considered as adults sexually, which was disturbing.

The book is 790  pages, and very little of that is spent on battles or scenery, or even a resolution to the plot. Instead it’s densely packed with the thoughts, feelings, schemes, and observations of the characters, and you’re unlikely to avoid getting very emotionally entangled to at least one of them. The combination of this with the brutal setting makes you genuinely cheer whenever a sympathetic character finally accomplishes something positive, or groan with dread when another character makes a tragic mistake.  It’s a big book to hold in paperback form and you may find it easier in an e book version.

The tv series was very faithful to the book (and had Sean Bean) and I look forward to the next season (sadly Sean-less).


Supplied for Broderick Wells

Reviewed by Jan

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