Title: A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire #1)
Author: George R. R. Martin
Publication: 1996 by Bantam Books
Long ago, in a time forgotten, a preternatural event threw the seasons out of balance. The cold is returning, and in the frozen wastes to the north of Winterfell, sinister forces are massing beyond the kingdom’s protective wall. To the south, the King’s powers are failing, and his enemies are emerging from the shadows of the throne. At the center of the conflict lie the Starks of Winterfell, a family as harsh and unyielding as the frozen land they were born to. Now Lord Eddard Stark is reluctantly summoned to serve as the King’s new Hand, an appointment that threatens to sunder not only his family but also the kingdom itself.
What I Thought About It . . .
I had heard about this series a couple of years ago thanks to browsing a graphic design community dedicated to books. (Yes, I am that much of a geek.) As much as I like fantasy, I don’t read everything of it that I can get my hands on contrary to popular belief. However, I filed it in the back of my mind to be something to look into at a later date were I to ever be looking for anything new to read. I heard how there would be a television series, and I confess my interest spiked when I discovered who would be playing the role of Eddard Stark. So shortly before the pilot episode was scheduled to air, I purchased one of the mass market paperbacks with the poster art of the television series for a cover. I had the chance to see the first episode of the series since there was free HBO that weekend, but it left me conflicted as to whether I would want to see more of the show. I know that sex sells, but why do you need that much nudity and sex going on when we have all those pretty swords?
I’m not sure why I decided to commit to a book with 800+ pages at this time because one might assume I would wish to read the smaller books that comprise my TBR mountain. However, I confess that I have been completely enthralled to its seductive spell. I was immediately captivated by Martin’s world and the characters in it. The prose was descriptive without being bogged down and moved at the right pace to keep a reader with the desire to stay up late into the night, thirsting to know what happens.
It is strange when I cannot select a particular favorite character in a book after making some headway in the tale. This would happen to be one of those cases, I’m afraid. Do we look upon this as the sign of a good book? The characters are richly drawn with their own motivations and complexities. I suppose the obvious answer that those who know me would assume (due to the casting in the television series) is that I fancy Eddard Stark over all. Even after 500 pages I was no closer to deciding whom I liked best! Perhaps this is what I find most unsettling. Or maybe it’s the fact that I could pick the characters I knew other people would like, but not my own! Even at the end of 800+ pages, I find I have made no headway in the department of selecting one favorite character. Although I do know one thing and that is that the only Lannister I don’t want to see with their head decorating a spike is Tyrion.
Due to my own curiosity while reading I was browsing discussion threads on message boards, and other fans warned not to get too attached to characters because they had a tendency to die. Yes, these were quite unexpected, but I can understand the necessity of killing off characters to further the story. Much as Sansa discovers to her woe, the monsters win in real life. I know this is labeled a “fantasy” book, but much of it didn’t feel too far from reality. It read almost like an historical epic for the most part. This is a world that I could believe in because it mirrors our own, I guess you might say. And the ending had me in a page-turning mood for the last 100+ pages.
Yes, I would say that I am quite pleased with this book. It’s staying on my shelf and I need to get my hands on the rest of the books in the series. And the next time I am in Borders, I want that glass mug of House Stark if it is still there!