A Game of Thrones by George R.R Martin – Dual-Review by Lord of the Night and Bane of Kings
“Prepare yourself for the hard times. For the cold and harsh days ahead, for the days of darkness when all men must take a stand against what lurks in the night. Prepare yourself, for Winter is Coming.”
I picked up A Game of Thrones many months ago after reading about it on the internet, and learning the fates of several key characters but such is inevitable when you try to read about a book that’s thirteen years old. I was enchanted with the series and immediately went onto the second novel which I had ordered with the first, and ordered the third and fourth novels together.
The story of A Game of Thrones is told from the point of views of many characters so we get multiple stories. When Eddard Stark, Lord of Winterfell and Warden of the North, is called by his old friend Robert Baratheon the First of his Name, King of the Andals, the Rhoynar and the First Men, to be his Hand and rule side by side, it is the last thing that Eddard wants. But the king is surrounded by the Lannisters, a scheming family with more money than the kingdoms themselves, and whom Eddard does not trust. But the court of King’s Landing is a dangerous place for an honorable man like Eddard, and when he can trust no-one he must rely on those who he distrusts.
Far north at the Wall, the largest structure in the world, where the men of the Night’s Watch guard against the return of the mythical White Walkers, bastard Jon Snow prepares to undertake a life of service to the Watch. But he quickly learns that the Night’s Watch has fallen far in centuries past, and that this may not be the life he seeks.
Meanwhile across the Narrow Sea the dethroned royal heirs Daenerys Targaryen and her abusive elder brother Viserys, the rightful king, live in exile. Marrying Daenerys to a Dothraki Warlord, Khal Drogo, Viserys plans to retake the Seven Kingdoms with an army, but Daenerys will soon learn that it may be her who will return the Dragons to their rightful place as rulers of men.
The characterization in the novel is fantastic. From the honorable Eddard Stark who serves as a main character, his wife the loyal Catelyn Tully, to his children the feminine Sansa Stark, the wilful tomboy Arya Stark and the inquisitive Bran Stark, the crux of the cast are Starks. But the witty Imp Tyrion Lannister shows us the story from his side, and offers up many laughs along the way. And across the sea we have Daenerys Targaryen, who transforms through the book from a meek young girl into a strong confident woman.
And of course the characters in the background like the drunken king Robert, his manipulative wife Cersei Lannister and her twin brother Jaime Lannister, the infamous Kingslayer. With Jon at the Wall we see the fat craven Samwell Tarly, the cruel master-at-arms Alliser Throne and Lord Commander Jeor Mormont who takes a great interested in Jon. And with Daenerys we see her cruel brother Viserys Targaryen, the exiled knight Jorah Mormont, and Daenerys’ husband Khal Drogo, a fierce warrior and a loving husband.
The action in the novel is quite impressive. Swords clash in plenty of bloody scenes in the novel, at tourneys, skirmishes in the city streets and all-out war across the Seven Kingdoms. No guns are present but that makes the sword battles more impressive as we see them in more detail and number than most would expect.
The pacing is very good, considering that this is a long book and will take you some time to read. It keeps the reader interested with battles, treachery and an excellent story. No slowing down here.
The ending is brilliant. Not only setting the stage for the next book but going out on an incredible note, scene and final line. Delivering a brand of magic that is hard to replicate, Ser Martin has written a truly amazing ending that is very hard to top.
I give A Game of Thrones a 10/10 for a fantastic story, a wide cast of characters of which all are interesting, even the supporting cast, and for being the start of a truly wondrous series that has brought many new fans to fantasy.
Should you buy this book? YES! This is a fantastic series that is a must-read for any fan of fantasy and for any who want to read fantasy. Those who bitch about long periods between releases should be ignored, the books will take as long as they take and this is a series that’s worth the wait.
Bane of Kings Reviews the novel,
A Game of Thrones: George RR Martin
A Song of Ice and Fire
“An epic fantasy novel that drags you in and keeps you hooked until the end. One of the best, if not the best, fantasy novels since Tolkien.”
~The Founding Fields
Now, when was the last time that I reviewed an epic fantasy novel set in an original universe on this blog? I don’t think I have, but there’s a first time for everything I guess. Anyway, here’s a series that has become so popular since its release that it has even had its own TV series launched recently. Let’s not point out that I haven’t seen it yet, me lacking the right channel and all, but anyway, let’s move onto the first installment in the ground-breaking A Song of Ice and Fire series, written by George RR Martin.
Although admittedly bought as part of a three-for-two offer and on a whim, I knew that I had made the right choice almost as soon as I looked at the blurb.
After all, how awesome does this sound to you:
“Kings and queens, knights and renegades, liars, lords and honest men.
All will play the Game of Thrones.
Summers span decades. Winter can last a lifetime. And the struggle for the Iron Throne has begun. It will stretch from the south, where heat breeds plot, lusts and intrigues; to the vast frozen north, where a 700-foot wall of ice protects the kingdom from the dark forces that lie beyond.
But this game is not without cost. You win, or you die.”
Told from the point of view of a wide range of characters, A Game of Thrones is as much about them as it is the world that it is set in. Lord Eddard, otherwise known as Ned, his wife Catelyn and their son Bran all have ‘page-time’, as well as numerous other characters including their daughters Sansa and Arya, Eddard’s bastard son Jon, the dwarf Tyrion Lannister, and Daenerys, the princess of the dragonstone.
With so many characters getting showcased, you really get to understand various points of view of this fantastic world that Martin has created, and populated with humanity and other creatures, such as direwolves.
The characters are portrayed fantastically in this novel, no matter how many faults they have as a person (this is not the author’s bad writing, it’s just the way they act, if you get what I mean, for example – Sansa.)
Fantasy novels don’t get much better than this. No matter how large A Game of Thrones is, and it is pretty big (almost 800 pages long (at least, the paperback version published in 2011 by Harper Voyager is), and no matter how long it takes to advance the story, you’ll be hard pressed to find an epic fantasy that triumphs this one, Tolkien’s works aside.
I’m repeating myself here, so I’d probably best move on. Action scenes are written really well, the dialogue is incredible and really, there are very little bad things about this book. Martin manages to build the world that he has set as a backdrop for A Song of Ice and Fire superbly well, to such an extent where it does not bog down the story.
Indeed, I’m obviously not the only one who thinks that A Game of Thrones is amazing, as in 1997, it won the Locus award for the best Fantasy novel, and in the same year, was also a Nebula Award Nominee. Now, the amusing part is that I’ve actually got no idea what those awards are, but I’m going to have to do some research.
In this novel, you’ll find that Martin isn’t afraid to make bad things happen to good people, making this differ from the norm, but this is by far from a bad thing.
In conclusion, you must buy this book, simple as that. I’m sure others will back me up on the rating that I’m about to give you now, so prepare yourselves, for a ten out of ten!
Should you buy this book? Yes
For Fans of: Lord of the Rings, Epic (High) Fantasy, Warhammer Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Tolkien,