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June 19, 2015

Review: A Game of Thrones (Books 1-5) by George R.R. Martin

Title: A Game of Thrones (Song of Ice and Fire Series)
Author: George R.R. Martin
Published: 2005-2011
Publisher: Bantam Spectra

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Winter is coming. Such is the stern motto of House Stark, the northernmost of the fiefdoms that owe allegiance to King Robert Baratheon in far-off King's Landing. There Eddard Stark of Winterfell rules in Robert's name. There his family dwells in peace and comfort: his proud wife, Catelyn; his sons Robb, Brandon, and Rickon; his daughters Sansa and Arya; and his bastard son, Jon Snow. Far to the north, behind the towering Wall, lie savage Wildings and worse--unnatural things relegated to myth during the centuries-long summer, but proving all too real and all too deadly in the turning of the season.

Yet a more immediate threat lurks to the south, where Jon Arryn, the Hand of the King, has died under mysterious circumstances. Now Robert is riding north to Winterfell, bringing his queen, the lovely but cold Cersei, his son, the cruel, vainglorious Prince Joffrey, and the queen's brothers Jaime and Tyrion of the powerful and wealthy House Lannister--the first a swordsman without equal, the second a dwarf whose stunted stature belies a brilliant mind. All are heading for Winterfell and a fateful encounter that will change the course of kingdoms.

Meanwhile, across the Narrow Sea, Prince Viserys, heir of the fallen House Targaryen, which once ruled all of Westeros, schemes to reclaim the throne with an army of barbarian Dothraki--whose loyalty he will purchase in the only coin left to him: his beautiful yet innocent sister, Daenerys.

I seriously I feel like I'm in an elite group of people now. Those who have read all 5 books in this insanely long series! It took me almost an entire year (where I had to put aside most other books and forget that the outside world existed) but I have completed the entire Song of Ice and Fire series. Books 1-5, to give you an idea, are nearly 5,216 pages combined. Just a tiny number, really!

Still, I need to tell you how amazing these books are. If you're a fan of the show, than you've already gotten a great glimpse into the mind of George R. R. Martin. But the show is literally just a taste of the incredible imagination you'll find within these books. The world of Lannisters and Starkes is written in such great detail that you can't help but feel like you're reading an accurate history of an actual era. The food -- oh, the food -- is painstakingly described for you at nearly every meal. And although I can see people thinking that it might be overkill, it's actually my favorite part of the book. We live so much of our lives through food. And when you're reading these books, you can tell who's poor vs. rich, stuffed vs. starving, etc just by seeing what a character eats. Protagonists are constantly poisoned with their food (not the ideal way to die), and food was how you showed off your wealth -- at the Purple Wedding there were 77 courses at the reception!

Besides the food, you have a seriously amazing and talented author who is able to make you hate and love all characters equally. Because of the length of these books, you get to see in-depth pieces of each character through their thoughts and actions. So when the king you hate (because he's such an a**hole) feels scared or sad, you actually feel bad for him. It's such a weird feeling! Or when Tyrion Lannister (a dwarf born into a royal family) makes a long speech on the horrible life he's lived as a dwarf, you easily seem to forget about all the disgusting acts he himself has committed that would normally make you hate him. Each character (and there are A LOT!) is thoroughly fleshed out and so authentic. Each one has their motives and we understand them all.

Finally -- the part that has made this one of the best novels (and tv shows): the violence. Characters (whether beloved or not) tend to be poisoned, stabbed, decapitated, choked, thrown off walls/cliffs, eaten by wolves, frozen by dead things (not quite sure what those are yet), whipped, hung, and shot by arrows. There's probably a lot more that I'm forgetting in that mix! You simply cannot beat the way R.R. Martin has made no character safe and each death as violent as the last. It's exhilarating! I never find myself angry that he's killed someone off -- just jaw-dropped and maybe a little sad. But then you realize, that it's all part of the world he created. If our favorite characters never died, it would no longer be true to the story and the moment would seem false -- causing us to jump right out of that behemoth of a book. I, for one, cannot wait to get my hands on the next in the series. I'm so excited to see who lives, who dies, who gets betrayed, who does the betraying, and ultimately, who wins this incredible Game of Thrones!

5 out of 5 stars! (Well worth your time and effort, I promise!)

1 comment:

  1. LOL! You made me want to try this series again with the part

    "Finally -- the part that has made this one of the best novels (and tv shows): the violence. Characters (whether beloved or not) tend to be poisoned, stabbed, decapitated, choked, thrown off walls/cliffs, eaten by wolves, frozen by dead things (not quite sure what those are yet), whipped, hung, and shot by arrows. "

    Sounds like my kind of book! LOL!


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