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Jun 24

Review: A Game of Thrones

A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, #1)A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Even though this book has been around for nearly two decades, I first heard of the story when it was made into a (breathtakingly brilliant) HBO TV series in 2011. I was immediately caught up in the world George R.R. Martin had created and wanted to immerse myself in as much of it as possible, so I immediately ordered the entire set (that was available at the time, so books 1-5) of A Song of Ice and Fire, only to realize that this amazing story I’d fallen for was only book one!

For those who’ve been under a rock but don’t want any spoilers, the story is roughly thus: a large island continent named Westeros has, after millennia, been warred over again and again until it’s divided laterally between a frozen northern wasteland inhabited (as legend would have it) but unspeakable evil, and seven “kingdoms” governed by a central seat of power. The story takes place some years after an uprising took place to depose the king of these seven kingdoms, but it wasn’t a clean break by any means. There are now several powers all with their own agendas.

Through intrigue, trickery, politics, war and scenes of a lude nature; the various parties are now playing the ‘game of thrones’ to decide who should sit upon the Iron Throne of the king.

The story was engrossing; the world rich and full of character and history. The story has a refreshing lack of mythological creatures (a benchmark of Heroic Fantasy). For as far back as I can remember, I’ve tended to favor High Fantasy stories with the more ‘sword and sorcery’ feel. While magic is present in the world, it doesn’t play a Force-like, life-changing role as in other stories. The plot is based in the human characters, with human motives and thoughts.

I feel glad that I saw the characters played in the TV show before reading the book. Normally I quite like deciding for myself what characters look/sound like, and then making my own judgements and assumptions based on that; but the casting for the show was clearly done so brilliantly that I didn’t feel at all at odds when reading the book. It was as though the writing was describing the actors themselves.

In my mind, I think Sean Bean was the absolute perfect choice to play Eddard Stark, Lord of Winterfell and dour Northerner. With such a distinctive voice and mannerisms, it was wonderful to be able to read Ned’s speech with that character already mapped out in my head. I mention this for those who fear the degree of deviation between book and show. Let me assure you, the TV show has absolutely done the book justice. Sure they’ve had to act out some of the informative sections, but that’s about the only change.

I’ve not been able to put this book down for too long since I started reading it. I’ve gone a little bit Game of Thrones crazy, it has to be said… You know a story has affected you if you find yourself thinking about it unbidden while doing something completely unrelated. The same can be said for Tolkien’s the Lord of the Rings: I’ve said for some time now, and still say, that the Lord of the Rings is the greatest work of literature in the 20th Century. While that remains true, I think I may have found an incredibly strong #2 spot in Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire.

I’ll be ploughing straight into book 2 of the series now after the EPIC cliff-hanger moment at the end of A Game of Thrones!

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Mr Llamatastic

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