A Game of Thrones is the first book in George R. R. Martin's epic Song of Ice and Fire cycle. The world of the Seven Kingdoms is affected by ancient tales, clashing religions, longstanding powerful families, and shifting loyalties. Ruling over all is Robert Baratheon, who won the iron throne through the might of his armies and the help of his friend Eddard Stark.
This complex novel, told from the alternating points of view of a handful of characters, takes us deep into this world. We get to know the principal families, their seats of power, their lands, and their people. We learn of the Night's Watch, who guard the northern borders against the Wildlings and the Old Ones. We hear the old tales of dragons and direwolves.
Martin has created a world so real, it's difficult to convey how quickly you find yourself making your own alliances. Are you with upstanding Eddard Stark or the clever Tyrion Lannister? Maybe your heart goes out to Princess Daenerys, who is misused by her brother, or Arya, who wishes she could be a knight.
The setting is vaguely British or European (but there is a hint of the Moguls) and definitely medieval. There is ancient magic in the Seven Kingdoms, and strange creatures and beings can be seen their woods. Don't be misled, however; Martin's world is unique. It's not the land of The Lord of the Rings; we don't find elves and dwarfs and ents. It's not the fantasy of Harry Potter; there are no magic wands and wizard schools. The Seven Kingdoms have a kind of intimacy that makes you feel as if the story could have happened in our own world, a millennium or two ago.
A Game of Thrones is a solidly written saga of political intrigue, war, and families that would appeal to readers who like multilayered stories with realistic characters. This is an adult book that doesn't flinch from the harsher realities of a world divided between lords and peasants.
I listened to the unabridged audio edition (Random House; 33 h 53 min) read by Roy Dotrice. Dotrice well handles the difficult task of differentiating among dozens of characters from different socioeconomic classes and different kingdoms. He brings tension, drama, and emotion to the reading, enhancing the listener's connection with the story.
These links lead to affiliate programs
Published by Bantam, 2002 (originally published 1996)
Source: Bought (print & audio) (see review policy)
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)