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Thursday, April 22, 2010

Book Review: A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin

A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin
Book 1 of A Song of Ice and Fire series
Mass Market Paperback, 835 pages
Bantam Spectra
August 16, 2005
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Genre: Technically Fantasy, I’m going to classify it as Historical Fantasy

Source: My boyfriend’s personal collection
Long ago, in a time forgotten, a preternatural event threw the seasons out of balance. In a land where summers can last decades and winters a lifetime, trouble is brewing. The cold is returning, and in the frozen wastes to the north of Winterfell, sinister and supernatural forces are massing beyond the kingdom’s protective Wall. At the center of the conflict lie the Starks of Winterfell, a family as harsh and unyielding as the land they were born to. Sweeping from a land of brutal cold to a distant summertime kingdom of epicurean plenty, here is a tale of lords and ladies, soldiers and sorcerers, assassins and bastards, who come together in a time of grim omens.

Here an enigmatic band of warriors bear swords of no human metal; a tribe of fierce wildlings carry men off into madness; a cruel young dragon prince barters his sister to win back his throne; and a determined woman undertakes the most treacherous of journeys. Amid plots and counterplots, tragedy and betrayal, victory and terror, the fate of the Starks, their allies, and their enemies hangs perilously in the balance, as each endeavors to win that deadliest of conflicts: the game of thrones.
This represents one half of the review of this book. My boyfriend, Nick, and I read this together (and are currently reading the second book) so we thought it might be cool to split the review in half and tailor it to our blogs. His blog, Lions and Men, focuses mostly on science fiction and fantasy books – so he will be covering the fantasy aspect as well as the characters of this book. My review will focus on the historical fiction type aspects as well as the story itself. Please stop by Nick’s blog for the other part of the review. You will also find comments from each of us throughout the reviews.

While technically classified as a fantasy series, I would push for a classification of a form of historical fantasy. The world that the story takes place in is fictional and there are some supernatural elements – but the lifestyle is very much like that of medieval Europe. There are kings and queens, castles, tourneys, and wars, politics and intrigue. This book (and the rest of the series) would fit right in for a historical fiction reader. While reading you almost forget that this does not take place in Europe. The descriptions are so detailed that the world and its people absolutely come alive.
Nick says: George R. R. Martin is no stranger to bending genres. For example, his novel Fevre Dream incorporates the Civil War South and vampires. By doing this, his novels definitely appeal to a broader audience. Even if you hate fantasy novels, you won’t be disappointed by Thrones!
The book is structured where each chapter is narrated by a different character – mostly the Stark family with a few others thrown in for good measure. This layout allows the reader to get into the minds of each of these characters and really develop a strong feeling for them – positive or negative, you will definitely have your favorites. As the story progresses, these characters spread out over the vast world and through the shifting narrators you get to see what is going on all over Westeros.
Nick says: This way of storytelling definitely molds the way you are introduced to the world of Thrones. By focusing only on one character at a time, each chapter only gives you a sliver of the story. Chapter by chapter, mysteries arise, and yet the book as a whole gives the reader an all-encompassing feeling of closure. Thus, Martin blends the best aspects of first person and third person omniscient.
This is the first book in a series of seven – with four having been published so far. If you look at the whole series as one book – book one serves as an introduction and exposition. You learn who all of the key players are, their back stories, whose side they are on, where their loyalties lie, among other things. These will become very important in the following books. While this serves as an introduction to the characters, so much happens in their lives in this book, you will not be bored.
There is to be a series made from these books on HBO likely to premiere in Spring 2011. A card and board game has been made from these books as well – I have played a little, but always lose terribly to my boyfriend!

A definite worth-while read.

Reviews of this book by other bloggers:

Buy the Book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | RJ Julia

Also by George R.R. Martin:

clash of kings
A Clash of Kings
(Book 2)
[My Review]

storm of swords
A Storm of Swords
(Book 3)
[My Review]

feast for crows
A Feast for Crows
(Book 4)
[My Review|

dance with dragons
A Dance with Dragons
(Book 5)

Find George R.R. Martin: Website | Facebook | Twitter

Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court


  1. Sounds interesting- especially that it's narrated by different characters. I think it's so cool that you and your boyfriend are reading together:)
    I also like that you call it historical fantasy (never read one of those).
    Love the review!

  2. I've been enjoying this series as well, just (im)patiently waiting for A Dance With Dragons to come out. And totally excited about the HBO series!!

    I agree with you on the historical flavor of this fantasy--I think that's why I like it so much.

  3. Thanks for sharing this book review. I really can't wait for the HBO series. This book captivated me.
    medieval swords

  4. Sounds interesting. I occasionally read fantasy and have seen Martin's books at the library (actually I bought them and put them on the shelf). It is so hard to fit in a new author with all the books on my TBR mountain.

  5. Thanks for your review! I heard about the series being in production but had never heard of the book until then! I didn't realize that there are to be 7 books in total! Glad to hear you call it historical fantasy for those of us who might avoid the genre otherwise.


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