[rating:5]
Author: George R.R. Martin
Series:
A Song of Ice and Fire #1
Genre: Epic Fantasy
Age Group: Adult
Publisher: HarperVoyager
Pages: 835
First Published: 1996
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First sentence:
“We should start back,” Gared urged as the woods began to grow dark around them. “The wildlings are dead.”

I would imagine that most of you know already what A Game of Thrones is about. However, there will also be those of you who don’t. The story enthrals you from the very beginning, following three of the men of the Nights Watch through the woods beyond the Wall through the prologue and then snapping over to the Lord Eddard “Ned” Stark and his family in the icy North of Winterfell. His Lady wife, Catelyn Stark, receives a letter from her sister explaining that her Lord husband, Jon Arryn the Hand of the King, has died. She thinks it was murder. Further news meets them that the King is on his way to Winterfell. One Robert Baratheon, an old friend of Ned Stark’s. With him come his Queen, Cersei Lannister and her own family. Their children, her brother, Ser Jaime Lannister the Kingslayer, and Tyrion Lannister the Imp. The story has many colourful characters and follows the viewpoints of Eddard Stark, Catelyn Stark, their children: Arya, Sansa, Bran, as well as Jon Snow, Ned’s bastard son, Tyrion Lannister, and Daenerys Targaryen, whose family were the Kings of the Seven Kingdoms for 300 years until the battle of the Trident when they were defeated by the current monarchy and their Lords. Herself just a baby when they fled, she stays with her brother, Viserys in the Free Cities, waiting. The story is full of mysteries and intrigue, and is extraordinarily well-written.

A Game of Thrones fast became a firm favourite of mine, soaring past Name of the Wind and Wise Man’s Fear. With such masterfully written prose, the only critique that comes to mind is that there are perhaps too many names, dates, families, and political alliances to remember, but in the same breath that is why this story is so rich. The history and current events of this world aren’t just yet another epic fantasy story, they feel alive. This isn’t a story about a handful of honourable knights set forth on a journey to defeat the evil dark lord, the nice guys don’t do so well for themselves, and neither do the bad guys, if you can really call them that. The people of Westeros are not black and white and that is what makes the story so brilliant. The more believable something is, the easier it is to lose yourself in it. And this is exactly how I felt about A Game of Thrones.

I wasn’t especially fond of Catelyn Stark’s chapters but they were no less significant, showing the reader a viewpoint which we otherwise wouldn’t have had. The timeline throughout this book is the one thing that stays solid. We never read the same part of the twice. Where one character witnesses something happening, another will receive a message that the event the first witnessed has happened and thus we can see their own reactions at a different time in the story. It is a very fluid story, and now I see precisely why Martin’s fans get so frustrated by the amount of time it takes to receive the next instalment, because once you get swept up in the flow of the story you will find yourself craving more.

I recommend A Game of Thrones to any fan of well-written literature. It is the kind of story I have enough faith in to tell people to give it a go despite their own reading preferences because it is fantastic, and if they find they don’t like it, oh well, they have at least tried it. It is a gritty epic fantasy novel and there are a few disturbing scenes within.