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

Title: Game of Thrones
Author:  George R.R. Martin
Rating: 5/5

Summary:  Long ago, in a time forgotten, a preternatural event threw the seasons out of balance. The cold is returning, and in the frozen wastes to the north of Winterfell, sinister forces are massing beyond the kingdom’s protective wall. To the south, the King’s powers are failing, and his enemies are emerging from the shadows of the throne. At the center of the conflict lie the Starks of Winterfell, a family as harsh and unyielding as the frozen land they were born to. Now Lord Eddard Stark is reluctantly summoned to serve as the King’s new Hand, an appointment that threatens to sunder not only his family but also the kingdom itself. A heroic fantasy of lords and ladies, soldiers and sorcerers, assassins and evildoers who come together in a time of grim omens.

Review:  Why did I initially pick up this book? Truthfully, because it was being turned into a television show on HBO, which I’ve yet to see, but in my desire to see it, wanted to familiarize myself with the world that Martin created.  Truth be told, I am glad I did.  I am completely and totally sucked into this world that he has created, even with its gory aspects and the twisted politicking of the high ranking individuals in the book.  Am I placing this book on the level that I would place Lord of the Rings, absolutely not, because they are two very different stories and thus should not be compared in the realm of epic fantasies.

A Game of Thrones, is essentially a boy’s soap opera.  Dark, twisted, sinister and nasty; filled with violence and sex and even the slightest touches of magic and supernatural.  The characters are big, brash and they engage in incest, hide their secrets, make dirty deals, and manage to completely screw up themselves, their families and their friends.  It is your average soap opera with plate mail armor and bloody battles.  All in all it is very, very good.  If Days of Our Lives was like this, I would most definitely watch it more often.

Even with its overarching soapiness, I was impressed with this book and the way that it sucked me into the world that martin created.  The stark brutality of it, the drive to vengeance, and the fact that no character  – no matter how heroic – is safe from anything.  The overwhelming pathos in every action and reaction, the textures and smells and sounds of our world transplated in Martin’s made me believe that all of it, even the two punch denouement of the final Catelyn and Daenerys chapters, was possible.

I have read the second and third books in this series, and their reviews will be coming soon.

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