May 14, 2013

A Game of Thrones - George R.R. Martin

A Game of Thrones book cover
A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
Series: A Song of Ice and Fire #1
Publisher: Bantam Books
Publication Date: August 4, 1997
Source/Format: Library || Paperback & e-book; Borrowed from Rachel || Paperback

In a land where summers can last decades and winters a lifetime, trouble is brewing. The cold is returning, and in the frozen wastes of 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. 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. (from Goodreads)

Reading A Game of Thrones has to be one of my biggest, most satisfying accomplishments this year. I've been curious about the series ever since the TV show started airing, and that curiosity only intensified as family, friends and Macky endorsed it. However, in spite of my curiosity, I let the books lie because I was afraid that they would be too gory, too graphic, too long for my tastes. And then this read-along happened, and now I'm eager to continue with the series after finishing this first book.

A Game of Thrones surprised me. I was expecting it to be dense and long and chock-full of wordy passages, and it is. But within those words lies incredible world-building, story set-up and character development. I was in sheer awe at the amount of thoughtfulness that went into the construction of this book, as there are so many things happening to so many different characters and in so many different locations. It was a struggle for me to keep everything straight (though I managed somehow), and I can't imagine how much crazier it must be for the author to keep track of it all as he writes!

I really enjoyed the story! I can't go into much detail (since that would make this post way longer than it has to be), but I can tell you about the plotlines that had me particularly intrigued. First is the Stark family, and their separate journeys as they are duty and honor bound to action. Second is the conspiracy behind the death of the King's Hand Jon Arryn, and what that means when it comes to the throne. And third is the story of the Targaryen siblings, who are plotting a way to restore their family to its former glory after the throne was seized from them. There are other plotlines for other characters, but I was heavily focused and invested on these particular ones.

One of the best things about fantasy novels is when the characters are written really well, and that was the case for most of the characters I encountered in A Game of Thrones. Whether it was intimate knowledge of a character from the chapters written from their point-of-view, or secondary knowledge of a character through another's eyes, I was fascinated by the various personalities one encounters in this book. What really struck me was that each character is depicted in all his or her glory and in all his or her weakness. Martin was not afraid of revealing the truth behind each character, good and bad, and I think that was integral to my particular enjoyment of the novel.

Obviously, among the many characters, I had my favorites! Jon Snow, the bastard son of Eddard Stark who leaves to join the Night's Watch, is definitely my favorite male character. His story, right from the start, just leapt off the pages at me, and I'm firmly in his corner at this point. And, among the females, I found myself enamored with Arya Stark (who actually reminds me of a few Tamora Pierce heroines) from the start, mostly because of her youth and her fighting, slightly rebellious spirit. However, somewhere during the course of my reading, I also started falling in love with the Daenerys Targaryen, who is fascinating and frustrating and strong and naive all at once. It was the ending of the book though that really cemented my love for her!

I didn't completely love this novel though, even though it certainly sounds like I'm gushing non-stop. While my reaction is very positive overall, I personally disliked with certain characters. This made their chapters of the book hard to read or even enjoy, and I'd find myself struggling to just get through them and back to the interesting bits.

A Game of Thrones is a strong start, as readers are given the most detailed of introductions to this entire saga. While there were certainly parts I found difficult to read because of my own bias, the novel is really fascinating. There is a lot of violence, as I expected, but it was not at all difficult for me to keep on reading (but heed my warning: do not get attached. to anyone.) to find out what happened next. And now, I'm eager to get started on A Clash of Kings, which is what we will be reading for this month and June, as hosted by Cassie!

This book was read as part of this read-along. Join us!


  1. I really loved this book! I actually have yet to watch the TV show although I've heard it's awesome. I basically stayed up all hours of the night finishing this.

  2. I watched the series last year and bought the book after that. I got through the first 150 pages or so and just did not get into the story. During Dewey's read-a-thon I picked up the book from my shelf and actually ended up finishing the whole thing. Despite the slow start, I really ended up enjoying this book a lot and I am looking forward to reading the second book in the series.

  3. I started reading the series right before the first season of the show aired, and it just blew me away. I'd never read epic fantasy before, and the books certainly turned me into a fan of the genre. I don't know how GRRM manages to keep track of all of the characters and the details of the world, either. Pure genius. I hope you continue to enjoy the rest of the series!

  4. I agree the characters are definitely well written and realistic, I just didn't like very many of them. I found a lot of them boring and they seemed to be the ones who had the most face-time/chapters. I do like the show though so I like the story, I just couldn't read 1000 pages of this stuff haha. Jon and Arya were my favs too! I also rally enjoyed the story with Daenerys--I especially love who they picked to play her in the show. My least fav was the wife. Ugh. ZZZZZ

  5. I'm so happy you loved GoT. I think they did such an amazing job adapting it...I was terrified when they first announced they were taking it to tv. I love the part! Martin is the very best at making you love someone you hated. <3

  6. What is so amazing about these books (and the show by extension), is that you go two books hating a character and/or their narrative, and then the third book comes around (for me it's the season right now), and you fall in love with them. Characters that you loved, you start to find fault with, or you grow to love them even more. My words of wisdom is to not get attached by any character, because the author will probably kill them off in the end (hate that author and his realism).

    I particularly hate Catelyn Stark's narrative, and I like how she's not that prevalent in the show :P

  7. Game of Thrones is such an intense read! GRRM is such a master at molding and creating. I've read the whole series and my opinions on a lot of characters have changed completely, but Jon and Arya are still two of my favorites.

  8. I'm so glad you enjoyed A Game of Thrones! I felt very similarly and I agree that when it came to characters I disliked (SANSA!! *ahem* lol), it was difficult to read those chapters. But the characters I loved.. how I loved them. Like Jon Snow, Arya, Daenerys and Tyrion (you really need to watch the show; the portrayal of his character is awesome). Anyways, great review!! Can't wait to hear your thoughts on book 2 :)

  9. I agree! I thought the characters were so well written. With SO many, obviously I confused some, but all of the main characters really had distinct personalities and I had clear favorites! :) So happy to be a part of this read along! I know I couldn't have done it otherwise!!

  10. I admire you for tackling it--I'm so scared of huge books, especially since it's such a big series! And I have a love/hate relationship with fantasy anyway, hah. I'm so glad you enjoyed it, though--I've heard the characters are amazing.

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

  11. Ugh, I want to read & watch this SO BAD! I feel so outta the loop bc everyone and their mom loves this series. I'm becoming more of a fantasy fan and I def wanna give this a shot some time soon, I just dunno when I'll get around to it. Oh, judging by what you're saying, a lot of people get killed in this book alone?! LOL. Great review!

    Confessions of a Vi3tBabe
    Deity Island

  12. I have to admire you for tackling this series! My husband recently finished the most recent book, and as he read certain passages that he found funny (or whatever) he'd read a bit out loud to me, and to be completely honest, it didn't sound like anything I would enjoy; way too high fantasy for my tastes. I do love the TV series though! Haha

  13. I'm very interested in this book. I've been holding back because of the size of his book, but I definitely hope to get started somewhere this year! Great review and I'm happy that you liked most of the characters :)

  14. ALEXA. Okay, I am so happy you liked this one. I bought it awhile back and actually started reading it, then put it down because I wasn't really in the mood (then) to read fantasy, but I am NOW. So I'm like, "please let me finish my review books nooooow." I love both Jon and Arya on the show, so I really hope, like you, I love them in the book/s, too!

    Molli | Once Upon a Prologue

  15. Oops, I kind of failed this readalong. I still haven't read more than about 100 pages, but like I said, I am really enjoying it. It's surprisingly easy to read and while I agree with you and don't like all characters, I can't wait to get back into it and read more of the series. My favorite is definitely Jon Snow right now, but I like Arya more in the TV series (have you seen it?). Glad you enjoyed this one :)


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