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

Posted on May 9, 2011

The Stuff of Life: Intrigue, Violence and Underage Sex

Yes, I’m reading this because the TV show is on. I’d heard nothing but good things about A Game of Thrones and boy howdy did it live up to expectations. Sometimes when you are dealing with contemporary fiction, you are so caught up in flowery language and ‘cool’ sentences that you forget how awesome a plot driven book can be. I’ll warn you, for the first 1/3 or so of the book you’re going to be confused about who everybody is. I got the e-book of this, so I didn’t have easy access to the family trees, which may have been nice.

AGoT takes place in a universe not too dissimilar from our medieval times. There are families (often at war) that struggle for control of the 7 Kingdoms, represented by an Iron Throne. The story roughly  surrounds the House of Stark. Things were going just fine for the Stark family, until Ned (the head of the family) gets a visit from the king, an old buddy of his.

Turns out the king’s consigliere (called the Hand) perished (mysteriously) and he wants Ned to fill the role. I don’t have to tell you that if you are stepping into a role where its holder often gets murdered mysteriously, this is not going to be the family vacation you had hoped for.

Yes, the kingdom is threatened. People are mysteriously disappearing along the northern border. The Lannister family seems to be willing to do anything to take the throne. An angry deposed prince and princess are gaining strength across the sea. By the end, there will be battles, murders and some kid gets pushed off of a roof. Also there’s a conniving midget.

This is narrative at its best. There were literally times when I could not put it down. In the week where I was reading it, I lost about 8 hours of precious precious sleep.

Yes, this qualifies as fantasy. But it is not too weird. This is one of those books, like Dune, that sits on the periphery and is accessible to just about anyone who is a fan of things written in the English language.

It’s always a sign of a good book when it can be turned into a show. AGoT definitely builds some very vivid pictures. However, the best parts are the battles, or rather, preparing for battles.

As someone who grew up reading a great deal of books that are not set in our reality, this was a great ‘welcome back.’ If you are ever, in your life, going to read some fantasy, this is it. A Game of Thrones exceeds expectations. It decapitates expectations.

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2 Responses to “Book Review: A Game of Thrones: George R. R. Martin”

  1. Hayden on May 10th, 2011 10:49 am

    Thanks to your review I picked this up for my Kindle. I’m extremely skeptical of fantasy, always being more on the Sci-Fi side (I can’t stand Tolkien) but from the opening chapter I’ve been hooked. It’s a well told tale.

  2. Heath on May 10th, 2011 11:11 am

    Glad to hear it. You will not be disappointed.

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