Today's review is for the book that started it all....the book series that's still going, the tv show so many people are in love with, the graphic novels that are just being made (adapted from the BOOK not show)....that's right. I'm reviewing Book One of A Song of Ice and Fire.
A Game of Thrones
Author: George R. R. Martin
Year of Publication: 1996
Ok. So I never planned on reading this book. Sorry to all the die hards and fans of it out there, but it is true and I'm just being honest. Now you're probably wondering why in the world I'm reviewing it then.....obviously my mind about reading it changed somewhere down the line. I didn't watch the show or anything. My dad did. He borrowed the first season from a friend of his and then found the second one at the library and....now he's hooked. One thing you gotta know about my dad is that he's not really into reading fiction. He prefers non-fiction biographical books, usually about major sports figures or musicians from bands that he really likes...if he's not reading true crime books. He came home one day with Game of Thrones (THE BOOK) with the plan of reading it. This is most likely how the thought process went: he likes the show, he'll try the book....and if he doesn't get to the book then Samantha will probably read it anyway!!! It's a win-win. There you go. That's why I read it. My dad brought it home and basically just tossed it into my possession, with me not knowing what I was getting into, albeit I did possess a bit of curiosity.
This is a pretty big book. I don't read very many large books, because there are so many books in general that I want to read and it gets to be too much of a hassle sometimes. Although, I have read quite a few "thickies" in my reading history (the Inheritance Cycle, Harry Potter [when I was in 3rd grade or so and super tiny], the Inkheart books are pretty big, to name a few). Lately though, I've been sticking to shorter books, usually no more than 300 or so pages. This book is, NO JOKE, 780 pages long, and they don't get any shorter the further in the series you go. Luckily I was able to read it during winter break. I don't know how long it took me. Probably a few weeks or so. But it was time WELL WORTH IT!!!
I've read reviews where people say that it's nothing special or that the characters aren't very well developed and its like every other fantasy novel out there. I largely disagree. Sure, this is my first real fantasy book that is targeted for an adult audience (yay I'm growing up!!), but I've read plenty of fantasy in general. While the idea is pretty basic (there are 7 kingdoms and one king who sits on the Iron Throne and there's lots of medieval politics involved, with swords and bloodshed), I thought the execution was rather good! And as for the characters being undeveloped, that's a huge lie. The book is structured with chapters (unnumbered) that are told by focusing on a select few characters (Daenerys, Arya, Sansa, Cersei, Catelyn, Eddard, Tyrion, Jon, Bran...I might be missing one or two, not fully certain). Each character IS different. They have their own ways of reacting to the various situations they find themselves in. It's fascinating to see how things play out.
What I REALLY like about this book is that you read not only about WHAT happens, but HOW it happens. You know exactly why things are turning out the way they are based on your knowledge of how the kingdom is run and the nature of each player in this game of thrones. The whole story basically revolves around the Iron Throne and the politics of the royals and houses that pledge allegiance to the king. I recently completed my Political Science requirements...they weren't my favorite classes by any means (I'm not a huge fan of politics PERIOD). However, because of them, I was better able to follow along with the story and its events.
I also really like the setting. Martin does a wonderful job of creating a world and bringing it to life on the pages. Sure, he's no Tolkien, but he's still doing a rather good job. I could easily visualize Winterfell and the rest of Westeros. Honestly, I can't wait to return to it and see what befalls the characters next.
Speaking of characters, I really loved them, minus the ones that I hate with a passion. I won't name names but I'm sure anyone who has read the books or is following the TV series can easily guess the precise TWO that I'm talking about. They're so obnoxious that I wish they would have just died. My favorites however were Tyrion the Imp, Daenerys, and Eddard. As I was warned however, getting attached to ANYONE in the story is very risky. Eddard Stark is the lord of Winterfell. His family is awesome and he's a very honorable man in comparison to many of the supporting characters throughout the book. Tyrion I loved because of his perspective and humor on life with whatever comes his way. He isn't the pride of his family, yet he makes the best of his situation by just enjoying himself in his favorite ways (drinking and visiting brothels). His humor is what really makes him shine. He takes no smack from ANYONE, regardless of his less-than-impressive stature. Daenerys is just a simple girl whose brother wants to take back the Iron Throne. They are a family associated with dragons (which are now extinct). They are the only two people left in the bloodline, their brother and father having died before the book even begins. Viserys (the brother) gives Daenerys to Khal Drogo (the ruler of a group of people across the sea) to wed. Daenerys has a whole journey separate from that of the other characters. I really felt for Daenerys, because she's thrown into the situations at first, with no regard to what she personally wants. Gradually, she begins to take charge of her life and that's when things begin to get really good.
I could go on and on about how much I liked the characters, but it would take a really long time. The one thing you should know is that, like the title of this review suggests, there is quite a bit of death. What else would you expect from a medieval tale full of swords and high testosterone levels?? Within the prologue, about two or three men are dead!! There are many more to come. The one piece of advice my dad gave me before I began reading was: "Don't get attached to any of the characters." Now I know why. If you have a super intolerance to any kind of violence, just don't even bother. You won't last and it'd be unfortunate to have your stomach unsettled. If you are of the kind that can handle it, then I welcome you to give it a go.
I mentioned Direwolves in the title so I'll slip them in here real quick. At the beginning, Eddard and a couple of his sons come across some orphaned wolf pups. They aren't just any kind of wolf though. They're direwolves! Basically, they're bigger, fiercer and just overall better than regular wolves. They're also supposed to be totally extinct. However, they find some...and there is actually one for each Stark child. So all the kids (Jon, Robb, Bran, Rickon, Sansa and Arya) have their own. The direwolves are incredibly cool and add an extra something to the book overall. I really loved the direwolves. I kind of want one for my own, truth be told.
I don't wanna go too into the plot, because it gets pretty intricate and I would hate to give things away. Mostly its just Eddard Stark becoming Hand. This position is basically the King's right hand man in charge of keeping peace in the kingdom. The king, Robert Baratheon, grew up with Eddard. The queen is a bit of a pain in the rear end, and their son is no joyful thing to read about either. He's a brat. That's me being nice and incredibly lenient, and he sooo doesn't deserve that, but there you have it. Daenerys and Viserys want to regain the Throne so they can return to what was once their home. Plots thicken and people die and there are great battles and sneakiness all wrapped up in a book that has a thick chill hanging over it.
As they like to say in Winterfell, "Winter is coming."
I give A Game of Thrones, Book one of the series A Song of Ice and Fire, a 4 out of 5. It's not the greatest book in the world, but it's still really enjoyable. I'm going to get back to watching the first season (each season is ONE book). I'm definitely going to be reading the second book...at some point in time (probably this next December so I can have the winter chill back for the proper mood). I will eventually get around to reading the whole series. I also plan on picking up the first graphic novel, so keep an eye out for that if this is all something you're really into or are curious about. Thanks for joining me for this review, hope to see you next time!!