Winter is coming. Such is the stern motto of House Stark, the northernmost of the fiefdoms that owe allegiance to King Robert Baratheon in far-off King’s Landing. There Eddard Stark of Winterfell rules in Robert’s name. There his family dwells in peace and comfort: his proud wife, Catelyn; his sons Robb, Brandon, and Rickon; his daughters Sansa and Arya; and his bastard son, Jon Snow. Far to the north, behind the towering Wall, lie savage Wildings and worse—unnatural things relegated to myth during the centuries-long summer, but proving all too real and all too deadly in the turning of the season.
Yet a more immediate threat lurks to the south, where Jon Arryn, the Hand of the King, has died under mysterious circumstances. Now Robert is riding north to Winterfell, bringing his queen, the lovely but cold Cersei, his son, the cruel, vainglorious Prince Joffrey, and the queen’s brothers Jaime and Tyrion of the powerful and wealthy House Lannister—the first a swordsman without equal, the second a dwarf whose stunted stature belies a brilliant mind. All are heading for Winterfell and a fateful encounter that will change the course of kingdoms.
Meanwhile, across the Narrow Sea, Prince Viserys, heir of the fallen House Targaryen, which once ruled all of Westeros, schemes to reclaim the throne with an army of barbarian Dothraki—whose loyalty he will purchase in the only coin left to him: his beautiful yet innocent sister, Daenerys.
About the Author
Hometown:Santa Fe, NM
Date of Birth:September 20, 1948
Place of Birth:Bayonne, NJ
Education:B.S., Northwestern University, 1970; M.S., Northwestern University, 1971
Read an Excerpt
The morning had dawned clear and cold, with a crispness that hinted at the end of summer. They set forth at daybreak to see a man beheaded, twenty in all, and Bran rode among them, nervous with excitement. This was the first time he had been deemed old enough to go with his lord father and his brothers to see the king's justice done. It was the ninth year of summer, and the seventh of Bran's life.
The man had been taken outside a small holdfast in the hills. Robb thought he was a wildling, his sword sworn to Mance Rayder, the King-beyond-the-Wall. It made Bran's skin prickle to think of it. He remembered the hearth tales Old Nan told them. The wildlings were cruel men, she said, slavers and slayers and thieves. They consorted with giants and ghouls, stole girl children in the dead of night, and drank blood from polished horns. And their women lay with the Others in the Long Night to sire terrible half-human children.
But the man they found bound hand and foot to the holdfast wall awaiting the king's justice was old and scrawny, not much taller than Robb. He had lost both ears and a finger to frostbite, and he dressed all in black, the same as a brother of the Night's Watch, except that his furs were ragged and greasy.
The breath of man and horse mingled, steaming, in the cold morning air as his lord father had the man cut down from the wall and dragged before them. Robb and Jon sat tall and still on their horses, with Bran between them on his pony, trying to seem older than seven, trying to pretend that he'd seen all this before. A faint wind blew through the holdfast gate. Over their heads flapped the banner of the Starks of Winterfell: a grey direwolf racing across an ice-white field.
Bran's father sat solemnly on his horse, long brown hair stirring in the wind. His closely trimmed beard was shot with white, making him look older than his thirty-five years. He had a grim cast to his grey eyes this day, and he seemed not at all the man who would sit before the fire in the evening and talk softly of the age of heroes and the children of the forest. He had taken off Father's face, Bran thought, and donned the face of Lord Stark of Winterfell.
There were questions asked and answers given there in the chill of morning, but afterward Bran could not recall much of what had been said. Finally his lord father gave a command, and two of his guardsmen dragged the ragged man to the ironwood stump in the center of the square. They forced his head down onto the hard black wood. Lord Eddard Stark dismounted and his ward Theon Greyjoy brought forth the sword. "Ice," that sword was called. It was as wide across as a man's hand, and taller even than Robb. The blade was Valyrian steel, spell-forged and dark as smoke. Nothing held an edge like Valyrian steel.
His father peeled off his gloves and handed them to Jory Cassel, the captain of his household guard. He took hold of Ice with both hands and said, "In the name of Robert of the House Baratheon, the First of his Name, King of the Andals and the Rhoynar and the First Men, Lord of the Seven Kingdoms and Protector of the Realm, by the word of Eddard of the House Stark, Lord of Winterfell and Warden of the North, I do sentence you to die." He lifted the great sword high above his head.
Bran's bastard brother Jon Snow moved closer. "Keep the pony well in hand," he whispered. "And don't look away. Father will know if you do."
Bran kept his pony well in hand, and did not look away.
His father took off the man's head with a single sure stroke. Blood sprayed out across the snow, as red as summerwine. One of the horses reared and had to be restrained to keep from bolting. Bran could not take his eyes off the blood. The snows around the stump drank it eagerly, reddening as he watched.
The head bounced off a thick root and rolled. It came up near Greyjoy's feet. Theon was a lean, dark youth of nineteen who found everything amusing. He laughed, put his boot on the head,and kicked it away.
"Ass," Jon muttered, low enough so Greyjoy did not hear. He put a hand on Bran's shoulder, and Bran looked over at his bastard brother. "You did well," Jon told him solemnly. Jon was fourteen, an old hand at justice.
It seemed colder on the long ride back to Winterfell, though the wind had died by then and the sun was higher in the sky. Bran rode with his brothers, well ahead of the main party, his pony struggling hard to keep up with their horses.
"The deserter died bravely," Robb said. He was big and broad and growing every day, with his mother's coloring, the fair skin, red-brown hair, and blue eyes of the Tullys of Riverrun. "He had courage, at the least."
"No," Jon Snow said quietly. "It was not courage. This one was dead of fear. You could see it in his eyes, Stark." Jon's eyes were a grey so dark they seemed almost black, but there was little they did not see. He was of an age with Robb, but they did not look alike. Jon was slender where Robb was muscular, dark where Robb was fair, graceful and quick where his half brother was strong and fast.
Robb was not impressed. "The Others take his eyes," he swore. "He died well. Race you to the bridge?"
"Done," Jon said, kicking his horse forward. Robb cursed and followed, and they galloped off down the trail, Robb laughing and hooting, Jon silent and intent. The hooves of their horses kicked up showers of snow as they went.
Bran did not try to follow. His pony could not keep up. He had seen the ragged man's eyes, and he was thinking of them now. After a while, the sound of Robb's laughter receded, and the woods grew silent again.
That was when Jon reappeared on the crest of the hill before them. He waved and shouted down at them. "Father, Bran, come quickly, see what Robb has found!" Then he was gone again.
Jory rode up beside them. "Trouble, my lord?"
"Beyond a doubt," his lord father said. "Come, let us see what mischief my sons have rooted out now." He sent his horse into a trot. Jory and Bran and the rest came after.
They found Robb on the riverbank north of the bridge, with Jon still mounted beside him. The late summer snows had been heavy this moonturn. Robb stood knee-deep in white, his hood pulled back so the sun shone in his hair. He was cradling something in his arm, while the boys talked in hushed, excited voices.
The riders picked their way carefully through the drifts, groping for solid footing on the hidden, uneven ground. Jory Cassel and Theon Greyjoy were the first to reach the boys. Greyjoy was laughing and joking as he rode. Bran heard the breath go out of him. "Gods!" he exclaimed, struggling to keep control of his horse as he reached for his sword.
Jory's sword was already out. "Robb, get away from it!" he called as his horse reared under him.
Robb grinned and looked up from the bundle in his arms. "She can't hurt you," he said. "She's dead, Jory."
Bran was afire with curiosity by then. He would have spurred the pony faster, but his father made them dismount beside the bridge and approach on foot. Bran jumped off and ran.
By then Jon, Jory, and Theon Greyjoy had all dismounted as well. "What in the seven hells is it?" Greyjoy was saying.
"A wolf," Robb told him.
"A freak," Greyjoy said. "Look at the size of it."
Bran's heart was thumping in his chest as he pushed through a waist-high drift to his brothers' side.
Half-buried in blood stained snow, a huge dark shape slumped in death. Ice had formed in its shaggy grey fur, and the faint smell of corruption clung to it like a woman's perfume. Bran glimpsed blind eyes crawling with maggots, a wide mouth full of yellowed teeth. But it was the size of it that made him gasp. It was bigger than his pony, twice the size of the largest hound in his father's kennel.
"It's no freak," Jon said calmly. "That's a direwolf. They grow larger than the other kind."
Theon Greyjoy said, "There's not been a direwolf sighted south of the Wall in two hundred years."
"I see one now," Jon replied.
Bran tore his eyes away from the monster. That was when he noticed the bundle in Robb's arms. He gave a cry of delight and moved closer. The pup was a tiny ball of grey-black fur, its eyes still closed. It nuzzled blindly against Robb's chest as he cradled it, searching for milk among his leathers, making a sad little whimpery sound. Bran reached out hesitantly. "Go on,"Robb told him. "You can touch him."
Bran gave the pup a quick nervous stroke, then turned as Jon said, "Here you go." His half brother put a second pup into his arms. "There are five of them." Bran sat down in the snow and hugged the wolf pup to his face. Its fur was soft and warm against his cheek.
"Direwolves loose in the realm, after so many years," muttered Hullen, the master of horse. "I like it not."
"It is a sign," Jory said.
Father frowned. "This is only a dead animal, Jory," he said. Yet he seemed troubled. Snow crunched under his boots as he moved around the body. "Do we know what killed her?"
"There's something in the throat," Robb told him, proud to have found the answer before his father even asked. "There, just under the jaw."
His father knelt and groped under the beast's head with his hand. He gave a yank and held it up for all to see. A foot of shattered antler, tines snapped off, all wet with blood.
A sudden silence descended over the party. The men looked at the antler uneasily, and no one dared to speak. Even Bran could sense their fear, though he did not understand.
His father tossed the antler to the side and cleansed his hands in the snow. "I'm surprised she lived long enough to whelp," he said. His voice broke the spell.
"Maybe she didn't," Jory said. "I've heard tales . . . maybe the bitch was already dead when the pups came."
"Born with the dead," another man put in. "Worse luck."
"No matter," said Hullen. "They be dead soon enough too."
Bran gave a wordless cry of dismay.
"The sooner the better," Theon Greyjoy agreed. He drew his sword. "Give the beast here, Bran."
The little thing squirmed against him, as if it heard and understood. "No!" Bran cried out fiercely. "It's mine."
"It be a mercy to kill them," Hullen said.
Bran looked to his lord father for rescue, but got only a frown, a furrowed brow. "Hullen speaks truly, son. Better a swift death than a hard one from cold and starvation."
"No!" He could feel tears welling in his eyes, and he looked away. He did not want to cry in front of his father.
"Lord Stark," Jon said. It was strange to hear him call Father that, so formal. Bran looked at him with desperate hope. "There are five pups," he told Father. "Three male, two female."
"What of it, Jon?"
"You have five true born children," Jon said. "Three sons, two daughters. The direwolf is the sigil of your House. Your children were meant to have these pups, my lord."
Bran saw his father's face change, saw the other men exchange glances. He loved Jon with all his heart at that moment. Even at seven, Bran understood what his brother had done. The count had come right only because Jon had omitted himself. He had included the girls, included even Rickon, the baby, but not the bastard who bore the surname Snow, the name that custom decreed be given to all those in the north unlucky enough to be born with no name of their own.
Their father understood as well. "You want no pup for yourself, Jon?" he asked softly.
"The direwolf graces the banners of House Stark," Jon pointed out. "I am no Stark, Father."
Their lord father regarded Jon thoughtfully. Robb rushed into the silence he left. "I will nurse him myself, Father," he promised. "I will soak a towel with warm milk, and give him suck from that."
"Me too!" Bran echoed.
The lord weighed his sons long and carefully with his eyes. "Easy to say, and harder to do. I will not have you wasting the servants' time with this. If you want these pups, you will feed them yourselves. Is that understood?"
Bran nodded eagerly. The pup squirmed in his grasp, lickedat his face with a warm tongue.
It was not until they were mounted and on their way that Bran allowed himself to taste the sweet air of victory. By then, his pup was snuggled inside his leathers, warm against him, safe for the long ride home. Bran was wondering what to name him.
Halfway across the bridge, Jon pulled up suddenly.
"What is it, Jon?" their lord father asked.
"Can't you hear it?"
Bran could hear the wind in the trees, the clatter of their hooves on the ironwood planks, the whimpering of his hungry pup, but Jon was listening to something else.
"There," Jon said. He swung his horse around and galloped back across the bridge. They watched him dismount where the direwolf lay dead in the snow, watched him kneel. A moment later he was riding back to them, smiling.
"He must have crawled away from the others," Jon said.
"Or been driven away," their father said, looking at the sixth pup. His fur was white, where the rest of the litter was grey. His eyes were as red as the blood of the ragged man who had died that morning. Bran thought it curious that this pup alone would have opened his eyes while the others were still blind.
"An albino," Theon Greyjoy said with wry amusement. "This one will die even faster than the others."
Jon Snow gave his father's ward a long, chilling look. "I think not, Greyjoy," he said. "This one belongs to me."
What People are Saying About This
Grabs hold and won't let go. It's brilliant.
“Grabs hold and won’t let go. It’s brilliant.”—Robert Jordan
“Reminiscent of T. H. White’s The Once and Future King, this novel is an absorbing combination of the mythic, the sweepingly historical, and the intensely personal.”—Chicago Sun-Times
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Martin has created a masterpiece with this series. Never have I read any novel of any genre with so many characters, all so brilliantly lifelike, believable and richly detailed. He doesn't introduce them too quickly, giving the reader time to get to know and love them, and as soon as a side is chosen, he takes us into the world of the opposing characters, and we come to love them equally! The scope of the series is truly epic, and while this is technically fantasy, the reader may forget that it's not historical fiction! The style is so gritty and unforgiving that one has no choice but to believe. The fantastical elements creep in slowly and undeniably - a skeleton in a closet, terrifying and mostly unseen. With character drama like this, you don't have to be a fantasy buff to love this series. All who like sweeping drama will enjoy this fantastic journey.
While I am fan of sci-fi and fantasy, I had never read anything by George R.R. Martin. I was scolded for this oversight by many of co-workers and friends. I finally gave in this past month and have been converted to a fan. Be warned, "A Game of Thrones" is not for the casual fantasy reader. It is deeply intricate and rich. While Martin focuses each of the chapters on roughly ten main characters, there are well over fifty full realized characters in just the first book of this series. It would be very easy to get confused or frustrated in the early pages of the tome, but to do so would be to lose out on the epic second half of the book. Up until the last one hundred pages, I was still on the fence about this "game of thrones." Now, having finsihed it, I can't wait to move on to the next book. As a standalone book, I would not reccomend it; as the beginning of an epic series, I am totally hooked.
This is as good as the Fantasy genre can get. I've read dozens of fantasy books by dozens of authors and this is simply the very best series I've ever read. It stands head and shoulders above Lord of the Rings or really anything else I can imagine. --- The characters come completely to life. The author conveys a sense of reality to each person in his story. There aren't just 'good' guys and 'bad' guys as there are in the plethora of other highly rated fantasy series 'LotR, Dragonlance, Savadore books et. al.'. Instead, each character has their strengths and their weaknesses. Their noble redeeming qualities and their inner demons and selfishness. In essence...they're human! It sounds simple, but surprisingly not very many authors can accomplish this feat as well as Mr. Martin has been able to. He does a brilliant job of making each of the characters unique and detailed in their personality and mannerisms.--- The story line is brilliant and kept me interested throughout the series. This is possibly the fastest I've read through a book.--- Another thing...this book is not for children. There's no Bimbldee-goo Gobleshanks or Dimpledink Fumplesnaps B.S. kiddie stuff like Tolkien. There is no 'good guy' to root for, only different people of different kingdoms. And sometimes the person you might peg as a 'good guy' may not 'win.' The subject matter at times can be quite mature and maintains a high level of maturity throughout.--- So, although there are countless other rave reviews for this book, I figured I'd contribute anyhow. Believe the hype, and don't believe the naysayers. If you enjoy medieval fantasy 'not high fantasy, there aren't goblins and elves in this book' with an in depth and very realistic storyline get this book now.---
A Game of Thrones is the first book in a seven book series called A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin. A Game of Thrones is based in a fantasy world called the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros, which is very much like Medieval Europe. The Seven Kingdoms have been united under one rule for the last 500 years ever sense Aegeon The Conquerer united the land. After a brutal civil war against the "Mad King" the land has known peace with the New King (Robert). However, this is all about to change if the King's best friend Ned Stark can't figure out why or who wanted King Robert's friend and "Hand" Jon Arryn dead. With Jon Arryn dead Robert places his loyal friend Ned Stark as his Hand, which has the authority of the King. But if Ned can't learn how to play The Game of Thrones then his term as Hand may become a short one. In the East decendents of the Mad King still remain and are trying to form their army once again to reclaim the Seven Kingdoms like their ancestor Aegeon the Conqueror 500 years earlier. And far in the North there is a Wall. Built to protect all of the 7 Kingdoms it has been undermanned with rapers, robbers, and thieves. The wall is accustomed to losing men, but when one of their scouting party never returns they must find out what is happening and if the wildlings are the cause of it all. A Game of Thrones is told through the eyes of 9 characters. Enabling the reader to see the point of view of all the sides of the conflict. This is the first series that I have read that does this and I absolutely love it. Being able to see all the viewpoints of the conflicts in the story is very interesting. Martin also does a very good job in suprising the reader. With just changes in your mindset on a specific character who you thought you knew or simply with what you know to be "fact." I GUARANTEE that you will NOT be able to predict the ending of A Game of Thrones or any of the others. Finally, I believe that this is the best series out there today and everyone that is a fan of fantasy, mystery, or just reading a well written story should buy! ***CAUTION*** If you do not like a book with a lot of characters or one where the story is continous from book to book. Then this series may not be for you.
I trudged through all of the existing 4 novels in this series hoping to find enough redeeming qualities to justify my investment, and came away sorely disapointed. Authors like Robert Jordan (Wheel of Time), Tolkien (LOTR), and even Terry Goodkind (Sword of Truth), all spin intense tales that leave you encouraged and inspired by the actions of their heros; Martin grinds through character after character, who all seem to perish by one betrayal after another. As soon as you start rooting for someone, they end up on the chopping block...this repeats so often that you can't help but wonder what holds the story together. These novels are more like a soap opera than an epic fantasy series- murder, betrayal, and graphically portrayed incest/rape seem to be Martin's bread and butter, with practially nothing else in between. For some strange reason, I find that highly disgusting and will go back to reading books with real heros and goals that I can emotionally (and morally) rally behind.
Martin's ability to take a world apart and make it seem like your own's past history is an incredible experience to read. His characters embody not just the defining characteristics of good and evil, but an exhausting spectrum of the almost devine to the vilest examples of immorality imaginable. I knocked a few things in my review only because I am a realist... Let's face it, the new book art is horrid! The previous edition's painted scene was much more of a draw off the shelf, not to mention mucb more attractive sitting on your own! The book is offbeat, but still follows the basics of map in the front, character houses in the rear. You might need to use these items about as much as you do with Tolkein however, making them much more than just an eyegrab or little bonus feature. Romance? No not really... As with most first books, you get a slow start. Give it a couple chapters and you will be torn between throwing it across the room in fury or turning the next page. Great book for book clubs! Very fun to discuss and almost cultish when you find someone reading it or who has. I would not gift this book to most. Tolkein level writing is not for everyone and I think only about half the very few people I have recommended the book to have seen it through to the end.
An excellent read that keeps you entertained throughtout the whole book. I can't really say I was bored with the story at any point. I like how it switches from character to character each chapter and you get to know all the main characters on an individual basis. The plot is intriguing and at the end left me ready for the next book because the story could go so many ways and there are so many different things going on that it makes it more vast and complex which makes it all the more interesting. I enjoyed the first book in this saga and am excited to read the rest!
I'm a big fan of epic fantasy novels and this one is awesome. I enjoy the author's writing style. Each chapter is written from the perspective of one of the many (about a dozen) main characters. The story is action packed, with a lot of surprises along the way. As with most series of this genre, there are many plots and subplots that pull you in and keep you reading page after page.
Absolutely fantastic historical fiction. I enjoy that it is written from the perspectives of multiple characters, and that the action is so intense. I once had to put this book aside for a week because I had to recover from my shock & outrage at what happened to one of the characters...now that's some good writing!! This series is definitely not for readers who want clearly-defined heroes and villains, as the GoT characters are much too complex for that. Nor is it for those who want to think that the medieval world was full of honorable lords and knights, fair maidens and well-fed, well-cared for peasants rather than one of ruthless and prevalent violence werein those with power and titles took advantage of their positions (ever hear of Henry VIII?). Our modern-day ideas of civil rights, equality, justice, even basic human rights were non-existent, and Martin works within those realistic parameters. The unexpectedness of events is what I love and hate most about this series. You cannot hope to predict what's going to happen next, and what does happen may break your heart and leave you re-reading the page just to be sure that that actually just happened. This, to me, is keeping it real, and makes for some of the most exciting reading ever. If you can leave your modern-day sensibilities at the door, NOT compare this to any other fantasy series you may have read before, and immerse yourself entirely into the Game, you will thoroughly enjoy this book and the complete series.
If you're a fan of Stephen Donaldson, Tolkien, David Eddings, Terry Brooks, or Ursula K. Le Guin just to name a few great fantasy writers, and you've never read George R; R. Martin; wow are you in for a treat! This book is the best first installment of a fantasy series I've ever read! Be sure if you're thinking about it at all, to treat yourself to this one.
I hesitated for about 6 months before I bought this book (political intrigue in a fantasy world didn't immediately sound engaging) - but I loved it (and the whole series). Martin has the ability to show characters in shades of grey -- even the evil characters are sympathetic. Highly recommended.
First off, do not listen to the previous poster. The 5th and final book of the series? CLEARLY HE DOESN'T KNOW THIS SERIES AT ALL. One, it is now a 7 part series. Secondly, the next book (5) takes place during the 4th book. He had to split the it apart because he has so many characters and plot lines twisting with each other. Now, going onto the review, instead of the previous poster bashing. This was recommended to me by a friend as the best fantasy series he had ever read. I can say without much hesitation that this is one of the best fantasies every written. BUT it depends on what type of fantasy you like. If you're one of those mythical creatures type fantasy readers--this isn't for you. If you like fantasies with some hero saving a damsel in distress--this series isn't for you. If you like blood, guts, good old fashion middle-ages killing--then read on. This is by far, the nittiest, grittiest series out there--that still maintains a story line. Speaking of the story line--it does take quite a while to get used to it. Martin's style is very different from most writers, and if you have read the other reviews you'll see that I'm not lying. When I first started reading book 1, I almost put it down and stopped reading. After about, 200 pages, you start to get a good feel for this world. After the first book, you'll start to understand the plot (or perhaps I'm just a little slow.) That being said, it was completely worth it. The characters... Are so completely messed up it is insane. Good and evil cease to really exist. The motivations of the characters move beyond good and evil, into the realm of chaos. The one thing you can say about Martin, is that you cannot predict how his characters will act, or what he will do with them. I guarantee you, at one point in this series, if you read it, will put down the book and string off a line of expletives that will leave people around you wondering if you're sane. Overall, if you're a fantasy reader, you need to have this series on your bookshelf.
This is the first book in George R.R Martin's "A song of ice and fire" series. For me I found the book to be a slow starter but a powerhouse finish. The character development and the amount of characters in the story added to its overall intrigue. I would recommend this book to most. I'm an average reader and it wasn't what i would call a fast read but sometimes its good to have an epic tale with some meat on its bones. This book was imaginative and eventually engrossing. I look forward to the second book.
AMAZING!!! One of the best books i have ever read. Yes, many gruesome events take place, but if you look past those things and pay more attention to the actual story, you will see how great it is. There are so many elements that come into it, the characters, the plot, and the world in which it all takes place in makes this a true masterpiece. I will definitely buy the rest of the series on my Nook!
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Really great book and series overall. picked it up one day because my friend had bought it and had nothing else to read and boy was i surprised hiw easily i was drawn in ny the different characters. Although at times i felt like throwing the book against a wall i couldnt bring myself to stop reading it. Each Character in the story in uniquely writn with his or her own past that will either make you hate them or learn to love and understand them later. This book is a MUST READ.
What's so impressive about GoT is the world-building. I don't think I've seen anything this imaginative since Tolkien's LotR trilogy. It's hard to fathom just how much time and creativity and planning went into the construction of this world and series.But as great as the setting may be, the characters are what carry this book. They are all so wonderfully complex and multifaceted, so much so that it's sometimes hard to tell who to root for! Every character is deeply flawed in some way, but it's those flaws that make them so human. The good guys make (often fatal) mistakes and I think that's why their stories resonate so much with us as readers. There is a deep connection to some of these people so you really feel for them during their triumphs and during their tragedies. A Game of Thrones is told via several different characters and there are some people who won't enjoy that, but I'd say with so much going on, it was a necessary device. You get a deeper insight into the story this way and it's also interesting to see events through opposing perspectives. There were definitely some narrators that I preferred over others, namely, Tyrion Lannister, Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen. Funny enough, this also correlates to the characters I preferred in the show so that just goes to show you how well they play off one another. And yes, if you're wondering, the show totally does this book justice. You really don't need to read the first book to understand what's going on in the show, however, I recommend that you do anyway. It's too good not to. Also, because the story is so dense, the books help to make sense of the show (and vice versa). The novel clarified things that I was otherwise confused about as well as enriched my understanding of the characters and their motivations. I recommend grabbing the audio version if you can because Roy Dotrice is a champ! Fun fact: he even made the Guinness Book of World Records for doing the most amount of distinctive character voices in one audio production. Reading A Game of Thrones was quite the challenge, and consequently, finishing it was my biggest literary accomplishment this year. Martin has crafted such an intricate and wonderfully detailed universe full of rich, complex characters and high drama. It has all the elements you could ever want in a high fantasy and rivals the LotR trilogy for best fantasy series EVER!
Really got into this book after the first 100 pages or so. Very complex, but amazing!
I couldn't help but notice Martin's books in "A Song of Ice And Fire" series being promoted at my favorite bookstores and this book being touted as an HBO mini series (which I recorded without watching while I read this book). Hence I had to find out what all the hoopla was about. I discovered it was deserved. This book has an engrossing, mature plot replete with conflict, action, and excellent characterization. The fantasy is present as the setting is in a world of Martin's imagination where summer and winter can last for decades, dire wolves roam, dragons are still a memory, and a gigantic wall of ice holds back mysterious and loathsome creatures. However, I felt comfortable and familiar in this world as it is a feudal society reminiscent of European society during the Middle Ages. The aspirations, intrigues, alliances, and wars of the aristocracy mirror those of our feudal ancestors from the tenth through the thirteenth centuries. Each chapter is about or told from the viewpoint of the various characters that we get to know well. Armies have clashed in this "game of thrones", but the outcome is far from settled at the end of the book. The reader had best have the next book of the series on hand when this one is finished.
One of the most intelligently written narratives I've ever read. Intricate plotting, excellent use of restrained viewpoints, subtle and unyielding character development, and poetic imagery flow throughout the book. It is definitely a challenging book, one that rewards rereads and careful analysis of physical descriptions and dialogue, but it is also my go-to recommendation for anyone not acquainted with fantasy reading.
This is the second time I have read this book and I got more out of it this time as I already went through the deluge of characters before. The first time through you don't know who is going to be important and you don't know the signs which show the shifting plot. As an aid to those reading for the first time this first book in the series of A Song of Ice and Fire, is about two families, the Starks and the Lannisters/Baratheon. There is a huge cast of characters, but for the first time through concentrate on the members of those two families and sympathize where you will, people die. There are several side plots which become important in the later books, like the Black Watch and Wildings/Others. Characters who are peripheral to this book, but important in the ones which follow you needn't worry about. One of the great things about these books is that they unfold as does real life. Relationships are built with a supporting history behind them. It is also important to remember that the characters, with a few exceptions, are 3 dimensional, Gregor Clegane, Cercei Lannister,Joffrey Lannister, Viserys are a few of the exceptions. But most of the many others have very real strengths and weaknesses. It is those I found myself staying up until midnight to follow. Characters grow and change. There is enough detail in this series to follow those changes, watch Bran, Sansa and Daenerys for instance. My personal favorites are Jon, Tyrion and Arya. One of my criteria for a good book is do I care what happens to the characters, and in this book I find a resounding yes. It is better than a good read. It is memorable.
This rating is a bit of mash-up for me. I loved the Daenerys storyline (four stars there), but I found all the other plots to be outright dull (two stars ¿ they weren't crap; just... boring). Martin's books have been over-hyped to me, and no doubt that's worked against their favor. (One of my coworkers called the series "Pretty much the best books ever." Puh-leez. I know you have an aerobic sense of humor, dude, but really.)I keep hearing praise for Martin's books because of the grand scope of story, the clear and formal patterning of the political houses, and the realistic ¿ which I think translates to 'lacking in magic' ¿ approach to the fantasy setting. The most vocal praise seems to come from people who generally don't read fantasy, and I suspect because the lacking in magic element helps to attract people who are not inclined to the woo-woo stuff. I, however, read fantasy all the time and if I have one gripe about this praise it's that these elements are hardly new to the fantasy genre and I sincerely do not get why these particular books have become so popular. But the worst for me wasn't that these elements had all been done before; it's that they've been done better. The first epic series of this sort I'd read was Rawn's Dragon Prince duo-trilogies, which contained every element listed here except maybe the lacking-in-magic bit, although I'd be up for quibbling about that seeing as Martin has still got dragons hatching from stone and icey vampires and years-long winters, AND Rawn's series has the added benefit of already being completely published. I loved Rawn's books so much better than The Game of Thrones that I'd far rather reread them three times over in a row than pick up the second volume in A Song of Ice and Fire. And I get glutted very quickly. (And I really dislike Martin's series name.)Plus, any time I'm muttering to the pages NO WHY ARE YOU DOING THAT STUPID ACTION YOU STUPID CHARACTER... to multiple characters... in multiple scenes... is not a time I'm enjoying what I'm reading.It's worthwhile to note that I appreciated the chapters having headers that listed their focus character. A quarter of the way in, I stopped reading the characters I wasn't interested in and skipped around to read about Daenerys. I want to acquire the Daenerys' story-only novella, Blood of the Dragon, which was a Hugo-Award winner in its own right. If her stories were just combined into their own book I'd happily read only that.
I came across George RR Martin by browsing the Fiction Fantasy section of my favourite bookstore. Since the book received some good reviews, even by Raymond Feist, I decided to give it a try.Was I surprised! After the first two chapters I was totally hooked. George writes with such compelling conviction and style that it was very hard to put the book down. He introduces us to a world that is imaginative, where the characters are richly described and developed that they almost seem tangible. It is in the characters many individual facets of development that I find myself astonished as to the extent that George is prepared to take them. He thus masterfully sets the scene for a haunting and intriguing saga that will stay with you long after you read the book.A GAME OF THRONES introduces us to four main families: The Starks, the Baratheons, the Lannisters and the Targaryens. Even though these are the main ones, there are others as well weaved within the above families, and plenty of smaller independent families. These pave the way later for some great plots and sub-plots.Lord Eddard Stark, the Warden of the north, is instructed to be the Hand of the King in the south. Since Lord Eddard is a man of honour, he finds himself torn between his friendship for the king and the treachery that is evident at court. He finds it difficult to choose in that the choices are not as simple as right or wrong, but rather it becomes a choice between the lesser of two evils. It is here that Eddard learns of the rumoured murder of his predecessor, the imminent danger to his family, and the vile secrets that threaten to destroy the kingdom.I read with wonder as evil defeated the innocent, yet it was heartening to see the innocent grow strong in the midst of their defeat. The one drawback I found in this story was the introduction of too many characters. This, at times, made it difficult to follow the development of these characters.A GAME OF THRONES is well written and the characters are memorable. George RR Martin has become one of my favourite authors in the Fiction Fantasy genre. I proudly display his work next to LORD OF THE RINGS and THE MAGICIAN. It is a masterpiece of epic proportions that sets a new standard in Fiction Fantasy writing. I look forward to more.
I'm glad I read "A Game of Thrones". Each chapter is a third person account of one of several different characters. While I enjoyed this format for the most part, it was difficult to remember what particular characters had recently been up to when chapters pertaining to them were separated by several other very detailed chapters about other characters. Also, while I thoroughly enjoyed chapters about some characters, (Jon, Eddard, Tyrion), I dreaded coming across chapters detailing characters that I didn't care much about, (Daenarys, Sansa, Bran). At times I was tempted to skip ahead to the next chapter about my favorite character's but I rejected this for fear of missing an important bit of information.This book stands as a marvel of detail and intricate plot and I did enjoy it, I just wish it hadn't been quite so all-encompassing. In fact, at times it seemed that I was actually reading about eight books at once! Still, I am intrigued enough by the story that I do want to see how it all works out, so I can actually say that I am looking forward to reading the next book in the series, even if it seems like a chore at times!
This has to be one of the most challenging books I have read in a while. It isn't the reading level or the content that is throwing me off. It is the sheer amount of stuff that Martin managed to throw into the book. It isn't often that you find a good book filled with political intrigue and symbolic foreshadowing and sheer epicness. The characters grow on you. Even the ones that you don't really care for grow on you to the point that you want them there causing trouble. By the time you get done with the first book, you just want to know more. I haven't read a book this exciting or page turning or political since the Sword of Shannara. If you are looking for something to fill that Harry Potter void, give this series a try.