I finished reading the first installment of Martin’s now popular series A Song of Ice and Fire, titled Game of Thrones. It was a great book, and I’m looking forward to finishing the series as soon as I can (and only then will I watch the hit TV show).
In Game of Thrones, Martin paints a brilliant fantasy world rich with detail. There are so many intricate details that it’s easy to get overwhelmed with characters and background knowledge, but you need to plough on, trusting that soon it’ll all make sense (at the very least, you’ll be able to differentiate a preferrable character from a villain). So large is the number of details that I won’t bother summing up the book in more than three sentences, because it’ll take too long.
Here it is, the book in three lines: protagonist Eddard Stark is asked by King Robert Baratheon to become the Hand of the King (highest advisor to King), after the death of former Hand Jon Arryn (brother-in-law of Stark’s wife Catelyn Tully). Stark learns of rumors that Arryn was murdered by the Lannisters, and perhaps Queen Cersei herself (wife of King Robert), and sets out to find the truth behind these rumors; his discoveries lead to a civil war. Meanwhile in the east, Daenarys Targaryan is wed by her brother Visery to Khal Drogo, a horserider of an ancient tribe; Dany is almost poisoned by an envoy of the King’s, provoking Drogo into war against the King; however, in a brief battle beforehand, he is wounded, and the attempts to restore his health lead to his and his soon to be born child’s death; it’s not all bad news, as we learn that Dany is a true “Dragon,” a powerful people who have been thought to be extinct, and she wants her place in the Iron Throne restored.
The good: the book is big on detail, and the switching third person limited point of view allows for some major tension and action. It’s unique how you can see through the perspective of multiple characters. The fantasy world has a deep background, and so many details are provided that it feels very real. The writing is excellent; the pace is fast and well-controlled, and the tension in the book makes for a very fun read. Above all, the book is unpredictable; at no point do you have an inkling of what may happen next, and if you do, the author has a way of pulling off something you’d never expect…case in point, he’s not one to shy away from killing multiple protagonists for the progression of the novel(s).
The bad: In the beginning of the book at least, it’s easy to be overwhelmed with the details and the very large number of characters. However, if you keep reading, it’ll become easier to understand later; you’ll be able to differentiate “good” characters from less favorable ones quickly. The level of detail may overwhelm, but it’s also what makes the book so enjoyable. Finally, about halfway through the novel, I almost gave up on the book; in trying to set up the groundword of the series, the writing became mundane, with little action. I’m happy I stuck it out; this phase didn’t last too long, and before long there was a LOT of action. Besides a brief spell of boredom, I have no complaints with this book.
To summarize, Game of Thrones is an excellent fantasy novel with plenty of detail and action. The book is extremely unpredictable, and the style of writing unique. The tale of a war over the highest ranking of Kings, the Iron Throne, is an action packed ride, one worth taking. Fans of fantasy and thrillers will thoroughly enjoy this read. I myself can’t wait to start reading the next book in the series, Clash of Kings. As for the novel at hand, Game of Thrones, I rate it a solid 9.2/10; it’s a great read, and if you enjoy the TV show, I can safely say from experience that you’ll enjoy the books way more.