Written by George R.R. Martin
Published August, 1996 by HarperVoyager
Genres: Adult, Fantasy, Medieval
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Long ago, in a time forgotten, a preternatural event threw the seasons out of balance. The cold is returning, and in the frozen wastes to the north of Winterfell, sinister forces are massing beyond the kingdom’s protective wall.
To the south, the King’s powers are failing, and his enemies are emerging from the shadows of the throne. At the center of the conflict lie the Starks of Winterfell, a family as harsh and unyielding as the frozen land they were born to. Now Lord Eddard Stark is reluctantly summoned to serve as the King’s new Hand, an appointment that threatens to sunder not only his family but also the kingdom itself.
A heroic fantasy of lords and ladies, soldiers and sorcerers, assassins and evildoers who come together in a time of grim omens.
I absolutely LOVE the television show, so it was only natural that I gave the original source material a go. At first I was apprehensive – the size of the book is extremely daunting and I was worried that it would be a slow-paced, confusing read – but surprisingly, I found myself completely immersed in the world and its characters. A real page-turner!
The first thing I have to say is that the show does a SUPERB job of following the book. Having watched the show three times now (the third time while I was reading!), I was able to recognize whole paragraphs of dialogue cut and pasted from book to screen. Since the cast of characters is immense, and the world so vast, I also found that having pre-knowledge from the television series helped a whole lot! It was easier to place a face to so many names if I could imagine the television actor in my head. If you are thinking about starting this series, I recommend watching the show beforehand.
That being said, the book is still enjoyable even though I *knew* what was going to happen from watching the show. There are loads of little character details, back-stories and world history that couldn’t be crammed into 10 episodes. I feel that after reading the book, I have a broader understanding of the character motives and actions, as well as the history of the Seven Kingdoms featured in both book and episodes.
I haven’t read a book this large since Harry Potter & the Order of the Phoenix, so I was shocked that I was able to get through A Game of Thrones as quickly as I did. At first it felt as if I was getting nowhere, but as I got sucked into the chapters, the pages just flew by. I can only marvel at Martin’s ability to build worlds – I found myself flicking back from map to ancestral charts frequently!
My favourite characters in the television show would have to be Robb Stark and Catelyn Stark, though I do adore a handful of others. I was pleased to see that I still adored these characters in book-form, though the latter had been changed and strengthened into a stronger female lead for the television show. Characters I previously loathed also gained a new depth with this read through, too, which was nice.
You do have to have quite a bit of patience for A Game of Thrones, but it’s not too hard to muster. As I’ve been going through reading slump lately, I wasn’t sure if this one would suit me straight away, but I’m so glad it did. I will be starting A Clash of Kings straight away – and hopefully continuing with the series soon after finishing that one.
Recommended to: Readers who can appreciate long stories with intricate worldbuilding, side-plots and extreme lore. If you’re looking for a new world to get sucked into, give this one a go. The television show is also recommended – as it follows the book almost exactly.