Book Reviews

Review: “A Game of Thrones,” George R.R. Martin

January 9, 2012
Review: “A Game of Thrones,” George R.R. MartinA Game of Thronesby George R.R. Martin
Series: A Song of Ice & Fire #1
Published by HarperVoyager on August, 1996
Genres: Adult, Fantasy, Medieval
Pages: 807

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.

About George R.R. Martin

George R.R. Martin began writing very young, selling monster stories to other neighborhood children for pennies, dramatic readings included. Later he became a comic book fan and collector in high school, and began to write fiction for comic fanzines (amateur fan magazines). Martin's present home is Santa Fe, New Mexico.


  • Reply Kate @ Nomalicious Reads January 24, 2012 at 11:03 pm

    YAY, I’m glad you loved it! I can’t wait to read it now, I was a bit like you I got the book and thought ‘holy shit this is massive’ and I’ve been in a reading slump lately too, maybe i’ll have to pick it up before I start uni again!

    Great Review!

  • Reply mauie (The Traveling Reader) January 17, 2012 at 1:21 am

    Great post. I have heard so much of the show and the books but I have yet to read or watch that. Maybe you can feature a guide on how to go about the series (like what comes first then next)? :)

    Btw, just gonna ask if you’re still doing the Mouth-Watering Monday posts? Been some weeks since I lurked around your site hoping you’ll post a linky or something. Hehe

    • Reply Brittany January 18, 2012 at 1:48 pm

      Thank you! I highly recommend watching the series before reading – then do the book series :D That’s what I’ve been doing and I’m enjoying every minute of it!

      As for the MWM posts, I will be posting them again once I’m back into full-swing blogging. I’ve been enjoying my uni break, had a holiday interstate and currently focusing on reading these HUGE Game of Thrones books, but once I’m back updating my blog frequently as I usually do, the MWM will be back :D

  • Reply Dazzling Mage January 12, 2012 at 3:32 am

    This book is making eye-contact with me these past few weeks…need to pick it up!

  • Reply Erin @ Tales of the Inner Book Fanatic January 10, 2012 at 12:14 am

    I’ve been dying to read this. Must get myself a copy soon. Heard wonderful things about it. Great review!

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