Series: A Song of Ice & Fire #1
Published by HarperVoyager on August, 1996
Genres: Adult, Fantasy, Medieval
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 kingdomâ€™s protective wall.
To the south, the Kingâ€™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 Kingâ€™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.