Book Review: A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

y648A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin  

Genre: Fantasy

Publishing Info: 2011 by HarperVoyager (first published 1996)

Pages: 806

Star Rating: 4/5

Back Cover Summary:

Kings and queens, Knights and renegades, liars, lords and honest men. All will play the Game of Thrones.

Summers span decades. Winter can last a lifetime. And the struggle for the Iron Throne has begun. It will stretch from the south, where heat breeds plot, lusts and intrigues; to the vast and savage eastern lands; all the way to the frozen north, where an 800-foot wall of ice protects the kingdom from the dark forces that lie beyond.

The Game of Thrones. You win, or you die.

Book one of A Song of Ice and Fire begins the greatest fantasy epic of the modern age.

This book has been sat on my shelf for many years, and finally I’ve read it. It was probably the great length that put me off before now. I stopped reading humungous fantasy novels, but I’m back into them now. For contextualisation, this is my first time reading the book and I haven’t watched any of the TV series either.

I don’t know what it was about this book, but I just wanted to keep reading. That’s something hard to achieve for a book so long. It really held my attention and I didn’t want to put it down. That’s something I’d expect from a fast-paced novel, not an almighty tome. I often feel bogged down in long books, even the best ones. I get restless and distracted. I didn’t get that feeling with A Game of Thrones.

The novel is told from many characters’ perspectives and alternates between them. This is partly what helped keep the book moving. Some people wouldn’t like the constant switching between characters and locations, but I think it worked for this book. It meant the momentum kept going. All of the perspectives were important as well. I didn’t feel like any of them were a waste of time as each one provided a different insight into the story. It was interesting to see how different characters’ viewed events, and how all those plot threads fit together.

The world building in this is really strong. I was totally immersed in the world. This is also helped by Martin’s brilliant writing. He gets the balance just right. There’s enough description for me to visualise the scene like I’m watching a film, but not too much description as is often the case in fantasy novels.

This series probably isn’t for everyone. It’s not the fun adventure most other fantasy books I’ve read are. There’s violence, gore, executions, sex and incest. I’m not too keen on strong violence. Fortunately there wasn’t too much in this book, for my tolerance levels. Besides, my enjoyment of the story easily outweighs my dislike of any violent scenes.

Having finished the first book, I am totally invested in the characters and want to read the rest of the series. I can see why this book, and the TV adaptation, has garnered so many fans. The story pulls you in, and it doesn’t let go the whole way through.

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