Thursday, July 21, 2011

Game of Thrones: A Song of Ice and Fire, by George R.R. Martin

After being absolutely riveted by the HBO series, I knew I had to read these books.  I spent many years of my reading life in the fantasy section, but haven't really visited it in probably the past 12 years or so, which is the only reason I can think of for why I'd never previously heard about Martin's 1996 debut Game of Thrones. Unbelievable right?  Well I'm now well on my way to correcting the mistake.

At a staggering 807 pages before Appendix's, in paperback format, with the most dense little print and virtually no margins this isn't a read to tackle lightly.  Especially if you've been living in a cave in Siberia and don't know there are also 4 more in print all just as long or longer.  Lets just say Martin isn't writing for the reluctant reader.

However, fans of fantasy, politics or the HBO series will rejoice over what an amazing piece of work Game of Thrones is.  Unlike many other fantasies it doesn't get bogged down in all the supernatural or fantastic elements, and instead focuses largely on character and world building in book one.  In fact the unusual fantasy aspects of the story are so small and rarely referenced you almost forget about them to begin with but it makes them even more alluring.  Talk of how "winter is coming" as if it's a cataclysmic event had me absolutely salivating for the explanation, which was dolled out in small little quips and reference for ages before there was a substantial description of what the deal was with the seasons.  Don't get me started on the dragons and the Others!

Also setting Game of Thrones apart from some of the other fantasy I've read is how political it is.  I've never read such a political fantasy novel, which are generally much more action oriented, before.  And I know what your thinking- really? BOOOOOORing! But it isn't!  I was hanging on every single word of back room conniving and manipulation.  Because in the Game of Thrones it becomes quickly apparent it's every man for himself.

The book jumps from character to character with each chapter change which adds to the political intrigue as you get to watch the sands shift first hand.  One of the most exciting discoveries for me as I've continued onwards from book 1 to book 2 and now book 3, is that each new book introduces the perspective of several new or well known characters.  Dying to know what Jaime is thinking? Cersei, or Theon? Well keep reading and you'll get the opportunity.  It keeps the story rich and fascinating in a way I've never seen used before, and it certainly makes a solid door stop of a book whip by at an amazing pace.

For those who've watched the series, they were almost word for word true to the book in many places.  I still found the book completely engrossing and engaging but there are likely some who've just watched the series who'd find it too similar to want to plow through all 807 pages.

Game of Thrones: A Song of Ice and Fire, by George R.R. Martin
Published by Bantam (originally) 1996, my copy was a 2011 reprint
Buy Game of Thrones on Amazon,
Or, Buy the first four books in a box set
Want to follow the excitement of the tour for the new book and casting for part two of the series?
Check out George R. R. Martin's blog
or his official site

1 comment:

  1. It's funny how some books that seem enormous and impenetrable end up being easy reads you fly through - I just found that with Stephen King's The Stand, at 1300 pages it wasn't a quick read but it was easy and fun! I'm in two minds about reading this, I'm interested, but each volume seems to come out with so many years in between, I think I might wait until they're all out and then start them!