Book Review: A Game of Thrones

Seven hundred and eighty pages of prodigious design and structure, extraordinary characters, and centuries worth of its own histories, A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin offers an entire world shrouded in fantastical mystery, sly acts of manipulation, and the desire to attain power and acquire family honour. A Game of Thrones is the first volume in a series called A Song of Ice and Fire.

Title: A Game of Thrones

Author: George R.R. Martin

Series: A Song of Ice and Fire #1

Publication Date: 06/08/1996

Genre: Epic Fantasy

We are thrown into the perilously bloody continent of Westeros, home of The Seven Kingdoms, intersected by The Wall, and close to the Free Cities. A Game of Thrones offers a multi-character led narrative, the chapters being divided between several of the central characters. It is an epic narrative, interlaced with humour, with a moral heart at its center.

“When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die. There is no middle ground.”

I enjoyed the diverse range of perspectives, however my favourite chapters were Jon, Daenerys, and Tyrion.

 *PLOT SPOILERS*

I often find that characters who are misunderstood, or considered outsiders, become my favourites. Jon Snow is the bastard son of Lord Eddard (Ned) Stark of Winterfell, who was never fully accepted by Ned’s wife, Catelyn. He grows up living with the Stark family, but takes his leave to join The Night’s Watch with his Uncle, Benjen Stark. I enjoyed reading about his progression towards ‘taking the black’, as well as the diverse characters he meets at The Wall. Jon also struggles to let go of his previous life upon taking his vows to join The Night’s Watch, however Commander Mormont places him in an ever-increasing position of authority.

Daenerys Targaryen grows so much as a character throughout the course of the book. Her experiences with the Dothraki Khalasar begin to reveal her potential as a leader. The nomadic Dothraki race has such an interesting culture as horse-riding warriors. They are from Essos or the Dothraki Sea. Kahl Drogo, who takes Dany to be his wife, is the Dothraki horse lord. As Dany becomes more settled among the Khalasar, she also falls in love with Drogo, and escapes her controlling and abusive brother, Viserys.

“A Lannister always pays his debts.”

Tyrion’s character is immediately lovable. He is not without sin, nor does he always do the honorable thing, but he has been brought up in the shadow of his brother, Jaime Lannister, and was never fully accepted by his father, Tywin Lannister. The Lannister’s have a powerful reputation (and a lot of gold). Tyrion enhances the comic vein of A Game of Thrones. He is also an intelligent and caring character. He is always watching his own back, but he also watches the backs of others. I particularly enjoyed his brief conversations with Jon Snow in Winterfell and at The Wall.

The talk between the characters is often where half the fighting occurs and it pays to notice the details within the dialogue. One of the pivotal moments of the first volume is the passing of King Robert Baratheon, which leaves the Iron Throne vacant, and under the watchful glare of several thirsty pairs of eyes. The second volume will continue the fight for the throne, between the cruel King Joffrey, Lord Stannis Baratheon, Lord Renly Baratheon, and Daenarys.

Click here to buy your own copy of A Game of Thrones.

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