A 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. Kings and queens, knights and renegades, liars, lords and honest men... all will play the Game of Thrones.
Winter is coming.
Reviewed on 18th April 2012
Game of Thrones is the first book in George R R Martin's ongoing Song of Fire and Ice epic. It sees Ned Stark, Lord of Winterfall in the far north, called south to serve his king, and enter into the blistering world of politics that surrounds the throne. This summary barely does the book justice - the plots are multiple and complex and the characters numerous.
I found the book longer than it seemed - at 800 pages that took me 10 days to read. Part of this is in the presentation - each chapter focusses on one character, and with every chapter change there is a shift of viewpoint. This makes the chapters seem much more self contained than in other novels where chapters flow together, and made the end of each seem like an appropriate place to put the book down and reflect on the story so far.
The characters are numerous, but well formed and distinct, so this does not make it hard to keep track. The plots are similarly well separated, although there are places where time seem to jump severely and it's tricky to work out where events in one location line up with those in another. In a way this makes the book feel quite episodic - with little attention paid to minutiae - unlike Robin Hobb or Robert Jordan's books it certainly doesn't feel as if you are living with the characters.
The content is brutal and in some places steps close to shocking. It is a book about war, so plenty of violence is to be expected, but there is also a lot of civilian violence and what in our society would be termed paedophilia. This makes some passages hard reading.
I have enjoyed reading the book, but it's not impressed me in the same way as some other epic authors. I haven't formed an emotional connection with the characters yet, and although I'm impressed by the complicated intertwined storylines, I haven't come out of the book keen to pick up the sequel as soon as possible.