Friday, August 12, 2011

Game of Thrones

In the Seven Kingdoms, winter is coming. Summer has lasted over 10 years and autumn is finally approaching, the harbinger of a long winter. North of the Seven Kingdoms, a supernatural force is gathering to battle against men. In the kingdom, the Hand of the King mysteriously dies, prompting King Robert Baratheon to ask his friend Eddard Stark to fill the position. Before he leaves, Eddard's son Bran has a tragic accident and he leaves not knowing whether his son will live or die. He enters King's Landing and a court where words and whispers are as sharp as knives. Treading carefully, he investigates the previous Hand's death and tries to run the kingdom despite empty coffers, a drunken, complacent king, and treacherous advisers. While he is away, Winterfell is in distress. An assassin tries to kill Bran, leading Catelynn, his mother, to suspect the Lannister family had something to do with his accident. She rides out to seek justice, leaving her 3 sons to rule. Can the Starks find out who their enemies are? Can Eddard save the King from the same fate as his Hand?

I started out watching the television series, which I enjoyed, but the book makes it pale in comparison. I'm honestly not typically a fan of high fantasy. The stories seem very similar and rip-offs of Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings. I didn't expect to like Game of Thrones at all and I was pleasantly surprised. This series is completely different from most others in its genre. Magic is usually a large aspect of fantasy, but the instances of it in Game of Thrones are few and far between. I even forgot I was reading a fantasy at times. The plot is very detailed and complex with many story lines and subplots in each chapter. I love Martin's writing style and he manages to be detailed without being overwrought or slow. My summary of the plot doesn't do this book justice at all because there is so much more going on besides that one plot line. The story is also realistic and gritty. There is no romanticism nor is it an idealistic view of the Medieval era. Life is hard and it gets progressively harder as the book progresses. No character is safe, which George R. R. Martin demonstrates by the end of the novel.

These characters are incredibly detailed and unique in their own way. My favorite are Eddard Stark, Tyrion Lannister, and Arya Stark. Eddard is honorable, serious, and reserved which can be mistaken for coldness by those who don't know him well. Arya is supposed to become a lady that will marry and bear heirs, but she's more interested in sword fighting and getting into trouble. Tyrion is a deformed dwarf and the shame of his noble family. He makes up for his lack of looks and height with cunning, intelligence, and humor. They don't fit into typical archetypes popular in the genre and seem more like actual people. These characters are not always clearly good or evil, but rest in shades of grey. Sometimes there isn't a clear hero or villain to depend upon or blame in each situation. Each chapter is told from a different perspective and Martin clearly captures each voice. Some chapters may even cover the same event and each character involved has a different view of it and a different version of the truth. This view of each character challenges the reader's views and sometimes even makes immoral or seemingly evil characters likeable.

I haven't felt this sense of urgency when reading a book in a while. I felt compelled to read at every possible moment even though I knew what was going to happen. If you like realistic characters, mystery, intrigue, and aren't easily offended, I would highly recommend Game of Thrones.

My rating: 5/5 fishmuffins

** You can win a copy of Game of Thrones in my Comic-Con giveaway here. **

1 comment:

LoriStrongin said...

LOVED, LOVED, LOVED the first four books in this series, and just bought the 5th book on Friday. Can't wait to delve into it!

Awesome review!