Thursday, June 14, 2007

A Game Of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

How do I describe A Game of Thrones? Simply put, it is a journey - and a remarkable one at that. This is my first adventure into high fantasy aside from Tolkien, whom I consider to be almost a genre of his own. I was so very pleasantly surprised with Martin's writing and story telling ability.

To be honest, I wasn't sure I was going to like this book at first and it almost became a "did not finish" about 200 pages into it. But when it picks up, it really picks up. I can see how this is almost expected with the beginning of a high fantasy tale. There's so much to set up! A Game of Thrones is the story of exactly what the title is. It is the story of numerous families playing "a game" or battling for the throne. But the story is so much more than just that. Martin's strong point is his character development.

The chapters are each titled after a character in the book and center around that character while drawing in other characters and connecting story lines. Martin tackles epic scenes, beautiful landscapes, fierce battles, politics and relationships all with a mastery of storytelling. The further I got into the book, the more I attached myself to the individual characters. Where at the beginning I was invested in two or three character, I was invested in nearly all of them by the end of the book. My favorite of his characters may be Jon, the bastard child of Lord Eddard Stark and Daenerys, the wife of Khal Drogo. Quite remarkable characters and a beautiful story.

So much more than just a fantasy tale. What we get here is true human drama and everything involved with it - death, pain, happiness, sorrow, betrayal, love, lust, jealousy and all of those other emotions. I will definitely be picking up book number two in the series, A Clash of Kings.

While not really related to the story line, I enjoyed Martin's description of how dragons came to be and I'd like to share it with you:

"Once there were two moons in the sky, but one wandered too close to the sun and cracked from the heat. A thousand-thousand dragons poured forth, and drank the fire of the sun. That is why dragons breathe flame. One day the other moon will kiss the sun too, and then it will crack and the dragons will return."


Kim said...

I'd have to say my favorite character from Book 1 was Tyrion Lannister. He's such a catalyst and he offers a practical and unique view on the events that I found myself waiting for the chapters from his perspective.

I'm reading Book 2 right now and sadly to say, I'm not as favorably impressed as I was with Book 1 (My review here).

Hopefully it will pick up. At only 200 pages in, there's lots of book left for me to change my opinion in.

Dark Orpheus said...

Ah, glad you liked it. And should you want to continue with the series, there's so much more. More plot-twists, more character development, suspense - death/disappearance of important characters.

Carl V. said...

Kudos to you!!! I've only read about 50 pages and I really enjoyed it, but then there was some other reading I had to get done first. I need to get back to it. I'm glad you enjoyed it. I'll be sure and point Jeff over here as Martin is one of his favorite authors.

Nymeth said...

"What we get here is true human drama and everything involved with it - death, pain, happiness, sorrow, betrayal, love, lust, jealousy and all of those other emotions."

That sounds SO good. Even though I am a fantasy lover, I'm not really into high fantasy (with the exception of Tolkien, of course), but I've been told that this is something else. I really need to pick it up.

Thanks for the great review!

Chris said...

Kim, I did like Tyrion. It took me awhile to make up my mind on him, but in the end my opinion of him was a good one. I really hope book 2 picks up! It took me awhile to get into book 1 as well, so maybe it's the same thing.

Dark Orpheus, I'll definitely be continuing with the series. I have to at least go on to the next book after this one. Too many plot threads left untied. Looking forward to it!

Carl, This one was rough to get into! It was a bit shaky at first for me, but once I bit my teeth into it, I was in it for good. When the action picks up, it doesn't let go. Really great book, you'll enjoy it.

I didn't think I would be into high fantasy either Nymeth...still don't think I would be really, but an exception is made here. Martin's tale is really focused on his characters and their emotions and relationships rather than the quest. Mind you, there is a quest that needs to be achieved, but it's so much more than that. I really think you'd like this one too.

Jeff S. said...

Glad to hear you enjoyed it Chris. I know that this will sound like a cliche but I really feel each book gets better and better as the story keeps building and plots weave in and out of each other.

I think the reason this series is hard to get into at first is that the chapters are split among so many characters if you get attached to certain characters storylines it can be awhile before Martin works his way around to them again.

This series is one of my favorite works. What makes this series unique among many all the books I've read over the years is Martin has the guts to show all his characters in many shades of gray. They're are no clear cut heroes or villians. It all just seems so much more believeable to me. He also doesn't hesitate to kill off any character if it serves the story.

Great quote above too about the dragons. As for favorite characters mine are: Jon Snow, Tryion Lassiter, and Arya Stark.

I can't wait to hear your thoughts on book 2. Great review!

Chris said...

Thanks for stopping by Jeff! My thoughts echo yours from what I've read so far and I'm glad to hear such a great review from someone else who's continued the series.

I've loved that with this book too, the fact that there are no heroes or villains, there's just this shade of gray with each character. Once I got into the book, I couldn't get enough and I'm sure it'll continue this way as the series continues.

I loved Arya! Forgot to mention her. Great character there. What a fighter. Can't wait to see what comes of her.

Carl V. said...

While I doubt you or anyone else will get back over here to read this, I had to comment as I remembered that you had read the book. I just finished it and REALLY enjoyed it. I didn't have the same experience with it being hard to get into. I was pretty much hooked right from the start. Part of that could be my investment in wanting to actually go ahead and start and finish it this time after just meeting the author, but I'm not sure. All I know is that I liked the Stark family right off the bat, especially the bastard son Jon, and he, at this point, is one of my favorite characters as well. I also like Tyrion the Imp quite a bit. I think the only characters I despise at this point are the two boys, King Joffrey and the weak child Robert who lives in the big tower and is always wanting to see people "fly". I look forward to continuing on with the series.