A Game of Thrones by George R R Martin
Kings and queens, knights and renegades, liars, lords and honest men. All will play the Game of Thrones.
Summers span decades. Winters can last a lifetime. And the struggle for the Iron Throne has begun. It will stretch from the south, where the heat breeds plot, lusts and intrigues; to the vast frozen north where a 700-foot wall of ice protects the kingdom from the dark forces that lie beyond.
The Game of Thrones.
You win, or you die.
I’m not adverse to a massive doorstop of a novel. Peter F Hamilton, Stephen King, Frank Herbert have all written huge books that I have not only read but re-read numerous times. When it comes to A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin things are just slightly different. I have been promising myself that I would read the first book in the A Song of Ice and Fire saga for a long time. So long in fact that it became something of a personal Moby Dick, my literary equivalent of a great white whale. It got to the stage where I was a little intimidated by the whole thing and I never thought I would get around to reading the it.
Circumstance, as ever, have finally prompted action on my part. With a little less than two weeks before the television adaption hits our screens I decided to finally man up and grab this beast of a novel by the horns.
At its heart, this novel is a story about power and how the struggle for it affects all those who crave it, as well as all those surround them. Like the old saying goes – power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
There are literally hundreds of characters but most of the action, certainly in this first book, focuses on the various members of two noble families, the Starks and the Lannisters.
Lord Eddard Stark of Winterfell hails from the north of the Seven Kingdoms, and is bound by tradition and honour. As the head of his family, he is obligated to dispense the king’s justice, which can sometimes appear cruel, but he has a reputation for being a fair and just man. Stark is a fascinating character. I was reminded of Duke Leto Atreides in Frank Herbert’s Dune. Lord Stark, like Duke Leto, will always do the right thing, irrespective of the cost to himself or those around him. He is driven by his principles and will not allow himself to deviate from them.
The Lannisters are the villains of the piece, though in fairness, not everything is as black and white as that. In their family a real standout character is Tyrion Lannister. In many ways he is an outcast from his family. He is a dwarf and his father, Lord Tywin Lannister, is disinterested in him because of this. Tyrion, however, has a quick wit and a brilliant mind. I warmed to him immediately and enjoyed all of his appearances throughout the book.
It would be so easy for me to carry on waxing lyrical about all the other characters that are such a delight to read but I would end up writing something as long as the book itself. Suffice to say that the characterisation is marvellous and I found it one of the novels main strengths. Once I finished the book I realised that I had a genuine interest in what happens next. This is the best compliment I can give. I cared about the story, and was anxious to learn more.
A Game of Thrones is a massive undertaking, just shy of eight hundred pages long, and if you decide to dive in, then rest assured this tome will steal hours of your life. That said, those hours will be entirely memorable and you will thank yourself for taking the plunge.
Having now read the book, I have high hopes for the forthcoming television adaption. The television show certainly has a lot to live up to. Martin has written a novel that is truly epic in scope. This is storytelling at its most masterful. I now relish the prospect of returning to the Seven Kingdoms. Now that I have started I know that I will not be satisfied until I have read all of the novels in the saga.