Friday, 11 November 2011

Review: A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin

Publisher: HarperVoyager
Format: Paperback
Released: March 31st, 2011 (new edition)
Grade rating: A/A+, I can't decide...

Amazon summary:

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…


Like most SF & fantasy fans, I am completely enamoured (see: obsessed) with the Game of Thrones TV show. I didn't think it would be my thing at first, but it was. Obviously I bought all the books immediately and obviously they sat on my shelf for months until I had time to read all 807 pages of A Game of Thrones. I'm actually kicking myself that I waited so long to read it because I LOVED IT. So much so that I almost believe (and wish) I'm a Stark of Winterfell. Yep, my parents think I've gone mad!

I'm always a bit unsure of reading books after I've seen a TV or film adaptation, just in case I don't like it or there aren't enough differences to warrant doing both. A Game of Thrones is so worth the time it takes to read - there's so much backstory and extra information that, understandably, the show had to leave out. I understand everything a lot better now, though I'm still glad I read it after watching the first season of the show. It was a lot easier knowing who everyone was and what was going on, and I think it definitely helped me.

I won't rehash the story here as I'm sure a lot of people are familiar with this particular medical fantasy through one form or another. I will say that this story is filled with court politics and underhanded characters who will do anything to win the iron throne. There's deceit, rivalries, backstabbing and mind games aplenty, which all make for highly addictive reading. There's also elements of fantasy throughout the novel, though the most obvious (and best, in my opinion) doesn't present itself until the very last page. Talk about an infuriating but brilliant cliffhanger!

When watching the show, my favourite character is undoubtedly Daenerys. I'm rewatching it now and she's still my favourite. However, my allegiance changed when I read the book. Jon Snow is now my top character, followed by Arya and then Daenerys. Jon and Arya's were the ones I looked forward to most, though I also really enjoyed Tyrion the quick-tongued imp's. Even though this book is huge, the chapters are all fairly short and snappy and the point of view changes with each. I love books written like that so A Game of Thrones was an instant hit for me!

There's so much more I could talk about here (character casting, differences between the show and the book, the world of Westeros, George R. R. Martin's ability to shock me even though I know what's coming, his being able to continually ROCK MY SOCKS OFF), but I'll just say that I love everything about this book and the story and I'm really looking forward to reading A Clash of Kings. I'm still deciding whether to read it soon or wait for Season 2 to finish next year, but at the moment I don't think I'm patient enough to wait until summer 2012.

This is very much an adult book, but wow is it amazing. Read it if you're a fan of the show, or if you just want to be introduced to what has to be one of the greatest fantasy stories ever seen on book shelves.

Winter is coming!


Kay (Dead Book Darling) said...

OK, so I am ludicrously happy you enjoyed this book (although I was pretty certain you would). I too cannot decide if I should start Clash of Kings now or wait for after Season 2 to start.

I am so glad you've become more of a Arya fan - she was probably my favourite character in the show AND the books. Although I was surprised by how much I liked Bran and Sansa. I also preferred book!Jon Snow over the HBO version - totally approve of him being your new favourite!

So, yeah, winter is coming!

Katherine Langrish said...

Now you've got me interested. I've not read this yet (probably because I felt I OUGHT to read it: an instant turn-off) but if you say it's honestly this good...!

Arielle said...

Great review! I agree with everything you said - I'm currently reading it right now and am savouring every word!! I too really think that watching the first season on telly helped me get closer to the characters as I'm reading it for the first time now - and I too am completely enamoured by the characters too! :)


DogEar said...

Welcome to the club. I also waiting to read this series but once I sunk my teeth in, there was no letting go. I am now anxiously waiting for THE WINDS OF WINTER, which will probably be another 6 years in the making.

KEEP READING. You have no idea how ridiculously good the sequels are. I read them while I was watching the HBO show and had no problem enjoying each for their merits.

I'm actually jealous you will be enjoying them for the first time. And you may want to be a Stark, but I think Petyr Baelish plays the game a lot better and I have a soft spot for the underdog. I'm on TEAM BAELISH.