A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin (A Song of Ice and Fire #1)
Long ago, in a time forgotten, a preternatural event threw the seasons out of balance. In a land where summers can last decades and winters a lifetime, trouble is brewing. The cold is returning, and in the frozen wastes to the north of Winterfell, sinister and supernatural forces are massing beyond the kingdom's protective Wall. At the center of the conflict like the Starks of Winterfell, a family as harsh and unyeilding as the land they were born to. Sweeping from a land of brutal cold to a distant summertime kingdom of epicurean plenty, here is a tale of lards and ladies, soldiers and sorcerers, assassins and bastards, who come together in a time of grim omens.
Here an enigmatic band of warriors bear swords of no man-made metal; a tribe wildlings carry men off into madness; a cruel young dragon prince barters his sister to win back his throne; and a determined woman undertakes the most treacherous of journeys. Amid plots and counterplots, tragedy and betrayal, victory and terror, the fate of the Starks, their allies, and their enemies hangs perilously in the balance, as each endeavors to win the deadliest of conflicts: the game of thrones.
I feel like this series gets a bad rap, mainly because Martin doesn't balk away from graphic topics. There is a lot of gore, and a lot of sex, and some of it is described in detail, without the corny euphemisms most authors have taken to using. But A Game of Thrones, and the whole series, isn't about violence and sex. It's a hugely ambitious, intricately plotted novel that Martin pulls of with a level of mastery most authors can only dream of.
With over 600 pages, a few dozen characters, and the saga of an entire realm, A Game of Thrones is a daunting undertaking even for readers, but it well worth the read. I made my way through this book faster than I've read some 300-pagers, and I was so interested in the story I had no problem keeping the plot straight. With multiple narrators and a handful of subplots, sideplots, and counterplots, there's a lot going on in Westeros, but Martin writes it in a way that makes it easy to understand and remember the important details. A lot of the drama is focused in the political arena: who gets the throne, who's going to war, etc. I am not a fan of politics, but A Game of Thrones was entertaining and intriguing, and I didn't mind the politics at all.
Plus, besides the struggle for the Iron Throne, you've got lies, betrayal, love, war, gallantry, and adventure going on. There is absolutely nothing boring about this book. Martin mixes in elements of the familiar (aspects of Medieval culture, well-known motives, and common fantasy elements) with things we can only imagine, from monsters to winters that last for decades.Princesses, castles, knights, dragons, and magic fill the world of Westeros, just like they filled the fairy tales you loved as a kid. Only this is fantasy for adults (and young adults), and now the prince doesn't always slay the dragon, and the princess saves herself. A Song of Ice and Fire takes everything good about fantasy and raises it to the next level. If you like Lord of the Rings or The Princess Bride, or any other fantasy, I highly suggest you get your butt on over to the nearest book store and buy A Game of Thrones.
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