I’m excited to finally be reading the A Song of Ice and Fire series. My friend Kandravy, who recommended The Name of the Wind (now one of my favorite books and also a fantasy novel), told me I had to read this series next and so far, I’m a huge fan.
There are currently five books released in the A Song of Ice and Fire series, starting with A Game of Thrones, but there will be seven total eventually. I won’t lie, it’s an intimidating series to begin reading considering each book is at least 800 pages long. But based on how good book one was, I’m ready to keep reading. And I had no idea that A Games of Thrones was originally published in 1996–so it’s already taken Martin 15 years to write the series!
Reading A Game of Thrones is like reading a book about medieval times, with a touch of fantasy. It’s set in the Seven Kingdoms, where there are kings and queens, castles and knights, princesses and bastards, wars and battles for the thrones. There are also summers that last for years, ghosts and wolf-dogs called direwolves. And hundreds of years ago, dragons existed. It really isn’t at all “too fantasy” in my opinion.
This first book focuses mainly on the Stark, Baratheon and Lannister families, Lord Eddard (Ned) Stark, his wife Catelyn Tully and their children, and King Robert Baratheon of the Iron Throne, his wife Queen Cersei Lannister, and their children. Daenerys (Dany) Targaryen is also a key character in the book–she and her brother Viserys are the last members of the ancient Targaryen Dynasty, who once ruled the Iron Throne. Most characters are from a longstanding “House,” such as the House of Stark or the House of Targaryen, and Wikipedia is honestly best way to keep track of who is who. Though I didn’t have to reference it much as I read. And don’t read too much about each character or else you’ll know what’s going to happen before reading the books!
A Game of Thrones is told through the point of view of eight of the main characters of the novel, through chapters written in first-person. I liked how each character had their own subplot and/or is off in a different part of the Seven Kingdoms telling their own story. At the beginning of the book, it’s hard to establish who is who, the significance of each character and where the alliances are–it takes a while to set up the story, put everyone in place, and put the real plot into motion. But by then the characters and story feel so real, it’s hard to turn away. The characters grow with the story too–you’ll find your opinions of them changing as you read on. My favorite characters were Ned, his bastard son Jon Snow and Tyrion Lannister, the dwarf. And be prepared–Martin isn’t afraid of killing main characters!
While it’s obvious as you read that the plot will entail people vying for the throne(s), it’s not stated specifically until page 488, when Queen Cersei says to Ned, “When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die. There is no middle ground.” Even 488 pages into the book, the story gains momentum. I don’t want to give away much of the plot–but as you can imagine, the story revolves around the struggles between different families and Houses, the bonds and power struggles within family’s, as well as deceit, love, trust, etc.
I haven’t seen the series on HBO, but I’m tempted to at this point. I’ve heard from friends that it’s really good and I love the actor Sean Bean, who plays the main character Ned. My friend Mary and I were talking last night (she watched the show but hasn’t read the books) and it seems like the first season follows the book and they ended with the same final scene–it’ll give you goosebumps! Now, on to A Clash of Kings!