Saturday, December 17, 2011

A Game of Thrones, George R. R. Martin

Title:  A Game of Thrones
Author:  George R. R. Martin
Pages:  720
Genre:  Fiction, Fantasy
Source:  Kindle!
Why I picked it up:  Dennis.
What you'll love:  Fantastic writing, rich story detail and great characters.
What will bug you:  Not much.  I didn't like it when chapters left on a cliffhanger and it was chapters and chapters before we returned to that character.  Although that's what keeps you reading, right?

Dennis started this series this past summer and it seems he has found an amazing series.  He's been trying to get me to read it, and I'm so glad I did because I'm also in love.  This book has the whole package.  Detail.  Characters.  Writing.  What's not to love?  I'm not usually drawn to the "fantasy" genre but this is different than any other book in that genre I've encountered.  It's fantasy, but it doesn't feel like it.  Does that make any sense?

The basic premise for this first book in the series is that Ned Stark has been called upon to be the King's Hand.  Events unfold after his departure that lead to various families and lineages struggling for power and ultimately the throne.

The format of the book is a favorite of mine.  Each chapter is from the perspective of a different character.  It's such a great way to let the story unfold.  Since these characters are interacting with one another it's an interesting way to gain insight from each character yet constantly be progressing the story forward.  

Some thoughts on the characters:

(and some possible spoilers, so read with caution...)

I like Ned.  I think he's an honest man and an excellent King's Hand.  He give the benefit of the doubt and does not put up with any games.  Of course these things, although great qualities in the King's Hand are not great at court where games and deception abound.  He was one of my favorite characters in this book.  I appreciate how he accepts his children for who they are, and the fairness with which he treats others.

I like Catelyn as well.  She's a strong woman, and I appreciate that quality in books like these.  I think she's savvy, but wonder if she acts a little rashly sometimes.  Her sister - insane.  I actually really liked reading the chapters that talked about her sister.  She's really nuts and a fun character to read about - although completely unstable.  

One of the most interesting characters in this book.  She goes through an incredible transformation as her part of the story progresses.  Her brother is a real doucher, but I think she will turn out to be stronger than anyone realized at the beginning.  The end had me going "Ummm.  WTF is this all about?".  Got to love it when that happens.  

I know he's a Lannister and technically one of the bad guys in this book, but I kind of like Tyrion.  I get the impression he does not care about anyone because no one really cares about him.  He really has little to lose because he does not fit into society in any way.  His dad is also a doucher so he gains your sympathy.  Also, I think he's going to turn out alright in the other books.

Jon is Ned's bastard son - and although it seems as though he is cast off in this book I think he will play a far more important role in the later books.  He has many of the qualities I like about Ned.  He's the kind of person you'd like to be friends with, and who isn't afraid to stand up for the little guy.  His relationship with Sam (what is it with fantasy and lovable/loyal characters named Sam???) really warms the heart.  The whole concept of The Wall is fascinating.  I think that in later books, when winter comes (seasons last for years and winter is far overdue...), the threat may not be coming from the various parts of the seven kingdoms, but from what's behind The Wall.

Bran is cute.  I think he's been taken out of some of the action, but his strength will manifest itself in other ways.  I think he will end up with strength of mind that the other characters do not have.

Kind of love Arya.  She's Ned's daughter and "tomboy" does not do her justice.  It's so fun to read from her perspective.  I predict that her tenacity will also play an important role as swords begin to clash.

Sansa is my least favorite.  She's a girly-girl.  She's so concerned with her fantasy world of pretty dresses and prince charming that she can't see what's in front of her face.  I hope that as the stories progress she gets some sense and a backbone.

I'm so happy to have read this!  Similar to Tolkien, Martin weaves lots of rich detail into his writing.  I have a distinct feeling of what the different parts of the Seven Kingdoms feel like.  The writing is fantastic.  I plan on loving the rest of the series, although I know myself well enough to insert books in between so I don't get the itch to read something else.  

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