Saturday, September 12, 2009

Review: A Song of Ice and Fire: Book 1 - A Game of Thrones by George RR Martin

To say that this reading experience was incredible is like saying I enjoyed my first bungee-jump last year. I was bloody breathless after reading this!

I’ve chatted to Peter V Brett and David Anthony Durham on a few occasions (by email, of course) and GRRM came up a few times – in fact, when talking about the Epic Fantasy genre with anyone, GRRM will come up, no doubt about it. And I had read GRRM’s first collection, Dreamsongs Volume 1 (I’ve got the absolutely beautiful hardcover), and loved it; I learned to appreciate GRRM’s expansive imagination, and got a small taste of just what was in store for me in A Game of Thrones, and I’ll say this: GRRM is definitely one of the Kings of Fantasy. The man writes brilliantly!

So lets go to the review: A Game of Thrones is populated by some incredible characters, and I felt a particular attachment to Jon Snow, the bastard son of Lord Eddard Stark. There was just something about Jon’s status in society and his outlook on life that made me feel as if this was someone I wanted to know, and have as a close friend for the rest of my life. The fact that GRRM could do this speaks volumes about his ability to make his characters live and breathe, and this isn’t only limited to Jon.

His father, Eddard, is an incredible man, the kind of man that anyone and everyone can look up to, and when he leaves his home, Winterfell, to become the King’s Hand, he is thrust into a world that he never wanted to be a part of – but he doesn’t lie down and take it.

Catelyn Stark, Eddard’s wife, starts off as a woman largely powerless and ineffectual, but she finds her reasons to live and fight as the book progresses.

We also meet Eddard and Catelyn’s other children; Bran, the dreamer and climber who becomes the target of a plot to destroy the Starks; Arya, the strong willed girl who can teach anyone a thing or six about how not to underestimate a woman; her sister Sansa, the quintessential spoiled brat who’s world-view will change dramatically.

And then we come to Tyrion Lannister; a dwarf who has been looked-down upon his entire life, even by his family, and who’s only defense is his wit and intelligence. Tyrion was also one of the most enjoyable characters in the book, and I can’t help thinking that he’s going to become incredibly important,not only for who he is but for what he will do.

And we meet Daenerys, the exiled princess, powerless and alone in a foreign land, who will one day stand in the flames of a pyre…

The characters are amazing!

The plotting, too, is tight, with no event taking place that does not drive the story forward; each chapter is incredibly important, so don’t even think about skipping!

The world that GRRM creates is wonderfully detailed, with almost no info dumps that are not needed for the story, and you get the sense that this world is ancient and that its history is colorful and deep.

If you haven’t yet read A Game of Thrones, or if you are still a GRRM-virgin, do what you have to to get this book! This is a work of incredible beauty, a book that should be read by everyone, fantasy-lover or no.

My top two authors before this book were Robert Jordan and Steven Erikson, but GRRM is clawing his way to the top of the pile. I was stunned by this! An incredible, INCREDIBLE book!

10/10

To order your copies of A Game of Thrones, click here for US, here for UK and for those in SA, please follow the link at the top of the blog.

P.S. Having some problems uploading the cover pic, but check out GRRM’s website here – all the covers for A Game of Thrones are there. :-)

P.P.S. HBO, don’t screw this up!!!

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