Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice & Fire #1), by George R.R. Martin

My Copy: 9780553593716 (image from bn.com)

I was not planning to read this book yet. I hadn’t even planned to buy it until last month because I wanted to get ALL the books before reading them one at a time. But seeing as how this book originally was published in 1996, and we’re in 2020 and have only gotten 5 official books… yeah, my curiosity wouldn’t let me leave it be. I snatched all 5 paperbacks quick as I could so I could start reading.

Because now, even as the series of books is unfinished, I want to see the first few seasons of the show. I started reading this 800 page + book on Monday night, and just finished it. There’s a ton of info in here, and I didn’t skim.

Anyhoo, A Game of Thrones (my copy left the “A” off for some reason) is a story most people probably know about. I’m not going to bother hashing it out too much because it’s a lot of starts and not a lot of finishes going on. We meet dozens of people in these pages, including a family of the North, legitimate and otherwise, whose patriarch is friend of the king. The king is surrounded by flatterers and fools, and his ambitious wife’s family who take a little more for themselves than even the king would believe. The problem is, the Hand of the king is dead, and Ned Stark of the North is commanded to help his friend rule in the south. So many families and stories wrap themselves around this king and his decision; it sets up the conflicts that are to come about.

What surprises me is in the making of this story, it REALLY takes its time. I mean, there are so many characters that need introducing, or at least for us to get a taste of what they’re like, and the author certainly delivers. They’re different enough that you can get the gist of who they are and not sit there going “wait, who was that guy again?” You remember these characters,

And as far as “taking time” goes, you’d think a story with this many characters with their own opportunities and motives would result in the king dying a lot sooner. But that just makes it tense, because for the build-up to actually pay off with the families and all we learn about them, he would have to die, and we know it. I wonder if King Robert felt like he was going to die soon and if he minded at all that this was going to happen. He’s actually the character I wondered about most: was it his pride, or was he blind to the faults of those around him? Certainly something made him decide on Ned rather than one who’d lived in the capital and knew its inner workings better.

The story has so much in it: taking prisoners, hostages, arranged marriages, battles, supernatural forces, tournaments, betrayal, orphaned children of the old king, warriors of the plains, and many other things.

There is so much in this book I can’t possibly unravel it all, and if you’ve seen the show, then I’m sure you’ve already know. But as far as the book is concerned, if you want to be taken to another place and time, and see what it’s like to live there without exposition dumps every few pages… then this is a helluva book.

I can’t wait for the 6th book to come out so I can hurry up and get it, but in the meantime, I’ll get some sleep and console myself with book #2 tomorrow night.

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