Tuesday, July 30

A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

When the Hand of the King dies, Eddard Stark is prevailed upon to take his place. Yet there are whispers that the Hand’s was murdered. Eddard must discover the sinister truth that plagues the throne and the seven kingdoms – but will getting too close to the secret cost him his head?

I enjoyed ‘A Game of Thrones’ far more than I expected to. It is a large book and very character based. Some might find it slow or lacking in action but it is very character driven and Martin never passes up a wrench in the workings or allows his characters an easy way out. The novel is written in third person from eight different perspectives, primarily the Starks with the exception of Tyrion Lannister and Daenerys Targaryen. The focus on each character is surprisingly captivating and each does their part to pull the reader into the intrigue of the story.

My favourite characters were Tyrion, who has a way with words and a refreshingly conflicting outlook on life, Arya, whom I found more sympathetic than most other characters, and of course Eddard Stark. Him I found the most enthralling to read about because he seems to be the best of men but his honour and loyalty are a double edged sword.

It was interesting to read from all the different perspectives. It made for a more rounded and less biased view of the novel. The Lannisters are established as the antagonists, and yet Tyrion is one of them. Eddard doesn't know who he can put his trust in. Both the characters Little Finger and Varys seem at times seem to be for and against him but the truth of it is that they put their intelligence and their survival instinct before any loyalty. They are both cunning and think before they act. The separation of the characters means that they often don't know the truths past their own speculation and hearsay. The reader is the raven that flies over Westeros and sees more than any character, even Varys.

I had always assumed that ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ was an epic fantasy but in the seven kingdoms magic is but a whisper in the dark under the light of the moon. The novel is very much what its title promises it to be: a game of thrones. One reason I liked Daenerys was because she was wrapped in the intrigue of the dragons. Hopefully sub sequential volumes will have more magic than just on the outskirts – whether it be fiery or something to send a shiver down the reader’s spine.

One of the main reasons I was so drawn into ‘A Game of Thrones’ is because I listened to it on audio book, narrated by Roy Dotrice. It is a very long audio book to be sure but I am not sure I would have soared through the book so fast had I read it myself. Dotrice in an excellent narrator, who doesn’t just read the book but rather acts it out. If a character laughs or whimpers, he doesn’t just state it but shows it in his voice. There were a few times he slipped up and said “Jeffrey” instead of “Joffrey.” I personally prefer the pronunciation “Just off him already.”

A Song of Ice and Fire is a series that has been recommended to me for years but I never paid it much mind. When HBO’s ‘Game of Thrones’ reared its head, I didn’t even realise that it was adapted from George R.R. Martin’s novels. I had only had the faintest of spoilers from glancing scenes from the television show in passing – which I have for the most part successfully avoided – and intend to listen to the audio books before I watch the corresponding seasons.

‘A Game of Thrones’ is a novel I would highly recommend to anyone who appreciates a novel with excellent character development, tumultuous tension, and the intrigue of magic.

Trigger Warning: Physical and sexual abuse.

In accordance with the FTC, Quill Café would like to disclose that the reviewer purchased this book. The opinions expressed are hers alone and no monetary compensation was offered to her by the author or publisher. Cover art is copyright of Bantam and is used solely as an aide to the review.

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