The beginning of of one of the greatest fantasy novel sequences of all time.
BOOK REVIEW GEORGE R R MARTIN GAME OF THRONES 1996 Harper-Collins
A major work of high fantasy literature, and the basis for the epic HBO TV series.
Game Of Thrones is the opening volume of A Song Of Ice And Fire, and deals with the downfall of the house of Stark, one of seven powerful ruling dynasties in a World of intrigue, treachery and betrayal.
Much of the character driven plot concerns the illegitimacy of some of the Stark family children. This is a world where true-blood lines are extremely important, and illegitimacy can bring shame, exile or death.
The Starks have a very pessimistic outlook that permeates a very bleak, gloomy work, as tragic and doom-laden as Shakespeare’s King Lear.
For a fantasy work, the magic is subtle and sparingly used. There are the zombie like rising dead of the far North, prophetic visions, a powerful spell-sayer and more than a hint of dragons; but the human conflicts dominate the text.
The book is presented in chapters centred on seven major characters, Eddard Stark, the King’s right hand man, embroiled in a conflict that could destroy his family and his kingdom.
Jon Snow, cast out by his illegitimacy in the Stark family, takes a lifelong oath to guard the Northern Wall, a 700 foot high fortress barrier against the uncharted wastelands from which monsters and strange ice-crystal knights, and zombies emerge.
Daenyris, sold into marriage to a Genghis Khan like horse-riding clan by her brother, finds love with the clan leader, but his increasing ill health threatens her safety and that of her unborn child. Her story will lead to the novel’s greatest surprise in the end.
The Stark daughters, Arya, and Sansa, are forced to grow up before their time because of the conflict engulfing their family.
Bran, a true-blood son of the Stark family, unwittingly sees some of the conspirators in action and ends up crippled in an assassination attempt that sets in motion a chain of events leading to full scale war.
Tyrion Lannister is the most intriguing character in the book. A dwarf in the dynasty that is out to destroy the Starks, The imp finds himself accused of initiating the attempt on Bran’s life – and finds himself drawn into a war he would rather miss.
An incredible mixture of stories that have unexpected impacts and consequences on one another. Their conflict is inspired by Martin’s readings into the British Wars Of The Roses, and presents a very different world to Tolkien’s Middle Earth.
The sense of tragedy overwhelms the text as it goes on. This is a World where seasons can last a generation, and the events begin as Summer is giving way to Winter, and with six more books to go, Martin is only just getting warmed up here.