This is a two-in-one review. It’s a review of both the hard copy and the audio edition of the first book in the Song of Ice and Fire series by George RR Martin. I could include the superb HBO adaptation as well as the first volume of the graphic novel but that is just too ambitious.
I never planned on reading this book series. As if I needed another epic to mix in with my already overflowing TBR pile. But since picking up this book, the other titles in the series shot up to the top of my queue. It was like The Lord of the Rings all over again. And like it, I’ve become rather obsessed with the screen adaptation as well.
A Game of Thrones is the first book in the series A Song of Ice and Fire. It is set in a fictitious country called Westeros. Several houses rule their own lands, all of them under King Robert Baratheon. The House Stark rule the North in Winterfell. Lord Eddard “Ned” Stark is the head of the house. The sudden death of the Hand of the King, Jon Arryn, starts a series of events that will cause many deaths, betrayals, and wars.
I must admit that the HBO TV series sparked my interest. I love Sean Bean and frankly, I’ll watch anything HBO. I watched the first two episodes and was mesmerized by everything about it, especially the superb casting and acting. Then I watched the second episode and for some reason, I lost interest. (Maybe it’s because they killed an animal, eh.) Seasons 1 & 2 came and went until one day at Barnes & Noble, I randomly picked up A Game of Thrones and started reading. And I haven’t stopped since.
Every single page of it is an adventure. It is divided into chapters in the form of points of views of several characters, telling the story through their eyes and from where there are at that time. The story goes steadily forward even if the POV changes. My favorite characters to follow are Jon Snow, Arya Stark, Daenerys Targaryen, and Tyrion Lannister. Jon and Arya’s chapters always go by faster than the others while Daenerys’ scenes happen outside of Westeros, of different cultures and ways of life. As for Tyrion, he has such a superb mind that it is interesting how he practices his power despite his small stature.
It blows my mind that one person has this all in his head. Such great creativity and imagination. And the characters are so well planned that none fade into the background. Even the lowliest peasant has his own unique character trait that sets him apart from the rest. And there are so many to root for, not just one hero. It is easy to find someone to relate with because there are just so many characters. I wonder how George RR Martin keeps track… but then again, it’s his world.
My favorite thing about this book is the relationships of the characters with one another. Especially the Starks. Yes, there is bloodshed and betrayal and all that bad stuff but there is also love. Even between the two characters I despised, Cersei Lannister and her son Joffrey Baratheon, you can sense the strong love Cersei has for Joffrey even though she uses him as pawn for power. But among the Stark family, how Catelyn and Ned love their true-born children; how Ned truly loves his bastard son Jon Snow; how Jon is with his half-siblings; and how the kids are with their direwolves… it is so touching and I think that aspect sets this apart from other fantasy novels.
I mentioned wars, conflicts, and battles. My favorite way of enjoying these scenes are via audio book. Read by Roy Dotrice (who plays Hallyne in the second season), this unabridged narration stretches for almost 34 hours. Listening to battle scenes made it seem more active, more adventurous than just reading about it. I love the voice he does for Tyrion. He doesn’t change his voice all that often, even for the female characters, but his delivery is done very well. Also, audio booking also allowed me to enjoy this book even while at work.
Overall, I am in love with it. Pairing this novel to its pleasantly faithful TV counterpart, I was easily hooked and now am so into the whole Thrones universe. I want to know what comes next, what happens to these characters I love and hate, and who wins that game of thrones.
Recommendation: Fantasy nerds unite! Actually, if you are a book worm, I think this should be in those must-read lists. It’s not an easy read but it is worth it.
Listen to a sample of the audio book here.