A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin

If you saw the first season of the HBO television series, you should definitely consider reading A Game of Thrones.  I saw the series before starting the book, and I’ve found it fascinating to learn more details about the characters and plot.  Also, as I read, I enjoyed seeing the characters in my mind.

If you didn’t see the HBO series’ first season, don’t let that fact keep you from reading the book.  My husband read it before seeing the TV series and was so impressed that he chose copies of the paperback as Christmas gifts to our sons and their families and made it a priority to see the reruns of the series.  This is one of the few books which he’s enthusiastically recommended to other people!

The DVDs of the first season are currently on order for the library collection (you can get on the waiting list now) and also are available for purchase in a number of places.

Reviewers call Martin’s saga a modern classic.  A Game of Thrones is the first in a series of epic fantasy novels, Song of Ice and Fire. Five books are already available, and Martin plans two more books in this series.  While Martin’s series is sometimes compared to Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, it depicts, not a conflict between good and evil, but a complex struggle for power.

The setting for A Game of Thrones is a fantasy world which reminds me of medieval Europe.  Summer has lasted for years, and now winter—probably a very long winter– is coming.  There are several contenders for the throne.  The present king, who showed great promise as a young man, now prefers boar-hunting and drinking wine to governing his country.  A member of the former ruling family gives his sister, a young teenager, in marriage to the fierce ruler of a warlike tribe, hoping that the tribe will provide the troops needed to restore his family to power.  The queen and her family hold great power in the land.  The country is filled with political intrigue.  Meanwhile, far to the north, men devote their lives to manning the great Wall, trying to keep evil men and supernatural beings from coming south into the civilized world.

Which characters will win in the “game of thrones,” and which will face defeat, maybe even death?  There are many surprises!

Each chapter focuses on a character – male or female, child, teenager, or adult.  This arrangement helps the reader to understand these major characters and to view events from a variety of perspectives.

The book is not a quick read; you’ll want to savor the details to gain a full appreciation of Martin’s imagination and writing skills and to follow the complex plot. It is, however, a page turner – several of my family members have already completed the five thick books in the series and are eagerly awaiting the publication of the next two!

(Helen Snow, retired from Information Services)

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