A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire #1) (Movie Tie-In Edition)

A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire #1) (Movie Tie-In Edition)

4.5 5483
by George R. R. Martin

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From a master of contemporary fantasy comes the first novel of a landmark series unlike any you’ve ever read before. With A Game of Thrones, George R. R. Martin has launched a genuine masterpiece, bringing together the best the genre has to offer. Mystery, intrigue, romance, and adventure

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From a master of contemporary fantasy comes the first novel of a landmark series unlike any you’ve ever read before. With A Game of Thrones, George R. R. Martin has launched a genuine masterpiece, bringing together the best the genre has to offer. Mystery, intrigue, romance, and adventure fill the pages of this magnificent saga, the first volume in an epic series sure to delight fantasy fans everywhere.
Long ago, in a time forgotten, a preternatural event threw the seasons out of balance. In a land where summers can last decades and winters a lifetime, trouble is brewing. The cold is returning, and in the frozen wastes to the north of Winterfell, sinister forces are massing beyond the kingdom’s protective Wall. To the south, the king’s powers are failing—his most trusted adviser dead under mysterious circumstances and his enemies emerging from the shadows of the throne. At the center of the conflict lie the Starks of Winterfell, a family as harsh and unyielding as the frozen land they were born to. Now Lord Eddard Stark is reluctantly summoned to serve as the king’s new Hand, an appointment that threatens to sunder not only his family but the kingdom itself.

Sweeping from a harsh land of cold to a summertime kingdom of epicurean plenty, A Game of Thrones tells a tale of lords and ladies, soldiers and sorcerers, assassins and bastards, who come together in a time of grim omens. Here an enigmatic band of warriors bear swords of no human metal; a tribe of fierce wildlings carry men off into madness; a cruel young dragon prince barters his sister to win back his throne; a child is lost in the twilight between life and death; and a determined woman undertakes a treacherous journey to protect all she holds dear. Amid plots and counter-plots, tragedy and betrayal, victory and terror, allies and enemies, the fate of the Starks hangs perilously in the balance, as each side endeavors to win that deadliest of conflicts: the game of thrones.

Unparalleled in scope and execution, A Game of Thrones is one of those rare reading experiences that catch you up from the opening pages, won’t let you go until the end, and leave you yearning for more.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
PW gave a starred review to this first installation in a new epic fantasy series. (Sept.)
Library Journal
The author of such science fictino classics as The Armageddon Rag marks the beginning of a new fantasy series about a world where the summer and winter seasons can span generations.
Roland Green
The first volume in Martin's first fantasy saga, A Song of Ice and Fire, combines intrigue, action, romance, and mystery in a family saga. The family is the Starks of Winterfell, a society in crisis due to climatic change that has created decades-long seasons, and a society almost without magic but with human perversity abundant and active. Martin reaches a new plateau in terms of narrative technique, action scenes, and integrating (or not injecting) his political views into the story. He does not avoid a dauntingly large cast and a daunting number of viewpoint shifts, but these are problems seemingly inseparable from the multivolume fantasy genre. Accordingly, one doubts there will be any other comfortable entry point into this example of the genre except at the beginning. Judging by this beginning, however, it promises to repay reading and rereading, from first volume to last, on account of its literacy, imagination, emotional impact, and superb world-building.
Anne McCaffrey
Such a splendid tale and such a fantasticorical! I read my eyes out and couldn't stop 'til I finished and it was dawn. -- Locus
Chicago Sun-Times
We have been invited to a grand feast and pageant: George R.R. Martin has unveiled for us an intensely realized, romantic but realistic world.
A splendid saga....Inventive and intricately plotted.
Magic...George R.R.Martin's first fantasy epic [is set] well above the norms of the genre.
The Denver Post
The major fantasy of the decade...compulsively readable.
Kirkus Reviews
After a long silence (Portraits of his Children, 1987), the author of the cult The Armageddon Rag (1983) returns with the first of a fantasy series entitled, insipidly enough, "A Song of Ice and Fire." In the Seven Kingdoms, where the unpredictable seasons may last decades, three powerful families allied themselves in order to smash the ruling Targaryens and depose their mad king, Rhaegar. Robert Baratheon claimed the throne and took to wife Tywin Lannister's daughter, Cersei; Ned Stark returned north to gloomy Winterfell with its massive, ancient Wall that keeps wildings and unspeakable creatures from invading. Some years later, Robert, now drunk and grossly fat, asks Ned to come south and help him govern; reluctantly, since he mistrusts the treacherous Lannisters, Ned complies. Honorable Ned soon finds himself caught up in a whirl of plots, espionage, whispers, and double-dealing and learns to his horror that the royal heir, Joffrey, isn't Robert's son at all but, rather, the product of an incestuous union between the Queen and her brother Jaime—he murdered Rhaegar despite the latter's surrender. Ned attempts to bargain with Cersei and steels himself to tell Robert—but too late. Swiftly the Lannisters murder the King, consign Ned to a dungeon, and prepare to seize the throne, opposed only by the remaining Starks and Baratheons. On the mainland, meanwhile, the brutal and stupid Viserys Targaryen sells his sister Dany to a barbarian horse-warrior in return for a promise of armies to help him reconquer the Seven Kingdoms. A vast, rich saga, with splendid characters and an intricate plot flawlessly articulated against a backdrop of real depth and texture. Still,after 672 dense pages, were you expecting a satisfying resolution? You won't get it: Be prepared for a lengthy series with an indefinitely deferred conclusion.

Publishers Weekly
The first installment in the engrossing fantasy epic series, A Song of Ice and Fire, opens on a rigid feudal society in a world where the seasons are unpredictable—pleasant summers can last a decade and cruel winters could be scores of years long—creating a hardened and durable people. Up against the ice wall that separates the barbarians and mysterious wild things from civilization, the Stark family has held the north for generations. As the King's Hand, Stark must protect the king whose enemies covet the throne, and the most dangerous of these might be the queen and her family, the Lanisters. While the intricate, compelling story is told in many voices from many perspectives, Tony and Emmy award-winning narrator Roy Dotrice doesn't attempt to perform each of the hundreds of characters. Only occasionally using a different accent or intensity, the tale unfolds in the gruff voice of an old master storyteller enthralling an audience at a hearth. With his British accent and straightforward narration, Dotrice adds a ominous sense of intrigue and doom to the dark and fascinating tale. A Bantam paperback. (Apr.)
From the Publisher
"The major fantasy of the decade . . . compulsively readable."—Denver Post

"We have been invited to a grand feast and pageant: George R.R. Martin has unveiled for us an intensely realized, romantic but realistic world."—Chicago Sun-Times

"A Best Book of 1996: Martin makes a triumphant return to high fantasy . . . [with] superbly developed characters, accomplished prose, and sheer bloodymindedness."—Publishers Weekly, starred review

"A splendid saga . . . . Inventive and intricately plotted."—BookPage

"Magic . . . George R.R.Martin's first fantasy epic [is set] well above the norms of the genre."—Locus

"Such a splendid tale and such a fantasticorical! I read my eyes out and couldn't stop 'til I finished and it was dawn."—Anne McCaffrey

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Product Details

Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
Song of Ice and Fire Series, #1
Product dimensions:
4.06(w) x 6.84(h) x 1.42(d)

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Read an Excerpt


"We should start back," Gared urged as the woods began to grow dark around them. "The wildlings are dead."

"Do the dead frighten you?" Ser Waymar Royce asked with just the hint of a smile.

Gared did not rise to the bait. He was an old man, past fifty, and he had seen the lordlings come and go. "Dead is dead," he said. "We have no business with the dead."

"Are they dead?" Royce asked softly. "What proof have we?"

"Will saw them," Gared said. "If he says they are dead, that's proof enough for me."

Will had known they would drag him into the quarrel sooner or later. He wished it had been later rather than sooner. "My mother told me that dead men sing no songs," he put in.

"My wet nurse said the same thing, Will," Royce replied. "Never believe anything you hear at a woman's tit. There are things to be learned even from the dead." His voice echoed, too loud in the twilit forest.

"We have a long ride before us," Gared pointed out. "Eight days, maybe nine. And night is falling."

Ser Waymar Royce glanced at the sky with disinterest. "It does that every day about this time. Are you unmanned by the dark, Gared?"

Will could see the tightness around Gared's mouth, the barely suppressed anger in his eyes under the thick black hood of his cloak. Gared had spent forty years in the Night's Watch, man and boy, and he was not accustomed to being made light of. Yet it was more than that. Under the wounded pride, Will could sense something else in the older man. You could taste it; a nervous tension that came perilous close to fear.

Will shared his unease. He had been four years on the Wall. The first time he had been sent beyond, all the old stories had come rushing back, and his bowels had turned to water. He had laughed about it afterward. He was a veteran of a hundred rangings by now, and the endless dark wilderness that the southron called the haunted forest had no more terrors for him.

Until tonight. Something was different tonight. There was an edge to this darkness that made his hackles rise. Nine days they had been riding, north and northwest and then north again, farther and farther from the Wall, hard on the track of a band of wildling raiders. Each day had been worse than the day that had come before it. Today was the worst of all. A cold wind was blowing out of the north, and it made the trees rustle like living things. All day, Will had felt as though something were watching him, something cold and implacable that loved him not. Gared had felt it too. Will wanted nothing so much as to ride hellbent for the safety of the Wall, but that was not a feeling to share with your commander.

Especially not a commander like this one.

Ser Waymar Royce was the youngest son of an ancient house with too many heirs. He was a handsome youth of eighteen, grey-eyed and graceful and slender as a knife. Mounted on his huge black destrier, the knight towered above Will and Gared on their smaller garrons. He wore black leather boots, black woolen pants, black moleskin gloves, and a fine supple coat of gleaming black ringmail over layers of black wool and boiled leather. Ser Waymar had been a Sworn Brother of the Night's Watch for less than half a year, but no one could say he had not prepared for his vocation. At least insofar as his wardrobe was concerned.

His cloak was his crowning glory; sable, thick and black and soft as sin. "Bet he killed them all himself, he did," Gared told the barracks over wine, "twisted their little heads off, our mighty warrior." They had all shared the laugh.

It is hard to take orders from a man you laughed at in your cups, Will reflected as he sat shivering atop his garron. Gared must have felt the same.

"Mormont said as we should track them, and we did," Gared said. "They're dead. They shan't trouble us no more. There's hard riding before us. I don't like this weather. If it snows, we could be a fortnight getting back, and snow's the best we can hope for. Ever seen an ice storm, my lord?"

The lordling seemed not to hear him. He studied the deepening twilight in that half-bored, half-distracted way he had. Will had ridden with the knight long enough to understand that it was best not to interrupt him when he looked like that. "Tell me again what you saw, Will. All the details. Leave nothing out."

Will had been a hunter before he joined the Night's Watch. Well, a poacher in truth. Mallister freeriders had caught him red-handed in the Mallisters' own woods, skinning one of the Mallisters' own bucks, and it had been a choice of putting on the black or losing a hand. No one could move through the woods as silent as Will, and it had not taken the black brothers long to discover his talent.

"The camp is two miles farther on, over that ridge, hard beside a stream," Will said. "I got close as I dared. There's eight of them, men and women both. No children I could see. They put up a lean-to against the rock. The snow's pretty well covered it now, but I could still make it out. No fire burning, but the firepit was still plain as day. No one moving. I watched a long time. No living man ever lay so still."

"Did you see any blood?"

"Well, no," Will admitted.

"Did you see any weapons?"

"Some swords, a few bows. One man had an axe. Heavy-looking, double-bladed, a cruel piece of iron. It was on the ground beside him, right by his hand."

"Did you make note of the position of the bodies?"

Will shrugged. "A couple are sitting up against the rock. Most of them on the ground. Fallen, like."

"Or sleeping," Royce suggested.

"Fallen," Will insisted. "There's one woman up an ironwood, half-hid in the branches. A far-eyes." He smiled thinly. "I took care she never saw me. When I got closer, I saw that she wasn't moving neither." Despite himself, he shivered.

"You have a chill?" Royce asked.

"Some," Will muttered. "The wind, m'lord."

The young knight turned back to his grizzled man-at-arms. Frost-fallen leaves whispered past them, and Royce's destrier moved restlessly. "What do you think might have killed these men, Gared?" Ser Waymar asked casually. He adjusted the drape of his long sable cloak.

"It was the cold," Gared said with iron certainty. "I saw men freeze last winter, and the one before, when I was half a boy. Everyone talks about snows forty foot deep, and how the ice wind comes howling out of the north, but the real enemy is the cold. It steals up on you quieter than Will, and at first you shiver and your teeth chatter and you stamp your feet and dream of mulled wine and nice hot fires. It burns, it does. Nothing burns like the cold. But only for a while. Then it gets inside you and starts to fill you up, and after a while you don't have the strength to fight it. It's easier just to sit down or go to sleep. They say you don't feel any pain toward the end. First you go weak and drowsy, and everything starts to fade, and then it's like sinking into a sea of warm milk. Peaceful, like."

"Such eloquence, Gared," Ser Waymar observed. "I never suspected you had it in you."

"I've had the cold in me too, lordling." Gared pulled back his hood, giving Ser Waymar a good long look at the stumps where his ears had been. "Two ears, three toes, and the little finger off my left hand. I got off light. We found my brother frozen at his watch, with a smile on his face."

Ser Waymar shrugged. "You ought dress more warmly, Gared."

Gared glared at the lordling, the scars around his ear holes flushed red with anger where Maester Aemon had cut the ears away. "We'll see how warm you can dress when the winter comes." He pulled up his hood and hunched over his garron, silent and sullen.

"If Gared said it was the cold..." Will began.

"Have you drawn any watches this past week, Will?"

"Yes, m'lord." There never was a week when he did not draw a dozen bloody watches. What was the man driving at?

"And how did you find the Wall?"

"Weeping," Will said, frowning. He saw it clear enough, now that the lordling had pointed it out. "They couldn't have froze. Not if the Wall was weeping. It wasn't cold enough."

Royce nodded. "Bright lad. We've had a few light frosts this past week, and a quick flurry of snow now and then, but surely no cold fierce enough to kill eight grown men. Men clad in fur and leather, let me remind you, with shelter near at hand, and the means of making fire." The knight's smile was cocksure. "Will, lead us there. I would see these dead men for myself."

And then there was nothing to be done for it. The order had been given, and honor bound them to obey.

Will went in front, his shaggy little garron picking the way carefully through the undergrowth. A light snow had fallen the night before, and there were stones and roots and hidden sinks lying just under its crust, waiting for the careless and the unwary. Ser Waymar Royce came next, his great black destrier snorting impatiently. The warhorse was the wrong mount for ranging, but try and tell that to the lordling. Gared brought up the rear. The old man-at-arms muttered to himself as he rode.

Twilight deepened. The cloudless sky turned a deep purple, the color of an old bruise, then faded to black. The stars began to come out. A half-moon rose. Will was grateful for the light.

"We can make a better pace than this, surely," Royce said when the moon was full risen.

"Not with this horse," Will said. Fear had made him insolent. "Perhaps my lord would care to take the lead?"

Ser Waymar Royce did not deign to reply.

Somewhere off in the wood a wolf howled.

Will pulled his garron over beneath an ancient gnarled ironwood and dismounted.

"Why are you stopping?" Ser Waymar asked.

"Best go the rest of the way on foot, m'lord. It's just over that ridge."

Royce paused a moment, staring off into the distance, his face reflective. A cold wind whispered through the trees. His great sable cloak stirred behind like something half-alive.

"There's something wrong here," Gared muttered.

The young knight gave him a disdainful smile. "Is there?"

"Can't you feel it?" Gared asked. "Listen to the darkness."

Will could feel it. Four years in the Night's Watch, and he had never been so afraid. What was it?

"Wind. Trees rustling. A wolf. Which sound is it that unmans you so, Gared?" When Gared did not answer, Royce slid gracefully from his saddle. He tied the destrier securely to a low-hanging limb, well away from the other horses, and drew his longsword from its sheath. Jewels glittered in its hilt, and the moonlight ran down the shining steel. It was a splendid weapon, castle-forged, and new-made from the look of it. Will doubted it had ever been swung in anger.

"The trees press close here," Will warned. "That sword will tangle you up, m'lord. Better a knife."

"If I need instruction, I will ask for it," the young lord said. "Gared, stay here. Guard the horses."

Gared dismounted. "We need a fire. I'll see to it."

"How big a fool are you, old man? If there are enemies in this wood, a fire is the last thing we want."

"There's some enemies a fire will keep away," Gared said. "Bears and direwolves and...and other things..."

Ser Waymar's mouth became a hard line. "No fire."

Gared's hood shadowed his face, but Will could see the hard glitter in his eyes as he stared at the knight. For a moment he was afraid the older man would go for his sword. It was a short, ugly thing, its grip discolored by sweat, its edge nicked from hard use, but Will would not have given an iron bob for the lordling's life if Gared pulled it from its scabbard.

Finally Gared looked down. "No fire," he muttered, low under his breath.

Royce took it for acquiescence and turned away. "Lead on," he said to Will.

Will threaded their way through a thicket, then started up the slope to the low ridge where he had found his vantage point under a sentinel tree. Under the thin crust of snow, the ground was damp and muddy, slick footing, with rocks and hidden roots to trip you up. Will made no sound as he climbed. Behind him, he heard the soft metallic slither of the lordling's ringmail, the rustle of leaves, and muttered curses as reaching branches grabbed at his longsword and tugged on his splendid sable cloak.

The great sentinel was right there at the top of the ridge, where Will had known it would be, its lowest branches a bare foot off the ground. Will slid in underneath, flat on his belly in the snow and the mud, and looked down on the empty clearing below.

His heart stopped in his chest. For a moment he dared not breathe. Moonlight shone down on the clearing, the ashes of the firepit, the snow-covered lean-to, the great rock, the little half-frozen stream. Everything was just as it had been a few hours ago.

They were gone. All the bodies were gone.

"Gods!" he heard behind him. A sword slashed at a branch as Ser Waymar Royce gained the ridge. He stood there beside the sentinel, longsword in hand, his cloak billowing behind him as the wind came up, outlined nobly against the stars for all to see.

"Get down!" Will whispered urgently. "Something's wrong."

Royce did not move. He looked down at the empty clearing and laughed. "Your dead men seem to have moved camp, Will."

Will's voice abandoned him. He groped for words that did not come. It was not possible. His eyes swept back and forth over the abandoned campsite, stopped on the axe. A huge double-bladed battle-axe, still lying where he had seen it last, untouched. A valuable weapon...

"On your feet, Will," Ser Waymar commanded. "There's no one here. I won't have you hiding under a bush."

Reluctantly, Will obeyed.

Ser Waymar looked him over with open disapproval. "I am not going back to Castle Black a failure on my first ranging. We will find these men." He glanced around. "Up the tree. Be quick about it. Look for a fire."

Will turned away, wordless. There was no use to argue. The wind was moving. It cut right through him. He went to the tree, a vaulting grey-green sentinel, and began to climb. Soon his hands were sticky with sap, and he was lost among the needles. Fear filled his gut like a meal he could not digest. He whispered a prayer to the nameless gods of the wood, and slipped his dirk free of its sheath. He put it between his teeth to keep both hands free for climbing. The taste of cold iron in his mouth gave him comfort.

Down below, the lordling called out suddenly, "Who goes there?" Will heard uncertainty in the challenge. He stopped climbing; he listened; he watched.

The woods gave answer: the rustle of leaves, the icy rush of the stream, a distant hoot of a snow owl.

The Others made no sound.

Will saw movement from the corner of his eye. Pale shapes gliding through the wood. He turned his head, glimpsed a white shadow in the darkness. Then it was gone. Branches stirred gently in the wind, scratching at one another with wooden fingers. Will opened his mouth to call down a warning, and the words seemed to freeze in his throat. Perhaps he was wrong. Perhaps it had only been a bird, a reflection on the snow, some trick of the moonlight. What had he seen, after all?

"Will, where are you?" Ser Waymar called up. "Can you see anything?" He was turning in a slow circle, suddenly wary, his sword in hand. He must have felt them, as Will felt them. There was nothing to see. "Answer me! Why is it so cold?"

It was cold. Shivering, Will clung more tightly to his perch. His face pressed hard against the trunk of the sentinel. He could feel the sweet, sticky sap on his cheek.

A shadow emerged from the dark of the wood. It stood in front of Royce. Tall, it was, and gaunt and hard as old bones, with flesh pale as milk. Its armor seemed to change color as it moved; here it was white as new-fallen snow, there black as shadow, everywhere dappled with the deep grey-green of the trees. The patterns ran like moonlight on water with every step it took.

Will heard the breath go out of Ser Waymar Royce in a long hiss. "Come no farther," the lordling warned. His voice cracked like a boy's. He threw the long sable cloak back over his shoulders, to free his arms for battle, and took his sword in both hands. The wind had stopped. It was very cold.

The Other slid forward on silent feet. In its hand was a longsword like none that Will had ever seen. No human metal had gone into the forging of that blade. It was alive with moonlight, translucent, a shard of crystal so thin that it seemed almost to vanish when seen edge-on. There was a faint blue shimmer to the thing, a ghost-light that played around its edges, and somehow Will knew it was sharper than any razor.

Ser Waymar met him bravely. "Dance with me then." He lifted his sword high over his head, defiant. His hands trembled from the weight of it, or perhaps from the cold. Yet in that moment, Will thought, he was a boy no longer, but a man of the Night's Watch.

The Other halted. Will saw its eyes; blue, deeper and bluer than any human eyes, a blue that burned like ice. They fixed on the longsword trembling on high, watched the moonlight running cold along the metal. For a heartbeat he dared to hope.

They emerged silently from the shadows, twins to the first. Three of them...four...five...Ser Waymar may have felt the cold that came with them, but he never saw them, never heard them. Will had to call out. It was his duty. And his death, if he did. He shivered, and hugged the tree, and kept the silence.

The pale sword came shivering through the air.

Ser Waymar met it with steel. When the blades met, there was no ring of metal on metal; only a high, thin sound at the edge of hearing, like an animal screaming in pain. Royce checked a second blow, and a third, then fell back a step. Another flurry of blows, and he fell back again.

Behind him, to right, to left, all around him, the watchers stood patient, faceless, silent, the shifting patterns of their delicate armor making them all but invisible in the wood. Yet they made no move to interfere.

Again and again the swords met, until Will wanted to cover his ears against the strange anguished keening of their clash. Ser Waymar was panting from the effort now, his breath steaming in the moonlight. His blade was white with frost; the Other's danced with pale blue light.

Then Royce's parry came a beat too late. The pale sword bit through the ringmail beneath his arm. The young lord cried out in pain. Blood welled between the rings. It steamed in the cold, and the droplets seemed red as fire where they touched the snow. Ser Waymar's fingers brushed his side. His moleskin glove came away soaked with red.

The Other said something in a language that Will did not know; his voice was like the cracking of ice on a winter lake, and the words were mocking.

Ser Waymar Royce found his fury. "For Robert!" he shouted, and he came up snarling, lifting the frost-covered longsword with both hands and swinging it around in a flat sidearm slash with all his weight behind it. The Other's parry was almost lazy.

When the blades touched, the steel shattered.

A scream echoed through the forest night, and the long sword shivered into a hundred brittle pieces, the shards scattering like a rain of needles. Royce went to his knees, shrieking, and covered his eyes. Blood welled between his fingers.

The watchers moved forward together, as if some signal had been given. Swords rose and fell, all in a deathly silence. It was cold butchery. The pale blades sliced through ringmail as if it were silk. Will closed his eyes. Far beneath him, he heard their voices and laughter sharp as icicles.

When he found the courage to look again, a long time had passed, and the ridge below was empty.

He stayed in the tree, scarce daring to breathe, while the moon crept slowly across the black sky. Finally, his muscles cramping and his fingers numb with cold, he climbed down.

Royce's body lay facedown in the snow, one arm outflung. The thick sable cloak had been slashed in a dozen places. Lying dead like that, you saw how young he was. A boy.

He found what was left of the sword a few feet away, the end splintered and twisted like a tree struck by lightning. Will knelt, looked around warily, and snatched it up. The broken sword would be his proof. Gared would know what to make of it, and if not him, then surely that old bear Mormont or Maester Aemon. Would Gared still be waiting with the horses? He had to hurry.

Will rose. Ser Waymar Royce stood over him.

His fine clothes were a tatter, his face a ruin. A shard from his sword transfixed the blind white pupil of his left eye.

The right eye was open. The pupil burned blue. It saw.

The broken sword fell from nerveless fingers. Will closed his eyes to pray. Long, elegant hands brushed his cheek, then tightened around his throat. They were gloved in the finest moleskin and sticky with blood, yet the touch was icy cold.

Copyright © 1996 by George R. R. Martin

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What People are saying about this

Robert Jordan
Grabs hold and won't let go. It's brilliant.
From the Publisher
"The major fantasy of the decade . . . compulsively readable."—Denver Post

"We have been invited to a grand feast and pageant: George R.R. Martin has unveiled for us an intensely realized, romantic but realistic world."—Chicago Sun-Times

"A Best Book of 1996: Martin makes a triumphant return to high fantasy . . . [with] superbly developed characters, accomplished prose, and sheer bloodymindedness."—Publishers Weekly, starred review

"A splendid saga . . . . Inventive and intricately plotted."—BookPage

"Magic . . . George R.R.Martin's first fantasy epic [is set] well above the norms of the genre."—Locus

"Such a splendid tale and such a fantasticorical! I read my eyes out and couldn't stop 'til I finished and it was dawn."—Anne McCaffrey

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A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire #1) 4.5 out of 5 based on 12 ratings. 5483 reviews.
ThomasHill More than 1 year ago
For anyone new to this series, whether you've just heard of it, or you've seen Game of Thrones on television, the first thing I would say is that these books are certainly not for children or the faint of heart. The violence is graphic and the sex (some would say) is pornographic. Rape is commonplace (often heard of, but rarely witnessed). A Song of Ice and Fire pulls no punches. It depicts a brutal world of treachery, murder, lust, and greed, in which even the good characters have to be ruthless if they wish to survive. Time Magazine has called Martin "the American Tolkien," but that is a superficial judgment. These books are nothing like Tolkien. Imagine the Sopranos in Middle Earth, and you'll get the picture. And yet, as dark and twisted as these books are, they are compelling. No sooner did I finish one book than I started the next, and I am eager for the publication of "A Dance With Dragons" in July 2011. This is because Martin's greatest strengths are plot and character. He weaves his tale out of many threads. The perspective shifts from chapter to chapter, as his main characters take their turns at center stage in Dickensian profusion. Some of them know what the other characters are up to, some think they do, and some don't know much at all. But each advances the complex plot, driving the story and the reader forward. There are two areas in particular where Martin does an excellent job. First, he is more ruthless to his characters than Steven King. No one is safe. No one. Second, almost all of his main characters are quite well rounded. They can surprise you. One character, for example, commits a horrific crime early in the series, and is known to have committed another. As the books go on and the portrait of his character develops, however, it becomes more difficult to pass a simple judgment because he begins taking actions the reader wants to admire him for. I had to keep reminding myself of what he had done before, and that, as someone says in one of the books, sins can be forgiven, but crimes must still be punished. The good guys aren't simply good, and the bad guys aren't simply bad. All in all, a good, fun read, if you're up for it. There is no middle ground.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I truly am disgusted at about half of the reviews being written about this book. People are trying to compare the book to other books that it should most deffinitaly not be compared to; like The Lord of The Rings. Did you ever come across any elves, orcs, dwarves, or talking trees while reading this book? No, no, no, and no. A Game of Thrones is not the Lord of The Rings, its a 100% different story. And if you are not mature enough to handle the sex, incest, and rape of this book, then it is obviously not a book for you. Those of us who enjoy this book are not perverts who masturbate to the sex, thats not what its there for... though some of you seem to think so. A Game of Thrones is about corruption and the evilest of evils, and its not exactly full of happy endings. Will you be anxiously waiting for a character to get out of an impossible situation, only to find that they don't? Yes. Will many of your favorite characters be killed off without much warning? Yes. You will even find yourself wanting to kill a few of the characters yourself. The author does such a great job portraying the problems of the 7 kingdoms, that you actually feel like you want to fix them yourself. All that being said, this story is not a fantasy filled with gallant knights who always triumph over evil, it is a book where happy endings are hard to come by. But does all this evil make this a bad book? Quite the opposite. I greatly recommend this book to anyone who thinks they can handle it.
Sutinike More than 1 year ago
Martin has created a masterpiece with this series. Never have I read any novel of any genre with so many characters, all so brilliantly lifelike, believable and richly detailed. He doesn't introduce them too quickly, giving the reader time to get to know and love them, and as soon as a side is chosen, he takes us into the world of the opposing characters, and we come to love them equally! The scope of the series is truly epic, and while this is technically fantasy, the reader may forget that it's not historical fiction! The style is so gritty and unforgiving that one has no choice but to believe. The fantastical elements creep in slowly and undeniably - a skeleton in a closet, terrifying and mostly unseen. With character drama like this, you don't have to be a fantasy buff to love this series. All who like sweeping drama will enjoy this fantastic journey.
Genghis_Sean More than 1 year ago
As a lifelong reader of fantasy books and committed enough to them to have a six-year-old daughter named Eowyn, I found this series a unique approach to the genre. Martin has crafted a world with depth surpassing that of Tolkien himself, but whether or not this is a virtue is a matter for individual readers to decide. GoT easily has four times the characters of Lord of the Rings, and readers will get bogged down in trying to keep them straight, remembering whether or not they've been encountered before, and caring enough about them to remember them the next time they surface. Furthermore, I wasn't too far into the series before I realized the Martin's books have no true protagonist. The main character, if there is one, is the realm itself. That became a problem for me. I want to root for a character as he struggles to overcome obstacles, injustices, and moral dilemmas. However, that's very difficult to do in GoT because a significant portion of the characters are inherently despicable, and there is no place in his world for the idealistic, loyal, or principled. Such characters in his books inevitably fall prey to machinations of the ruthless. If Martin were to craft a Looney Tunes story, the Roadrunner would have his legs broken, braised, and then fed to him piecemeal by the Coyote while Bugs Bunney was forced to watch. Sure, there do remain a few admirable characters five books into the series but one must empathize with them cautiously since Martin will undoubtedly kill them off eventually. I read about Martin's characters with a sort of learned detachment and too often I'm forced to read simply in order to find out what happens next and not because I particularly care about that specific storyline. Still, the series is enjoyable and some of the characters are amazing. You'll grow to love them, even though you'll sometimes fear to turn the next page.
Shadow Cornelison More than 1 year ago
Intriguing... addictive... leaves you wanting MORE!!! Many unexpected twists, mysterious happenings, and counterplots. Highly recommended, yet not for the faint of heart.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I never considered myself an admirer of the whole Fantasy genre. There was always a fine line I would never cross over. However, I think I stumbled onto something very special with A Game of Thrones and the whole A Song of Ice and Fire series. I was pleasantly surprised with this work. Never have I read a book where the chapters are separated into individual characters points of view, centered around that one character and their whole environment-it was very refreshing and brilliant of the author. I have found a little patience is asked of the potential reader when first entering the world of the Seven Kingdoms. The separate chapters and introductions of key characters may seem never ending, but with some interest and an open "trusting" mind follow Mr. Martin into his ever growing epic. However, if you find yourself completely lost with keeping which characters are "direwolf", "lion", or "stag"--flip to the back of the books and discover complete lists of houses, families, alliances, brief descriptions (believe me it will serve the new reader well to reintroduce themselves after finishing one book and moving onto the next). In A Game of Thrones, I overall adored the plot and was fascinated with the research that paid homage to medieval elements: the weapons, clothing, feudal system, battle scenes, war tactics, geography etc. It all just flowed beautifully where you believed you entered into a realistic world with minute touches of whimsy. I am happy, relieved and thankful to report to any interested readers that there were no to a few cliché fantasy characters/species. A Game of Thrones (as well as the whole series) is full of betrayal, adventure, drama, mystery, and classic revenge. I found myself gasping when thrilling and dismal surprises touched heroes and villians alike. Throughout the novel(s) the evidence of "grey" characters was an unexpected change from the usual light and dark personalities. The reader will also find that Mr. Martin has a talent to capture and bottle the element of foreshadowing (every "symbol" has a meaning that will resurface with a flash as the reader progresses into the ever growing plot). The only part(s) in this book (and series) that keeps it becoming a solid 5 star rating (for me) are the graphic sex sections and modern vulgar language. At first, I tried to remember history/ancient beliefs, human conditioning from the Medieval stand point and the warped entertainment expectations of today (sadly, sex sells). All of the needless scenes and language all seemed to sum back to something that unfortunately had to be there to push the realism and sell the product. Realism and product marketing aside, I must confess after awhile the graphic scenes and cussing (that seemed to come out of nowhere) started to wear on me and I desperately wished them gone from my vivid imagination. All negative aspects aside, I am very happy I stumbled upon this series and highly recommend for those readers who wish to escape from the stereotype of "fantasy".
alexis14217 More than 1 year ago
I cannot put these books down! The characters are fantastic and the settings take your imagination to unthinkable places. This is my first "Fantasy" Series I am mostly into Bio's but as I said before I cannot put them down. The first few chapters of the Game of Thrones was alittle slow but get past that and you wont regret it.
cbaker71 More than 1 year ago
I cant get enough. Absolutely wonderful
theReader278 More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed reading this wonderful book. The characters are well developed, the plot fascinating. I can only recommend this one.
Amanda Curtis More than 1 year ago
I first read this book long before it became an HBO series and loved it back then. Now, I am so far pleasantly surprised with the series and have started re-reading the books. I just hope this motivates the release of the latest book in the series- A Dance With Dragons! A must read. My favorite high fantasy series to date!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
O.K., I'l preface this with a warning; yes, there is sex. Yes, there is violence and rape and the "good guys" do, in fact, die on occasion. If you aren't mature enough to avoid homing in on that and ignoring everything else, don't read this series. If you do read it, you'll just end up writing another unfortunately poor review of a very well written book. With that in mind, I highly recommend reading this series. Martin does a great job of bringing to life a fantasy world that does not require magic to be present on every page. I feel that his descriptions of characters and places aren't long-winded so much as they are immersive. If you have the attention span of someone over twelve(or at least eighteen-that's how old I am), you should be able to keep track of what's going on and avoid losing interest. Also interesting- there really isn't a main character. The books follow a number of characters, and keep you interested in each one. One or two of them die, and that does have an impact on your emotions, but-get this-the good guys don't always pull through in real life, either. The loss of a few characters really makes you appreciate all of them, and keeps you from getting complacent and the story from becoming predictable. In short, read my warning, and if it doesn't apply to you, give A Song of Ice and Fire a shot. You just might like it.
liv2knit More than 1 year ago
Absolutely fantastic historical fiction.  I enjoy that it is written from the perspectives of multiple characters, and that the action is so intense.  I once had to put this book aside for a week because I had to recover from my shock & outrage at what happened to one of the characters...now that's some good writing!!   This series is definitely not for readers who want clearly-defined heroes and villains, as the GoT characters are much too complex for that.  Nor is it for those who want to think that the medieval world was full of honorable lords and knights, fair maidens and well-fed, well-cared for peasants rather than one of ruthless and prevalent violence werein those with power and titles took advantage of their positions (ever hear of Henry VIII?).  Our modern-day ideas of civil rights, equality, justice, even basic human rights were non-existent, and Martin works within those realistic parameters.   The unexpectedness of events is what I love and hate most about this series.  You cannot hope to predict what's going to happen next, and what does happen may break your heart and leave you re-reading the page just to be sure that that actually just happened.  This, to me, is keeping it real, and makes for some of the most exciting reading ever. If you can leave your modern-day sensibilities at the door, NOT compare this to any other fantasy series you may have read before, and immerse yourself entirely into the Game, you will thoroughly enjoy this book and the complete series.       
Andrak More than 1 year ago
These books are not written for those that enjoy light reading. George takes us to a very believable world - amazing in scope - and introduces us to characters that are not only loveable, but some that are ruthlessly brutal. These books are raw; do not get attached to the characters! The enjoyment here is in the journey. if you let yourself escape into the world he's created, you will appreciate this series more. Please be patient, as things eventually work themselves out to their conclusion. (not always the conclusions the reader would envision) My only disappointment (and not with this book, but with the series) is that "A Feast for Crows" splits the narrative in half and you are left to wait for the fifth book to see what's happening to the other half of the characters. On top of this, George doesn't seem to be in any hurry to get the next book out, as it was originally slated to be out in December, 2009. A Song of Ice and Fire is/was slated to be a 7 part series, but at the pace at which they are being churned out, George may be too old and feeble to complete the series . . . The first three books in this series are nothing short of awesome - "Crows" falls short, but it's mostly because of the split narrative. I have a feeling, however, that the fifth book will be well worth the wait!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I've found a lot of the reviews listed on the site as "most helpful" are pretty negative. Personally, I found this book to be an impressive piece of literature. I think a lot of the reviews placed unfair criticism on the novel. I noticed some reviews complaining about the graphic content of the book. There are few scenes with some relatively graphic scenes depicting rape, incest, and murder. You have to remember though that this book was heavily inspired by Medieval Europe, which was an extremely violent time in history. This isn't an innocent, happily ever after story like Lord of the Rings. This book uses a fictional world to paint a realistic picture of a grim time history. This book will captivate you and demand your attention, but it will not uplift you. Other reviews claim that it's a painfully slow read. For an 800 page book, I think it moves pretty quickly. The plot isn't particularly difficult to follow, and nor is there an excess of characters like some reviews. If you find this book a challenging read, you might just be stupid. Speaking of characters though, I found them to be the highlight of the book. They are thoroughly developed and feature lifelike, human personalities. Few are completely good or completely evil. They are all memorable characters, and I really connected with a few of them. The plot of this book is multi-dimensional and unpredictable. It's packed with mystery, adventure, and fantasy. The author has created a lifelike world with its own history, that makes the story that much more interesting. This truly is an imaginative and captivating story. If you enjoy a unique and memorable tale, I promise you will enjoy A Game of Thrones
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is indeed, a very good read, with characters with good and bad points, a non biased conflict, awesome fight sequences, and a realistic depiction of a medieval society. It's a great book to say the least. However, as a word of warning to young but advanced readers, this book contains bloody violence, disturbing content, and most of all, graphic scenes of sexuality, some of which are homosexual in nature ( not to offend any homosexual persons, merely to inform readers of content). Read carefully.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This series is fantastic, it's different than any other series I've read. However, I wasn't able to truly begin appreciating them until the 2nd/3rd book. Keep reading you'll be hooked.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The first book in this series is pretty good. At first, switching from character to character was a little odd, however, after the first few times it's natural and the story line picks up where the previous character leaves off. It's interesting to root for all sides in the story (even the "bad" guys) because you see it from their perspective. As the fifth book is about to come out, I don't think the series has been abandoned.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
AMAZING!!! One of the best books i have ever read. Yes, many gruesome events take place, but if you look past those things and pay more attention to the actual story, you will see how great it is. There are so many elements that come into it, the characters, the plot, and the world in which it all takes place in makes this a true masterpiece. I will definitely buy the rest of the series on my Nook!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Joffre is a dickwad
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It's a really good book. If you watched the show they stay on track. Of course they add and take stuff away for the show. If you like fantasy type books. Read this one. You will love this person and then by the middle of the book hate them. Its a great start for the series. Easy read. Kinda long but worth it.
Shirley_Holmes More than 1 year ago
Originally posted on my blog: The Bibliophile's Corner First Thoughts: I have been wanting to read this series for a while. I have heard wonderful things about it and the show is a huge success on HBO. I have also been craving a good fantasy series that I can devour and I’m so glad I found this book. First 50-100 Pages: The first several chapters are amazing. You are introduced to so many characters, houses, families, agendas, and it is a little difficult to keep track of. But as the chapters go on it gets easier. Every character gets their own face in your head and their own personalities. Characters: Speaking of characters. There are so many good ones and so many that I want to drive a sword through. First, the ones I love: Arya, the spirited child of Eddard Stark who would rather play with swords than dress in skirts; Tyrion, the second son of the Lannister family, a small man with a big personality that I couldn’t help but love; Eddard, the lord of the Winterfell (played by Sean Bean in the show), he is a just and fair man and I fell in love with his loyalty and honesty; Jon, the bastard son of Eddard who joins the Black (members have to leave their family and become family with fellow bearers of the Black) is fiercely loyal to his father and his land; Daenerys, or Dany as she is called, is a Targaryan and pawn of her brothers in order to overthrown King Robert. She is a force to be reckoned with and I feel like she had the most growth throughout the book. Now for those I didn’t like: Cersei, the queen of Robert and a Lannister, she will do anything to get her family on the throne and I really disliked her incestuous relationship with her brother Jamie.;Joffery, Cersei’s son and the next in line to the throne. I absolutely hate him. He is cold and heartless; Sansa, Arya’s older sister and the daughter of Eddard. She is such an idiot! She could not see through Joffery’s coldness until it was too late and she so badly wanted to be a lady that I felt she betrayed her family; Catelyn, the wife of Eddard, is someone who I don’t hate, but I do not by any means love. She jumped too conclusions and acted without thought in many cases and essentially was the one who started the war. The best part of this book by far, is the change in perspectives. Each chapter changes between Eddard, Sansa, Arya, Catelyn, Jon, Dany, Bran, Plot: There is so much going on in this book, it’s crazy. At the beginning, we see mysterious happenings and killings done outside the Wall and the Night’s Watch are puzzled. After the prologue, we jump into the Stark family. Within the first few chapters, poor Bran is thrown from a window after uncovering the Lannister’s secret. Meanwhile, you have the Stark family trying to remain faithful to King Robert even though is married to the Lannister house. The Lannister house is manipulative and heartless and will do anything to get the throne. Then you have Dany and her brother who are teaming up with the Dothraki, the horse riders, so Viserys, Dany’s brother, can be king again. Then, as if human problems weren’t enough, there are supernatural beings living in the forest that made an appearance in the prologue still haunting the Wall. Final Thoughts: Guys. The ending. Holy crap almighty. The last chapter made me squeal and I really want to start the second book soon. This book is wonderful. If you are fantasy fan and haven’t read this book, please do. It is truly a great start to what I’m sure is an amazing series.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
After years on a reading hiatus i got into Game of Thrones after watching the HBO series. Now i cant get enough. Im about to finish the 3rd book and i cant wait to start the 4th. This is a great story - highly recommended.
Elia P Orta More than 1 year ago
I love this book,I cant wait to read them all. I'm trying to read them slowly since I watch the series on HBO but its so hard because it is such a good book.
ChiefRW More than 1 year ago
This is a story that keeps you turning the page. I have continued to book 2 and am still enthralled with the storytelling and detail.
kdheeb More than 1 year ago
It had me enthralled. Not my usual genre, but it kept my attention so much that it only took about 4-5 days to read 700+ pages.