A Game of Thrones (Turtleback School & Library Binding Edition)

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Overview

This beautiful new edition of George R. R. Martin's landmark novel A Game of Thrones is a must-have for all fans and collectors of the groundbreaking series A Song of Ice and Fire

Included in this unique and limited edition package:

• A handsome slipcase edition featuring a linen slipcase and book cover, foil stamped original design, acid-free paper and a satin ribbon ...

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Overview

This beautiful new edition of George R. R. Martin's landmark novel A Game of Thrones is a must-have for all fans and collectors of the groundbreaking series A Song of Ice and Fire

Included in this unique and limited edition package:

• A handsome slipcase edition featuring a linen slipcase and book cover, foil stamped original design, acid-free paper and a satin ribbon marker.
• A special conversation between George R. R. Martin and Barnes & Noble. The author discusses his writing influences, his own style, his characters and their perspectives, having his vision come to the screen, and more!
• Barnes & Noble' s online series Meet the Writers interview with George R. R. Martin, in which the author talks about A Dance With Dragons, the fifth book in the Song of Ice and Fire series and a love of reading.
• George R. R. Martin answers questions about the new HBO original series A Game of Thrones.
• A special full-color preview, including original character sketches, of A Game of Thrones: The Graphic Novel, No. 1—based on George R. R. Martin's novel of the same name.

Here is the first volume in George R. R. Martin’s magnificent cycle of novels that includes A Clash of Kings and A Storm of Swords. As a whole, this series comprises a genuine masterpiece of modern fantasy, bringing together the best the genre has to offer. Magic, mystery, intrigue, romance, and adventure fill these pages and transport us to a world unlike any we have ever experienced. Already hailed as a classic, George R. R. Martin’s stunning series is destined to stand as one of the great achievements of imaginative fiction.

A Game of Thrones

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 and supernatural forces are massing beyond the kingdom’s protective Wall. At the center of the conflict lie the Starks of Winterfell, a family as harsh and unyielding as the land they were born to. Sweeping from a land of brutal cold to a distant summertime kingdom of epicurean plenty, here is 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; and a determined woman undertakes the most treacherous of journeys. Amid plots and counterplots, tragedy and betrayal, victory and terror, the fate of the Starks, their allies, and their enemies hangs perilously in the balance, as each endeavors to win that deadliest of conflicts: the game of thrones.

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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
BookPage
A splendid saga....Inventive and intricately plotted.
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.
Locus
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.
From Barnes & Noble
Long ago, in a time forgotten, a preternatural event threw the seasons out of balance. 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, and his enemies are 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 also the kingdom itself. A heroic fantasy of lords and ladies, soldiers and sorcerers, assassins and evildoers who come together in a time of grim omens. The first volume in George Martin's series.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780606238434
  • Publisher: San Val, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 3/22/2011
  • Series: Song of Ice and Fire Series , #1
  • Format: Library Binding
  • Edition description: FOR USE IN SCHOOLS AND LIBRARIES ONLY.
  • Pages: 835
  • Sales rank: 262,420
  • Product dimensions: 4.10 (w) x 6.80 (h) x 1.70 (d)

Meet the Author

George R.R. Martin
George R.R. Martin sold his first story in 1971 and has been writing professionally ever since. He has written fantasy, horror, and science fiction, and for his sins spent ten years in Hollywood as a writer/producer, working on Twilight Zone, Beauty and the Beast, and various feature films and television pilots that were never made. In the mid 90s he returned to prose, his first love, and began work on his epic fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire. He has been in the Seven Kingdoms ever since. Whenever he's allowed to leave, he returns to Santa Fe, New Mexico, where he lives with the lovely Parris, a big white dog called Mischa, and two cats named Augustus and Caligula who think they run the place.

Biography

As a child growing up in New Jersey, George R.R. Martin displayed an early interest in "the writing life" by selling monster stories of his own invention to the children in his Bayonne neighborhood. In high school he became an avid comic book collector and began to write for comic fanzines. He sold his first story to Galaxy in 1970 when he was 21 years old.

Martin received his bachelor's and master's degrees in journalism from Northwestern University. After graduation he served two years in VISTA, then worked as a teacher and chess tournament director in the Midwest, while continuing to craft award-winning short fiction. His first full-length novel, Dying of the Light, was published in 1977. A dark, lyrical sci-fi tone poem set on a doomed world without a sun, the book was nominated for a Hugo Award.

Throughout the 1980s, Martin worked in television, writing for science fiction- and fantasy-themed shows like The Twilight Zone and Beauty and the Beast. At this time he became involved with Wild Cards, a long-running anthology series composed of "mosaic stories" written by multiple authors and set in a shared universe. In addition to editing the series, Martin has contributed stories to the Wild Card books.

In 1996, Martin published A Game of Thrones, the first installment of his magnum opus, the epic fantasy series A Song of Fire and Ice. Set in the Seven Kingdoms, a realm resembling medieval Europe, the internationally bestselling series has provided the ultimate showcase for Martin's formidable world-building and characterization skills.

During the course of his long, prolific career, Martin has accrued every major literary prize for science fiction or fantasy writing, including the Hugo, Nebula, World Fantasy, Bram Stoker, Daedelus, and Locus awards. But what endears him especially to his readers is his extraordinary accessibility. A tireless participant in genre conventions and festivals, he maintains a cordial relationship with his fans through his website and blog. He is also a member of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America.

Good To Know

Christened George Raymond Martin, the author has this to say about his unusual name: "I arrived short one 'R' but fixed that at my confirmation 13 years later."

As a conscientious objector, Martin did alternative service from 1972-1974 with VISTA, attached to Cook County Legal Assistance Foundation.

Martin was class valedictorian of his high school. In 1970, he graduated summa cum laude from Northwestern University.

In the mid-1970s, Martin supplemented his income by directing tournaments for the Continental Chess Association.

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    1. Hometown:
      Santa Fe, NM
    1. Date of Birth:
      September 20, 1948
    2. Place of Birth:
      Bayonne, NJ
    1. Education:
      B.S., Northwestern University, 1970; M.S., Northwestern University, 1971
    2. Website:

Read an Excerpt

The morning had dawned clear and cold, with a crispness that hinted at the end of summer. They set forth at daybreak to see a man beheaded, twenty in all, and Bran rode among them, nervous with excitement. This was the first time he had been deemed old enough to go with his lord father and his brothers to see the king's justice done. It was the ninth year of summer, and the seventh of Bran's life.

The man had been taken outside a small holdfast in the hills. Robb thought he was a wildling, his sword sworn to Mance Rayder, the King-beyond-the-Wall. It made Bran's skin prickle to think of it. He remembered the hearth tales Old Nan told them. The wildlings were cruel men, she said, slavers and slayers and thieves. They consorted with giants and ghouls, stole girl children in the dead of night, and drank blood from polished horns. And their women lay with the Others in the Long Night to sire terrible half-human children.

But the man they found bound hand and foot to the holdfast wall awaiting the king's justice was old and scrawny, not much taller than Robb. He had lost both ears and a finger to frostbite, and he dressed all in black, the same as a brother of the Night's Watch, except that his furs were ragged and greasy.

The breath of man and horse mingled, steaming, in the cold morning air as his lord father had the man cut down from the wall and dragged before them. Robb and Jon sat tall and still on their horses, with Bran between them on his pony, trying to seem older than seven, trying to pretend that he'd seen all this before. A faint wind blew through the holdfast gate. Over their heads flapped the banner of the Starks of Winterfell: a grey direwolf racing across an ice-white field.

Bran's father sat solemnly on his horse, long brown hair stirring in the wind. His closely trimmed beard was shot with white, making him look older than his thirty-five years. He had a grim cast to his grey eyes this day, and he seemed not at all the man who would sit before the fire in the evening and talk softly of the age of heroes and the children of the forest. He had taken off Father's face, Bran thought, and donned the face of Lord Stark of Winterfell.

There were questions asked and answers given there in the chill of morning, but afterward Bran could not recall much of what had been said. Finally his lord father gave a command, and two of his guardsmen dragged the ragged man to the ironwood stump in the center of the square. They forced his head down onto the hard black wood. Lord Eddard Stark dismounted and his ward Theon Greyjoy brought forth the sword. "Ice," that sword was called. It was as wide across as a man's hand, and taller even than Robb. The blade was Valyrian steel, spell-forged and dark as smoke. Nothing held an edge like Valyrian steel.

His father peeled off his gloves and handed them to Jory Cassel, the captain of his household guard. He took hold of Ice with both hands and said, "In the name of Robert of the House Baratheon, the First of his Name, King of the Andals and the Rhoynar and the First Men, Lord of the Seven Kingdoms and Protector of the Realm, by the word of Eddard of the House Stark, Lord of Winterfell and Warden of the North, I do sentence you to die." He lifted the great sword high above his head.

Bran's bastard brother Jon Snow moved closer. "Keep the pony well in hand," he whispered. "And don't look away. Father will know if you do."

Bran kept his pony well in hand, and did not look away.
His father took off the man's head with a single sure stroke. Blood sprayed out across the snow, as red as summerwine. One of the horses reared and had to be restrained to keep from bolting. Bran could not take his eyes off the blood. The snows around the stump drank it eagerly, reddening as he watched.

The head bounced off a thick root and rolled. It came up near Greyjoy's feet. Theon was a lean, dark youth of nineteen who found everything amusing. He laughed, put his boot on the head,and kicked it away.

"Ass," Jon muttered, low enough so Greyjoy did not hear. He put a hand on Bran's shoulder, and Bran looked over at his bastard brother.

"You did well," Jon told him solemnly. Jon was fourteen, an old hand at justice.

It seemed colder on the long ride back to Winterfell, though the wind had died by then and the sun was higher in the sky. Bran rode with his brothers, well ahead of the main party, his pony struggling hard to keep up with their horses.

"The deserter died bravely," Robb said. He was big and broad and growing every day, with his mother's coloring, the fair skin, red-brown hair, and blue eyes of the Tullys of Riverrun. "He had courage, at the least."

"No," Jon Snow said quietly. "It was not courage. This one was dead of fear. You could see it in his eyes, Stark." Jon's eyes were a grey so dark they seemed almost black, but there was little they did not see. He was of an age with Robb, but they did not look alike. Jon was slender where Robb was muscular, dark where Robb was fair, graceful and quick where his half brother was strong and fast.

Robb was not impressed. "The Others take his eyes," he swore. "He died well. Race you to the bridge?"

"Done," Jon said, kicking his horse forward. Robb cursed and followed, and they galloped off down the trail, Robb laughing and hooting, Jon silent and intent. The hooves of their horses kicked up showers of snow as they went.

Bran did not try to follow. His pony could not keep up. He had seen the ragged man's eyes, and he was thinking of them now. After a while, the sound of Robb's laughter receded, and the woods grew silent again.

That was when Jon reappeared on the crest of the hill before them. He waved and shouted down at them. "Father, Bran, come quickly, see what Robb has found!" Then he was gone again.

Jory rode up beside them. "Trouble, my lord?"

"Beyond a doubt," his lord father said. "Come, let us see what mischief my sons have rooted out now." He sent his horse into a trot. Jory and Bran and the rest came after.

They found Robb on the riverbank north of the bridge, with Jon still mounted beside him. The late summer snows had been heavy this moonturn. Robb stood knee-deep in white, his hood pulled back so the sun shone in his hair. He was cradling something in his arm, while the boys talked in hushed, excited voices.

The riders picked their way carefully through the drifts, groping for solid footing on the hidden, uneven ground. Jory Cassel and Theon Greyjoy were the first to reach the boys. Greyjoy was laughing and joking as he rode. Bran heard the breath go out of him. "Gods!" he exclaimed, struggling to keep control of his horse as he reached for his sword.

Jory's sword was already out. "Robb, get away from it!" he called as his horse reared under him.

Robb grinned and looked up from the bundle in his arms. "She can't hurt you," he said. "She's dead, Jory."

Bran was afire with curiosity by then. He would have spurred the pony faster, but his father made them dismount beside the bridge and approach on foot. Bran jumped off and ran.

By then Jon, Jory, and Theon Greyjoy had all dismounted as well. "What in the seven hells is it?" Greyjoy was saying.

"A wolf," Robb told him.

"A freak," Greyjoy said. "Look at the size of it."

Bran's heart was thumping in his chest as he pushed through a waist-high drift to his brothers' side.

Half-buried in blood stained snow, a huge dark shape slumped in death. Ice had formed in its shaggy grey fur, and the faint smell of corruption clung to it like a woman's perfume. Bran glimpsed blind eyes crawling with maggots, a wide mouth full of yellowed teeth. But it was the size of it that made him gasp. It was bigger than his pony, twice the size of the largest hound in his father's kennel.

"It's no freak," Jon said calmly. "That's a direwolf. They grow larger than the other kind."

Theon Greyjoy said, "There's not been a direwolf sighted south of the Wall in two hundred years."

"I see one now," Jon replied.

Bran tore his eyes away from the monster. That was when he noticed the bundle in Robb's arms. He gave a cry of delight and moved closer. The pup was a tiny ball of grey-black fur, its eyes still closed. It nuzzled blindly against Robb's chest as he cradled it, searching for milk among his leathers, making a sad little whimpery sound. Bran reached out hesitantly. "Go on,"Robb told him. "You can touch him."

Bran gave the pup a quick nervous stroke, then turned as Jon said, "Here you go." His half brother put a second pup into his arms. "There are five of them." Bran sat down in the snow and hugged the wolf pup to his face. Its fur was soft and warm against his cheek.

"Direwolves loose in the realm, after so many years," muttered Hullen, the master of horse. "I like it not."

"It is a sign," Jory said.

Father frowned. "This is only a dead animal, Jory," he said. Yet he seemed troubled. Snow crunched under his boots as he moved around the body. "Do we know what killed her?"

"There's something in the throat," Robb told him, proud to have found the answer before his father even asked. "There, just under the jaw."
His father knelt and groped under the beast's head with his hand. He gave a yank and held it up for all to see. A foot of shattered antler, tines snapped off, all wet with blood.

A sudden silence descended over the party. The men looked at the antler uneasily, and no one dared to speak. Even Bran could sense their fear, though he did not understand.

His father tossed the antler to the side and cleansed his hands in the snow. "I'm surprised she lived long enough to whelp," he said. His voice broke the spell.

"Maybe she didn't," Jory said. "I've heard tales . . . maybe the bitch was already dead when the pups came."

"Born with the dead," another man put in. "Worse luck."

"No matter," said Hullen. "They be dead soon enough too."

Bran gave a wordless cry of dismay.

"The sooner the better," Theon Greyjoy agreed. He drew his sword.

"Give the beast here, Bran."

The little thing squirmed against him, as if it heard and understood.

"No!" Bran cried out fiercely. "It's mine."

"It be a mercy to kill them," Hullen said.

Bran looked to his lord father for rescue, but got only a frown, a furrowed brow. "Hullen speaks truly, son. Better a swift death than a hard one from cold and starvation."

"No!" He could feel tears welling in his eyes, and he looked away. He did not want to cry in front of his father.

"Lord Stark," Jon said. It was strange to hear him call Father that, so formal. Bran looked at him with desperate hope. "There are five pups," he told Father. "Three male, two female."

"What of it, Jon?"

"You have five true born children," Jon said. "Three sons, two daughters. The direwolf is the sigil of your House. Your children were meant to have these pups, my lord."

Bran saw his father's face change, saw the other men exchange glances. He loved Jon with all his heart at that moment. Even at seven, Bran understood what his brother had done. The count had come right only because Jon had omitted himself. He had included the girls, included even Rickon, the baby, but not the bastard who bore the surname Snow, the name that custom decreed be given to all those in the north unlucky enough to be born with no name of their own.

Their father understood as well. "You want no pup for yourself, Jon?" he asked softly.

"The direwolf graces the banners of House Stark," Jon pointed out. "I am no Stark, Father."

Their lord father regarded Jon thoughtfully. Robb rushed into the silence he left. "I will nurse him myself, Father," he promised. "I will soak a towel with warm milk, and give him suck from that."

"Me too!" Bran echoed.

The lord weighed his sons long and carefully with his eyes. "Easy to say, and harder to do. I will not have you wasting the servants' time with this. If you want these pups, you will feed them yourselves. Is that understood?"

Bran nodded eagerly. The pup squirmed in his grasp, lickedat his face with a warm tongue.

It was not until they were mounted and on their way that Bran allowed himself to taste the sweet air of victory. By then, his pup was snuggled inside his leathers, warm against him, safe for the long ride home. Bran was wondering what to name him.

Halfway across the bridge, Jon pulled up suddenly.

"What is it, Jon?" their lord father asked.

"Can't you hear it?"

Bran could hear the wind in the trees, the clatter of their hooves on the ironwood planks, the whimpering of his hungry pup, but Jon was listening to something else.

"There," Jon said. He swung his horse around and galloped back across the bridge. They watched him dismount where the direwolf lay dead in the snow, watched him kneel. A moment later he was riding back to them, smiling.

"He must have crawled away from the others," Jon said.

"Or been driven away," their father said, looking at the sixth pup. His fur was white, where the rest of the litter was grey. His eyes were as red as the blood of the ragged man who had died that morning. Bran thought it curious that this pup alone would have opened his eyes while the others were still blind.

"An albino," Theon Greyjoy said with wry amusement. "This one will die even faster than the others."

Jon Snow gave his father's ward a long, chilling look. "I think not, Greyjoy," he said. "This one belongs to me."

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First Chapter

The morning had dawned clear and cold, with a crispness that hinted at the end of summer. They set forth at daybreak to see a man beheaded, twenty in all, and Bran rode among them, nervous with excitement. This was the first time he had been deemed old enough to go with his lord father and his brothers to see the king's justice done. It was the ninth year of summer, and the seventh of Bran's life.

The man had been taken outside a small holdfast in the hills. Robb thought he was a wildling, his sword sworn to Mance Rayder, the King-beyond-the-Wall. It made Bran's skin prickle to think of it. He remembered the hearth tales Old Nan told them. The wildlings were cruel men, she said, slavers and slayers and thieves. They consorted with giants and ghouls, stole girl children in the dead of night, and drank blood from polished horns. And their women lay with the Others in the Long Night to sire terrible half-human children.

But the man they found bound hand and foot to the holdfast wall awaiting the king's justice was old and scrawny, not much taller than Robb. He had lost both ears and a finger to frostbite, and he dressed all in black, the same as a brother of the Night's Watch, except that his furs were ragged and greasy.

The breath of man and horse mingled, steaming, in the cold morning air as his lord father had the man cut down from the wall and dragged before them. Robb and Jon sat tall and still on their horses, with Bran between them on his pony, trying to seem older than seven, trying to pretend that he'd seen all this before. A faint wind blew through the holdfast gate. Over their heads flapped the banner of the Starks of Winterfell: a grey direwolf racingacross an ice-white field.

Bran's father sat solemnly on his horse, long brown hair stirring in the wind. His closely trimmed beard was shot with white, making him look older than his thirty-five years. He had a grim cast to his grey eyes this day, and he seemed not at all the man who would sit before the fire in the evening and talk softly of the age of heroes and the children of the forest. He had taken off Father's face, Bran thought, and donned the face of Lord Stark of Winterfell.

There were questions asked and answers given there in the chill of morning, but afterward Bran could not recall much of what had been said. Finally his lord father gave a command, and two of his guardsmen dragged the ragged man to the ironwood stump in the center of the square. They forced his head down onto the hard black wood. Lord Eddard Stark dismounted and his ward Theon Greyjoy brought forth the sword. "Ice," that sword was called. It was as wide across as a man's hand, and taller even than Robb. The blade was Valyrian steel, spell-forged and dark as smoke. Nothing held an edge like Valyrian steel.

His father peeled off his gloves and handed them to Jory Cassel, the captain of his household guard. He took hold of Ice with both hands and said, "In the name of Robert of the House Baratheon, the First of his Name, King of the Andals and the Rhoynar and the First Men, Lord of the Seven Kingdoms and Protector of the Realm, by the word of Eddard of the House Stark, Lord of Winterfell and Warden of the North, I do sentence you to die." He lifted the great sword high above his head.

Bran's bastard brother Jon Snow moved closer. "Keep the pony well in hand," he whispered. "And don't look away. Father will know if you do."

Bran kept his pony well in hand, and did not look away.

His father took off the man's head with a single sure stroke. Blood sprayed out across the snow, as red as summerwine. One of the horses reared and had to be restrained to keep from bolting. Bran could not take his eyes off the blood. The snows around the stump drank it eagerly, reddening as he watched.

The head bounced off a thick root and rolled. It came up near Greyjoy's feet. Theon was a lean, dark youth of nineteen who found everything amusing. He laughed, put his boot on the head,and kicked it away.

"Ass," Jon muttered, low enough so Greyjoy did not hear. He put a hand on Bran's shoulder, and Bran looked over at his bastard brother. "You did well," Jon told him solemnly. Jon was fourteen, an old hand at justice.

It seemed colder on the long ride back to Winterfell, though the wind had died by then and the sun was higher in the sky. Bran rode with his brothers, well ahead of the main party, his pony struggling hard to keep up with their horses.

"The deserter died bravely," Robb said. He was big and broad and growing every day, with his mother's coloring, the fair skin, red-brown hair, and blue eyes of the Tullys of Riverrun. "He had courage, at the least."

"No," Jon Snow said quietly. "It was not courage. This one was dead of fear. You could see it in his eyes, Stark." Jon's eyes were a grey so dark they seemed almost black, but there was little they did not see. He was of an age with Robb, but they did not look alike. Jon was slender where Robb was muscular, dark where Robb was fair, graceful and quick where his half brother was strong and fast.

Robb was not impressed. "The Others take his eyes," he swore. "He died well. Race you to the bridge?"

"Done," Jon said, kicking his horse forward. Robb cursed and followed, and they galloped off down the trail, Robb laughing and hooting, Jon silent and intent. The hooves of their horses kicked up showers of snow as they went.

Bran did not try to follow. His pony could not keep up. He had seen the ragged man's eyes, and he was thinking of them now. After a while, the sound of Robb's laughter receded, and the woods grew silent again.

That was when Jon reappeared on the crest of the hill before them. He waved and shouted down at them. "Father, Bran, come quickly, see what Robb has found!" Then he was gone again.

Jory rode up beside them. "Trouble, my lord?"

"Beyond a doubt," his lord father said. "Come, let us see what mischief my sons have rooted out now." He sent his horse into a trot. Jory and Bran and the rest came after.

They found Robb on the riverbank north of the bridge, with Jon still mounted beside him. The late summer snows had been heavy this moonturn. Robb stood knee-deep in white, his hood pulled back so the sun shone in his hair. He was cradling something in his arm, while the boys talked in hushed, excited voices.

The riders picked their way carefully through the drifts, groping for solid footing on the hidden, uneven ground. Jory Cassel and Theon Greyjoy were the first to reach the boys. Greyjoy was laughing and joking as he rode. Bran heard the breath go out of him. "Gods!" he exclaimed, struggling to keep control of his horse as he reached for his sword.

Jory's sword was already out. "Robb, get away from it!" he called as his horse reared under him.

Robb grinned and looked up from the bundle in his arms. "She can't hurt you," he said. "She's dead, Jory."

Bran was afire with curiosity by then. He would have spurred the pony faster, but his father made them dismount beside the bridge and approach on foot. Bran jumped off and ran.

By then Jon, Jory, and Theon Greyjoy had all dismounted as well. "What in the seven hells is it?" Greyjoy was saying.

"A wolf," Robb told him.

"A freak," Greyjoy said. "Look at the size of it."

Bran's heart was thumping in his chest as he pushed through a waist-high drift to his brothers' side.

Half-buried in blood stained snow, a huge dark shape slumped in death. Ice had formed in its shaggy grey fur, and the faint smell of corruption clung to it like a woman's perfume. Bran glimpsed blind eyes crawling with maggots, a wide mouth full of yellowed teeth. But it was the size of it that made him gasp. It was bigger than his pony, twice the size of the largest hound in his father's kennel.

"It's no freak," Jon said calmly. "That's a direwolf. They grow larger than the other kind."

Theon Greyjoy said, "There's not been a direwolf sighted south of the Wall in two hundred years."

"I see one now," Jon replied.

Bran tore his eyes away from the monster. That was when he noticed the bundle in Robb's arms. He gave a cry of delight and moved closer. The pup was a tiny ball of grey-black fur, its eyes still closed. It nuzzled blindly against Robb's chest as he cradled it, searching for milk among his leathers, making a sad little whimpery sound. Bran reached out hesitantly. "Go on,"Robb told him. "You can touch him."

Bran gave the pup a quick nervous stroke, then turned as Jon said, "Here you go." His half brother put a second pup into his arms. "There are five of them." Bran sat down in the snow and hugged the wolf pup to his face. Its fur was soft and warm against his cheek.

"Direwolves loose in the realm, after so many years," muttered Hullen, the master of horse. "I like it not."

"It is a sign," Jory said.

Father frowned. "This is only a dead animal, Jory," he said. Yet he seemed troubled. Snow crunched under his boots as he moved around the body. "Do we know what killed her?"

"There's something in the throat," Robb told him, proud to have found the answer before his father even asked. "There, just under the jaw."

His father knelt and groped under the beast's head with his hand. He gave a yank and held it up for all to see. A foot of shattered antler, tines snapped off, all wet with blood.

A sudden silence descended over the party. The men looked at the antler uneasily, and no one dared to speak. Even Bran could sense their fear, though he did not understand.

His father tossed the antler to the side and cleansed his hands in the snow. "I'm surprised she lived long enough to whelp," he said. His voice broke the spell.

"Maybe she didn't," Jory said. "I've heard tales . . . maybe the bitch was already dead when the pups came."

"Born with the dead," another man put in. "Worse luck."

"No matter," said Hullen. "They be dead soon enough too."

Bran gave a wordless cry of dismay.

"The sooner the better," Theon Greyjoy agreed. He drew his sword. "Give the beast here, Bran."

The little thing squirmed against him, as if it heard and understood. "No!" Bran cried out fiercely. "It's mine."

"It be a mercy to kill them," Hullen said.

Bran looked to his lord father for rescue, but got only a frown, a furrowed brow. "Hullen speaks truly, son. Better a swift death than a hard one from cold and starvation."

"No!" He could feel tears welling in his eyes, and he looked away. He did not want to cry in front of his father.

"Lord Stark," Jon said. It was strange to hear him call Father that, so formal. Bran looked at him with desperate hope. "There are five pups," he told Father. "Three male, two female."

"What of it, Jon?"

"You have five true born children," Jon said. "Three sons, two daughters. The direwolf is the sigil of your House. Your children were meant to have these pups, my lord."

Bran saw his father's face change, saw the other men exchange glances. He loved Jon with all his heart at that moment. Even at seven, Bran understood what his brother had done. The count had come right only because Jon had omitted himself. He had included the girls, included even Rickon, the baby, but not the bastard who bore the surname Snow, the name that custom decreed be given to all those in the north unlucky enough to be born with no name of their own.

Their father understood as well. "You want no pup for yourself, Jon?" he asked softly.

"The direwolf graces the banners of House Stark," Jon pointed out. "I am no Stark, Father."

Their lord father regarded Jon thoughtfully. Robb rushed into the silence he left. "I will nurse him myself, Father," he promised. "I will soak a towel with warm milk, and give him suck from that."

"Me too!" Bran echoed.

The lord weighed his sons long and carefully with his eyes. "Easy to say, and harder to do. I will not have you wasting the servants' time with this. If you want these pups, you will feed them yourselves. Is that understood?"

Bran nodded eagerly. The pup squirmed in his grasp, lickedat his face with a warm tongue.

It was not until they were mounted and on their way that Bran allowed himself to taste the sweet air of victory. By then, his pup was snuggled inside his leathers, warm against him, safe for the long ride home. Bran was wondering what to name him.

Halfway across the bridge, Jon pulled up suddenly.

"What is it, Jon?" their lord father asked.

"Can't you hear it?"

Bran could hear the wind in the trees, the clatter of their hooves on the ironwood planks, the whimpering of his hungry pup, but Jon was listening to something else.

"There," Jon said. He swung his horse around and galloped back across the bridge. They watched him dismount where the direwolf lay dead in the snow, watched him kneel. A moment later he was riding back to them, smiling.

"He must have crawled away from the others," Jon said.

"Or been driven away," their father said, looking at the sixth pup. His fur was white, where the rest of the litter was grey. His eyes were as red as the blood of the ragged man who had died that morning. Bran thought it curious that this pup alone would have opened his eyes while the others were still blind.

"An albino," Theon Greyjoy said with wry amusement. "This one will die even faster than the others."

Jon Snow gave his father's ward a long, chilling look. "I think not, Greyjoy," he said. "This one belongs to me."
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 405 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 3, 2011

    Nothing like Tolkein!

    I trudged through all of the existing 4 novels in this series hoping to find enough redeeming qualities to justify my investment, and came away sorely disapointed. Authors like Robert Jordan (Wheel of Time), Tolkien (LOTR), and even Terry Goodkind (Sword of Truth), all spin intense tales that leave you encouraged and inspired by the actions of their heros; Martin grinds through character after character, who all seem to perish by one betrayal after another. As soon as you start rooting for someone, they end up on the chopping block...this repeats so often that you can't help but wonder what holds the story together.

    These novels are more like a soap opera than an epic fantasy series- murder, betrayal, and graphically portrayed incest/rape seem to be Martin's bread and butter, with practially nothing else in between.

    For some strange reason, I find that highly disgusting and will go back to reading books with real heros and goals that I can emotionally (and morally) rally behind.

    171 out of 312 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 9, 2008

    Cumbersome series

    This series was recommended to me by many friends. I have to say, it's only the second time I've ever stopped reading a book. I think I got into the second book in the series before I realized that nothing was going to happen. Oh, things keep happening, but they're new things. No questions get answered, no plotlines get resolved, and I simply haven't the energy to read through this many books just to find out how one particularly puzzling plotline resolves itself. When I found out that the series wasn't even finished by the author, I gave up. I had to fight for every page of this book. Normally I can read through a book in a matter of hours. Not so with this author. The narrative is so cumbersome I found myself reading the words on the page instead of watching the story unfold in my imagination. However, apparently many people enjoy that type of reading experience. This author reminds me very much of Tom Clancy. Long winded, tortuous writing styles that make you feel as if you're training for a triathlon as opposed to joyously experiencing another world.

    83 out of 174 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 14, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    I wasn't sure I was going to like this one.

    While I am fan of sci-fi and fantasy, I had never read anything by George R.R. Martin. I was scolded for this oversight by many of co-workers and friends. I finally gave in this past month and have been converted to a fan.

    Be warned, "A Game of Thrones" is not for the casual fantasy reader. It is deeply intricate and rich. While Martin focuses each of the chapters on roughly ten main characters, there are well over fifty full realized characters in just the first book of this series. It would be very easy to get confused or frustrated in the early pages of the tome, but to do so would be to lose out on the epic second half of the book. Up until the last one hundred pages, I was still on the fence about this "game of thrones." Now, having finsihed it, I can't wait to move on to the next book.

    As a standalone book, I would not reccomend it; as the beginning of an epic series, I am totally hooked.

    64 out of 68 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 20, 2008

    Im confused? People like this book?

    This book is terrible. It's what I would imagine sword & sorcery pornography would read like and even then it merits a special subcategory for those who get off on rape, incest, and pedophilia. The rest of the book is unimaginative hackery, and vainly attempts to emulate the works of superior authors. All that which makes epic fantasy worthwhile is absent in this work. We cheered for Frodo on his march to Mordor not because he could swing a sword and have mediocre sex but because we saw a man of decency and humility exhibiting courage, integrity, and loyalty to his companions despite the corrupting power of the ring and the overwhelming obstacles placed before him. None of Martin's characters have my sympathy. I read other review that Martin's characters are great because they are not black and white but grey or some nonsense. People are not colors and the graphically described rape of minor is not literature but the manifestation of perverse man's fetish.

    50 out of 133 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 22, 2008

    The best

    This is as good as the Fantasy genre can get. I've read dozens of fantasy books by dozens of authors and this is simply the very best series I've ever read. It stands head and shoulders above Lord of the Rings or really anything else I can imagine. --- The characters come completely to life. The author conveys a sense of reality to each person in his story. There aren't just 'good' guys and 'bad' guys as there are in the plethora of other highly rated fantasy series 'LotR, Dragonlance, Savadore books et. al.'. Instead, each character has their strengths and their weaknesses. Their noble redeeming qualities and their inner demons and selfishness. In essence...they're human! It sounds simple, but surprisingly not very many authors can accomplish this feat as well as Mr. Martin has been able to. He does a brilliant job of making each of the characters unique and detailed in their personality and mannerisms.--- The story line is brilliant and kept me interested throughout the series. This is possibly the fastest I've read through a book.--- Another thing...this book is not for children. There's no Bimbldee-goo Gobleshanks or Dimpledink Fumplesnaps B.S. kiddie stuff like Tolkien. There is no 'good guy' to root for, only different people of different kingdoms. And sometimes the person you might peg as a 'good guy' may not 'win.' The subject matter at times can be quite mature and maintains a high level of maturity throughout.--- So, although there are countless other rave reviews for this book, I figured I'd contribute anyhow. Believe the hype, and don't believe the naysayers. If you enjoy medieval fantasy 'not high fantasy, there aren't goblins and elves in this book' with an in depth and very realistic storyline get this book now.---

    42 out of 55 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 13, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    A Game of Thrones

    A Game of Thrones is the first book in a seven book series called A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin. A Game of Thrones is based in a fantasy world called the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros, which is very much like Medieval Europe. The Seven Kingdoms have been united under one rule for the last 500 years ever sense Aegeon The Conquerer united the land. After a brutal civil war against the "Mad King" the land has known peace with the New King (Robert). However, this is all about to change if the King's best friend Ned Stark can't figure out why or who wanted King Robert's friend and "Hand" Jon Arryn dead. With Jon Arryn dead Robert places his loyal friend Ned Stark as his Hand, which has the authority of the King. But if Ned can't learn how to play The Game of Thrones then his term as Hand may become a short one.

    In the East decendents of the Mad King still remain and are trying to form their army once again to reclaim the Seven Kingdoms like their ancestor Aegeon the Conqueror 500 years earlier.

    And far in the North there is a Wall. Built to protect all of the 7 Kingdoms it has been undermanned with rapers, robbers, and thieves. The wall is accustomed to losing men, but when one of their scouting party never returns they must find out what is happening and if the wildlings are the cause of it all.

    A Game of Thrones is told through the eyes of 9 characters. Enabling the reader to see the point of view of all the sides of the conflict. This is the first series that I have read that does this and I absolutely love it. Being able to see all the viewpoints of the conflicts in the story is very interesting. Martin also does a very good job in suprising the reader. With just changes in your mindset on a specific character who you thought you knew or simply with what you know to be "fact." I GUARANTEE that you will NOT be able to predict the ending of A Game of Thrones or any of the others. Finally, I believe that this is the best series out there today and everyone that is a fan of fantasy, mystery, or just reading a well written story should buy!

    ***CAUTION*** If you do not like a book with a lot of characters or one where the story is continous from book to book. Then this series may not be for you.

    32 out of 36 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 16, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    This book SUCKS! It is the worse book I have ever read!

    All the good characters have terrible things happen to them. Evil triumphs constantly, the best part of the book is about the northern wall and the author doesn't even bother to expound on that enough. By the time that you start to get to know a character he switches you to a new character and after 100 pages he's STILL introducing NEW characters!! The names are difficult to remember and there are hundreds of them. There is no main character, it's absolutely infuriating. Children are molested and murdered. There's incest, rape, and every other disgusting deplorable thing in this piece of trash. This book is so bad that I refuse to read any more of it. I'm not just going to throw it in the garbage - I'm going to pitch it in the fireplace and watch it turn to ashes. I know that will bring me more satisfaction than the 10 hours I wasted reading it.

    20 out of 78 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 23, 2001

    Once I started reading!!!

    Once I started reading I could do nothing but put it down every 30 pages!!! This book was horrible. Every 30 pages I had to put it down for a break. The only reason I read the whole thing is because all of these reveiws said it was good. Do yourself a favor and do not read this book even if it is free, it will be a waste of your time.

    15 out of 55 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 18, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Too Old to Finish Series!

    I did not expect such a long time between books especially the book, Dance with the Dragons. I will probably not be alive to finish reading this series.

    13 out of 46 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 1, 2010

    Incredibly impressed and awed by the realism of the story and characters despite their fantasy setting. Just when you think everything will get its fantasy ending, however, reality strikes back!

    Martin's ability to take a world apart and make it seem like your own's past history is an incredible experience to read. His characters embody not just the defining characteristics of good and evil, but an exhausting spectrum of the almost devine to the vilest examples of immorality imaginable.

    I knocked a few things in my review only because I am a realist... Let's face it, the new book art is horrid! The previous edition's painted scene was much more of a draw off the shelf, not to mention mucb more attractive sitting on your own!

    The book is offbeat, but still follows the basics of map in the front, character houses in the rear. You might need to use these items about as much as you do with Tolkein however, making them much more than just an eyegrab or little bonus feature.

    Romance? No not really...

    As with most first books, you get a slow start. Give it a couple chapters and you will be torn between throwing it across the room in fury or turning the next page.

    Great book for book clubs! Very fun to discuss and almost cultish when you find someone reading it or who has.

    I would not gift this book to most. Tolkein level writing is not for everyone and I think only about half the very few people I have recommended the book to have seen it through to the end.

    11 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 25, 2009

    don't buy this book!!!!!!!

    This clown refuses to finish the 5th and final book of the series. If you feel like I do, that if a writter is willing to take your money for a series of books, then he is moraly responsible to make a reasonable attempt to finish the series. Don't make the mistake that I and many others made of getting involved in this losers work.

    9 out of 56 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 14, 2005

    don't see the big deal

    Why everyone is saying this is such a great book is a mystery to me. I kept waiting for something to happen, but nothing did. I'm a big fantasy fan and there isn't any big fantasy stuff in this one. If you like the kind of book that there are too many characters and you need to flip to the appendix every second to see whos who, go ahead and enjoy. I know I won't be reading the second one though..

    9 out of 35 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 10, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    A Game of Thrones INDEED!!!

    An excellent read that keeps you entertained throughtout the whole book. I can't really say I was bored with the story at any point. I like how it switches from character to character each chapter and you get to know all the main characters on an individual basis. The plot is intriguing and at the end left me ready for the next book because the story could go so many ways and there are so many different things going on that it makes it more vast and complex which makes it all the more interesting. I enjoyed the first book in this saga and am excited to read the rest!

    7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 15, 2008

    This book is awesome!

    I'm a big fan of epic fantasy novels and this one is awesome. I enjoy the author's writing style. Each chapter is written from the perspective of one of the many (about a dozen) main characters. The story is action packed, with a lot of surprises along the way. As with most series of this genre, there are many plots and subplots that pull you in and keep you reading page after page.

    7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 1, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    A must read...

    If you're a fan of Stephen Donaldson, Tolkien, David Eddings, Terry Brooks, or Ursula K. Le Guin just to name a few great fantasy writers, and you've never read George R; R. Martin; wow are you in for a treat! This book is the best first installment of a fantasy series I've ever read! Be sure if you're thinking about it at all, to treat yourself to this one.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 3, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Terrific cast and spellbinding story. A real winner!

    I hesitated for about 6 months before I bought this book (political intrigue in a fantasy world didn't immediately sound engaging) - but I loved it (and the whole series). Martin has the ability to show characters in shades of grey -- even the evil characters are sympathetic. Highly recommended.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 26, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    An excellent series; Don't listen to the previous posters comment, he doesn't know what he's talking about!

    First off, do not listen to the previous poster. The 5th and final book of the series? CLEARLY HE DOESN'T KNOW THIS SERIES AT ALL. One, it is now a 7 part series. Secondly, the next book (5) takes place during the 4th book. He had to split the it apart because he has so many characters and plot lines twisting with each other.

    Now, going onto the review, instead of the previous poster bashing. This was recommended to me by a friend as the best fantasy series he had ever read. I can say without much hesitation that this is one of the best fantasies every written. BUT it depends on what type of fantasy you like. If you're one of those mythical creatures type fantasy readers--this isn't for you. If you like fantasies with some hero saving a damsel in distress--this series isn't for you. If you like blood, guts, good old fashion middle-ages killing--then read on. This is by far, the nittiest, grittiest series out there--that still maintains a story line.

    Speaking of the story line--it does take quite a while to get used to it. Martin's style is very different from most writers, and if you have read the other reviews you'll see that I'm not lying. When I first started reading book 1, I almost put it down and stopped reading. After about, 200 pages, you start to get a good feel for this world. After the first book, you'll start to understand the plot (or perhaps I'm just a little slow.) That being said, it was completely worth it.

    The characters... Are so completely messed up it is insane. Good and evil cease to really exist. The motivations of the characters move beyond good and evil, into the realm of chaos. The one thing you can say about Martin, is that you cannot predict how his characters will act, or what he will do with them. I guarantee you, at one point in this series, if you read it, will put down the book and string off a line of expletives that will leave people around you wondering if you're sane.

    Overall, if you're a fantasy reader, you need to have this series on your bookshelf.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 18, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    A slow start but a powerhouse finnish!

    This is the first book in George R.R Martin's "A song of ice and fire" series. For me I found the book to be a slow starter but a powerhouse finish. The character development and the amount of characters in the story added to its overall intrigue. I would recommend this book to most. I'm an average reader and it wasn't what i would call a fast read but sometimes its good to have an epic tale with some meat on its bones. This book was imaginative and eventually engrossing. I look forward to the second book.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 12, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    GoT delivers everything you want out of a high fantasy!

    What's so impressive about GoT is the world-building. I don't think I've seen anything this imaginative since Tolkien's LotR trilogy. It's hard to fathom just how much time and creativity and planning went into the construction of this world and series.But as great as the setting may be, the characters are what carry this book. They are all so wonderfully complex and multifaceted, so much so that it's sometimes hard to tell who to root for! Every character is deeply flawed in some way, but it's those flaws that make them so human. The good guys make (often fatal) mistakes and I think that's why their stories resonate so much with us as readers. There is a deep connection to some of these people so you really feel for them during their triumphs and during their tragedies. A Game of Thrones is told via several different characters and there are some people who won't enjoy that, but I'd say with so much going on, it was a necessary device. You get a deeper insight into the story this way and it's also interesting to see events through opposing perspectives. There were definitely some narrators that I preferred over others, namely, Tyrion Lannister, Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen. Funny enough, this also correlates to the characters I preferred in the show so that just goes to show you how well they play off one another. And yes, if you're wondering, the show totally does this book justice. You really don't need to read the first book to understand what's going on in the show, however, I recommend that you do anyway. It's too good not to. Also, because the story is so dense, the books help to make sense of the show (and vice versa). The novel clarified things that I was otherwise confused about as well as enriched my understanding of the characters and their motivations. I recommend grabbing the audio version if you can because Roy Dotrice is a champ! Fun fact: he even made the Guinness Book of World Records for doing the most amount of distinctive character voices in one audio production. Reading A Game of Thrones was quite the challenge, and consequently, finishing it was my biggest literary accomplishment this year. Martin has crafted such an intricate and wonderfully detailed universe full of rich, complex characters and high drama. It has all the elements you could ever want in a high fantasy and rivals the LotR trilogy for best fantasy series EVER!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 16, 2013

    Really got into this book after the first 100 pages or so. Very

    Really got into this book after the first 100 pages or so. Very complex, but amazing!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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