Winter is coming. Such is the stern motto of House Stark, the northernmost of the fiefdoms that owe allegiance to King Robert Baratheon in far-off King’s Landing. There Eddard Stark of Winterfell rules in Robert’s name. There his family dwells in peace and comfort: his proud wife, Catelyn; his sons Robb, Brandon, and Rickon; his daughters Sansa and Arya; and his bastard son, Jon Snow. Far to the north, behind the towering Wall, lie savage Wildings and worse—unnatural things relegated to myth during the centuries-long summer, but proving all too real and all too deadly in the turning of the season.
Yet a more immediate threat lurks to the south, where Jon Arryn, the Hand of the King, has died under mysterious circumstances. Now Robert is riding north to Winterfell, bringing his queen, the lovely but cold Cersei, his son, the cruel, vainglorious Prince Joffrey, and the queen’s brothers Jaime and Tyrion of the powerful and wealthy House Lannister—the first a swordsman without equal, the second a dwarf whose stunted stature belies a brilliant mind. All are heading for Winterfell and a fateful encounter that will change the course of kingdoms.
Meanwhile, across the Narrow Sea, Prince Viserys, heir of the fallen House Targaryen, which once ruled all of Westeros, schemes to reclaim the throne with an army of barbarian Dothraki—whose loyalty he will purchase in the only coin left to him: his beautiful yet innocent sister, Daenerys.
About the Author
Hometown:Santa Fe, NM
Date of Birth:September 20, 1948
Place of Birth:Bayonne, NJ
Education:B.S., Northwestern University, 1970; M.S., Northwestern University, 1971
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
What People are Saying About This
Grabs hold and won't let go. It's brilliant.
“Grabs hold and won’t let go. It’s brilliant.”—Robert Jordan
“Reminiscent of T. H. White’s The Once and Future King, this novel is an absorbing combination of the mythic, the sweepingly historical, and the intensely personal.”—Chicago Sun-Times
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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.
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.
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.---
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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Really great book and series overall. picked it up one day because my friend had bought it and had nothing else to read and boy was i surprised hiw easily i was drawn in ny the different characters. Although at times i felt like throwing the book against a wall i couldnt bring myself to stop reading it. Each Character in the story in uniquely writn with his or her own past that will either make you hate them or learn to love and understand them later. This book is a MUST READ.
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!
Really got into this book after the first 100 pages or so. Very complex, but amazing!
I couldn't help but notice Martin's books in "A Song of Ice And Fire" series being promoted at my favorite bookstores and this book being touted as an HBO mini series (which I recorded without watching while I read this book). Hence I had to find out what all the hoopla was about. I discovered it was deserved. This book has an engrossing, mature plot replete with conflict, action, and excellent characterization. The fantasy is present as the setting is in a world of Martin's imagination where summer and winter can last for decades, dire wolves roam, dragons are still a memory, and a gigantic wall of ice holds back mysterious and loathsome creatures. However, I felt comfortable and familiar in this world as it is a feudal society reminiscent of European society during the Middle Ages. The aspirations, intrigues, alliances, and wars of the aristocracy mirror those of our feudal ancestors from the tenth through the thirteenth centuries. Each chapter is about or told from the viewpoint of the various characters that we get to know well. Armies have clashed in this "game of thrones", but the outcome is far from settled at the end of the book. The reader had best have the next book of the series on hand when this one is finished.
One of the most intelligently written narratives I've ever read. Intricate plotting, excellent use of restrained viewpoints, subtle and unyielding character development, and poetic imagery flow throughout the book. It is definitely a challenging book, one that rewards rereads and careful analysis of physical descriptions and dialogue, but it is also my go-to recommendation for anyone not acquainted with fantasy reading.
This is the second time I have read this book and I got more out of it this time as I already went through the deluge of characters before. The first time through you don't know who is going to be important and you don't know the signs which show the shifting plot. As an aid to those reading for the first time this first book in the series of A Song of Ice and Fire, is about two families, the Starks and the Lannisters/Baratheon. There is a huge cast of characters, but for the first time through concentrate on the members of those two families and sympathize where you will, people die. There are several side plots which become important in the later books, like the Black Watch and Wildings/Others. Characters who are peripheral to this book, but important in the ones which follow you needn't worry about. One of the great things about these books is that they unfold as does real life. Relationships are built with a supporting history behind them. It is also important to remember that the characters, with a few exceptions, are 3 dimensional, Gregor Clegane, Cercei Lannister,Joffrey Lannister, Viserys are a few of the exceptions. But most of the many others have very real strengths and weaknesses. It is those I found myself staying up until midnight to follow. Characters grow and change. There is enough detail in this series to follow those changes, watch Bran, Sansa and Daenerys for instance. My personal favorites are Jon, Tyrion and Arya. One of my criteria for a good book is do I care what happens to the characters, and in this book I find a resounding yes. It is better than a good read. It is memorable.
This rating is a bit of mash-up for me. I loved the Daenerys storyline (four stars there), but I found all the other plots to be outright dull (two stars ¿ they weren't crap; just... boring). Martin's books have been over-hyped to me, and no doubt that's worked against their favor. (One of my coworkers called the series "Pretty much the best books ever." Puh-leez. I know you have an aerobic sense of humor, dude, but really.)I keep hearing praise for Martin's books because of the grand scope of story, the clear and formal patterning of the political houses, and the realistic ¿ which I think translates to 'lacking in magic' ¿ approach to the fantasy setting. The most vocal praise seems to come from people who generally don't read fantasy, and I suspect because the lacking in magic element helps to attract people who are not inclined to the woo-woo stuff. I, however, read fantasy all the time and if I have one gripe about this praise it's that these elements are hardly new to the fantasy genre and I sincerely do not get why these particular books have become so popular. But the worst for me wasn't that these elements had all been done before; it's that they've been done better. The first epic series of this sort I'd read was Rawn's Dragon Prince duo-trilogies, which contained every element listed here except maybe the lacking-in-magic bit, although I'd be up for quibbling about that seeing as Martin has still got dragons hatching from stone and icey vampires and years-long winters, AND Rawn's series has the added benefit of already being completely published. I loved Rawn's books so much better than The Game of Thrones that I'd far rather reread them three times over in a row than pick up the second volume in A Song of Ice and Fire. And I get glutted very quickly. (And I really dislike Martin's series name.)Plus, any time I'm muttering to the pages NO WHY ARE YOU DOING THAT STUPID ACTION YOU STUPID CHARACTER... to multiple characters... in multiple scenes... is not a time I'm enjoying what I'm reading.It's worthwhile to note that I appreciated the chapters having headers that listed their focus character. A quarter of the way in, I stopped reading the characters I wasn't interested in and skipped around to read about Daenerys. I want to acquire the Daenerys' story-only novella, Blood of the Dragon, which was a Hugo-Award winner in its own right. If her stories were just combined into their own book I'd happily read only that.
I came across George RR Martin by browsing the Fiction Fantasy section of my favourite bookstore. Since the book received some good reviews, even by Raymond Feist, I decided to give it a try.Was I surprised! After the first two chapters I was totally hooked. George writes with such compelling conviction and style that it was very hard to put the book down. He introduces us to a world that is imaginative, where the characters are richly described and developed that they almost seem tangible. It is in the characters many individual facets of development that I find myself astonished as to the extent that George is prepared to take them. He thus masterfully sets the scene for a haunting and intriguing saga that will stay with you long after you read the book.A GAME OF THRONES introduces us to four main families: The Starks, the Baratheons, the Lannisters and the Targaryens. Even though these are the main ones, there are others as well weaved within the above families, and plenty of smaller independent families. These pave the way later for some great plots and sub-plots.Lord Eddard Stark, the Warden of the north, is instructed to be the Hand of the King in the south. Since Lord Eddard is a man of honour, he finds himself torn between his friendship for the king and the treachery that is evident at court. He finds it difficult to choose in that the choices are not as simple as right or wrong, but rather it becomes a choice between the lesser of two evils. It is here that Eddard learns of the rumoured murder of his predecessor, the imminent danger to his family, and the vile secrets that threaten to destroy the kingdom.I read with wonder as evil defeated the innocent, yet it was heartening to see the innocent grow strong in the midst of their defeat. The one drawback I found in this story was the introduction of too many characters. This, at times, made it difficult to follow the development of these characters.A GAME OF THRONES is well written and the characters are memorable. George RR Martin has become one of my favourite authors in the Fiction Fantasy genre. I proudly display his work next to LORD OF THE RINGS and THE MAGICIAN. It is a masterpiece of epic proportions that sets a new standard in Fiction Fantasy writing. I look forward to more.
I'm glad I read "A Game of Thrones". Each chapter is a third person account of one of several different characters. While I enjoyed this format for the most part, it was difficult to remember what particular characters had recently been up to when chapters pertaining to them were separated by several other very detailed chapters about other characters. Also, while I thoroughly enjoyed chapters about some characters, (Jon, Eddard, Tyrion), I dreaded coming across chapters detailing characters that I didn't care much about, (Daenarys, Sansa, Bran). At times I was tempted to skip ahead to the next chapter about my favorite character's but I rejected this for fear of missing an important bit of information.This book stands as a marvel of detail and intricate plot and I did enjoy it, I just wish it hadn't been quite so all-encompassing. In fact, at times it seemed that I was actually reading about eight books at once! Still, I am intrigued enough by the story that I do want to see how it all works out, so I can actually say that I am looking forward to reading the next book in the series, even if it seems like a chore at times!
This has to be one of the most challenging books I have read in a while. It isn't the reading level or the content that is throwing me off. It is the sheer amount of stuff that Martin managed to throw into the book. It isn't often that you find a good book filled with political intrigue and symbolic foreshadowing and sheer epicness. The characters grow on you. Even the ones that you don't really care for grow on you to the point that you want them there causing trouble. By the time you get done with the first book, you just want to know more. I haven't read a book this exciting or page turning or political since the Sword of Shannara. If you are looking for something to fill that Harry Potter void, give this series a try.