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One of the most intriguing aspects of George R. R. Martin’s epic fantasy series A Song of Fire and Ice may also be its most annoying. The first novel in the series, A Game of Thrones, often gets bogged down in the very description needed to create the vaguely medieval setting. Needless to say, the fantasy genre requires patience, and luckily this book delivers to those willing to overlook (or perhaps skim) some of the more overblown parts to be rewarded by the author’s knack for spinning an unparalleled plot.

 

The heart of the story boils down to the struggle for political domination as well as the more intimate struggles between families, friends, and lovers. The chapters alternate limited third-person viewpoints of a cast of approximately 20 different characters and the author doesn’t play favorites. At any given moment George R. R. Martin may kill off an important character because that is how the cutthroat world of the novel works; fan favorites be damned.

 

Cover image of a Game of Thrones

 

Surprisingly, the novel contains a wealth of strong female characters whose presence creates a fuller picture of the factors that contribute to a struggle for world domination on a planet where the Stark family motto, “Winter is coming,” adds a layer of complexity to the prospect of a cold spell that could last years and with it bring even darker times for humanity as well.

 

The thematic element most integral to the foundation of the Fire and Ice series comes toward the end of A Game of Thrones when Sansa, Ned Stark’s daughter thinks, “In life, the monsters win.” What George R. R. Martin’s fantasy series makes clear is that within everyone there is a monster and the reader will be continually torn by which character to side with. Luckily, the saga continues, and each reader will see a bit of themselves in the strengths and weaknesses of each character.

 

The temptation to read A Game of Thrones arose only after a marathon session of watching all of the first season via HBO on Demand before the premiere of this April’s season two premiere. It will be interesting to see how my perception of the series changes if I am able to read the third book BEFORE the premiere of the series’ third season (which is said to only cover half of book three). In the meantime, I’ll find some great fan sites and devote some time to studying character descriptions and plot summaries!

 

You can connect with George R. R. Martin via his blog.

 

What’s your take on either the book or the HBO miniseries?

 

 

For more insight, read my Book Review Criteria. Please share responsibly. Jeri Walker, 2012.

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