Saturday, September 22, 2012

Review of The Game of Thrones

In short
The Game of Thrones is a fantasy novel. I always find it difficult to give a synopsis of such novels, because you're not only supposed to tell what it's about, but sketch the world it's happening in.
In The game of Thrones the world is very similar to our world, safe the geography. Men rule the world, but you do have dragons, vampires, magic give it a little more punch. Where people rule, the world is divided into several kingdoms, but made one by one lord, Aegon the conqueror (somewhat a Julius Caesar of his world). All seems calm in beginning of the story, but you can tell that something is rotten in the town of King's Landing (where the king and queen have their quarters). Summer is passing (in this world summer can last for a decade, and winter even longer) and winter comes with grave surprises.
Eddard Stark, one of the main protagonists in this novel, has been asked to join his friend, King Robert, to King's Landing to act as the Hand of the king (someone who's responsible for the small matters the King doesn't bother himself with). Reluctantly leaving his castle, Winterfell, you follow him and his kin towards his new residence and role as the King's right hand.
A tale filled with betrayal and deceit, every pageturn holding you at the edge of your seat.

My two cents
I loved this book, loved, loved, loved it!
I'm very fond of the fantasy genre, but most are romantisized novels, whereas this book is as harsh as the light of day. Love and hate is felt thoroughly, never overdramatized or belittled. It's like I've always thought the middle ages must be like, without the supernatural ingredients.
You mainly follow the Stark family, each chapter following someone else. The same story told from different vantage points makes it even better.

As the novel begins, the first stirrings of the end of summer are in the air, and as the Stark words ring true.. Winter is coming. From one side, a supernatural evil is lurking in the haunted forest beyond the Wall. From the other, a King has to fear his kin and others after his throne. When the game of thrones is played, you win or you die.
In the midst of all this you have Eddard Stark and his family, trying to find solace with what's happening to them and meanwhile trying to find and carrying out justice. Being asked to be the Hand of the king, he accepts and heads for King's Landing bringing along his daughters, Sansa and Arya. Sansa is being betrothed to Joffrey, the King's eldest son and heir to the throne. Arya, only 7, is the opposite of Sansa. Where Sansa is the epitaph of delicacy and ladylike manners, Arya is a little tomboy.
He's leaving behind his wife and his three sons. Robb, his eldest son, to rule Winterfell in his absence. Bran, because of a fall that left him handicapped and Rickon, only 3. His one bastard son, Jon, the same age as Robb, is leaving Winterfell too, but taking a different direction. Following his uncle he's to be one of the Black Watch, who pledge to give their life to guard the Wall that divides the land of man and the haunted forest.

On the sideline you follow the life of Daenerys, living in the East, separated by a narrow sea from Westeros, where the main story takes place.
She and her brother are the last remnants of the Targaryen bloodline, which Robert has concurred and slaughtered. Her brother is determined to win his throne back and uses his sister as a pawn to achieve his goal.

I could go on and on telling more and more about this great story, but as I don't believe in spoilers and try not to let them escape my keyboard I'm going to let you discover the magnificence yourself! (Not sure if that's an existing word, it should be though!)
Read it, it's my only advice.

Personal rating: 5 stars
Author: George R.R. Martin
Thickness: a 800+ page whopper
First published in 1996