Journey to Westeros for the first time, with A Game of Thrones, but beware for winter is coming. In the first of George R. R. Martin’s landmark, epic fantasy series, A Song of Ice and Fire, readers will be introduced to a complex world of many lands and many families, with many characters, but have no fear for Martin tells the story from unique viewpoints of different members of different families, forcing the reader to fit the different pieces of the story together, creating the overall puzzle of plot. Readers will be reminded of everything they love about great fantasy stories, whether they be simple or epic; as well as discovering why George R. R. Martin has earned the title of the “American Tolkien.”
In the world of Westeros, there are Seven Kingdoms, long ago independent, now united under the Iron Throne, but those named king never seem to last long in this world of corrupt, power-hungry families. There are two main families which readers are first introduced to: the Starks and the Lanisters, emulating the Wars of the Roses with the Yorks and Lancasters. With the Starks there is proud and strong Ned, who is to be the King’s Hand to Robert Baratheon, and his determined and caring wife, Catelyn. The sons are Rob, the eldest, Jon Snow, a bastard, Bran who suffers a debilitating accident, and Rickon who is too young to really understand what is going on. The daughters are Sansa, who is a young, fair maiden always looking for her knight in shining armor to whisk her off her feet; and Arya, who is boyish and wants to learn how to fight with a sword, ride a horse into battle, and defend herself. The Lannisters are a different type of family, constantly looking for gain whether it is with land, riches, or power. At the head of the household is the aging Lord Tywin, with his children: the beautiful, blond and blue-eyed Jaime and his twin Cersei – who share much more than a sibling affection – and little Tyrion, a dwarf who has had to fight for everything in his entire life. Cersei is wife to the king, Robert Baratheon, and together they have young Joffrey, heir to the throne, along with Tommen and Myrcella.
While tension builds between the families at King’s landing, far to the north lies the Wall – 700 feet tall and 300 miles long, protecting the Seven Kingdoms from the evils of the far north. There lies myth and legends of demons and ghouls, as well as a landless king. It is here John Snow is sent. To the east in the Free Cities is Viserys and Daenerys Targaryen, the last surviving children of King Aerys II, looking to one day take back the throne that is rightfully theirs.
A Game of Thrones is fantasy at its very best, with lots of complex, interesting characters; moving storylines filled with tension and adventure; a detailed and varied world that is well explored; and an underlying question of who is truly good and who is truly evil in this harsh world.
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Originally written on March 14, 2011 ©Alex C. Telander.
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