Book Review: A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

Posted May 26, 2014 by Debby in Book Reviews

Book Review: A Game of Thrones by George R.R. MartinA Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
Series: A Song of Ice and Fire #1
Published by Bantam Press on August 6th, 1996
Genres: Adult, Epic Fantasy, Fantasy, High Fantasy
Pages: 801
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased

Summers span decades. Winter can last a lifetime. And the struggle for the Iron Throne has begun.

As Warden of the north, Lord Eddard Stark counts it a curse when King Robert bestows on him the office of the Hand. His honour weighs him down at court where a true man does what he will, not what he must … and a dead enemy is a thing of beauty.

The old gods have no power in the south, Stark’s family is split and there is treachery at court. Worse, the vengeance-mad heir of the deposed Dragon King has grown to maturity in exile in the Free Cities. He claims the Iron Throne.

4.5 Stars

I think like everyone else, I was seriously daunted by the size of A Game Of Thrones, in spite of how much I wanted to read it. So yeah, for some I “did it in the wrong order” – I watched the TV series before I read the book. But you know what? I don’t care. I love the series and I love the book and reading it after being exposed to the elaborate world was definitely the right order for me.

Like you would expect from most high fantasies, A Game of Thrones‘s strength is in the world building. This world is just incredibly thorough and deep. I absolutely adore every single inch of it. There’s just so much history and thought put into this. And my fear there would be that it would read too slowly and get too info-dumpy. It definitely does not. There is constantly something interesting happening in the story. Every hint about how the world pieces together intrigued me. I was completely enchanted.

But there’s a lot of action as well, and that keeps the story moving. In almost 800 pages, I cannot say for a single moment that I was bored or that the story felt too slow. The writing is also incredibly fluid, so once you get into it, it’s not hard at all to keep reading.

Most will probably know that this is the series with a gazillion characters. I absolutely love that though. Even though the story switches perspectives all the time, that doesn’t get cumbersome – it just paints a full picture. Some perspectives I like more than others, but those that know the series would know why – there’s so many hateful characters anyway. But the different perspectives are really distinct and my love for my favorites was reinforced here: Arya, Tyrion, Daenerys, and Jon. While Daenerys maybe sparked a little less than she did in the TV series for me, Jon was a thousand times better. And particularly his bond with Arya was just so beautiful. I honestly want to cry knowing that they will probably never see each other again. WAHHHHHHH. To the club of Sansa fanatics: I still don’t get it – but I’m still trying to keep an open mind.

As far as the characters went, it was so much easier that I knew the TV series. The names can get confusing, and from my position of knowledge it felt like it was a re-read – I could see links between characters that become significant later. That again shows how much planning and crafting was put into this series. That really blows me away. George R.R. Martin is an incredible storytelling.

While the story thus was no surprise to me, I loved the way it was told. The first season of the TV series is pretty much identical to the book. But I love it nonetheless. You clearly see influences of historical fiction. Particularly the political intrigue totally draws me in. Then, of course, there’s the dramatic plot twists and shocking gore. It’s a book with something for everyone. Seriously.

Summing Up:

I’m sad I let A Game of Thrones‘s size scare me off for so long. However, with my monthly project scheduling, I managed to pace myself and thoroughly enjoy the story. I’m seriously in love with this world and all its action and intrigue. I’m happy I finally convinced myself to read the series. I do feel like the personalities of the characters aren’t quite as strong as I expected, but I expect this to only get better as the series go on. And I will go on.

GIF it to me straight!


Recommended To:

All fantasy fans. Seriously. You have to, at some point.

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9 responses to “Book Review: A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

  1. Hmmmmm. I have been put off by this one, because it’s so big. But I’m hoping to read it soon and see where all the buzz is about. I haven’t even seen the series yet. Yes I know, I am kind of behind. Please don’t hate me. I’m glad you enjoyed it!

  2. I read all the books that are out before watching the show, but I really wish I could have done it the other way around… Once you read the books you’ll judge the show more harshly whenever it deviates from the books! Season 1 was totally spot on, but then things have gone a bit awry…
    But since re-reading all 5 books before book 6 comes out is a bit daunting, I plan to refresh my memory by binge watching the show!

  3. I think I’m going to end up reading the book before the show, which may either be a good or bad thing, depending on whether I remember all the characters or not.

    BUT your review definitely sparked my interest! I don’t think I was going to read this until now. I just hope I’ll have time to finish it!

  4. I’ve been putting off reading this too, in part because I love the TV series and part of what I love about it is how much I’m surprised by it. Shocked is a more appropriate word. Mouth dropping open when certain things happen. But I’ve always read first before seeing movies, etc. so it’s so strange that I started watching the series first. Good to know you still loved the book even though you read it after!

  5. Sansa, in the books, gets better near the end of book three. I used to hate her chapters. I also read after seeing season 1 and 2. I watched season 3 before reading all of book 3, but finished book 3 and I’m midway through book 4, so I’m ahead of the show now 🙂 I think the show honestly helped me to gain a better understanding of what the heck was going on where and with all the characters. It’s a very detail-rich story. It’s incredible. 🙂

  6. I recently read this too and OMGOSH AMAZING. I got totally scared off by the size too and also intimidated by doing a review so I didn’t. But you did a lovely job putting into words the fabulous-ness of this book. Great review! 🙂