What to say about what may be my favorite series? This is not the first time I have read A Game of Thrones, and may not even be the last. My plan is to re-read all four existing books before book 5 is released in July of this year. (YAY) This is timely also because in April the Game of Thrones TV series will begin on HBO. I am so excited about that! It stars Sean Bean and also has Peter Dinklage and Lena Headey (Sarah Connor!!!).
A Game of Thrones is the first book in Martin's amazing epic fantasy series, referred to as A Song of Ice and Fire. It is set in a world where seasons last years and vary significantly in length. Winters are apparently pretty intense! A Game of Thrones is all about characters, politics, loyalties and ambitions. You won't find hero's journey type quests in this series, or elf armies battling uruk-hai knock offs, but it does not lack for adventure, action or even violence.
I am very comfortable with the level of violence in these books. It is remarkably tasteful, even when really horrible things are being done to characters. I have a really low tolerance for violence, especially sexual violence, in books, but Martin writes these things subtly and with taste. It isn't done just for shock value, like certain crappy authors (*cough* Goodkind *cough* Larsson) or to appeal to the reader's baser nature, but to actually develop characters and advance the plot. I am not saying this book is for children (it's not) but it isn't going to be as messed-up disturbing violent as other books in the genre to which it is often compared.
Martin is sort of notorious for killing off important characters. You get used to main characters being pretty much bullet proof in most fantasy stories, but such is not the case here. Bad things definitely happen to important characters, and he is not above abruptly ending plotlines! It really makes it more exciting when you can't assume that everything will be ok eventually for the good guys.
It is amazing that even after reading this book maybe three or four times certain point of views (most notably Daenerys) still have the capacity to make me cry. Like a baby. I know exactly what's coming, but it still moves me. That's sort of amazing! The only point of view that I didn't really enjoy this time around was that of Eddard Stark (Sean Bean!!!). His chapters really move the major plot along, but knowing what's happening next reduced my enjoyment of those parts. Most other characters' POVs are still interesting when you are just along for the ride and already know where it's going.
I am told that this book is hard to get into. The first few chapters really are pretty slow. But it's worth it! Once you invest enough to get past the first several chapters (which I like just fine but can sort of see why they aren't very attention-grabbing) it gets much more exciting. I promise, Emily. LOL.
So I really cannot recommend this book highly enough. If you like fantasy at all, this is pretty much something you need to read. I feel like it's something even non-fantasy enthusiasts might enjoy since it isn't really *about* the fantasy elements. It's about the wars and the politics and the characters. With several notable exceptions, most of the setting and plot is indistinguishable from historical fiction in a lot of ways! So seriously. Read this book. There is still time to read it before the HBO show airs.