I know, I know. Late to the GoT game.
At this point, pretty much everyone knows at least something about the plot: set in a far-off land that is pretty similar to medieval-era Europe, political intrigue, blood and violence and sex, a little bit of magic. To boil it down to bare bones, the book follows the paths of dozens of different characters, all trying, in one way or another, to gain power in a quickly-crumbling society. The main characters are the Starks, a noble family living in the North with strong ties to the king; the king’s family, including his morally dubious wife and her two brothers; and Danaerys, a princess from the previous royal family (overthrown by King Robert) who finds herself married to a savage warlord and is attempting to regain her crown. Sound confusing? It is!
This is one of those books that you’re either going to love or hate. If you like fantasy (and this is almost fantasy-lite–I’d call it more of a fantasy-flavored historical drama), you’ll like this. You know the style–a little bit melodramatic, very violent, lots of twists and turns and characters with strange names. If you don’t like fantasy, you won’t like this. I grew up with books like this (this reminded me so much of Tamora Pierce’s books in terms of the world that’s been created), and so I was pretty confident that I’d be into this. I was.
It’s not the most well-written book I’ve ever read. Martin could definitely use a strict editor at some points, and some of his dialogue is ridiculous. But it’s a fun book. Seriously–becoming immersed in a world this fleshed out, with a cast of characters so unique and interesting, was just a really fun experience. It’s hard to keep track of who is who and where is where and which alliances are which, but figuring it out is half the fun (plus, there’s a handy chart at the back of the book to help you figure out where everyone fits). I just loved the mythology of this book, the rich history of the world, and the rich, realistic characters. Again, it didn’t feel like fantasy for most of it–these are real people dealing with real problems, just in a different world.
So after reading A Game of Thrones, I was hooked. Again, it’s one of those love-it-or-hate-it books, and I wouldn’t recommend it for everyone. But if you’re a fan of the genre, and like your fantasy grounded in reality, you’ll like this.