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The first volume of A Song of Ice and Fire, the greatest fantasy epic of the modern age. GAME OF THRONES is now a major TV series from HBO, starring Sean Bean.
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.
'Of those who work in the grand epic fantasy tradition, Martin is by far the best' Time Magazine
'Colossal, staggering... Martin captures all the intoxicating complexity of the Wars of the Roses or Imperial Rome' SFX '
The sheer-mind-boggling scope of this epic has sent other fantasy writers away shaking their heads ... Its ambition: to construct the Twelve Caesars of fantasy fiction, with characters so venomous they could eat the Borgias' Guardian
Takes a bit of time to get into the characters but easier if you have seen the series
SUMMER IS OVER. WINTER IS COMING. BOOKS RULE.
FIRST PUBLISHED BACK in 1996, the opening volume of the fantasy epic called A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE is immediately captivating, enthralling, entertaining, and even shocking. This is epic fantasy at its best. Well, for some of the book, anyway. It is also immediately obvious why and how this book (and in fact the whole series) has become one of the most watched, and most loved TV shows ever made. I won't say that it was written just to be adapted, but the genius of the author has created a fictional world so well populated with amazing characters, who in turn love each other and hate each other with such passion that at times the book simply sizzles. At certain points in the book some characters are seen to be doing unmentionables to each other, and when discovered by innocent parties, take further measures so extreme in order to protect themselves you may well find yourself in such shock that you literally wont be able to put the book down.
Long term fans of the genre will make immediate comparisons to other giants (!) of the field, and the first name to spring to mind will, of course, be J R R Tolkien, with his breathtaking LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy. On a superficial level, Martin's books are longer (by a looooong way) and yet despite the extra length and time involved in writing and reading them, he has failed to gift the reader with the quality of prose, and downright beauty, that is the trademark of Gandalf, Frodon, Elrond and company.
Humour has a minor role in the book, but only with certain clans. I am thinking of the Lannisters here, folks, but only the loveable and highly durable Tyrion (the imp) demonstrates qualities of this nature worth mentioning. And of course he uses humour as a defence mechanism in order to cope with the situations and compromises he finds himself in on a daily basis.
For the rest of the cast, life is much, much, much too serious to be caught laughing. And it's only going to get worse. Winter is coming, you see. One of the plethora of strong features of GOT is character development, and they oftentimes grow and develop right before your eyes. Obviously time passes in this book but i found it immensely satisfying seeing how some of the younger generations of the book's populace cope with, and grow into, roles they find themselves in. Some under duress, some at the hands of fate and some, Gods forbid, at the result of their own engineering.
There is the subtle hint of dragons making an appearance in the story, but having just reached page 604 out of 780 I do believe that the reader is running out of time and words if they are going to be blessed with the presence of these magnificent creatures in the first book of this epic fable. Of course there is a lot more going on than just the re-emergence of dragons; like i just mentioned, Winter is Coming, and even though that is a saying strongly favoured by the Starks, it may well turn out to be a metaphor that affects the entire world that Mr Martin has so wonderfully crafted.
The pace of the book ebbs and flows. It started off well, with several major emotional shocks hitting the reader full in the face early on. By page 300 I was ready to declare my personal love for Catelyn Stark (I still am) but then things slowed down and i found myself forced to carry on the exploration of this fantastic world i have become lost in. And for every page i forced myself to read, i found myself resenting the time doing so, and not spent playing hide and seek in Middle Earth with Sauron and company. But then the pace of the book picked up again, new characters came to life and a multitude of betrayals took place which made my investment more than worthwhile.
Some of the locations described in the book are truly breath taking. Some of the ideas, too, are good enough to make you yearn to become one with the book and morph yourself right there. This book is incredibly deep. Characters that are presumably killed off are spoken of with such fervour and respect that you may well find yourself hoping against hope that they will be found again. There are many aspect of the book that have moved me, or grabbed my imagination by the throat and not let go. I have attempted to keep this review spoiler free and purposely vague at times. I can fully imagine myself reading GAME OF THRONES multiple times. Not for the beauty of the prose, because that is not its strong point. But certainly in order to relieve the drama, and the excitement, the cliffhangers and the shocks, you could certainly call me a fan.
Four stars for a dead set modern day classic. It is not perfect by any means, and i can only assume the story will get stronger as i make progress through the books. Watch this space and I will let you know.
Summer is over. Winter is coming. Books rule.
An excellent read
I've watched the TV series and enjoyed it, however, as usual, the book takes things to a whole new level. Loved it.
Bec the Bookworm
Wagga Wagga, AU
An unexpectedly epic tale
I am not usually into this medieval style genre but I am hooked on this book. The character development and twists in the plot makes it appealing to a wide spread of readers. The perspective changes between characters each chapter and this is very effective. I would recommend to anyone, regardless of whether they have seen the Game of Thrones series.
Broken Hill, Australia
A piece of an epic saga.
It's a complicated book, but that's because it's a complicated story. It will take a while to read, but it's totally worth it, along with the rest of the series.
A nice read
I have decided this book is vigorously over rated. I remember reading one review on this book saying it was better than Lord of the rings which is a silly thing to say simply because both books are written by two different authors at a different point in history.
The Tv series sucked and jumped through characters fast. I tolerated the first season and the second season amplified. So I decided to give the books a go and I can honestly say it was a dramatic improvement. Each character has a chapter dedicated to them. This helps one understand whats going on.
Reading is simple and leaves little to ones imagination, which I do not like. I like it when an author lets you create the scene.
The book is to long and is full of padding.
It is a good read but will I read it again, no.
Let's be honest, the only reason you're considering this book is because you've seen the awesome TV show. Well, take it from someone who read the book BEFORE it was a TV show, this is a seriously, SERIOUSLY depressing book. Whilst it is well written, and the plot is very intriguing, the author is a bit TOO concise in the old, medieval-style intrigue. This does admittedly make the story more real to the reader, but the high levels of betrayal and backstabbing that occurred throughout the novel knocked me off my rocker. I'm not calling the novel bad, I'm just saying you might want some happy gas or prozac nearby when you get hit by the sheer ferocity of depressing events. If you've watched the TV show, you know what's going to happen, meaning you won't find it as depressing. Therefore, I guess the real point I'm trying to make is watch the show before you read the book. Good luck.
So many people say "the book is better than the series..." and it is definitely the case in The Game of Thrones. I am addicted to the series but the book just adds another depth to those characters. So compelling, so captivating, a true fantasy fiction to get completely lost in.
Worth every cent.
Well written with such diverse characters that jump from the page. Constantly keeps you guessing.
Amazingly written series, right up there
This series is incredible, personally it beat Lord of the rings hands down.
A Game of Thrones
The morning had dawned clear and cold, with a crispness that hinted at the end of summer. They set forth at daybreak to see a man beheaded, twenty in all, and Bran rode among them, nervous with excitement. This was the first time he had been deemed old enough to go with his lord father and his brothers to see the king's justice done. It was the ninth year of summer, and the seventh of Bran's life.
The man had been taken outside a small holdfast in the hills. Robb thought he was a wildling, his sword sworn to Mance Rayder, the King-beyond-the-Wall. It made Bran's skin prickle to think of it. He remembered the hearth tales Old Nan told them. The wildlings were cruel men, she said, slavers and slayers and thieves. They consorted with giants and ghouls, stole girl children in the dead of night, and drank blood from polished horns. And their women lay with the Others in the Long Night to sire terrible half-human children.
But the man they found bound hand and foot to the holdfast wall awaiting the king's justice was old and scrawny, not much taller than Robb. He had lost both ears and a finger to frostbite, and he dressed all in black, the same as a brother of the Night's Watch, except that his furs were ragged and greasy.
The breath of man and horse mingled, steaming, in the cold morning air as his lord father had the man cut down from the wall and dragged before them. Robb and Jon sat tall and still on their horses, with Bran between them on his pony, trying to seem older than seven, trying to pretend that he'd seen all this before. A faint wind blew through the holdfast gate. Over their heads flapped the banner of the Starks of Winterfell: a grey direwolf racing across an ice-white field.
Bran's father sat solemnly on his horse, long brown hair stirring in the wind. His closely trimmed beard was shot with white, making him look older than his thirty-five years. He had a grim cast to his grey eyes this day, and he seemed not at all the man who would sit before the fire in the evening and talk softly of the age of heroes and the children of the forest. He had taken off Father's face, Bran thought, and donned the face of Lord Stark of Winterfell.
There were questions asked and answers given there in the chill of morning, but afterward Bran could not recall much of what had been said. Finally his lord father gave a command, and two of his guardsmen dragged the ragged man to the ironwood stump in the center of the square. They forced his head down onto the hard black wood. Lord Eddard Stark dismounted and his ward Theon Greyjoy brought forth the sword. "Ice," that sword was called. It was as wide across as a man's hand, and taller even than Robb. The blade was Valyrian steel, spell-forged and dark as smoke. Nothing held an edge like Valyrian steel.
His father peeled off his gloves and handed them to Jory Cassel, the captain of his household guard. He took hold of Ice with both hands and said, "In the name of Robert of the House Baratheon, the First of his Name, King of the Andals and the Rhoynar and the First Men, Lord of the Seven Kingdoms and Protector of the Realm, by the word of Eddard of the House Stark, Lord of Winterfell and Warden of the North, I do sentence you to die." He lifted the great sword high above his head.
Bran's bastard brother Jon Snow moved closer. "Keep the pony well in hand," he whispered. "And don't look away. Father will know if you do."
Bran kept his pony well in hand, and did not look away.
His father took off the man's head with a single sure stroke. Blood sprayed out across the snow, as red as summerwine. One of the horses reared and had to be restrained to keep from bolting. Bran could not take his eyes off the blood. The snows around the stump drank it eagerly, reddening as he watched.
The head bounced off a thick root and rolled. It came up near Greyjoy's feet. Theon was a lean, dark youth of nineteen who found everything amusing. He laughed, put his boot on the head,and kicked it away.
"Ass," Jon muttered, low enough so Greyjoy did not hear. He put a hand on Bran's shoulder, and Bran looked over at his bastard brother.
"You did well," Jon told him solemnly. Jon was fourteen, an old hand at justice.
It seemed colder on the long ride back to Winterfell, though the wind had died by then and the sun was higher in the sky. Bran rode with his brothers, well ahead of the main party, his pony struggling hard to keep up with their horses.
"The deserter died bravely," Robb said. He was big and broad and growing every day, with his mother's coloring, the fair skin, red-brown hair, and blue eyes of the Tullys of Riverrun. "He had courage, at the least."
"No," Jon Snow said quietly. "It was not courage. This one was dead of fear. You could see it in his eyes, Stark." Jon's eyes were a grey so dark they seemed almost black, but there was little they did not see. He was of an age with Robb, but they did not look alike. Jon was slender where Robb was muscular, dark where Robb was fair, graceful and quick where his half brother was strong and fast.
Robb was not impressed. "The Others take his eyes," he swore. "He died well. Race you to the bridge?"
"Done," Jon said, kicking his horse forward. Robb cursed and followed, and they galloped off down the trail, Robb laughing and hooting, Jon silent and intent. The hooves of their horses kicked up showers of snow as they went.
Bran did not try to follow. His pony could not keep up. He had seen the ragged man's eyes, and he was thinking of them now. After a while, the sound of Robb's laughter receded, and the woods grew silent again.
That was when Jon reappeared on the crest of the hill before them. He waved and shouted down at them. "Father, Bran, come quickly, see what Robb has found!" Then he was gone again.
Jory rode up beside them. "Trouble, my lord?"
"Beyond a doubt," his lord father said. "Come, let us see what mischief my sons have rooted out now." He sent his horse into a trot. Jory and Bran and the rest came after.
They found Robb on the riverbank north of the bridge, with Jon still mounted beside him. The late summer snows had been heavy this moonturn. Robb stood knee-deep in white, his hood pulled back so the sun shone in his hair. He was cradling something in his arm, while the boys talked in hushed, excited voices.
The riders picked their way carefully through the drifts, groping for solid footing on the hidden, uneven ground. Jory Cassel and Theon Greyjoy were the first to reach the boys. Greyjoy was laughing and joking as he rode. Bran heard the breath go out of him. "Gods!" he exclaimed, struggling to keep control of his horse as he reached for his sword.
Jory's sword was already out. "Robb, get away from it!" he called as his horse reared under him.
Robb grinned and looked up from the bundle in his arms. "She can't hurt you," he said. "She's dead, Jory."
Bran was afire with curiosity by then. He would have spurred the pony faster, but his father made them dismount beside the bridge and approach on foot. Bran jumped off and ran.
By then Jon, Jory, and Theon Greyjoy had all dismounted as well. "What in the seven hells is it?" Greyjoy was saying.
"A wolf," Robb told him.
"A freak," Greyjoy said. "Look at the size of it."
Bran's heart was thumping in his chest as he pushed through a waist-high drift to his brothers' side.
Half-buried in blood stained snow, a huge dark shape slumped in death. Ice had formed in its shaggy grey fur, and the faint smell of corruption clung to it like a woman's perfume. Bran glimpsed blind eyes crawling with maggots, a wide mouth full of yellowed teeth. But it was the size of it that made him gasp. It was bigger than his pony, twice the size of the largest hound in his father's kennel.
"It's no freak," Jon said calmly. "That's a direwolf. They grow larger than the other kind."
Theon Greyjoy said, "There's not been a direwolf sighted south of the Wall in two hundred years."
"I see one now," Jon replied.
Bran tore his eyes away from the monster. That was when he noticed the bundle in Robb's arms. He gave a cry of delight and moved closer. The pup was a tiny ball of grey-black fur, its eyes still closed. It nuzzled blindly against Robb's chest as he cradled it, searching for milk among his leathers, making a sad little whimpery sound. Bran reached out hesitantly. "Go on,"Robb told him. "You can touch him."
Bran gave the pup a quick nervous stroke, then turned as Jon said, "Here you go." His half brother put a second pup into his arms. "There are five of them." Bran sat down in the snow and hugged the wolf pup to his face. Its fur was soft and warm against his cheek.
"Direwolves loose in the realm, after so many years," muttered Hullen, the master of horse. "I like it not."
"It is a sign," Jory said.
Father frowned. "This is only a dead animal, Jory," he said. Yet he seemed troubled. Snow crunched under his boots as he moved around the body. "Do we know what killed her?"
"There's something in the throat," Robb told him, proud to have found the answer before his father even asked. "There, just under the jaw."
His father knelt and groped under the beast's head with his hand. He gave a yank and held it up for all to see. A foot of shattered antler, tines snapped off, all wet with blood.
A sudden silence descended over the party. The men looked at the antler uneasily, and no one dared to speak. Even Bran could sense their fear, though he did not understand.
His father tossed the antler to the side and cleansed his hands in the snow. "I'm surprised she lived long enough to whelp," he said. His voice broke the spell.
"Maybe she didn't," Jory said. "I've heard tales . . . maybe the bitch was already dead when the pups came."
"Born with the dead," another man put in. "Worse luck."
"No matter," said Hullen. "They be dead soon enough too."
Bran gave a wordless cry of dismay.
"The sooner the better," Theon Greyjoy agreed. He drew his sword.
"Give the beast here, Bran."
The little thing squirmed against him, as if it heard and understood.
"No!" Bran cried out fiercely. "It's mine."
"It be a mercy to kill them," Hullen said.
Bran looked to his lord father for rescue, but got only a frown, a furrowed brow. "Hullen speaks truly, son. Better a swift death than a hard one from cold and starvation."
"No!" He could feel tears welling in his eyes, and he looked away. He did not want to cry in front of his father.
"Lord Stark," Jon said. It was strange to hear him call Father that, so formal. Bran looked at him with desperate hope. "There are five pups," he told Father. "Three male, two female."
"What of it, Jon?"
"You have five true born children," Jon said. "Three sons, two daughters. The direwolf is the sigil of your House. Your children were meant to have these pups, my lord."
Bran saw his father's face change, saw the other men exchange glances. He loved Jon with all his heart at that moment. Even at seven, Bran understood what his brother had done. The count had come right only because Jon had omitted himself. He had included the girls, included even Rickon, the baby, but not the bastard who bore the surname Snow, the name that custom decreed be given to all those in the north unlucky enough to be born with no name of their own.
Their father understood as well. "You want no pup for yourself, Jon?" he asked softly.
"The direwolf graces the banners of House Stark," Jon pointed out. "I am no Stark, Father."
Their lord father regarded Jon thoughtfully. Robb rushed into the silence he left. "I will nurse him myself, Father," he promised. "I will soak a towel with warm milk, and give him suck from that."
"Me too!" Bran echoed.
The lord weighed his sons long and carefully with his eyes. "Easy to say, and harder to do. I will not have you wasting the servants' time with this. If you want these pups, you will feed them yourselves. Is that understood?"
Bran nodded eagerly. The pup squirmed in his grasp, lickedat his face with a warm tongue.
It was not until they were mounted and on their way that Bran allowed himself to taste the sweet air of victory. By then, his pup was snuggled inside his leathers, warm against him, safe for the long ride home. Bran was wondering what to name him.
Halfway across the bridge, Jon pulled up suddenly.
"What is it, Jon?" their lord father asked.
"Can't you hear it?"
Bran could hear the wind in the trees, the clatter of their hooves on the ironwood planks, the whimpering of his hungry pup, but Jon was listening to something else.
"There," Jon said. He swung his horse around and galloped back across the bridge. They watched him dismount where the direwolf lay dead in the snow, watched him kneel. A moment later he was riding back to them, smiling.
"He must have crawled away from the others," Jon said.
"Or been driven away," their father said, looking at the sixth pup. His fur was white, where the rest of the litter was grey. His eyes were as red as the blood of the ragged man who had died that morning. Bran thought it curious that this pup alone would have opened his eyes while the others were still blind.
"An albino," Theon Greyjoy said with wry amusement. "This one will die even faster than the others."
Jon Snow gave his father's ward a long, chilling look. "I think not, Greyjoy," he said. "This one belongs to me."
ISBN: 9780006479888 ISBN-10: 000647988X Series: Song of Ice and Fire Audience:
Number Of Pages: 864 Published: 1st October 1997 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Country of Publication: GB Dimensions (cm): 17.9 x 11.2
Weight (kg): 0.43
George R.R. Martin was born September 20, 1948 in Bayonne, New Jersey. His father was Raymond Collins Martin, a longshoreman, and his mother was Margaret Brady Martin. He has two sisters, Darleen Martin Lapinski and Janet Martin Patten.
Martin attended Mary Jane Donohoe School and Marist High School. He began writing very young, selling monster stories to other neighborhood children for pennies, dramatic readings included. Later he became a comic book fan and collector in high school, and began to write fiction for comic fanzines (amateur fan magazines). Martin's first professional sale was made in 1970 at age 21: "The Hero," sold to Galaxy, published in February, 1971 issue. Other sales followed.
In 1970 Martin received a B.S. in Journalism from Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois, graduating summa cum laude. He went on to complete a M.S. in Journalism in 1971, also from Northwestern.
As a conscientious objector, Martin did alternative service 1972-1974 with VISTA, attached to Cook County Legal Assistance Foundation. He also directed chess tournaments for the Continental Chess Association from 1973-1976, and was a Journalism instructor at Clarke College, Dubuque, Iowa, from 1976-1978. He wrote part-time throughout the 1970s while working as a VISTA Volunteer, chess director, and teacher.
In 1975 he married Gale Burnick. They divorced in 1979, with no children. Martin became a full-time writer in 1979. He was writer-in-residence at Clarke College from 1978-79.
Moving on to Hollywood, Martin signed on as a story editor for Twilight Zone at CBS Television in 1986. In 1987 Martin became an Executive Story Consultant for Beauty and the Beast at CBS. In 1988 he became a Producer for Beauty and the Beast, then in 1989 moved up to Co-Supervising Producer. He was Executive Producer for Doorways, a pilot which he wrote for Columbia Pictures Television, which was filmed during 1992-93.