I absolutely adore reading - my love for books has had a huge impact on my life! I'm going to grad school to be a children's/YA librarian.
Long ago, in a time forgotten, a preternatural event threw the seasons out of balance. In a land where summers can last decades and winters a lifetime, trouble is brewing. The cold is returning, and in the frozen wastes to the north of Winterfell, sinister and supernatural forces are massing beyond the kingdom’s protective Wall. At the center of the conflict lie the Starks of Winterfell, a family as harsh and unyielding as the land they were born to. Sweeping from a land of brutal cold to a distant summertime kingdom of epicurean plenty, here is a tale of lords and ladies, soldiers and sorcerers, assassins and bastards, who come together in a time of grim omens.
Here an enigmatic band of warriors bear swords of no human metal; a tribe of fierce wildlings carry men off into madness; a cruel young dragon prince barters his sister to win back his throne; and a determined woman undertakes the most treacherous of journeys. Amid plots and counterplots, tragedy and betrayal, victory and terror, the fate of the Starks, their allies, and their enemies hangs perilously in the balance, as each endeavors to win that deadliest of conflicts: the game of thrones. (source)
Unless you've been living under a rock for the past few years, chances are you've heard about A Game of Thrones. If you haven't heard about the books, then you've at least heard about the TV series, even if you count yourself as one of us who don't have access to HBO. This series is wildly popular right now - it seems as though just about everybody loves it. So, finally, I decided to give the series a try. My husband and I finished Season One of the TV series on DVD last night and I read this book while I was at the beach last week - and I think it's safe to say that I'm hooked.
I was a bit skeptical going in, I have to admit, for several reasons. First of all, I tend to be wary of hype. Too often, I disagree with the general public opinion regarding what is "good literature" and I worried that A Game of Thrones would disappoint me like several other super hyped-up books have. I also had heard several people compare George R.R. Martin to Tolkien, which worried me because there is only one Tolkien. He's not my favorite author, but his books are very good, and I think that too many authors, particularly in the fantasy genre, try so hard to emulate his style that they lose their own voices (one example of this, in my opinion, is Eragon - I felt that Christopher Paolini was trying so hard to be like Tolkien that it made his book dry and dull. But that's a completely different topic). And finally, this book is long, and while I have no fear of lengthy books, A Game of Thrones were to be dry at some points, I knew I would have to struggle to stay motivated to read it.
Thankfully, my experience with A Game of Thrones has been nothing short of thrilling. The plot development is astounding. Martin has created many, many characters, and each of them has his or her own intricately developed storyline. I must admit that sometimes it was difficult to keep track of everyone - there are several character lists in the back of the book to try to help with this, but I wish that I had simply started my own in an effort to keep everyone's names and relationships straight. Nevertheless, I definitely enjoyed the story and managed to make it through alright. The character development was superb - characters were so complex, yet Martin really did a great job of creating characters who are clearly good, characters who are clearly evil, and characters who are extremely ambiguous and always kept me guessing.
The format that Martin chose is a tricky one, but he managed to pull it off. Martin alternates the point of view in each chapter, and at least 6 different characters POVs are used throughout the course of the novel. This could have been SUPER confusing and difficult to follow. Martin helped by titling each chapter with the name of the character who it followed. I did still struggle at times to remember what had been going on in that character's life when their previous chapter ended, especially in the case of Daenerys since there were typically long gaps between her sections, but, again, eventually I would figure things out and I'd be fine.
As long as A Game of Thrones is, it's extremely difficult to put down. It's full of cliff hangers and plot twists - there were a few near the end that made my head spin because they took me by such complete surprise. I found myself making a lot of comparisons to Diana Gabaldon's Outlander, probably because it's another epic series that I started in the last few weeks, and I must admit that I prefer that one just a tad bit more... but A Game of Thrones is still fantastic. If you're a fan of adventure novels or fantasy, I would definitely recommend trying this. Yes, it's very hyped up and that can sometimes be a turn-off, but in this case, the hype is justified.