Even if, like me, you’ve been living under a rock for the past couple of years, you’ll probably still know at least this much about George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series (as I did before I started reading it).
- It has been made into one of the most popular TV series’ of the 21st century.
- More characters die in than in all of Harry Potter and the Hunger Games put together.
The Seven Kingdoms of Westeros were once just that. Seven independent kingdoms. Over time the kingdoms became united under the Targaryen family, the last dragon lords. About 13 years before the beginning of A Game of Thrones, Aerys II was deposed in a bloody revolution led by the Baratheon, Stark, and Lannister families. Robert Baratheon (whose fiancee, Lyanna Stark’s death was the spark that led to the uprising) took the throne, and married Cersei Lannister, although he did not stop his womanising ways.
Eddard Stark, brother of Lyanna and Robert’s closest friend is Warden of the North. A Game of Thrones primarily focuses on his sudden elevation to ‘Hand of the King’ (the king’s highest advisor) and his family’s unwilling entry into the political intrigues surrounding the throne.
Jon Snow has no place at court. As a son born to Eddard out of wedlock, he is not welcome there, nor can he stay with his father’s wife at Winterfell. Instead he travels north to join ‘The Night’s Watch’ – the ‘black brothers’ who leave behind all their land, possessions and family alliances to defend a 700 foot high wall of ice against the wildlings and other foul things that dwell in the forests north of the Seven Kingdoms.
Meanwhile, exiled in the east, Viserys Targaryen still believes himself to be the rightful king, and sells his sister Daenerys to a powerful Dothraki Khal, expecting an army in return.
I love high fantasy. So much so that I don’t know why it took me so long to pick this up. Perhaps fear that it wouldn’t live up to the hype? It did.
Each chapter is told from the perspective of one of the main characters, but in the third person rather than first. Most chapters set within the Seven Kingdoms focus on members of the Stark family, but there are occasions where we instead visit ‘the imp’, Cersei Lannister’s dwarf brother Tyrion. I’m afraid if I admit he’s my favourite character so far, Mr Martin will find out and kill him off (as has happened to so many other characters already!) The chapters dealing with the experiences of the Targaryen family in exile are told from the perspective of young Daenerys, a much more likeable character than the vicious Viserys. The chapters are fairly short and there are cliff-hangers in all the right places, but as was previously advertised, there are many, many deaths (including a surprising number of main characters).
A Game of Thrones is a real chunker, and the 800 pages took me three weeks to get through, but what a ride! Even though I know there are several thousand pages left in the series, I am looking forward to them!! Now I’m afraid to start watching the TV series in case it doesn’t live up to the pure awesomeness of the book!!!