Friday, September 16, 2011

A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin (CBR Book #25)

With the recent popularity of HBO's new series A Game of Thrones, based on Martin's books, it came as a surprise to me that Martin's first book was written 15 years ago. Although the book received numerous awards in the years after its release, it wasn't until July of this year that it reached #1 on the New York Times Best Seller list. Of course, I never heard of the book until my friend started geeking out about it in the Spring. And since I'm cheap and prefer to Netflix HBO/Showtime series, rather than pay for the channels, I knew I'd have to read the books in order to understand what the hell she was talking about. Bandwagon jumped.

So what is it that makes A Game of Thrones so compelling? Well, I don't know if there's a magic formula that must involve midgets, swords, incestual twins, supernatural zombie like creatures, and barbarianism, but I guess they sound good to a Hollywood exec. And the public agrees. Granted, I haven't seen the series yet, so I'm going off of what's in the book, but I hear the two are pretty closely married. And I must admit, I enjoyed the first book and my husband literally spends all weekend reading the series (called A Song of Fire and Ice) which is pretty amazing.

I guess I should enlighten you on the plot. Basically, it's some kind of midevil time period where people live in castles and basically anyone can be King. You just have to kill whoever the current one is. Each chapter is titled with a person's name. So you get the story through that person's perspective. This means there are a lot of people with their own plot lines that intersect with everyone else's. It's an interesting dynamic.

The main family is the Stark family. Ned, the father, has gone south to serve as the King's advisor. The King's wife is one of those evil bitches you just love to read about. And her family is that power-hungry, conniving, new money kind of people that make for great reality show stars. But my favorite plot line has to be Daenerys'. Daenerys' family used to be the ruling family until they weren't. So she went into exile to a land where everyone is basically a barbarian. Like, if you don't have at least 10 people die at your wedding, then it wasn't a cool wedding kind of barbarian. Anyway, her story is really interesting, as she evolves from a meek young girl to a strong woman (you can actually read just Daenerys' story in the novella Blood of the Dragon).

Oh, and another thing, since this is midevil times or whatever, girls get married and have kids at 12, 13. It's weird at first to get used to but then you start thinking like everyone in the book, "wait, she's 20?! She'll never have a family! What will she DO with her life now that she's ANCIENT?!" Yeah, it gets like that.

I mentioned supernatural earlier. It's not a HUGE part of the book, but there are some bits and hints of more to come. Don't pick it up expecting unicorns and leprechauns though. But even without a blatant zombie plot, which seems to be the easy way to get a book sold, A Game of Thrones had some moments where I literally gasped. "Did he really just write that?" I'd think. Yes he did, and it was awesome. Really, kid characters shouldn't be immune to the atrocities of the day. And Martin acknowledges this. But you'll have to read the book to know what I'm talking about.

So a recommend from me. If you're into Lord of the Rings fantasy type books or epic novels, or just a good story, I'd pick it up.

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