Having several favorite fantasy series makes for diverse reading experiences that literally last years. My top series right now is George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire. And yes, my love affair with this series has lasted years. In this case it’s almost too many years with only five books out. Now there’s no way I can review the entire series, in one little post, so I’m going to start with the first book, A Game of Thrones. It is one of my Five Star, all-time favorite books.
Oh, and did you see that title? That title that has gained international recognition as a popular TV show? Well, that’s the book that hooked me on this series over ten years ago. I discovered the series back in 2003, when a friend loaned me her copies of the first three books. Naturally, I had to have my own copies for rereads, so it wasn’t long before they were added to my bookshelves.
I remember reading A Game of Thrones and liking it and getting comfortable with some of the characters, loving Martin’s gritty style and thoroughly enjoying the story. Completely out of the blue, I hit the first “big surprise.” I won’t spoil it for you and tell you what it is, but I will tell you how it made me feel. Shocked. Stunned. Disbelieving.
I had not just read that, had I? In fact, I had to read that same section over and over because I could not believe it had happened. I eventually moved on, with tears still in my eyes. And as simple as that, I was hooked. I practically devoured that book the first time I read it and immediately moved on to the other two.
But it’s the memory of reading A Game of Thrones that has stayed with me all these years.
Martin’s words resonated with something deep inside me and, even now, after four or five rereads, I can’t tell you exactly what it was because it occurred on so many levels. The closest I can come is that I fell in love with his characters. And the story. And the writing style. And Martin’s fearless risk-taking. Oh yes, he does take enormous risks as a writer.
For me it’s almost always character first and Martin doesn’t disappoint in that department. The story centers on a gigantic cast of characters, good and bad, young and old, male and female. I adored so many of these rich and detailed characters. Like the Stark family, especially the children, with their dire wolves. Bran and Arya are particular faves. Jon Snow, whose birth is shrouded in mystery, or is it? Daenerys Targaryen, heir to past kings, but hidden across the sea. And, of course, Tyrion Lannister, brilliant, irreverent and enigmatic.
Told in third person, but from each of the main characters’ perspectives, the story unfolds in some of the most elegantly crafted prose I’ve ever read. Yet, it’s also dark, edgy and gritty.
There are so many rich, complex layers in this story. Every time I read it I find new things and think “aha!” Martin’s imagination is nothing short of incredible. The weaving of the various stories and the detailed history puts realistic characters into a world that seems believable. There are so many intriguing plots and subplots, twists and turns that simply captivated me and stole me away into that world for so many hours of pure reading enjoyment.
The story takes place in mythical, medieval-type lands. We find out relatively soon that this is not a variation of Earth. Dragons used to roam this world. And magic was real at one time. This world’s weather is strange, with summers lasting for years. But the North knows what the pampered South may have forgotten – Winter is coming. And with it, many wonderful, strange and horrifying things will emerge, played against a backdrop of kings and thrones and those who surround them.
Epic fantasy at its finest, A Game of Thrones is not just a satisfying read. It’s essential for anyone who loves the fantasy genre.
So, if you love fantasy and haven’t yet read this book, I highly recommend it. And if you have read it, but like me it’s been a while, I suggest a reread is in order. I know it is for me.
You can buy A Game of Thrones: A Song of Ice and Fire: Book One at Amazon.