It’s been awhile since I read a fantasy novel, so I decided to try George R. R. Martin’s Game of Thrones, since I’ve heard so much about it. (I read the first book, not the whole series.) I am not entirely sure what I think of this book. It certainly is well-written, with plenty of plot twists. It is not like the fantasy books I am used to reading. The plot centers around political intrigue for the most part. It’s an interesting concept for a fantasy novel, but I did miss the more adventurous storylines that I am used to.
There were a lot of characters in this novel. They are all well-drawn, but many if not most are unlikeable. This does make sense, given the type of story. Many of the characters are political enemies of the protagonists, and even some of their allies are ruthless and power hungry. Quite a few of the characters are children or teenagers, which made some of the violent events in the book especially hard to stomach. I also had to repeatedly remind myself that some of the characters I found annoying were still very young. (I might have hated Sansa for most of the book, but an annoying, bratty twelve-year-old is after all a realistic character. And I have a feeling she’ll grow out of it-it looked like the series was headed in that direction.)
The thing about this book that interested me the most was a minor plotline that I could tell will be more important later. As the main characters are bickering over thrones and power in the kingdom, threats are building outside of it. The reader realizes, as most of the characters do not, that the kingdom will soon be under attack by people (and perhaps magical beings) who do not care about political alliances within the kingdom. This is what I keep wondering: when winter comes and the northern border is not sufficiently protected, will these characters be able to work together to save themselves?
It’s hard to think of who I would recommend this book to. Given its popularity, it seems like readers who like fantasy series have probably already read it. All I can say is, if you enjoy the TV show and haven’t read the books, give them a try! (But I’m always saying things like that….) I would just warn any readers who are sensitive to violence, especially violence towards children, to proceed with caution. This book could upset you, although I will say that the violence was not gratuitous-it moved the plot forward. If you are an adult reader looking for a good fantasy series, this one is something out of the ordinary.
I give this book three stars. I’m still not sure if it’s “my kind of book,” but I am interested enough to give the second book in the series a try. ★★★