Tuesday, May 26, 2009

REVIEW: A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin

Series: A Song of Ice and Fire

Author's Website


A Game of Thrones the first book in the series A Song of Ice and Fire. It is told from several viewpoints: Ned, Catelyn, Bran, Sansa, Arya, Jon. Ned and Catelyn are a couple, and the rest are their children, except for Jon, who is Ned's bastard son. Daenerys, the daughter of the overthrown king, also has a voice in the story.

The story began with Ned's sons, Robb and Jon, finding a direwolf who was killed by a stag (its antlers pierced her throat). Six direwolf pups are nearby, one for each of Ned's children, even Jon. This was a sign, because the direwolf is the sigil of the Stark family (i.e. Ned) and the antlers/stag the sigil of the current king's family.

True enough, soon thereafter, King Robert, who was Ned's childhood friend, came to offer Ned the position of Hand of the King, the second most important person after the king. Though Ned initially didn't want to accept, Catelyn received a message from her sister that the former Hand of the King (who was the sister's husband and also Ned's foster father) had been murdered by the queen's family. She persuaded her husband that he should accept the position in order to investigate the matter.

Hence, Ned's family was split in three different places, and Ned himself was plunged into a court of intrigue and deceit. Essentially an honest and straight man, he floundered at court, not knowing who he should trust...


I enjoyed the story, which is gripping and interesting and many-layered, though some may balk at the many point of views (POV) being used. My problem with this is that with each new "chapter", the story is told from a new POV, and just as the scene gathered momentum, I'm left hanging at a crucial point. I want to read on, I want to know what happened! Instead, the story jumped to another person's POV, with which I have to start gathering momentum once again. I believe this is an individual bias, because I like a story wherein there is only one or two POVs, or at most, three. More than that and the story starts to fracture for me.

Also, this author doesn't cringe in making bad things happen to the good guys, or even to killing off his characters. This trait is either good or bad, depending on individual taste. For me, I hated that I invested so much in the character, only to have him die at the end. Nevertheless, I do recognize that in the interest of a good story, this had to happen sometime. Also, since the character's death was the catalyst to making men out of boys and to the development of other characters, then the author could almost be forgiven. Almost.

The characters are also complex with their own individual motivations. For example, I can't quite decide if Tyrion Lannister is a bad guy or not. His connections say that he is, but he also did several kind acts that made me think he is more than what is depicted thus far. I guess the author would keep me guessing until the end.

Most of the main characters are men--strong and powerful--but then there's Arya, Ned Stark's daughter, who I believe would play a central role in the coming books. Sansa, another daughter, maybe. Arya and Sansa are very different from each other in terms of personality, and though I immediately liked Arya, I can't quite decide about Sansa. She's a young girl on the cusp of womanhood, and her infatuation with the prince led her to undesirable, if believable, behavior. Her eyes to the reality were surely opened in the end, and I would like to see what she would become. As to Catelyn, I don't much like her, because it was her decision at the start that thrust Ned into court and split up their family. Of course, without her, this story wouldn't take place.

In all, an enjoyable read, and I'm looking forward to the second book. However, I wonder if I should wait until George R R Martin finished the entire series. I don't fancy reading all the previous books again each time a new book comes out. Did that with Robert Jordan's series whose name escapes me at the moment, and I gave up before Winter's Heart. Too tedious.

Book Rating: 4.0



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