A Song Of Ice and Fire: A Game of Thrones

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Posted by Ben (15th Feb 2006, 01:46)

The First book in this series, "A Game of Thrones" by George R. R. Martin introduces the reader to the harsh realities of life in the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros, a fairly low fantasy setting that is both well-imagined and highly believable.

This hard and massively enjoyable book, and series, tells an epic tale of the political intrigues of kings and nobles, and how they affect the lives of everyone down to even common soldiers and exiles. At every level though, Martin never fails to bring out the human element to the story - he can make one feel hatred or compassion and every emotion in between, for anyone from the noblest to the most villainous. George R. R. Martin manages to somehow cover every angle.

There are several aspects in particular that the author handles very well, despite the difficulty in doing so. Rarely have I seen scenes of a sexual manner managed so well, or so appropriately to the context of the scene. He creates scenes romantic without being naive, and harsh without being crude. It also has to be said that never before have I seen the roles of children handled so well as here. Often such characters are laughable or annoying, while in a Game of Thrones and beyond, they are as well-crafted and developed as the adult characters, while remaining believably children.

My only criticism, and this is more with relation to the later books, is concerned with the more fantastical elements to the story. It is a personal point, but I find some of these a distraction from what is otherwise a thoroughly gritty, realistic portrayal. Compared to the idealistic, happy-go-lucky squire of most fantasy, though, Martin's epic is still a battle-hardened, disillusioned veteran of a tale.

The whole of this first book is a shocking cliff-hanger, and it was difficult at first to see how the book could be ended with a greater cliff-hanger than any of those that had ended the chapters within it, but I was not disappointed. I heartily recommend "A Game of Thrones", and the later books in "A Song of Ice and Fire", to anyone with the slightest interest in the Fantasy genre.

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