Simon's Bookcase

Reviews from Lord Taylor of Glencoe

A Game of Thrones

A Game of Thrones: George R.R. Martin, July 27—August 23, 2015
My rating: ♦♦♦♦♦

AGameOfThronesA Game of Thrones is known by fans, critics and even those alien to it for its considerable scope. Seven kingdoms, over a thousand named characters and volumes so big they need to be split to be physically printed in this country.

It’s surprising, then, by how astonishingly accessible it is.

This first instalment of the Song of Ice and Fire saga introduces us first to the Stark household, its patriarch Lord Stark and friend to the ruling King. From that vantage point, the map is unfurled and we’re taken by the hand through Westeros and shown, through the connections of characters we know, more of their world.

The action is carried through limited third person narratives rotating between principle members of the various houses. The strategy works. Everything has a double meaning; personal and constitutional. Ned wonders whether to accept his old friend Robert’s offer; the Lord of Winterfell considers the request of the King.

Each chapter contains an almost self-contained vignette and every single one moves the story forward. The writing is descriptive and detailed but never, ever heavy.

One of Martin’s greatest skills is in characterisation. With a dozen lead characters, he creates every single one to be complex and relatable. Despite some truly deplorable acts, you can never fully stand against anyone. You feel, at first, that you should root for Lord Stark with his honour and integrity, but at the same time you want to back the idealistic and – arguably most legitimate heir – Daenerys. Though how can you not cheer on Tyrion ‘The Imp’ Lannister with his acerbic wit and tragic backstory as the ultimate anti-hero. Meanwhile Jon Snow, surely, deserves support as a hero.

These characters are so real, so flawed and so interesting that their personal fates are as much, if not more, the driver of the action, and not simply the titular game of thrones that’s being played out.

The narrative is seeped in symbology and history that makes the world so incredibly real. You can feel the biting cold on the Wall as easily as the searing heat of the Dothraki beyond the narrow sea. And the cultures of the peoples are so interesting, and so carefully thought out, that you never question the reality of it.

In this first book, A Game of Thrones provides a fast-moving adventure with sudden and brutal twists at the most heartbreaking moments. Combining breathtaking description, devastating emotion and thrilling suspense, together with quite possibly the most memorable and realistic characters ever committed to paper, it feels even the bulky running time of part one is very much only the beginning. Martin makes sure we know the ride will be both unpredictable – and unmissable.

> Read the live blog here

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2 comments on “A Game of Thrones

  1. Pingback: LIVE BLOG: A Game of Thrones | Simon's Bookcase

  2. Pingback: A Storm of Swords, Part 1: Steel and Snow | Simon's Bookcase

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This entry was posted on August 23, 2015 by in 5 star, A Song of Ice and Fire and tagged .

Author Cloud

@Queen_UK Adolf Hitler agatha christie Alan Clements Alastair Campbell Aldous Huxley Aleksandr Orlov Alex Shaffer Andrew Neiderman Anthony Burgess Arthur Miller Bateman Ben Brooks Ben Elton Bram Stoker Bret Easton Ellis C.J. Cherryh Carolyn Jess-Cooke Charles Dickens Chuck Palahniuk Dan Brown Dante Alighieri dashiell hammett david baldacci David Brin David Glattauer David Kirkpatrick David Line David Tennant David Wolstencroft Dylan Jones E.L. James Edgar Allen Poe Emilia Fox Eoin Colfer Erica Spindler Frank Peretti Gabrielle Lord Gareth Roberts Geoff Ryman George Orwell George R. R. Martin George W. Bush Gillian Flynn Gillian Slovo Graham Greene Guy Piran Harper Lee Harriet Lane Herman Koch Ian Rankin J.K. Rowling Jack Thorne Jacqueline Rayner James Herbert James Patterson Jasper Fforde Jeff Green Jeff Kinney Jeffrey Archer Jem Lester Jenny Robson Jeremy Clarkson Jerry B. Jenkins Jim Thompson John Crowther John Green John Grisham John Tiffany John Verdon Jonas Jonasson Judith Kerr Juliana Foster Justin Richards Kaci Hill Karen Levine Keeley Bolger Louis Walsh malorie blackman Marissa Meyer Mark Haddon Mark Z. Danielewski Martin Sixsmith Mary Higgins Clark Mary McNamara Matt Haig Matthew Ravden Michael Berry Michael Connelly Michael Morpurgo Michael Quirke Miguel de Cervantes Mike Lancaster Morris Gleitzman Morton Rhue Neil Sinclair Nick Hornby Nick Page Patricia Cornwell Patricia Stotley Patrick Ness Paula Hawkins Paul Johnston Peter James Phil Allcock R.J. Palacio Rachelle Dekker Raymond Chandler Richard Bachman Robert Louis Stevenson Robert Ludlum Robin Cook Robin Kirkpatrick sandra brown Sebastian Beaumont Sharon Osbourne Stella Rimmington Stephen Cole Stephen King Steve Lookner Steve Lyons Stuart MacBride Sue Townsend Suzanne Collins ted dekker Terry Pratchett Tim LaHaye Tim Randall Todd Strasser Tom Avery Tom Bower Tom Cain Tom Hoyle tony blair William Golding William P. Young William Shakespeare