the Little Red Reviewer

A Game of Thrones, by George R R Martin

Posted on: December 10, 2010

 With all the HBO stuff floating around all over the interwebs, I figured it was time I started my own little Song of Ice and Fire / Game of Thrones post series!

I’ve been trying to write a review for George R R Martin’s A Game of Thrones for about two hours now. I keep writing a paragraph, and deleting it. Should I focus on the wonderful characters? The fully realized world and it’s subtle yet increasingly frightening magic system? The ambitious families who will do anything to gain the throne during a power vacuum? The dethroned princess who vows to return as queen and take the throne that is rightfully hers? Children with questionable parentage?

There’s a lot going on, and I don’t know where to start.

So I’ll start here: If you have never read George R R Martin’s A Game of Thrones, you owe it to yourself to go to the library right now and get a copy. Yes, I understand it looks daunting, but the dialogue flows, the plot moves right along, it might not be all action all the time, but there isn’t a slow moment here.

Oh, you don’t read fantasy? Not into dragons and magic and Kings and Queens and Knights? Yeah, I wasn’t either. Game of Thrones was my gateway drug to epic fantasy, and it will be yours too.

it’s been 15 years since Eddard Stark helped his best friend Robert take the throne of Westeros. Since then, Eddard has raised his children in the isolated but idyllic northernmost realm of the Kingdom, and Robert has been saddled with an overly ambitious wife and the troubles that come with “being in charge”.

When Eddard is called to court to become the new Hand of the King, he learns a truth that could tear the kingdom apart and becomes embroiled in a political nightmare where he is nothing more than a pawn. His oldest daughter goes from being betrothed to the prince to being held hostage. One of his sons is nearly murdered to protect a royal secret. Summer is ending for the Stark family.

Meanwhile, across the sea are Daenarys and Viserys Targaryen, children of the murdered and dethroned mad King Aerys II. Older brother Viserys marries his little sister off to Khal Drogo, a Dothraki warlord. Viserys plans to use Drogo’s army of horsemen to take back Westeros, but Drogo and Daenarys have other plans.

And everyone has secrets they will take to their grave.

Epic and sprawling, A Game of Thrones covers two continents, multiple families, and how far people will go to protect their families. Points of view change in each chapter, but thanks to Martin’s accessible writing style and fully developed characters, you always know who is going with who. I’ve read A Game of Thrones a few times, and so far it is my favorite in the series. It’s mostly set-up, world building and character development, and not too heavy on the action and bloody fighting that comes later. and the foreshadowing and hint dropping? I can not get enough of that stuff!

It always shocks me that all books of A Song of Ice and Fire are kept in my local library’s “teen” section. In the first 100 pages or so, we get a beheading, incest, murder, corruption, and a child being thrown out of a window. Good stuff, right?

I would tell you more about the plot. . . but then this blog post would run 10 pages, and nobody wants that!

Currently the internet is ablaze with frustration with Martin for not having finished the 5th book in the series yet and excitement for the Game of Thrones HBO miniseries, and I’ve joined in on the both the frustration and the excitement. But no amount of frustration will keep me from saying Game of Thrones is a game changer.

and attention gamers! There is a Game of Thrones boardgame! Take over the kingdom! slaughter your neighbor! avoid the wildlings, if you can!


17 Responses to "A Game of Thrones, by George R R Martin"

I am one of those frustrated readers waiting for the next book. I have kind of given up hope, it’s been so long since he released A Feast for Crows – argh!

The series keeps getting better, though – just wait until the end of A Storm of Swords!

Another good book you might like is The Warded Man by Peter V Brett.


I’ve been hearing really good things about Brett. and apparently I have a weakness for unfinished series!


Your library thinks graphic sex and violence and subtle shades of morality and complex motivations are “teen” material? Wow. One thing I’d say right off the bat about this series is that it is relentlessly “adult” material. I LOVE this series.


I know, right? i can’t believe the stuff they shelve in the Teen area!!


At some stage I’ll hit this on my must read fantasy challenge and I honestly don’t know how to review it. It’s been read and reviewed so often that I don’t know how to add something new and fresh to it.


I ran into the same problem. What more can I add to the fray about Game of Thrones?


I recently read A Game of Thrones and was wowed away. It’s such a great beginning to a series. I’m trying to work my way through the next few books before the HBO series comes out!!


You don’t have to hurry. There were 5 years between book 3 (A Storm of Swords) and book 4 (A Feast for Crows), it’s been more than 5 years for book 5 (A Dance with Dragons), the more hopeful of fans believe that book that may be completed and released some time next year and George certainly loves writing the books, but he doesn’t seem to inclined to actually complete them anytime soon.


I had started reading this book a few years ago but it just didn’t appeal to me at the time. Topmost politics and not enough fantasy. But since I’ve begun reviewing I’ve become more willing to read different kind of fantasy books and I’ve been thinking that I should give this book another try. I even own it already so it’s just a matter of squeezing it in among all the other books on my pile.


The sharpest, most gut-gripping fantasy writer out there in my opinion. Game of Thrones set a new bar for me for what’s possible in High Fantasy.


BTW – great blog Redhead!


Very tantalising review… I have been meaning to pick this up for a few years and never got around to it. New-Year-Note-to-Self: must read George R.R. Martin 🙂


so I probably shouldn’t tease you with this?

I don’t usually get into short stories, but man, Martin does it right.


I laughed when you said you kept deleting paragraphs. That was definitly what happened when I was trying to review A Clash of Kings. How do you even begin to describe the 20 million different subplots going on in these books? Do you watch the HBO series by the way? I think so far, for an adaptation, its done pretty well. It’s definitely the best thing on tv for me! Great review!


[…] However, just because I hated the series, doesn’t mean it was a bad series. I know many people who absolutely loved it. So, I went searching and found this review by a lover of the series. Read her review here. […]


[…] you’ve never read Martin and want to, I’m happy to recommend some wonderful stuff he’s written. But I don’t suggest starting with Fevre […]


I can’t believe how long it’s taken me to pick this one up – think I was put off by the sheer scale (not that I don’t like large books – Patrick Rothfuss for example) but there’s about six books now released so it is a major undertaking. Anyway, just finished reading A Games of Thrones and it was brilliant! Happily, I don’t have to wait for No.2 (or 3 or 4 ….etc) – which is the beauty of being late to the party!!
Lynn 😀


Welcome to the Game of Thrones party! Yes, it’s a big fat book, but as you found it’s an easy fast read. Don’t the the quantity or length of the rest of the books in the series put you off. Although when you get to the end of the newest book and are waiting and waiting and waiting, I’ll welcome you to the frustrated fan club. 😉


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some of the books reviewed here were free ARCs supplied by publishers/authors/other groups. Some of the books here I got from the library. the rest I *gasp!* actually paid for. I'll do my best to let you know what's what.
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