Monday, May 16, 2016

George R R Martin - A Game of Thrones

+Voyager Books
@Bantam Spectra, USA

A Song of Ice and Fire by George R R Martin is a work in progress.  A Game of Thrones is the first in the series of books.  It is based on the War of the Roses which lasted for thirty years from 1455 to 1487 between Lancasters and Yorks in England.

These wars were full of intrigue and merciless killings. Likewise, George R R Martin's books are also full of torturous happenings for its characters.

It would be fool-hardy to list all the people who appear in the book.  A Game of Thrones is just a start after all.  It is the first in the seven-book series (as planned).

It is summer in Westeros and Robert Baratheon has been on the throne for 15 years. Lord Eddard Stark is the keeper of the North from his seat in Winterfell.  He is living happily there with his wife Catelyn and children, Robert, Sansa, Arya, Bran and Ricken.  He has a bastard son called Jon Snow.  All the Northern bastards are called Snow to let the world know they are nameless.

Right at the start we find out that the Hand of the King, Jon Arryn has died and the King is on his way to Winterfell.  As feared by Catelyn and Eddard (Ned), he wants Ned to take Jon's place.  All the courtly intrigue is not really Ned's cup of tea but he cannot refuse his one time best friend, Robert.

Robert is wedded to Cersei Lannister, daughter of Tywin Lannister.  He is a very rich and an ambitious man.  Cersei has two brothers, Jamie, her twin, and Tyrion, who is a dwarf.  Tyrion is the black sheep of the family. Jamie is the knight in the shining armour and an accomplished swordsman.

The Lannisters want absolute power and will have it at any cost, no matter who is killed.  They are willing to play dirty.  Ned Stark is too honorable to do any underhand deals.  A couple of courtiers, Petyr Baelish and Lord Varys try to teach court intrigues to Ned but meet with open scorn.

While the War of the Roses had just two contenders, Yorks and Lancasters, the Iron Throne of Westeros has four. The Targaryens, Baratheons, Lannisters and Starks.  The plot of the books is very basic.  It is all about who will eventually sit on the Iron Throne which has the Lannister progeny on it at the time of the end of the book.

The books have been adapted for a blockbuster television series and its aficionados can tell you a lot about their theories and back stories and lineage of the characters.  There are a number of people who present YouTube videos about their analysis of each episode and theories and assessment of each character. You can while away hours upon hours watching them.

In fact, the books and the series have seen unprecedented popularity.

George R R Martin keeps the books plot driven and his language sparse and sparkling.  As you read, you can see the characters speak and move, it is so evocative. There are times when there is too much detailing, you wish he did not have to list each movement of some characters.

The scope of the books is so vast that my mind boggles.  There are myriad characters who are bent on keeping the story racing forward.   It is easy to get hooked to a series, the characters are carried forward from book to book.  If the story is gripping enough, it can keep you wanting for more.

A Song of Ice and Fire keeps you wanting for more.


Rohit Sharma said...

Oh Wow, this sounds engrossing.
Will definitely consider this once I am done with "Lord of the rings" set and I am being forced to pick up Harry Potter too down the line.
Havent seen the TV series yet and not inclined much as for some reason I just cant watch TV anymore. Will rather stick to the books (if I may).

bawa said...

It started off well (the series) but the last two books have been rubbish in my opinion - unnecessary prolongation, slipshod writing. And I hate it when instead of naturally evolving- changing, characters do about turns out of the blue with no explanations simply in order to prolong the story.
Too much money and success and few writers nowadays seem to be able to keep up their own standards. It's a real pity.
Now, while I am curious to see how the story ends, I wouldn't mind just a summary of it!

If you liked this, you might like Rothfuss's Kingkiller Chronicles. Although the third and final book is not out yet, Rothfuss being another writer who will not be hurried (although never as slow as Rosemary Kirstein!)

Ramesh Grandhi said...

A quite excellent review, Ava. The way you have succinctly described the plot and how it relates to the Lancasters and the Yorks is quite remarkable. I have seen a few seasons on TV but reading your review makes me want to read the books too. Thank you!

Vani Author said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Vani Author said...

Excellent review, Ava. Do you have a real good book in mind. I want to read about the Wars of the Roses. Have been following something that I borrowed on Kindle Unlimited but it's okish. Will read others in the GOT series. Have only managed two.

letyoursoulwander said...

Great review! I have been thinking of re-reading the books. I hadn't seen the tv series when I read the books and honestly, I was confused and disturbed, at least in the beginning. Everyone kept dying and such brutal deaths. I found everything too violent. By the time I reached The Red Wedding, I was already anticipating the murders, so things started getting better after that.
And once I got past that, I started enjoying the story. One thing I like about this series is that most of the characters are neither totally black or white. One might start out hating some of them but eventually will start looking at things from their perspective and their actions start making more sense. Ramsey is however, an exception.
And I am in love with Tyrion. His one liners are just awesome!

Ava Suri said...

Rohit : Yes, our reading lists are truly serpentine. You mean you think you will see these series on TV? Wohi funda chahiye jo movies ke liye hota hai - wink wink. But seriously, keep well well out of the reach of children.

Bawa: I agree totally. Even the TV series is springing strange surprises. The Lannisters were pure evil earlier, and look now! It is getting rather unwieldy. He does tend to overwrite at times even in the first book.

Ramesh : Thanks. All read and gleaned from the internet, really. :) But I do like the series.

Vani : Let me help you there. I have read several books about the various Kings in the War of the Roses. They were all evil, believe me. No honor there!

Letyoursoulwander: Thank you Lysw. I saw the series first and was quite shocked by the killings. But it didn't kill so many characters, some others would never get a chance to come to the fore. And I think now that the climax is supposed to make us see quite a changeover.

Tyrion is really well beloved but his one liners need to get better or he will start palling.

Thank you all for reading and commenting.

Bikki said...


Writing to you on behalf of a publishing house regarding reviewing some of our titles on your blog. Could you share an email address so I can contact you with more details?

Thank you!

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