A Game of Thrones: where the story begins
As the first book in the series, “A Song of Ice and Fire,” “A Game of Thrones” does nearly everything right as an epic fantasy, but it is not without its flaws. This book is not only a widely loved and popular fantasy novel by itself, but it has also garnered enough popularity to warrant a television series on HBO, which has recently entered its second season. The story begins with the Starks, a family in the far northern region of the world in the town of Winterfell. It is set up in a unique way, with each chapter following a different character, and eventually it branches out to include many different characters from all over the continent of Westeros and beyond. The plot picks up quickly and is littered with both strong action sequences and enthralling politics. It is rife with secrecy and betrayal, and even some romance that fills in the gaps in the action. Therein is the novel’s biggest fault. There are many times when the story goes on little “side trips” that really are unnecessary and not that important. These are fine when used correctly, but Martin does a sub-par job of differentiating these digressions from the meat of the story, leading one to believe that something more will develop out of what was just read, but will probably never be mentioned again. Another problem I had, while purely opinion, is that there are a bit too many names being thrown around for my taste. Knights that may appear for only one chapter are referred to as if they had been longtime members of the story, and it all just gets a bit confusing. If I had to leave a recommendation for prospective readers, it would be that those character sheets that are always assigned in school will be your friend. Also, this is not a story where large scale battles and flashy magic carry the plot along. As such, I would not recommend this book to those who don’t enjoy, or have the patience for, character and politically driven books.
Senior Derek Smith, a fan of the series, commented, “I really liked the plot of the entire series, and his[Martin’s] characters are very interesting.” If you are a fan of complex and well crafted fantasy and can’t seem to find that book that will live up to your “Lord of the Rings” sized expectations, try out “A Game of Thrones”; it is a story that is sure to leave you begging for book two, “A Clash of Kings.”