BOOK REVIEW: Game of Thrones Book 1
As a major fan of science fiction and fantasy, friends and colleagues have long been pushing me to watch Game of Thrones on HBO, and even better, read the series.
Like most of my endeavors, I waited several months for the ideas to percolate, and then finally gave the show a watch. The first episode was hard to get into, but after 2 or 3, I was completely and irrevocably hooked.
I quickly went through the first season, and then caught up with the 2nd. What happens in these situations is that I lose patience...I really have none to begin with...and then pick up the books so I can see what happens.
Book 1 followed the TV series pretty closely in terms of storyline, but I'll review the book moving forward.
The world created in this series is breath taking and complex. It is basically a high fantasy soap opera, where all the characters are intertwined in dozens of ways most are not even aware of. In fact, while reading this, it makes me interested to learn the real history of Europe's kings and aristocracy, as fact is always stranger than fiction.
You are introduced to main characters like Ned Stark, the Lord of the North and the city of Winterfell, who is one of the most noble and honorable men in the lands. You meet his children, wife, and bastard son John, who you are sure will have a strong role to play. Then there are the Lannisters, the opposite end of the spectrum, who care for nothing but power and the unending Game of Thrones. Between them are a dozen major houses who must align with one side or the other, and then there are dozens of other minor noble families who make up the brunt of the land's armies.
From the get-go, you get drawn into this story that is more than meets the eye. Much attention is paid to the scheming and conniving of powerful families and players...but you also learn about The Wall, which was built 700 feet high, and all across the width of the North, to protect against wildlings...and the Others.
What the others are is not explained much, mostly because people simply don't remember the facts about them, or don't even believe that they exist. It has been thousands of years since the last time the Others came across the wall. But winter is coming, so say the Starks, and this winter is sure to be one that lasts a long time.
Because seasons don't follow one another 4 times each year in this land...instead, Summer lasts for years, as does Winter. And there are hints that this Winter will be one of the worst ever...and the wildlings are stirring.
Overall, it was an enjoyable read that I found difficult to put down. I do get bogged down in some verbose descriptions, and sometimes it does seem over the top in terms of the depth it goes into for small matters that don't really pertain to the story arc, but it really is a sublime diversion. I recommend it to all who enjoy the finer side of Fantasy.