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A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 1) Mass Market Paperback – March 22, 2011
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Readers of epic fantasy series are: (1) patient--they are left in suspense between each volume, (2) persistent--they reread or at least review the previous book(s) when a new installment comes out, (3) strong--these 700-page doorstoppers are heavy, and (4) mentally agile--they follow a host of characters through a myriad of subplots. In A Game of Thrones, the first book of a projected six, George R.R. Martin rewards readers with a vividly real world, well-drawn characters, complex but coherent plotting, and beautifully constructed prose, which Locus called "well above the norms of the genre."
Martin's Seven Kingdoms resemble England during the Wars of the Roses, with the Stark and Lannister families standing in for the Yorks and Lancasters. The story of these two families and their struggle to control the Iron Throne dominates the foreground; in the background is a huge, ancient wall marking the northern border, beyond which barbarians, ice vampires, and direwolves menace the south as years-long winter advances. Abroad, a dragon princess lives among horse nomads and dreams of fiery reconquest.
There is much bloodshed, cruelty, and death, but A Game of Thrones is nevertheless compelling; it garnered a Nebula nomination and won the 1996 Locus Award for Best Fantasy Novel. So, on to A Clash of Kings! --Nona Vero --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
In a world where the approaching winter will last four decades, kings and queens, knights and renegades struggle for control of a throne. Some fight with sword and mace, others with magic and poison. Beyond the Wall to the north, meanwhile, the Others are preparing their army of the dead to march south as the warmth of summer drains from the land. After more than a decade devoted primarily to TV and screen work, Martin (The Armageddon Rag, 1983) makes a triumphant return to high fantasy with this extraordinarily rich new novel, the first of a trilogy. Although conventional in form, the book stands out from similar work by Eddings, Brooks and others by virtue of its superbly developed characters, accomplished prose and sheer bloody-mindedness. Although the romance of chivalry is central to the culture of the Seven Kingdoms, and tournaments, derring-do and handsome knights abound, these trappings merely give cover to dangerous men and women who will stop at nothing to achieve their goals. When Lord Stark of Winterfell, an honest man, comes south to act as the King's chief councilor, no amount of heroism or good intentions can keep the realm under control. It is fascinating to watch Martin's characters mature and grow, particularly Stark's children, who stand at the center of the book. Martin's trophy case is already stuffed with major prizes, including Hugos, Nebulas, Locus Awards and a Bram Stoker. He's probably going to have to add another shelf, at least. Major ad/promo.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
Of course they weren't wrong.
What George R.R. Martin has done here defies genre, period. It doesn't matter if you're like me and don't care for this sub-genre of fantasy... it doesn't matter if your like my spouse, and don't like fantasy at all. If you enjoy brilliant, incredibly-developed, thought-provoking stories... those with a strongly developed cast of characters who blissfully lack being "good vs. evil" and instead all display their shades of grey, good traits, evil traits, unique traits, all sorts of traits... then this book is for you. Buy it. Open it up. Start reading. You won't regret it.
However, my issue is with the books themselves. When I got to the second book I noticed that approximately 70 pages are missing. I can't tell if this is the case for the rest of the books, but I'm certainly dissatisfied with the product.
Physical book and case review:
The case for the books is not the highest quality (it's somewhat flimsy), but it gets the job done and I consider that to be part of the price paid for the set to be so cheap. The only real problem I have with the books is that the ink smudges a bit, so there are smudges on the edges of a lot of pages that I didn't notice until I was almost halfway through A Game of Thrones. The pages are very thin, too, so you have to be careful turning the pages, but that helps with keeping the books light, and that's rather important considering how long each book is. Thicker pages might have led the books to be annoyingly heavy.
Book series review:
I'm about 1000 pages into the series now (that's a little ways into A Clash of Kings) and I love how the books are written in POV chapters. You really get inside each POV character's head and see the world through their eyes. The chapters are also quite short, averaging around 15 pages each so far, and that helps make me feel like I'm making progress, even though I know I still have a lot left to read. The only problem I have with GRRM's writing style is that sometimes he describes certain things, like food, to unnecessary degrees. The world-building he does is great, and there are a LOT of seemingly innocuous lines that wind up being VERY important later on (great foreshadowing), but sometimes I wish he'd just get to the point already. I don't need to know how juicy the meat was and how the juices dripped down someone's chin, or how soft the bread was or how sweet the desserts were.
Lastly, I don't know if I'd recommend this if you want an ending. The books are nowhere near done yet, and a lot of people, myself included, are starting to think the series will never be completed. Owning a book series that will never be done may not be a good use of money.
I was blown away and completely swept up by this book.
Given that there are over 5,000 reviews, I don't think there is anything I can add, but this is honestly one of the most interesting and consuming plots I've ever encountered. I ordered the second book before I even finished this one and I spent a week being totally distracted by this book.
Note: Many reviews call out the poor quality of the Kindle edition and I have no doubt this was true at one time, but it appears the publishers have resolved the issue. The editing and formatting are solid in this edition.