Friday, November 11, 2011

#83: A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

New York: Bantam (Mass market Paperback) 1997. 831 pages

I picked this up after having several people (John, Jersey among them) recommend it. I was not disappointed in the least, and have subsequently run out and bought the next three volumes of the series. There are multiple strings in this textual weave, some of which are weaker than others. Most are very compelling.

The nominal "main character" of the first text is Ned Stark, Lord of Winterfell. The Stark family and their role in the intrigues of the Court of the King of Seven Kingdoms is the actual "main" character. Each chapter concerns the point of view of a different character, named at the beginning of the chapter. These are from different royal houses, each with different motives and backgrounds. Martin is influenced quite heavily by English history, specifically the Wars of the Roses, I am guessing. However, this book is NOT your average fantasy novel. People get killed in brutal ways, knights are not always what they seem, there is lying, intrigue and death everywhere. All this makes for an incredible story.

Ned Stark becomes "The King's Hand" and goes to court, against his own judgment. This begins the tale, and it careens out of anybodies control. As with most things political, it seems the intrigues beget more backstabbing until the violence and paranoia have lives of their own. Everyone gets caught up in it and is forced to take sides, regardless of their place. Martin's descriptions of the different areas of the kingdom are so vivid that you can feel how the environment shapes the people; in reading about the Starks, I was reminded of Sam Houston's remarks to a crowd in Galveston in April of 1861. He told them "The (Yankees) are not a fiery or impulsive people, as they live in colder climes...but when they decide to move in a certain direction, they move with the speed and determination of a mighty avalanche." That is Ned Stark and his family. Others (such as the Greyjoys and Tyrells) bedeck themselves with symbols of their homes, all described in incredible detail by Martin. I actually do not want to see the mini-series, as it will ruin the visualizations I had whilst reading this book.

The other main family is the Lannisters, who have the most compelling character in my humble opinion, the dwarf Tyrion. At first I hated his living guts, then I respected the end of the text, it was both. But I couldn't stop reading this book no matter who was being written about, and that is the take away. I put it down and instantly picked up volume two.

No comments:

Post a Comment