Monday, April 22, 2013

a game of thrones

a game of thrones
a song of ice & fire #1
george r. r. martin
published 1996

Long ago, in a time forgotten, a preternatural event threw the seasons out of balance. In a land where summers can last decades and winters a lifetime, trouble is brewing. The cold is returning, and in the frozen wastes to the north of Winterfell, sinister and supernatural forces are massing beyond the kingdom’s protective Wall. At the center of the conflict lie the Starks of Winterfell, a family as harsh and unyielding as the land they were born to. Sweeping from a land of brutal cold to a distant summertime kingdom of epicurean plenty, here is a tale of lords and ladies, soldiers and sorcerers, assassins and bastards, who come together in a time of grim omens.

Here an enigmatic band of warriors bear swords of no human metal; a tribe of fierce wildlings carry men off into madness; a cruel young dragon prince barters his sister to win back his throne; and a determined woman undertakes the most treacherous of journeys. Amid plots and counterplots, tragedy and betrayal, victory and terror, the fate of the Starks, their allies, and their enemies hangs perilously in the balance, as each endeavors to win that deadliest of conflicts: the game of thrones.

Long ago, a friend told me I should read these books, but alas they are so dang loooooong I kept putting it off.  And I'm not a huge fan of knights and kings and queens and the happenings at court so there was a little less appeal for me as well.  Then the show was announced and I thought, well shoot I'd better read those books before I watch the show.  Now I think they're on season 2 and I finally picked up the book for fear that some rabid fan of the show spoil something in the books for me.

I glanced at a few reviews that urged me to bear through the beginning as it is long winded and boring.  There's a lot of scene to set and many characters to familiarize yourself with.

But the book had me with "The wildlings are dead."

So mysterious and ominous.  Who, or what are these wildlings?  And how did they die?  Who killed them?  And in that prologue we are teased with something unreal.  Something not right.  Something other. And then nothing.  We jump right into the worst of treason, betrayal, honor, murder, passion and vengeance.  So many plots.  So many....

The Starks are my favorite.  How can they not be?  They are brave and full of honor.  Ned, while smart and full of love for his King, depends too much on the word of those around him, trusting that they want what is just and right.  Catelyn is fierce and the perfect matriarch for the family.  My only beef with her is her treatment of Jon Snow, but I can see her side as well.  The only Stark I care not for is Sansa.  Useless with a head full of air.

Despite what I fear may be coming I find myself silently rooting for Tyrion Lannister and maybe less silently for Daenerys.  When she finally stood up to her bizarre and misguided brother I wanted to stand up and cheer.

Throughout the book here and there were whisperings of the supernatural, but we only get to see them a couple of times.  And even then I would stop to re-read those parts to make sure I read that right.  But I expect the supernatural will take center stage in the next installment.

Epic, it is.  Good, it is.  Long, it is.  At 800+ pages it's not something you can get through quickly.  Yet, it's near impossible to put down.  I started it Saturday night and got just shy of halfway done and then it got some reading in yesterday before bed and then today while Olivia napped.  I could finish out the series by the end of the week, but I want to sit on it for a bit.  Do some 'light' reading before delving back into the Winter.

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