A Game of Thrones
by George R. R. Martin
Reviewed by Coral
Three hundred years ago the Targaryens - with their dragons - conquered the independent Seven Kingdoms and brought them under their banner. They ruled, king after king. Some were good, some were bad. Some of their reigns were disrupted by civil war and rebellion while others were marked by peace and prosperity. But all that came to end 13 years ago, during the reign of Aerys II, the Mad King. Rebellion rose against him, led, mainly, by the houses of Baratheon and Stark, but joined, in the end, by house Lannister, whose heir, Jamie, betrayed his oaths as a Kingsguard and killed Aerys. The Targaryens were defeated and Robert Baratheon became king of the Seven Kingdoms. He took as his wife Jamie's twin sister, Cersei.
But the kingdom he rules is an uneasy one. There are whispers against Jamie the Kingslayer that have never died. The Lannisters are disliked by a large part of the kingdom. And there are those who have no love for the Baratheons either, who hold themselves loyal to the exiled children of the Targaryens. Nobel houses have tried to rebel against Robert, hoping to break free and set themselves up as an independent kingdom as their ancestors had been before the Targaryens.
It is in this politically charged time that Lord Arryn - the King's Hand, who commands the day to day running of the Kingdom when Robert doesn't want to be bothered - dies suddenly. His widow, Lysa, takes her young son and flees the capital, setting herself up in an Arryn stronghold that has never been breached by enemy forces. From there she sends word to her sister, Catelyn, that her husband has been killed by the Lannisters.
When Catelyn and her husband, Ned Stark, read Lysa's words, they don't know whether to believe them. Has Lysa gone mad with grief and fear for her son? Or does she speak the truth? Worse is that Ned has just been offered the position of King's Hand by his boyhood friend Robert. Can he take it now, knowing that he may be going to his death by walking into viper's nest at the capital? But can he turn it down, knowing that this might be the only way of learning how Lord Arryn really died and freeing Robert from Lannister plotting?
I love this book. This is my second time reading it, but I loved it as much as I loved it last time. The world Martin created is so rich and detailed. I've had problems in the past with authors whose world are too big, like Robert Jordan and Terry Goodkind. The quality of their books dropped over time, because, in my opinion, they lost control of the world they were writing. I'm hoping that it will be different this time. I feel that Martin has already defined the limits of his world, so it shouldn't be getting any bigger. Fingers crossed.
I like that we see the story from many different points of views. We get to read about those who hated the Targaryens, who thought the worst about the King and the Crown Prince. But we also get to read about those who have fonder memories of them. I like how some of the characters who commit the worst acts in this book still have a moment where they are as human as everyone else.
There were characters I hated the first time around but I tried to give everyone a second chance. I didn't hate Sansa - Ned's eldest daughter - as much as I did last time. It's true that she's shallow and not particularly smart, but I feel more sorry for her this time around. Catelyn I still hate. I'm not sure if we're supposed to hate her, but at about 100 pages, she says something so unforgivable, that I just can't not hate her. It also doesn't help her case that two of the characters I love the most - Jon Snow, Ned's bastard son, and Tyrion Lannister, Jamie's younger brother - suffer the most at her hands.
Catelyn was pretty much the only part of the book I hated. The world, characters and the plot were all engrossing, the twists were unexpected, and I can't wait to finally get to the end of the series to see what happens!
After a lot nagging from Coral I finally picked up and read my sister's book. Surprisingly I was not disappointed. My sister and I have have very different tastes when it comes to books and I was not looking forwards to reading this 800 page political charged fantasy novel. However I enjoyed this book from the very first chapter. It just grabbed you and sucked you in. There was one section near the end of the book where I had to force myself to read, because I knew tragic things were about to happen and I was worried that some of my favorite characters were going to die. Considering everyone is at war, it makes the book realistic to have people die off, but it is still sad when it happens.
I only have one slight problem with this book (unlike my sister it is not Catelyn): that there are so many characters running around I can't keep them straight. Even with the family trees at the back of the book it is very confusing. Other than that it is an awesome book and a great way to start off a series. I can only hope that the other six are just as good.