Book Review: A Game Of Thrones // George R.R. Martin

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The multi-award winning book, the beginning of a series of epic fantasy novels and the basis for the critically acclaimed TV show of the same name, A Game Of Thrones is an outstanding 780-page tale chronicling the battle for the Iron Throne.

The novel begins with the death of Jon Arryn, the Hand of the King and Eddard Stark’s foster father, but soon Eddard realises there’s something more to his death than initially thought. Meanwhile, in the Free Cities of Essos, Daenerys Targaryen is being prepared for her marriage to the Dothraki Horselord, Khal Drogo, in the hopes that, in exchange for her hand in marriage, they will receive an army to help reclaim the Iron Throne.

George R.R. Martin narrates each chapter from the perspective of a different character, shifting between Daenerys Targaryen, the last remaining descendent of her house (along with her brother, Viserys); Eddard Stark, the Lord of Winterfell and Warden of the North; Eddard’s bastard son, Jon Snow – and several others of the various houses in Westeros. While some find this narrative style irritating, as you may find yourself dreading the chapters in the perspective of that one character you despise, this problem is not found in A Game of Thrones. The characters, while not necessarily likeable, are all interesting and exciting to read. And, at the same time, it’s a very unique angle to witness the unfolding action; to see everything come together from the viewpoints of all the characters shows great craftsmanship in Martin’s writing style but is also immensely enthralling for the reader.

A unique aspect of this novel is that there is no definitive antagonist – of course, there are the White Walkers (mythical zombie-like creatures) north of the Wall, but they are only a threat to the Brothers of the Night’s Watch – at least, at the present. To the Cersei Lannister, the Queen, the threat comes from Eddard Stark’s new position as the Hand of the King; to the Starks in Winterfell, the threat is of the impending winter, repeated in their mantra of “Winter Is Coming”; to Daenerys and Viserys, the enemy is King Robert Baratheon, who usurped the throne from their Grandfather and killed the rest of their family. As the reader takes on a different perspective in each chapter, the favour changes with the wishes and desires of the character Martin exposes.

Some characters do have greater favour and likeability overall. Daenerys is one of these. She is one of the most interesting characters because, at first, she is a meek and mild thirteen-year-old girl with little self-confidence and fear towards her new, barbaric husband. Yet, in becoming the Khaleesi (the Dothraki equivalent to a queen) and in adapting to the Dothraki lifestyle, she grows stronger and more courageous up until the very last words of the novel.

Arya Stark, the youngest daughter of Eddard Stark, is another uniquely pleasing character. Her indifference to her elder sister’s femininity and love for everything royal, which Arya objects to through episodic outbursts, serve as a sort of reality-check in amongst the rising tensions from the politics of her father and the King.

Ultimately, this is an astounding, captivating novel that would leave the reader in awe for a few moments before picking up the next book in an overwhelming excitement.

Words by Eve Taylor

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