This summer, I’m eagerly looking forward to the Starks’ winter.
A Game Of Thrones by George R.R. Martin.
GRRM has created a sensation around the world. A Song Of Ice And Fire series is often mentioned when people talk about the best books/series in the fantasy genre. He is mentioned right at the top with J.R.R. Tolkien, which was what led me to start this series. Now, I haven’t read The Lord Of The Rings trilogy, so this review is free of any comparisons or parallels between them.
Also, I haven’t watched the HBO series yet, and that allows me to be as objective as I can.
Summers last for decades. So do winters. And when King Robert Baratheon appoints his friend Lord Eddard Stark to the office of the Hand Of The King, a struggle for the Iron Throne begins. The Stark Family is torn apart by unexpected enemies, the treachery at court makes way for an entirely new chain of events, and the vengeance seeking heir of the Targaryen family, who were deposed of the throne claims it. And in order to get back the throne, he gives away his sister to a bunch of ruthless barbarians in exchange for an army. And that gives way to something fascinating.
This book is intricately and carefully written, as the story is told from the perspectives of eight different characters. Six of them are from the same family, which might sound a bit dull. But that way of narrating the story lets the reader into different ways of reading the same situation, which, for me, was quite captivating.
What some people found uninteresting and pointless was that a character was devoted several hundred pages but didn’t get attached to the main plot by the end. Incidentally, that was what I loved. I love the fact that there is one more character to look forward to, and a really interesting and creepy one at that. Also, there is a lot of foreshadowing in the book. But unlike many other authors, GRRM, wonderfully and successfully, does it with subtlety. It blends in so well with the story that noticing it becomes a terribly difficult task, because by that time, you are eagerly and feverishly reading in anticipation of what’s about to happen next.
And then comes GRRM’s great ability. The ability to do horrible things to his characters. There are deaths, but GRRM gives us a glimpse into how he is willing to subject his characters to things that are understated even when you use words like ‘horrible’ or ‘inhumane’ to describe them. The first book does not contain things that horrific but left me with an uneasy sense of what’s about to come.
This book is 835 pages, which means you better find a comfortable place, an adequate supply of food and drinks, and enough money to buy the next book immediately (or) a friend who will unconditionally surrender his/her copy of the next book (which is really unlikely, because buying the next book implies that he/she loves the series, probably more love towards the series than towards you).
These may be spoilers if you haven’t read the book, but let me help you. Eddard and Ned are the same person. Bran is Ned’s son, and Brandon is the dead brother of Ned. Robb is Ned’s son, and Robert is the King who appoints Ned to his court. And yeah, Jon Snow and Jon Arryn are two completely different persons. Pray to the gods of the book that you don’t get confused between the characters.
There are a few other things in the story that may annoy you, but if you manage to get past them, you’re in for a treat. The momentum is built excellently, and I’ve seldom seen that level of expertise. The prologue may be a bit dragging, the stories until Ned’s appointment may not be reader-friendly, but go past all that, and by page 600, you’ll urge your body to stop whatever it is doing and to stay awake until the book is done. The book becomes so compelling that by the end of the book, you’ll already have sympathized to a character, you begin to care about people, both dead and alive, and you’ll be trying to work out the mindsets of the people on the both sides of the war. There are many characters, places, incidents, wars and kingdoms in this intricately designed world.
This book is in the fantasy genre. But it so deeply rooted into realism, that when the first mythical thing hits you, you are down, hit so hard, that you will go back, and read it all again just to make sure that you’ve followed it all correctly. There’s a good chance you’ll go back again, just to let yourself be engulfed by that feeling again, because that part of the book is written with real dedication, and with an intention to make it part of the main story rather than making it the story. Unbelievably engrossing.
Simply put, please stop whatever you’re doing right now, and get a copy of the book if you haven’t read it. This book is riveting, and is a must-read. Go on now, order the book or leave your house and get a copy of it.
Rating: 5 / 5.