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Audiobook Review: A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire #1)

Published August 6th 1996

Author: George R.R. Martin

Narrator: Roy Dotrice

Audiobook Length: 33 hours 46 minutes

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 forces are massing beyond the kingdom’s protective Wall. To the south, the king’s powers are failing—his most trusted adviser dead under mysterious circumstances and his enemies emerging from the shadows of the throne. At the center of the conflict lie the Starks of Winterfell, a family as harsh and unyielding as the frozen land they were born to. Now Lord Eddard Stark is reluctantly summoned to serve as the king’s new Hand, an appointment that threatens to sunder not only his family but the kingdom itself.

Sweeping from a harsh land of cold to a summertime kingdom of epicurean plenty, A Game of Thrones tells 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; a child is lost in the twilight between life and death; and a determined woman undertakes a treacherous journey to protect all she holds dear. Amid plots and counter-plots, tragedy and betrayal, victory and terror, allies and enemies, the fate of the Starks hangs perilously in the balance, as each side endeavors to win that deadliest of conflicts: the game of thrones. 

A Clash of Kings (#2)
A Storm of Swords (#3)
A Feast for Crows (#4)
A Dance With Dragons (#5)
The Winds of Winter (#6)
A Dream of Spring (#7)

A Game of Thrones is the first novel in the Song of Ice and Fire series. As I watched the show before getting around to reading the books, I can’t help but compare them. I do like that the show aged up the characters. There are eight POVs in this story: Eddard (Ned) Stark, Catelyn Stark (his wife), Sansa and Arya Stark (their daughters), Bran Stark (their son), Jon Snow (Ned’s bastard), Tyrion Lannister, and Daenerys Targaryen. Like many other reviewers, there is not a lot of new information that I can discuss regarding the story itself, so I won’t summarize the plot too much. Since I saw the show and this novel stays fairly true to the writing, it was extremely easy to follow. As the rest of the series does start to deviate from the show, it will be interesting to see how easy it is to understand at that point.

As this series was influenced by the Wars of the Roses and the Hundred Years War, I like how history and fiction came together. The pacing of the story was nicely done as it begins simply and then slowly becomes more complex as time moves forward. As the novel can give the internal thoughts of the characters and add to the world-building, I enjoyed those aspects the most since the plot more or less was similar to the show. Most reviewers already have pointed out the obvious potential triggers with rape, incest, etc., so there is not much I can add to this discussion; however, for me, it was part of the story. There are problematic events and developments that are not dealt with while others are, so there is definitely room for improvement.

This is the first novel of the series with a lot of potential to grow into something amazing. As the chapters bounce around from each POV, there is still more to learn about each, and the reader still gets to navigate the vast web of plotlines to have it all make sense. The one standout of this novel is that it managed to stay interesting where it was a long novel that did not seem long. There are characters that I care about more than others and I like that Martin created all types of characters. With the vast number, there is bound to be one each reader can connect with whether they agree with their traits or not. As some characters are killed off for shock value and others for different plotlines of the story, the unpredictability factor is present already. Since there is so much left to tell, I cannot wait to eventually get to the second novel in the series!

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