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A Game of Thrones

A Game of Thrones

Book rating: 02 Paperback Song of Ice and Fire

By (author) George R. R. Martin

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Hardback $19.03
  • Publisher: Bantam USA
  • Format: Paperback | 864 pages
  • Dimensions: 106mm x 168mm x 42mm | 420g
  • Publication date: 1 December 1997
  • Publication City/Country: New York
  • ISBN 10: 0553573403
  • ISBN 13: 9780553573404
  • Edition statement: Reissue
  • Sales rank: 352

Product description

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 advisor 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 wildings 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 counterplots, 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.

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Author information

George R. R. Martin sold his first story in 1971 and has been writing professionally ever since. He has written fantasy, horror, and science fiction, and for his sins spent ten years in Hollywood as a writer/producer, working on "The Twilight Zone," "Beauty and the Beast," and various feature films and pilots that were never made. In the mid-nineties he returned to prose, his first love, and began work on his epic fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire. He has been in the Seven Kingdoms ever since. Whenever he's allowed to leave, he returns to Santa Fe, New Mexico, where he lives with the lovely Parris. "From the Hardcover edition."

Customer reviews

By Adriano Antonini 06 Aug 2011 2

The good: Martin can write, when he puts himself to it. He can even let characters emerge from their actions without explaining everything to death. His world-building is often pretty solid, to the point where the unexplained bits feel like watching Blade Runner without the bloody narrator: you're fascinated and want to know more, longing for a deeper understanding and willing to wait or work more for your rewards. Chapter headings bear the name of the character whose viewpoint is followed in them: That makes for some interesting and insightful switching of points of view. Some cliffhangers are well played out: when the book picks them up again, the story has moved on enough that you are on edge, waiting for the writer to reveal you what the hell's happened, especially if the plotline is picked up through another characters' eyes.
The bad: The good stops after 200 pages and occasionally resumes about 500 pages later. I'm perplexed to read Stephen Donaldson calling himself a notorious over-writer, whereas Martin and Jordan (to name but those I've read) get away with writing these monsters which could have been summed up in a quarter if the space, as they are little more than a collection of plot twists, with mercifully short chapters that read like Dragonball anime episodes: 25 minutes of smoke screen for one lonely bit if info. For God's sake, what's taking you so long, mate? Oh wait, bigger and more numerous books equal more money... Oh, okay, got it! If you do not care for a character and his/her story are fairly detached from the rest (Jon and Danerys), reading through them is often a pain: you'll wish the writer had cut some chapters, or sites those for another book our a soon-off if you're a completist.
The ugly: this doesn't really sound like anything new, partly because it's apparently based on idealised visions of gruesome middle ages, partly because it's really uselessly long. Insane lists of useless names are not good world-building, they're pretension. Back cover quotes for this books usually compare them favourably against Tolkien's to class creations: that's such a load of crap. Tolkien's good because the background work was so deep and consistent, by the time he sat down to write the Lord Of The Rings, he achieved more a writer in a thousand odd pages than Martin will have achieved when the seventh and last book will be out. Tolkien also had the decency to let the process out until his son dragged his corpse out of the grave (happy as I an to have been able to read the Silmarillion and more, I recognise tomb-raiding when I see it), while Martin just throws it all at you at once. If you value quantity over quality though, my complaints will be your praise. Also: if you want to see intelligent woman characters, open another book. If you wasn't to see a positive depiction of sex: open another book. Rape and whoring abound, and much as I value realism and mature themes (this is after all revised middle age "history") to bring fantasy out of the Harry Potter hole, this is not it. Realistic politics play a big role in the book; however, some characters still act so dumbly (for overdone sense of honour or inexplicable plain stupidity) that it all loses strength and credibility. Eddard and Catelyn are despicable in this respect, the latter is am especially insufferable person. Buy they're both honest to the point of seeming gullible against all reason, and Catelyn goes as far as showing, at some point, some incredible pacifism that is so badly portrayed, our makes a god thing look bad! China Mieville's your cup of tea if you love fantastic worlds and worldviews if total credibility, or the often sadly overseen Stephen R. Donaldson.
Closing comments: I eventually was enthused enough by the plot that I might read book 2 some day (after having read Ghormenghast and at least 2 more Donaldson and Mieville books...): if that also fails to give me some sense of achievement, that's totally it, I'm over my brief falling in with unending fantasy epics.

Review quote

"The major fantasy of the decade . . . compulsively readable."--"Denver Post" "We have been invited to a grand feast and pageant: George R.R. Martin has unveiled for us an intensely realized, romantic but realistic world."--"Chicago Sun-Times" "A Best Book of 1996: Martin makes a triumphant return to high fantasy . . . [with] superbly developed characters, accomplished prose, and sheer bloodymindedness."--"Publishers Weekly," starred review "A splendid saga . . . . Inventive and intricately plotted."--"BookPage" "Magic . . . George R.R.Martin's first fantasy epic [is set] well above the norms of the genre."--"Locus" "Such a splendid tale and such a fantasticorical! I read my eyes out and couldn't stop 'til I finished and it was dawn."--Anne McCaffrey

Flap copy

"A Game of Thrones is a contemporary masterpiece of fantasy. The cold is returning to Winterfell, where summers can last decades and winters a lifetime. A time of conflict has arisen in the Stark family, as they are pulled from the safety of their home into a whirlpool of tragedy, betrayal, assassination, plots and counterplots. Each decision and action carries with it the potential for conflict as several prominent families, comprised of lords, ladies, soldiers, sorcerers, assassins and bastards, are pulled together in the most deadly game of all--the game of thrones.