Jane’s Book Review – Game of Thrones

If you have HBO, you probably already know about Game of Thrones by George RR Martin.  I don’t, but ordered the DVD set of Season one because the buzz about it was so intense (and it starred Sean Bean.)  I was quickly addicted to the incredible sweep of the story, the intriguing plot lines and the intense action.  So I started reading the books.  There are five in the series A Song of Ice and Fire. Game of Thrones is the first, Clash of Kings the second, A Storm of Swords, A Feast for Crows, and A Dance with Dragons.  He is busily writing the sixth, The Winds of Winter, and a seventh is planned, A Dream of Spring.  The series has sold 15 million copies and been translated in 20 languages.  These books are no small commitment – the smallest is 704 pages and the largest is 959.

The books tell the story of Westeros – a continent where one ruling family (the Targaryens) had unified the 7 Kingdoms.  Seasons here can last for many different years.  A 700 ft. ice wall was constructed in the North, centuries ago, to guard Westeros from giants, direwolves, mammoths and even scarier creatures that rule the land beyond the wall.  A nine year summer is approaching its end and in the words of House Stark, guardians of the North – winter is coming.  The death of the current king, Robert of House Baratheon, sets the stage for the coronation of his cruel, sadistic 13 yr. old son, Joffrey.  Joffrey kills Eddard Stark, the King’s Hand, because Stark finds out Joffrey is not a legitimate son of his old friend Robert.  The Queen, Cersei of the wealthy House Lannister, tries to hold the kingdom together, but the death of Stark embroils the continent in war as the 7 kingdoms try to assert their independence.  There is also another player in the game, the deposed House Targaryen.  Their story unfolds on the eastern continent of Essos and weaves around one of my favorite characters, Daenerys Stormborn Targaryen, Mother of Dragons, (and that’s not an honorary title) who also has a claim to the Iron Throne of Westeros.

This is an epic fantasy series, like Lord of the Rings or Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time.  I’ve devoured the first four books and am almost halfway through the fifth.  If you’re fans of epic, engrossing fantasy, these are great summer reads.