Title: A Game of Thrones (Song of Fire and Ice, #1)
Author: George R. R. Martin
Rating: 4 Stars
I finished this book with a crick in my neck. For about the last two hours of reading, I couldn't even move from the uncomfortable position I had curled into on my giant green reading chair; I was just too absorbed in the book.
I've been meaning to read A Game of Thrones ever since the HBO TV Series began to gain critical acclaim, which means I've had this collecting dust on my shelves for the past two years. I'm not quite sure why I waited so long. I've read high fantasy before, but Martin's series is notably different from anything I've read before. For one, its plot isn't centered around a quest or even a particular goal of overthrowing a dark lord. Instead, it's a novel of power, politics, and intrigue. Exceedingly well-written, Martin crafts a story with as many characters as there are words, taking risks most authors would shy away from, but having them pay off by the end.
Although I understand why many readers are wary of these books - after all, their size could scare even a Gryffindor away, not to mention the multiple perspectives Martin packs into a couple hundred pages - but their main appeal, for me at any rate, is the truth of humanity found within the complexity of world-building, plot, and characters. While these characters may be preparing for literal wars, they are also fighting inner battles. Moreover, the people Martin writes of are not ordinary heroes - bastards, dwarfs, children - and nor are they black-and-white. For a fantasy novel to focus on these elements of characterization in a make-believe world opposed to a cut-and-dry quest with a common goal to achieve, the ambiguity of both the plot direction and character motives truly made this novel stand out for me.
Ultimately, despite the initial hesitations readers may have in picking up this novel, I would recommend it whole-heartedly. Although I typically shy away from books with multiple perspectives, the third-person narration throughout this novel made the point of view changes with each chapters accessible. And, what's more, I have already nagged my parents enough to get them to speed their way over the library so I can grab a copy of A Clash of Kings. In fact, it's sitting at the foot of my bed as I type this. (Sadly, A Storm of Swords is going to be harder to find...grr!) Excuse me now, I am off to read just how this game of thrones is about to play out.