George R. R. Martin’s ‘A Game of Thrones’ is the first book in his series ‘A Song of Fire and Ice’ (There’s also a cool TV series on HBO)
King Robert Baratheon rules from the Iron Throne in the city of King’s Landing, his wife Queen Cersei of House Lannister, at his side, protected by the kings guard and advised by the lords who sit on his council. There has been peace in the kingdom for many years.
When Jon Arryn, Hand of the King, suddenly dies – his wife and young son leave the city in secret. They take refuge in The Eyrie, the impenetrable castle in The Vale, the lands held by the Arrryn family, cutting off all contact with the outside world.
King Robert rides north, away from the comforts of his palace, through the lands he knew as a boy, to Winterfell, home of Lord Eddard Stark, Robert’s best friend. Robert appoints Lord Stark as the new Hand of the King, a title Ned does not want but feels honor bound to accept.
In a land where summers last for years and winter brings more than darkness and cold, Lord Stark fears that winter is coming once more and is loathe to leave his home, but Robert was his best friend and is now his king, and so he must travel south.
When Robert and Ned last rode together, they killed the mad king and wiped out the entire Targaryen line, save a young boy and a baby, who were saved from death and sent across the seas. Robert took the throne and the Seven Kingdoms, joined as one, enjoyed peace under his reign. But with the death of Jon Arryn, all that will change.
Ned’s wife Lady Catelyn Stark, sister to Jon Arryn’s widow Lysa, is sent a secret message hinting at murder and treachery in King’s Landing. Tragedy befalls the Stark household and Lady Catelyn must remain, while Ned rides south with the King determined to find the truth and do his duty to his king. He must investigate Jon Arryn’s death without raising suspicion, he must keep his family safe despite the separation, he must advise and protect King Robert, and he must return home to Winterfell, because one thing is certain – winter is coming.
When I first started reading ‘A Game of Thrones’ I immediately thought of both ‘Lord of the Rings’ by J.R.R. Tolkien and ‘The Stand’ by Stephen King.
LOTR, because this is an epic tale. A new world is waiting within the pages, a world of kings and knights, duels and sieges, loyalty and honor, dragons and dark magic. (yes, there are dragons!) There are castles and entire lands, all richly detailed, and a history so real you’ll find yourself believing it to be true.
The Stand, because there are SO MANY CHARACTERS! Seriously, there are a dozen important players whose thoughts, words and actions you must follow throughout the novel and they all have family members, friends and enemies (and pets!) that are important to the overall understanding of the tale. Like The Stand, you have to put some effort in to keep everyone straight, (wait, was that the same guy that that other guy was talking to?) but when you do, it’s well worth the effort.
George R.R.Martin has created a world that pulls you right in, the characters are rich and interesting, some you root for even though you know it’s fruitless, they are doomed, others you despise but you turn the pages eager for the next encounter.
The game of thrones has many players, who shall prevail? You have to keep reading.