Here is a book review with a difference, one that would not normally appear on Northern Readers Blog. A personal favourite of mine. A Game of Thrones by american writer George R.R. Martin.
First published way back in 1996 this book has recently come into the public eye through the superb HBO television series adaptation. George R.R. Martin has been described as “the American Tolkien” and certainly he is a man who has bought a dark twist to the world of fantasy and pushed it into the public consciousness. This is the first book in the Song of Ice and Fire series, where readers are introduced to the land of Westeros and the Houses that make up that realm.
The book and world in A Game of Throne (AGoT) is influenced heavily from the War of the Roses. Instead of two houses there are many different ones each with their own agenda and loyalty, which provides a lot of delicious twists and turns. The land of Westeros may be in a medieval setting but the politics are straight from Ancient Rome. The political maneuvering provides many of the book’s plot surprises and one of the book’s strengths is that you are never given the full picture all at once which makes you want to read the rest of the book and series. Another part that makes the book is in the characterisation, Martin writes from characters point of view (POV), this means that you are only getting one interpretation of the story at any given moment in time. The main characters are all engaging from an exiled princess, a dwarf who may or not be as bad as his reputation makes out to a Lord whose main virtue is his honour but could be his downfall. These are just for starters, there are a few more main characters and a large cast of minor characters. Each character large or small is described in detail and all help to drive the plot on. Martin has put a lot of thought into the characters and their purpose in the story. The same can be said with all his descriptions of the world of Westeros and the lands beyond the sea, these really bring the story to life and provides a lot of flavour text that just adds so much more colour to the book. The plot is gripping from the first to the last page and bought to life with exceptionally skilled writing.
AGoT is not for the faint of heart, bad things happen to good as well as bad people and one persons virtue may also be a vice. Incest, blood and sex are in the book which makes it a darker side of fantasy, however with a plot as engaging and rewarding as this AGoT is certainly a book that everyone should read and you will find it impossible to put down. This book redefines the fantasy genre as it stands and is a world apart from your average fantasy book. Even if you would not normally read a book like this I urge you to give A Game of Thrones a try, you will not be disappointed.
(Guest Reviewer MRHH)