The Book Review: Game of Thrones
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Game of Thrones is one of the most popular television series currently airing. It has introduced the fantasy genre to many people who would otherwise ignore it and has quickly become one of the most profitable and iconic franchises in its genre. However, most people have still not read the source material: George R.R Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series, the first installment of which is titled A Game of Thrones. So how are the books to someone who has never watched the show? I have read the first book, but have not seen a single episode of the show. So with a completely unbiased perspective, I can answer the question of just how good the first book really is.
The first thing to note about the series is the multitude of viewpoints and plots. A Game of Thrones has several narrators throughout the story, all of them interesting characters. Most of them are members of House Stark, although there are also the incredibly compelling characters of Tyrion Lannister and Daenerys Targaryen with their own stories to be told. Tyron was the standout character to me as an example of a dwarf in a fantasy series who rather than being a Tolkienesque dwarf like most is instead a person with the real life condition of dwarfism. This realistic condition is a big part of what made Tyrion who he is by the time of the book’s events- a highly intelligent but frequently underestimated person who despite his small size has a massive presence. He’s truly a one of a kind character and his story alone is a great reason to read the book.
But even if the characters are really interesting, what would that mean if there wasn’t a good story to back them up? It is very difficult to describe a story like A Game of Thrones without spoiling it. After all, the plot of political intrigue and brewing war makes frequent surprises necessary- Martin does not hold back when surprising readers. As someone who went into the book mostly blind, the highly unexpected conclusion of one of the narrator’s subplots came as a massive surprise. While there are many subplots, I can confidently say each one is very interesting, even if a few inevitably stand out a bit more, such as the aforementioned story of Tyrion. However, I must point out that the story could easily prove confusing and hard to follow for a less avid reader. But for someone who loves books, especially the fantasy genre, A Game of Thrones is an absolute treat.
There is also very strong worldbuilding, with maps on the inside covers of the book so the reader can know where just about every city and region is in the land of Westeros. There is even a section in the back of the book providing interesting background information on the noble houses of Westeros, even those that aren’t even very important as of yet. While the worldbuilding is not as monstrously deep as Middle Earth in Lord of the Rings, Westeros was very clearly crafted with love, care, and attention to detail. It is sure to immerse fantasy fans, especially those who are fans of rich, detailed fictional worlds to explore.
I am sure I have made my case in saying that A Game of Thrones is a really great book. While the televised series seems just a bit too graphic and explicit for my tastes, reading it in its original novel state let me experience this modern classic for myself. And even if you have watched the show, there’s just something about a book that’s over 600 pages that can be difficult to translate to the screen. While it may be heavy reading, A Game of Thrones is truly a king among its genre. I look forward to continuing the series and seeing just who wins this game of thrones.