13 August 2013

Audiobook Review: A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

Title: A Game of Thrones
Author(s): George R.R. Martin
Genre(s): Adventure, Fantasy
Publisher/Date: Bantam Spectra / August 4, 1997
Series: A Song of Ice and Fire (Book #1)
"The man who passes the sentence should swing the sword. If you would take a man's life, you owe it to him to look into his eyes and hear his final words. And if you cannot bear to do that, then perhaps the man does not deserve to die.” -Eddard Stark
Case Study
In a land where summers can last decades and winters a lifetime, trouble is brewing. The cold is returning, and in the frozen wastes of the north of Winterfell, sinister and supernatural forces are massing beyond the kingdom's protective Wall. At the center of the conflict lie the Starks of Winterfell, a family as harsh and unyielding as the land they were born to. Sweeping from a land of brutal cold to a distant summertime kingdom of epicurean plenty, here is a tale of lords and ladies, soldiers and sorcerers, assassins and bastards, who come together in a time of grim omens. Amid plots and counterplots, tragedy and betrayal, victory and terror, the fate of the Starks, their allies, and their enemies hangs perilously in the balance, as each endeavors to win that deadliest of conflicts: the game of thrones. (synopsis from Goodreads)

The Game's Afoot
I have a confession to make... I never intended on reading this book. I know, I know! It's blasphemy. I told myself since I watch the show, that would be good enough, but if I'm being really honest, the sheer length and complexity of the series intimidated me (still kinda does). I purchased the audiobook for my dad and after he raved over it, I figured, what the hell. 

This was me 28 discs and 33 hrs later:

The sheer sense of accomplishment and awe of completing this book kinda overwhelms me but there's no doubt that this series is AWESOME! I'm not going to lie to you... A Game of Thrones is reeeeeeally long. There are a multitude of characters and several story lines all going on at the same time, so it's really hard to keep track of everything. But George R.R. Martin has delivered everything I needed out of a high fantasy novel --- war, politics, familial drama, dragons...

And don't even get me started on the world-building because it's incredible. I don't think I've seen anything this imaginative since Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy. It's hard to fathom just how much time and creativity and planning went into the construction of this world and series. If you're a stickler for detail, then this is the book for you! Wow. Words seriously can't even describe how beautifully and richly crafted this world truly is. But as great as the setting may be, the characters are what carry this book. They are all so wonderfully complex and multifaceted, so much so that it's sometimes hard to tell who to root for! And there are no knights in shining armour here despite what you might think. Every character is deeply flawed in some way, but it's those flaws that make them so human. The good guys make (often fatal) mistakes and I think that's why their stories resonate so much with us as readers. There is a deep connection to some of these people (i.e. - Ned Stark) so you really feel for them during their triumphs and during their tragedies.

Also, Martin spares no expense, and by no expense, I mean nobody. Everybody is on the chopping block and he isn't afraid to kill off some of the series' most beloved characters. But I think that's yet another reason why this series is such a success. There's risk in reading/watching it. As readers/viewers, we're on the edge of our seats as we turn a page/watch an episode. We're all, like, sick masochists just waiting to see what sort of punishment Martin will dole out next. A Game of Thrones, if anything, is an experience (usually a nail-biting one).

A Game of Thrones is told via several different characters and there are some people who won't enjoy that, but I'd say with so much going on, it was a necessary device. You get a deeper insight into the story this way and it's also interesting to see events through opposing perspectives. There were definitely some narrators that I preferred over others, namely, Tyrion Lannister, Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen. Funny enough, this also correlates to the characters I preferred in the show so that just goes to show you how well they play off one another. And yes, if you're wondering, the show totally does this book justice. You really don't need to read the first book to understand what's going on in the show, however, I recommend that you do anyway. It's too good not to. Also, because the story is so dense, the books help to make sense of the show (and vice versa). The novel clarified things that I was otherwise confused about as well as enriched my understanding of the characters and their motivations. I recommend grabbing the audio version if you can because Roy Dotrice is a champ! Fun fact: he even made the Guinness Book of World Records for doing the most amount of distinctive character voices in one audio production.

 So yeah, read it. Watch it. Live it. Love it.

Summary Prognosis
Reading A Game of Thrones was quite the challenge, and consequently, finishing it was my biggest literary accomplishment this year. Martin has crafted such an intricate and wonderfully detailed  universe full of rich, complex characters and high drama. It has all the elements you could ever want in a high fantasy and rivals the LotR trilogy for best fantasy series EVER!

Rating: ★★★★★

Read It: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Audible
Discuss It: Goodreads | Author's Website


  1. I'm dying to read this!! I don't think I'll ever have time with my blogging schedule:( But I'll live vicariously through you!

    1. If you ever get a chance to listen to the audio version, I think it'll go quicker than actually reading the book. Trust me. It's worth the time investment. If you don't read it, at least watch the show. Season 1 and Book 1 are pretty spot on.

  2. I have been soooo wanting to read these books!!! I need to!

    1. You should. They will rip your heart into pieces but it's SOOOOOOOO worth it!


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