bookspluslife

September 3, 2013

The Game of Thrones by George R R Martin

Filed under: Books — Tags: , , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 2:52 pm

imageIf you are a fan of this series or if you already have seen the highly successful TV show, I think you need no introduction of either this book or the Series it belongs to:  ‘The Song of Fire and Ice’. The author George RR Martin has not completed the series. I think he was planning to do it as a seven part series, of which, at the time of my writing this, only five have been published.

 

If you have not read it, unless the fantasy genre completely turns you off, I would urge you to read the series, starting with this book. The author has been called ‘American Tolkien’ by Time and in rankings of the fantasy books, this comes out at the top, even beating books by Tolkien and other authors. I think that the ranking is very deserved, and I think that this book and this series is far, far superior and more interesting to anything out there.

 

I still do not know whether he will keep to the seven book idea or whether he will write an eighth book, since what was to be volume four got too big and had to be split into Volume Four and Volume Five. But that is another story. Also it is interesting that when HBO made the first season of the highly successful Game of Thrones TV series, we are told that they got concerned that the series was not fully done, that the author was already old and had some health issues and that he was publishing the series with large gaps between the books. So, reportedly they got him to write the outline for the full story and got it, before they agreed to film the first season, which pertains to this book.

 

The story is very powerful. The dialogs are amazingly crisp and effective. I have seen very few authors who do scenes that make you want to read more and make you wish that the story never ends. The TV series also was very close to the book, in fact reproducing many dialogs in the book verbatim, and if you have seen the series, you have a pretty good idea of what is involved.

 

The story’s central characters are Lord Eddard Stark and King Robert. Lord Stark is a childhood friend of Robert and helped him win the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros. He rules the North and has two daughters and two sons. Sansa, the eldest, is breathtakingly beautiful with auburn hair, blue eyes and behaves like a classic lady, learning manners, and behaves like a daughter of a Lord should. Arya, the younger daughter, could not be more different: willful, tomboyish, and conventionally not pretty (‘Horseface’ is what she has been called). The sons are Robb, the eldest who is in his teens, and Bran, who is a lively kid who can climb any wall, tree etc in the castle.

 

Ed (for Eddard) is married to Catelyn, from the Tullys and her sister Lady Arrynn’s husband is killed in the beginning of the book. Jon Arryn was the King’s Hand (A sort of a Prime Minister) and Robert visits Ed to request him to be his Hand. Ed, if he accepts, needs to go to King’s Landing, the seat of the power.

 

Robert is married to Cersei Lannister, of the Lannisters. Her brother, Jaime Lannister, is the captain of the Kings Guard, an elite force which wears White and is sworn to both celibacy and the protection of the King. Cersei’s father, Tywin Lannister is the patriarch of the powerful Lannister Clan and also the schemer behind keeping the power in Lannister hands (thus having the very pretty Cersei married off to Robert). His third child is the intellectual giant, but a physical dwarf called Tyrion Lannister.

 

Robert and Ed won over the Mad King Aegon Targaryan. The Lannisters were protectors of the Targaryans, who in the past had dragons; the dragons had died out long ago, and when the battle was sure to be lost, Lannisters switched allegiance to Robert (Barratheon) and had Jamie kill Aegon before Ed could reach the palace. The Starks had always been suspicious of the loyalties of Lannisters.

In fact, Cersei hates Robert, who is rude to her and treats her like dirt. Robert also plays the field, having any woman he wants, while Cersei watches helplessly.

When Starks find a group of young werewolf pups, each adopt one, and Snow, the white one, goes to Jon Snow, who is a bastard of Ed and therefore hated by Catelyn as a living symbol of Ed’s infidelity.

When Aegon was defeated, the kids Viserys (the boy and heir of the Iron Throne when it is recovered) and Daenerys, escape and are on the run. Daenerys runs away to Dothraki land, and marries Kal Drogo, who is a great warrior. Ser Jorah Mormont (Ser is Sir in today’s world and denotes a knight; Septa is nun and Septon is monk) has also defected and is an advisor to Kal.

Bran, during Robert’s visit, climbs the ivy and finds that Jaime and Cersei are having an incestuous relationship. (In fact, all of Robert’s children with Cersei – and therefore the legitimate princes of the kingdom – are all Jaime’s). Alarmed at the implications, Jaime pushes him over, causing him to fall several stories to the ground. He survives but is crippled for life and is in a coma for several months, and when recovered, loses his memory.

Jon Snow takes the “black” which means that he goes to the North Wall, the end of civilized country, but protected by an army (made of very few volunteers like Jon but mostly made of the unwanted dregs of society like criminals, destitute men and others who join for the food provided). They are sworn to not take sides in the “Game of Thrones” played by competing kings and to stay neutral and celibate.

When Ed accepts the responsibility to be the Hand, and goes to Kings Landing, he meets cunning men like Littlefinger (who was in love once with Catelyn and is now the treasurer; he also runs a few brothels on the side) and Varys (the powdered eunuch or the ‘spider’ – master of the spy organization working now for Robert and prior with Aegon).

An assassination attempt on Bran, foiled by the DireWolf but not before Catelyn’s arm gets slashed, convinces Catelyn to go to King’s Landing to find who the assassin is. She finds that the knife in the dead assassin’s hand belonged to Tyrion and wants revenge.

Meanwhile, Vayon Poole, Ed’s steward, teaches Arya to fight, initially with a wooden sword.

 

Viseyris demands the kingdom and gets humiliated by Kal Drogo and finally killed by pouring molten gold on his head when he whined too much about the Golden Crown that he deserved.

An old Stark, Benjen, who was at the Wall disappears after leaving for a Patrol.

When Robert wants to take part in a tournament, Ed is warned by Varys that the Lannisters are planning to kill him in the melee and stage an accident. He prevents Robert from going but when Robert goes hunting, he is killed by a wild boar anyway (with help provided in the form of wine by someone – likely queen Cersei)

Jon protects Sam, a portly, cowardly man on the Wall (part of Brothers in Black) from ridicule and befriends him.

There is a lot more to the story – Tyrion gets kidnapped by Catelyn in revenge and taken to the Vale, the mountain fastness of Lady Arryn. You meet the Mountain, the incredibly big and strong warrior in the Lannister Pay (Sandor Celgane) and his equally impressive brother (The Hound) who has a charred half of a face due to an accident with fire earlier. He is afraid of nothing and no one – except fire.

Robert commissions attempts on the life of Daenarys (Dany) against the advice of Ed.

Kal Drogo gets infected in a fight he won. A lady called Mirri Maz Tur was asked to revive him (she was a captive) and he dies due to her treachery. Dany is left with most followers defecting, in true Dothraki custom.

Dany gets to the mother of dragons. How? Read the book to find out.

The book is fabulous and makes you keep turning the pages. The story is complex and intricately woven, and makes you want to continue reading – almost impossible to put down.

It is definitely the best fantasy novel I have read and probably will be yours too, if you take the time to read.

A very definite 9/10

 

—  Krishna

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1 Comment »

  1. I’m just about to start book 3 part 2! I’m not a regular when it comes to fantasy bit I’m enjoying this book series!!

    Comment by Purple Spark Reading — September 3, 2013 @ 3:14 pm


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