Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Book Review: A Song of Ice and Fire: A Game of Thrones

                                                       A Game of Thrones Review
Game of Thrones is the first book in George R. R. Martin's epic fantasy series that has a lot more to do with who gets the power to rule over the seven kingdoms than it does with magic. This book is full of medieval political intrigue and depthful characters which is all set in a world that is described in vivid detail. I feel that it's best to split up my review into several parts do to how many different narrators there are and it will include spoilers.
"When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die. There is no middle ground."

Lord Eddard "Ned" Stark of Winterfell is asked by his old friend King Robert to become the hand of the king after the last one, Jon Arryn had died under mysterious circumstances. At first Ned is reluctant to leave Winterfell and go south to King's Landing but after receiving a letter from the last hand's widow who's also his wife's Catelyn sister that her husband was murdered Ned felt duty bound to become Robert's hand and figure out who killed Jon Arryn and why. Soon after arriving in King's Landing Ned learns that things such as honor and duty aren't as valued in the south as it is in the north, the politics in Kings Landing with the way everyone lying to and spying on each other is something that Ned doesn't approve or fully understand.

Ned ends up asking three members of the council what Jon Arryn was looking into around the time that he died, the three members being Grand Maester Pycelle who's an elderly man who is a healer and gives Ned the book that Jon Arryn was reading before he died, Varys a eunuch who is known as the master of whispers and serves the realm rather than a certain king and Lord Petyr "Littlefinger" Balish who was a childhood friend to Catelyn and was in love with her. Littlefinger ends up offering the most help to Ned which makes Ned thinks it's a good idea to trust him even though Littlefinger says he'd be wise not to trust him, so when Littlefinger betrays Ned it only comes as a surprise to Ned. Ned eventually learns that King Robert's children are not actually his true born children but rather the product of the incest between the Queen Cersei Lannister and her twin brother Jaime a member of the kings guard known as the kingslayer.

After Ned found out the truth about the Lannister incest he decided it was a good idea for him to tell Cersei so she can save her children from Robert's wrath but Cersei had other ideas. Soon Robert died and Cersei's oldest child Joffrey had become king and when Ned told the truth about him not being the rightful king he was imprisoned and most of the members of his household he brought with him were slaughtered.

Towards the beginning of the book Ned's son Bran saw Cersei and Jamie together and was pushed off a high tower by Jaime, Bran was crippled but he didn't die and before he awoke someone was sent to kill him.  After the second attempt on Bran's life Catelyn went to Kings Landing to find more information on who tried to kill her son since she was sure it was the Lannister's behind it and the blade the killer used was to nice for a sell sword. Catelyn is led to believe that it was Tyrion Lannister doing so she held him as a prisoner for a time until she was forced to release him after taking him to her sister who has became not quite right in the head since she last saw her.
After Ned is taken prisoner his eldest son Robb called their house's bannermen and started marching to King's Landing which is pretty much the start of the war between the north and the Lannister's. Catelyn's house the Tully's have already been fighting the Lannisters for some time so by the end of the book they join forces.

"All she wanted was for things to be nice and pretty, the way they were in songs."
Sansa Stark at age 11 is Ned's eldest daughter and much to her delight a marriage between her and Prince Joffrey is arranged towards the beginning of the book. Sansa loves the tales that are told in songs were the knights and prince are brave and handsome heroes and they always treat their ladies kindly,Sansa thinks that her life in Kings Landing is going to be like it's described in songs. Sansa at first loves her life at court with being able to be around her prince, seeing tournaments and King's Landing is warm and pretty compared to cold and deary Winterfell.
Throughout the book Sansa slowly learns that life at court isn't like how it's described in the songs. One of the first time she sees this is when the Hound tells her of how he got the burn marks that covers his face. Sansa believes Joffrey is like the princes she has heard about in the songs and for most of the book she's in love with him so she ignores the early signs of his cruelty. After her father is arrested for treason Sansa begs Joffrey for mercy on her father he promises her he will if he confesses but instead Joffrey orders that Ned's head to come off while Sansa screams in protest for him to stop.

After her father's death Sansa finally sees for  Joffrey the cruel tyrant he is and wishes to go home but she's not allowed to because their still to be married. Sansa at the end of the book is basically the Lannister's prisoner but she's forced to act as if she still loves Joffrey even though she now hates him.

"Fear cuts deeper than swords."

Arya is Ned's younger daughter who he also takes to Kings Landing but unlike her sister she doesn't dream of marrying some handsome prince but of being a knight. Arya isn't interested in fulfilling the acceptable roles for women of this time period and she is one that will make sure her opinion is known to all. Throughout the book Arya is trained in the art of sword fighting by a foreign dancing master who gives her many sayings to go a long with her training that she often repeats to herself.

Arya doesn't trust or like the Lannisters therefore she sees them as they truly are, when their guards come looking for her she easily figures out that something has happened to her father and that it's best for her to run. After Arya escapes the Red Keep(the castle area in Kings Landing) with her sword Needle she lives on the streets in the lower towns of Kings Landing since there are guards not allowing anyone to leave Kings Landing. The last time Arya appears in the book is when she witnesses her execution but Yoren(a member of the Nights Watch) makes sure that she doesn't see the actual act and leads her away from the crowd before the Lannisters could find her.

" Never forget what you are, for surely the world will not. Make it your strength. Then it can never be your weakness. Armor yourself in it, and it will never be used to hurt you."
Tyrion Lannister is a dwarf and while that's an important part of his character and it's not all he is. Tyrion is also known for his wits and his sense of humor by fans of the series. In all honest Tyrion's storyline in this book isn't all that great but his character is great so I still looked forward to chapters.

Over the course of the book Tyrion journeys to the Wall and gives Jon Snow some good life advice and then starts to head back south. He's soon taken prisoner by Catelyn Stark for some crimes he didn't commit and has to find away to get them to let him go which he does. After gaining the loyalty through the means of money to a sells sword named Bronn and some hill tribe men and at least one woman he reaches his father's war camp, he's forced to fight in battle  even he isn't any good at it but he manges to survive. At the end of the book his father gives him orders to serve as hand of the king until the war is won.
"Now my watch begins. It shall not end until my death. I shall live and die at my post."

Jon Snow is Ned Stark's bastard son, knowing that he'll never be able to rise above his status of being a bastard Jon decides to join the Nights Watch(a group of men who devote their lives to fight the evils on the other side of The Wall and protect the realm). Jon soon discovers that most of the men of the Nights Watch were criminals who only joined to avoid death or imprisonment. Through out the book Jon grows to accept the Nights Watch for what it is and to find his place among his new brothers.
The most interesting part about this storyline is that on the other side of The Wall there are these creatures called Others that are some kind of zombie that was thought to be extinct until the recent sightings of them. The mystery of the Others and everything else beyond the Wall is the only part of the Nights Watch storyline that storyline I really get excited for.

" He was no dragon, Dany thought, curiously calm. Fire cannot kill a dragon."

Daenerys Taragaryen is one of the last living members of Taragaryen family that had previously ruled over the seven kingdoms for certantries because of their dragons that at the beginning of the book have been dead for quite some time and after the last Taragaryn king known as the Mad King was killed his remaining family Daenerys and her older brother Viserys were forced into exile. At the beginning Daenerys is a frighten young girl who is sold into a marriage with a Dothraki horse lord(the leader of his tribe known as Khalasar and leader is chosen by who's the strongest fighter or really best killer) in exchange her brother will get an army.

Daenerys eventually develops a surprisingly loving relationship between her and Khal Drogo which that and her role as the Khaleesi(queen) helps her to become a stronger more confident person. Over the course of the book she experience much loss with the deaths of her brother, husband and unborn child but in the end this helps her to become the leader she was always meant to be. At the end of the book Daenerys walks into the fire were she had placed her dragon eggs and by the next morning she had brought back dragons and was unharmed by the flames.
I overall loved this book, my favorite character and storyline was Daenerys since over the course of the book she changes the most. My favorite Point of view was Sansa because I just felt the most connected to her since I completely understood her way of looking at the world. I loved the book and I plan to read the next book soon. Please tell me your thoughts on this book.

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