Friday, May 11, 2012

A Game of Thrones (Fantasy Novel)

Kings. Families. Betrayal. Oaths. Loyalty. Honor. Dragons. Direwolves.

A Game of Thrones is the first novel in George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire Series. The novel won the 1997 Locus Fantasy Award and recently has been made into a TV series. My biggest complaint about the book was that I had a problem putting it down and it seriously interfered with my sleep. Each chapter had me wanting more. I quickly had a number of favorite characters with whom I was emotionally invested. The book teased with hints of the supernatural while still describing a relatively normal world for most of the novel. By the end of the book, I had some closure but so many major storylines were unresolved –some barely begun– that I was hungry for more. The book is definitely a grown-up fantasy, containing sex and violence.

The structure of the book reminds me of a multi-stranded rope that is slowly unraveling. From the beginning, the first strand that comes off from the rope is the storyline involving the son and daughter of the murdered king. The book has numerous storylines involving characters from the House of Stark, who are supporters of the current king, Robert: Eddard, Lord of Winterfell; Catelyn, Eddard’s wife; Sansa, their oldest daughter; Arya, their tomboy daughter; Bran, a son; Jon, a bastard of Eddard. There is one strand with a character from the House of Lannester, Robert’s dwarf brother-in-law Tyrion. Because most of the characters were together in some of the beginning chapters, the storylines are relatively easy to keep track of.

I have not been a fan of fantasy novels lately; I had read too many knight and dragon stories. I would not have started this one if the last book in the series, A Dance of Dragons, were not a nominee for this year’s Hugo Award. I was delightfully surprised. The plot feels fresh to me. I am looking forward to the next books.

No comments: