In all the time that I have been writing book reviews for The Sounds Newspaper, I have never once used the word “masterpiece” to describe someone’s work, but George R.R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones more than merits the term.
As a writer, it gives me a headache just to think of all the planning and outlining Martin must have done while writing this series, and I’ve still only read the first book.
This novel has everything one could want and more; there’s intrigue, politics, war, magic, adventure, fantasy, and romance. It features characters so realistic and vivid that the reader instantly forms a relationship with them.
Not all of Martin’s characters are loveable, though. If you read this book, you will come across characters you love, despise, and distrust. There will also be quite a few whose motivations you won’t be able to interpret. Major motivations are kept hidden from the reader as the story is told through various viewpoints.
Martin does not simply tell a great story in A Game of Thrones; rather, he lets readers unravel it through the perspectives of multiple characters. Each chapter is narrated by a different character.
The reader is given their perception of events, but some of the “facts” they relate are later interpreted differently by other characters. The brilliance of this sort of storytelling is that Martin never reveals who has the right perspective. It’s all up to the reader to decide who is and is not trustworthy.
The world in which A Game of Thrones is set is known as Westeros and is loosely based on the Wars of the Roses that occurred in England in the fifteenth century.
There are several royal families involved in the plot, the most prominent being the Baratheons, the Lannisters, the Targaryens, and of course, the Starks. As the story unfolds, the Starks become the sympathetic characters while the Lannisters are presented as the ultimate villains.
It is hard to give a description of the plot of the book without revealing spoilers. Those who want to learn more will simply have to read the book or check out the television show.
So how does the book compare to HBO’s popular adaption? While I can’t yet speak for the second season, I can say that the plot of the first season closely follows the plot of the first book.
I decided to rewatch the first season while I was reading A Game of Thrones so I could get caught up on everything that’s happened so far before the new season premiers on March 31st. For a while, I was reading the book faster than I could find time to watch the show. Many of the episodes feature dialogue directly taken from the book, which allowed me to quote lines with the characters.
However, the show features a lot of scenes that never appear in the book, mainly those featuring the Lannisters. Fans of the television show get to see sides of the Lannisters that aren’t as transparent in the book. Tyrion is the only Lannister who acts as a narrator in the book.
All of the scenes featuring Cersei and Jaime only ever appear in the television show, but the screenwriters do a wonderful job of capturing the spirit of the characters.