A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

game of thrones.jpgLong ago, in a time forgotten, a preternatural event threw the seasons out of balance. In a land where summers can last decades and winters a lifetime, trouble is brewing. The cold is returning, and in the frozen wastes to the north of Winterfell, sinister forces are massing beyond the kingdom’s protective Wall. To the south, the king’s powers are failing—his most trusted adviser dead under mysterious circumstances and his enemies emerging from the shadows of the throne. At the center of the conflict lie the Starks of Winterfell, a family as harsh and unyielding as the frozen land they were born to. Now Lord Eddard Stark is reluctantly summoned to serve as the king’s new Hand, an appointment that threatens to sunder not only his family but the kingdom itself.

Sweeping from a harsh land of cold to a summertime kingdom of epicurean plenty, A Game of Thrones tells a tale of lords and ladies, soldiers and sorcerers, assassins and bastards, who come together in a time of grim omens. Here an enigmatic band of warriors bear swords of no human metal; a tribe of fierce wildlings carry men off into madness; a cruel young dragon prince barters his sister to win back his throne; a child is lost in the twilight between life and death; and a determined woman undertakes a treacherous journey to protect all she holds dear. Amid plots and counter-plots, tragedy and betrayal, victory and terror, allies and enemies, the fate of the Starks hangs perilously in the balance, as each side endeavors to win that deadliest of conflicts: the game of thrones.*

…I can’t believe it’s been so long since I’ve posted anything here! I got into a bit of a reading rut and when I finally snapped out of it, I ended up choosing to read a book that took a little over two weeks to get through. It feels so good to be back to writing, even if it is just a review. I’m going to spend Thursday getting myself back into the routine of writing draft number three of my baby (the novel I started when I was 17) and just getting myself back to myself in general because I’ve been feeling really off kilter for the last week or so. It’s been a gradual process of reincorporating healthy eating, weight lifting and cardio, and yoga (nothing makes me feel as good as inversions and arm balances) into my daily routine; all that’s really left is reorganizing my room and making time for my art. I also have to give a lot of credit to my friends for snapping me out of the mental rut I was in without even knowing it. I couldn’t possibly ask to have better people in my life than the ones I’ve been blessed with.

On to the point of this post: I picked up a copy of the first book in the A Song of Ice and Fire series months ago, but was afraid to take the dive into it because it’s such a time-consuming series (especially considering I also want to watch each season of the show as I finish the books). I’m so glad I finally decided to set aside my summer TBR pile–thanks to a slow read that caused me to take a break from reading in general for a week or so; I’m really stubborn and didn’t want to read other books until I finished the one I was struggling to get through, which I never ended up doing–in order to finally join the rest of the human race in their obsession with these books!

The first 40 pages or so were captivating, but took me two or three times my usual reading pace to get through. First of all, some everyday words are spelled differently, presumably to capture the feel of the time and place, and to emphasize that this is a whole other world and language being dealt with. So those threw me for a bit of a loop and had me re-reading some sentences to fully grasp what was being said (it didn’t help that I was doing most of my reading after work when I was exhausted and fighting to keep my eyes open). Second, there are SO MANY people, houses, and lands to keep track of. I kept flipping to the appendix at the back of the book for a reminder of who is related to whom, which house rules in which lands, and so on. The maps at the front were also really helpful, even if it sometimes took me 20 minutes to find the city I was looking for.

However, once I got past all of the sort of introductory material and got a firmer grasp on the different alliances, enemies, and history of the kingdom and its families, the book flew. It has a very arresting plot that kept me on the edge of my seat, surprising me even when I didn’t think it could. The most surprising part was that most of my favorite characters made it through unscathed. Thanks to the TV show, I know that at least three of them are safe for the next four books, which takes some of the fun away, but at least my anxiety won’t be flaring up like it usually does when I read books where no one can be presumed safe! There was actually one character whose death I wish had come a lot sooner…he was probably the most irritating fictional human I’ve come across, and I’ve read a lot of books.

The amount of description in this novel is incredible. GRRM (I love saying this abbreviation–grrrrrrrrm, hehe) manages to paint every scene so clearly in the mind of the reader, from the food and drink being consumed to the color of every knight’s armor to the smell in the air in each new place, without it being irritating. That was my biggest complaint about THE GOLDFINCH; I loved the story and characters in that book, but the descriptions felt too in the way and caused the book to drag on for hundreds of pages more than necessary. With GoT, though, it all flows so naturally that I hardly noticed the bits of narration that only served to enhance the scenery rather than provide characterization or advance the plot.

It gets a lot heavier toward the end, with an increase in violence and heartbreaking decisions, so I’m reading THE LITTLE PRINCE before diving into the second book in the series as a sort of palette cleanser. One of my best friends is always talking about it, so I’m excited to see why she loves it so much! I picked up a copy from a used bookstore in Rochester, so it’ll also be a nice reminder of our trip when I was so much less stressed and just enjoying the little things in life like swimming in waterfalls and karaoke car rides with one of my oldest friends.

*Synopsis and cover image are from Amazon.com.

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