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Game of Thrones - Book Review

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by Elizabeth Dempsey (subscribe)
Brisbane university student and aspiring writer constantly satisfying my craving for adventure and experiencing the diversity of life. Come explore Queensland with me. What will I get up to next?
Published March 17th 2013
Update May 25th 2013
For a review of the second installment in the A Song of Fire and Ice series click here: The mysteries and the epic fantasy plot continues.

Winter is not quite here
Books are an escape. When I close a book I am always lightning struck with a brief depression centered in the implausibility of me living such an adventure. Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin, however, is not an adventure I would volunteer for. And if I did, I am sure plenty of the characters would eagerly trade places with me.

game of thrones

If you have seen the TV series (and are desperately awaiting its Season 3 release on the 31st of March) you know the plot line. I was quite impressed with how well the first season stuck to the first book. Inside these books is the world of Kings (too many Kings), King Killers, boys forced into men, magic, murder, dragons, patricide and of course zombies (the white walkers). Only to name a few.

The book jumps between several key characters focusing predominantly on the Starks of Winterfell. Lord Eddard (Ned) Stark is bestowed the title 'Hand of the King' by his friend King Robert whom he helped win the crown with blood several years ago. Ned is forced to split his family, taking him and his daughters (Arya and Sansa) to King's Landing in his new position. What follows is betrayal, blood and mystery as the kingdom erupts.

You follow:
- Eddard Stark in King's Landing as Hand of the King. He spends his time trying to uncover the mystery of the previous Hand's death, witnessing what is left of an empire and struggling internally with the decisions he must make when new information comes to light.

Ned's youngest son, Bran, home in Winterfell who dreams of knighthood from his imprisonment in bed.

Ned's other (born out of wedlock) son Jon Snow 'takes the black' and resides on the Wall with his white wolf Ghost. A black coated guardian against 'the others'. With combat skills incomparable to the weaker new recruits he hopes to become a ranger of the Night's Watch like his Uncle. Jon meets a White Walker, once thought extinct or a myth .

- Arya, Ned's spunky tomboy daughter who feels more comfortable with a sword then a sewing needle in her hand.

- Sansa, Ned's beautiful princess of a daughter who aptly crushes on Prince 'bane of everyone's existence' Joffrey.

- Catelyn (whose chapters I personally dreaded) spends most of the novel trying to find justice for her son Bran.

- Daenerys Targaryen (easily my favourite). She and her brother Viserys are descendants of the 'Mad King' who was killed during King Robert's murderous ascension to the throne. The Targaryens are from the blood of the dragon. Daenerys is forced to marry a barbarian 'Khal' to build an army for her brother who plans to retake his 'rightful place' on the throne. However, with the Khal she finds unexpected developments.

- Tyrion Lannister. Dwarf brother of the cunning Queen Cersei. He is a witty character who makes for an enjoyable read. He hobbles around on stunted legs predominantly bedding prostitutes. Though looked down upon (quite literally) he arguably has one of the best brains in the series and the biggest heart of a Lannister. However, that is hardly a difficult feat.

There are several key characters who never get their own chapters. While artistically intelligent this made me curious. Robb Stark, Queen Cersei, Jaime Lannister (The King Killer) and Joffrey Baratheon (that would be an interesting trip) are explored only through others' perspectives.

The book is about 780 pages long. As a book worm veteran tackling this book was still a bit of a challenge. Books like these are like climbing a mountain. Some parts are hard to get through, others find you short of breath but isn't breathing the air wonderful? Don't you feel a sense of achievement when you reach the top? If you are not much of a book reader stick to the amazing TV series. But if you liked the TV series reading the book gives you a fuller experience. In the books the plot is expanded upon, you are given moments your TV screen never gave you and when you read books you don't just watch, you experience this new world.

game of thrones
Game of Thrones book box set from QBD. A Christmas present to last two years.

Martin's writing style is vivid, blunt and enough to keep me intrigued all 780 pages long. This is an old book that has been given new life by the Game of Thrones series explosion. I recommend this book to any die hard fantasy lovers out there or anybody who loves a book to completely immerse yourself in. Also it should be noted that whilst the book does have the odd vulgarity, arguably necessary for specific character's image, and sporadic sex scenes, the TV series has added more expletives and sex then the original in usual HBO fashion.

I am about half way through the second novel Clash of Kings and it is even more exciting than its predecessor. It is veined with adrenalin as Westeros erupts with self proclaimed Kings and war. Be on the lookout for a potential review of book two. If you can't get enough Game of Thrones goodness (and indeed wickedness) check out the season 3 extended edition trailer whilst you white knuckle it until the end of March.

Winter is coming, Australia, let's hope it doesn't last as long here as it does in Westeros. Better stock up on chocolate and cheese just in case.

4 out of 5 crowns.
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Why? Vicariously live your dream of becoming King or Queen, indulge in your desire to be devoured by a good book or maybe you loved the show and wanted to see where it all began.
When: Anytime. Maybe to make the winter months past quicker.
Where: Your bedroom, outside in the grass, surviving public transport, library cushions and everywhere.
Cost: I brought the first one from Big W for $12. The QBD book box set was $75. Super affordable considering the book's size.
Your Comment
Terrific review. Informative without giving away the plot. Myself, my husband and my daughter are all reading this series.
by Alison Harvey (score: 0|2) 2565 days ago
Thank you very much, Alison. It is a wonderful series isn't it? It is a bit of a marathon to get through but, I think that only adds to the enjoyment.
by Elizabeth Dempsey (score: 2|104) 2565 days ago
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