A Game of Thrones: A Song of Ice and Fire - George R.R. Martin (1996)

Author: George R.R. Martin

Publisher: HarperVoyager

Genre: Fantasy

What's it About?An epic fantasy on a grand scale. “Kings and queens, Knights and renegades, liars, lords and honest men. All will play the Game of Thrones.” When the head of the Stark family is asked to be the Hand of the King by his old friend, a chain of events begin in a battle across the lands for the Iron Throne.

Dragon Zoo Recommends: This is a fantasy spectacle on the scale of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings but told with violence, sex, secrets and politics as well as dragons and spells. Recommended for fans of this genre and those that love thickly-woven rich fantasy tapestries.

Dragon Zoo Full Review: After two months of on/off reading, Dragon Zoo’s staff writer finally finished this mammoth book!

Undoubtedly, this is one story which really takes some getting in to. There are characters, names and places galore within the first ten pages let alone the first three-hundred, and it really is quite challenging trying to follow where you are, who you’re reading about and trying to remember what their motives are. However, once you're familiar with all of the characters, this book really does get interesting.

After some initial difficulties getting into the story, the book really picks up pace once the dire wolves are found, Jon departs for the 800 foot high wall of ice and Ned becomes the King’s Hand. These different story threads all become very engaging and are the main elements to the book. The book is littered with really enjoyable passages that really engage and are incredibly well written (the ascent to the eyrie in Riverrun being one of our favourites) and whilst the convoluted plotting and characterisation frustrates at times, some of the dialogue between these characters really ignites the page and is very fun to read.

By focussing on each character as a chapter, it does add to the stop/start nature of the story. Jon Snow, Eddard and Tyrion's stories are consistently engaging throughout, however Sansa, Arya and Brandon vary in quality and don't exactly have you frantically turning the pages as they should do. In fact, we often found ourselves really getting into the story and the pace of a particular character’s plot before the chapter ends and the next chapter entitled “Sansa” actually making us put the book down again for the time being.

Considering what this website is all about – dragons if you hadn’t noticed – there’s not a lot of dragon action going on here, but you’d have to be deaf, dumb and blind not to notice that Game of Thrones has some serious dragon action in it. Just not in the first novel. However, if the books rather than the TV Series is your thing, there’s no way you can jump straight to the dragons in books two and three, you have to do your “revision” and learn about the World and the main players for the Iron Throne if you’re to truly enjoy the rest of the series.

In short, there's one hell of a commitment here to get into the 780 page story, and it'll probably be 200-odd pages before you truly know what's going on, but this is a story which rewards persistence.

A very enjoyable slog. Bring on book two, bring on the dragons!

A Game of Thrones: A Song of Ice and Fire is available to buy from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk

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