Cakes Takes on A Song of Ice and Fire: A Game of Thrones Book Review
George R. R. Martin's A Game of Thrones book cover
A Game of Thrones Book Review
So I finished this gem back in 2018, and like most things in life, I was late to the party on it. I have never been more excited to crack open a series everytime I pick up the book since I read the Harry Potter or the Cirque Du Freak books. This is a WONDERFUL start to an extremely detailed book series. George R. R. Martin does an amazing job of introducing us to a wide range of distinguished and different characters in a fictional England medieval setting of different lands. A Game of Thrones is the first book of a planned series of seven books entitled ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’. For a book that is SO out of our time and culture, Martin does make the characters seem relatable and easy to love or hate. He makes a series, so detailed, look easy to begin as a writer and he makes it easy to step into as a reader as well. I never felt like the length of the book was intimidating for me to finish. Martin made the book hard to put down honestly. I couldn’t wait to get to the next person’s chapter each time I finished the last person’s.
The main plot entirely is based on deceit, death and the different ways that each character in the book plays “the game of thrones”. We are taken to two different continents within the story, Westeros and Essos, and we learn of the many different houses and people that live in these lands. Mostly of the main few and their heads of house, honorable and stern House Stark, the powerful and mighty House Lannister, and the fierce, but dying House Targeryan (who we mostly learn through backstory and the surviving two members of the family). The story kicks off with the death of the Hand of the King, and the Baratheon/Lannister family traveling to Winterfell, (aka the North) to ask Ned Stark (head of House Stark and Lord of the North and so on and so forth with all the titles and the names) to be the King’s new Hand! Robert Baratheon, who is the King, and Ned have been friends for years and already start giving heavy backstory and sharing moments that make you feel like you’re a part of a bigger world. From there, Ned accepts the job, and THAT is the moment that kicks off a franchise! We go on to meet our heroes and villains of the story and a cast that will go on to be major hitters in the storyline further down the road and in the series as a whole. But we start with the family of the North.
The reader meets Catelyn Stark, who is married to Ned, their children, Robb, Sansa, Bran, Arya Rickon, Ned’s bastard son Jon Snow (Snow is a last name that northern bastards must take unless they are legitimized by law.), and Theon Greyjoy, Ned’s ward from the Iron islands, where House Greyjoy resides. We receive personal scenes between parents and the kids that are very realistic for the era, in good and bad ways. We see them parenting in their own ways. Catelyn is of House Tully of the Riverrun. She was married into the family on a whim arrangement into House Stark to Ned before a war (which is a whole other story in and of itself). She loves her family, is usually logical and is furiously dedicated to them in any way she can help. Robb wants to be like his father, as he should because he would be next in line for Lord of the Winterfell. Sansa is the girlie girl! She thinks she’s a princess (she kinda is, but not) and she has the strongest desire to be Queen and everything that is prim and ladylike. Bran is a middle child that is a warg, which is a person that can have outer body experiences and go from their body into an animal (or another human if you get really good at it) and either see through their eyes or control them. He is also skilled at climbing in the first book and climbs all over the towers in Winterfell. Arya is a little tomboy and is the only one really close with her half brother, Jon. She doesn’t want to be a Lady one day, and she doesn’t want to be highborn even, she wants to travel and learn the art of combat! Rickon is a baby. And Jon Snow, who is only a year younger than Robb, only seems to want to fit in somewhere, but not at Winterfell. He knows he is hated by Catelyn for Ned’s mistake, but wants to be just as honorable as his father is anyway. He also knows he has no chance of being legitimized or any claim under the Stark name, so he wants to go to the Wall and spend the rest of his days (which I think was a decision made in teen angst and impulse and another way to add another layer to the Starks being apart from one another for so long).
A Game of Thrones Book Review
The Lannisters are tied in with the Iron Throne right now because they are married into royalty by Cersei Lannister to Robert Baratheon. Cersei is a twin sibling to Jaime. THEY. ARE. CLOSE. Lol! I mean, as close as siblings could possibly be. They’re slightly proud incests. It is a known rumor throughout the kingdom of King’s Landing with the citizens. The only one who doesn’t seem to know is their father. Cersei wants to be Queen no matter the cost. She is very deceitful and extremely smart. Her love for herself is only trumped by her love for her three children. Jaime is a head knight of the King’s Guard. He is vowed to never take any lands, have any children or get married, only to serve the King. Jaime is also revered as the Kingslayer throughout all lands of Westeros and maybe even Essos. He killed the last king, Aerys Targaryen, for the good of the realm. The final Lannister child is Tyrion, who is a dwarf, and due to complications at birth he kills their mother. To which, his father, Tywin Lannister, hates him for both the death and having a genetic condition. Tyrion only wants to please his father and gain his love and respect at some point. It would also help to gain the respect from anyone else also, because everyone treats him as poorly as they can and he is known as the Imp throughout the kingdom.
A Game of Thrones Book Review
The final House family that we focus on is the former glorious and infamous, House Targaryen of Fire and Blood. King Aerys, the Mad King, was killed years before the events of the book, ending his dynasty. He fathered two kids before his death though, Viserys and Daenerys. Their mother was sent to the land called Dragonstone after Robert’s Rebellion and the death of her husband, where she ended up dying in childbirth giving birth to Daenerys. Viserys, like Tywin Lannister, hated his sister for this. Both children were to be sold to Robert Baratheon after his Rebellion, to be killed, but were eventually sent off to the other continent in this land, Essos, instead. They lived hard knock lives in exile and running around like commoners with no real home instead of like the royalty that they actually were born into. Their dynasty ended and the only hope that they had to go on ever was reclaiming the Throne one day that was stolen from them. Viserys is very mean to Dany, who is very meek and scared of her brother, but depends on him for care and to one day get her back home and to the throne. She feels completely alone, and always has. Viserys calls himself “The Dragon”, whatever that meant at the beginning of the book, and that Dany should never do anything to wake “The Dragon”. His plan to gain the Iron Throne back is by gaining an army through selling Daenerys off to an ethnic warrior group called The Dothraki to be married. Dany has to go with it because her brother says so and that is where their character development and true journey really begins in this first book. This is true with all of their stories. It is a true journey and some characters are in completely different positions by the end of the book even though the story continues.
Dany and Viserys
A Game of Thrones Book Review
From the beginning of the book, I got the feeling that someone is behind all of everything that is going on. There are constant attempts at death, some of them you see and some you don’t, which makes you start to believe that everything is connected and being puppeted by someone without everyone knowing it. So for me as I got further and further along in the book, I was thinking “WHO DID IT?!!?” the entire time. The book has SOOO many underlying themes in it regarding honor, morality, sex, power, corrupting power, and so much other stuff that it was a lot to wrap my head around. There were so many things to follow in the book, but it was still all cohesive in some way or another. The way George writes everything in the book, it is from each character’s point of view. We mostly follow about 6 or 7 characters in this first book for chapters and it still tells a story very well and gives background and the lore that it should. The story really skyrockets when after Ned accepts to become Hand of the King and to go to King’s Landing for the job. Not only is Bran, Ned’s son, pushed out of a window, which we knew who did that, but then there was an assassination attempt on his life afterwards as well, which Catelyn stopped but led her to investigate as well. Those are the two major kickoff points to me, the death of Jon Arryn, the Hand of the King, and the assassination attempt on the life of young Bran Stark. Those are the catalysts for the story to take place but it all makes total sense.
From here we get the Starks dispersing for varying reasons, another few major deaths that change the complexity of the story, treachery and backstabbing for the throne, origins for character development, and classic dialogue. One of my favorite lines from the first book is the first rule of this land; “When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die.” That line completely envelopes what is on the mind of most people in this book outside of the people of the north, most notably the family of House Stark. But it is definitely one rule that they all have to learn the hard way as things unfold that they cannot change and go back on further down the line in this story and into other books. The roots are firmly planted in this book for each character and each storyline. Even with the settings, you can almost feel the fur on the cloaks that the people of the snowy north wore, you can almost see how beautiful King’s Landing comes across to the naked eye, the reader can feel how dry and hot the continent of Essos comes across sometimes. It is all detailed very well and just enough to keep an interest. There are languages, cultures, tons of heritage, and real life issues and problems that people go through in everyday life. You just feel immersed in the world and the bigger picture of it all from the moment that you crack your book open. You’re taken into these people’s thoughts and their inner feelings, trying to follow other people and a murder plot all at once.
The book is an 807+ pages of one of the most well thought out and deeply convoluted plots of any book I’ve ever read. George, really took his time to carve out each character and make them who and what they are. You care or hate each and every one of these characters. Usually most books can’t handle such a huge cast and do not find things for them to do, but George has found a great balance of story and lore for each and every one of them and make them feel like real human beings going through real life human problems just in a different time era. The land of Westeros and Essos is mapped out so beautifully that every time a character says the name of somewhere you want to go check it out on the map and see where they are compared to everyone else in the story. The map, index, and key really helps to see everything with your mind’s eye better. The hit, Golden Globe winning TV show, Game of Thrones, season one is based entirely off of this book. The first season follows the book closely to a tee even down to using the exact dialogue from the book and I can say that they NAILED it! This book is so damn good! I could talk about it all damn day long if I’m being honest and a bit of a fangirl!!! It’s really no wonder that HBO wanted to create a live version of Martin’s book. It’s worth it! If you’re into magical lands, hierarchy of kings and castles, lore for characters, dragons, zombies, sex, whodunnits, with a mouth dropping ending for this book, then it’s definitely worth a read! Hell, I’d say it’d be a good read for someone to get interested in those kinds of things. It’s a MUST read if you enjoy reading though.
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SPOILER SECTION! SPOILERS!!! SPOILERS!!! SPOILERS!!!
So obviously the last thing that any of us expected to see at the end of the book was the death of what we thought was the main character, Ned Stark, by beheading. It was a real actual SHOCKER! Probably because we've seen so many people be saved at the last second because of Deus Ex Machina reasons, but when they actually killed him, I was so dumbfounded. I didn't think there was another person at first who'd be worth carrying the story and following afterwards. However, that was the crux that made the books and the tv show what it was. The fact that anybody at any time could get the plug and die.
I also found the character development for some characters to be so masterful in this book alone. By the end of book 1, Daenerys is a completely different person than she is when the book first starts. She is more confident and sure of herself in the end, whereas her original meek and humble persona would've never allowed her to survive such a harsh world up until that point. She had to change for herself in order to grow and to learn how she needed to become stronger. I also loved the fact that by the end of the book, she figured out that she was The Dragon and not her brother, throughout the story, by accident. It was good to see a character that actually started their route of change immediately and the path that they take.
The entire book, I had so many plot lines in my head that I dedicated a lot of my time to trying to figure out who kick started off all of the events in the book and why. My obvious answer was 'for the throne', but I did want to know who it was regardless. I had a theory for the longest time that it was the side character, Varys, behind all of the scheming because he just seemed too shady for me and claimed that everything he did was for the realm. After watching the ending of the TV show and knowing that it may not be much different, I do wonder if he actually have a shadier role to play in the books unlike the show.