TITLE: A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 1: A Game of Thrones
AUTHOR: George R.R. Martin
I finished this a month or so ago, and haven't written the review because I don't know what to say about it. But I should write a review, so here goes.
I loved this. It's far from literary fiction, but it's plainly written and immensely readable. I was inspired to read the series while watching the HBO adaptation, which is atypical of me, as I prefer to read first, then watch adaptations; that's why I'm hoping to read fast enough to get ahead of the TV show, but alas, I'm not a fast reader and these books are long.
Westeros is a realm where being good and honorable is a liability, a realm where cunning and conniving are assets. Backstabbing is everywhere, and few if any can be trusted. This start of the series finds Eddard "Ned" Stark named Hand of King Robert, his boyhood friend and the man he helped put on the Iron Throne. Ned is not a political creature nor does he want to be Hand, but he's an honorable man and a loyal friend, and he's duty-bound to accept and leave his home in Winterfall, in the north, to move, with his two young daughters, to King's Landing.
This is a realm where seasons last for years, magic has all but disappeared, the dragons that once helped the Targaryens rule are now gone, technology is limited to horse and cart, and a wall of ice to the north protects everyone south of it from the creatures to the north of it. But winter is coming, threatening to bring evil and darkness with it.
A series of actions, unconnected at first glance, have far-reaching consequences, families vie against families for the Iron Throne, and war is inevitable. This is not a series for the squeamish nor for the reader who prefers happy endings, but amidst the carnage and betrayals, there's also hope and adventure and some commentary on humanity thrown in for good measure. There are a lot of characters to keep track of, but that's part of the fun. And reading the book after watching the first season of the show really filled in the background and motivations, and helped me keep track of who's who. I'll admit it. I'm hooked. And already reading Book Two.