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Saturday, April 2, 2011

A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin

Genre: Fantasy

I am very excited that soon HBO will begin showing the miniseries  Game of Thrones based on the fantasy series A song of Fire and Ice by George R. R. Martin.  The series currently comprises of four novels: A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings, A Storm of Swords, and A Feast for Crows.

I have read all four books in the series and I really have enjoyed them.  HBO has produced several teasers and they seem to be faithful to the novels.

The story takes place in a fantasy world which is very similar to our world.  The biggest difference is that the seasons of summer and winter are unpredictable.  That is no one can predict how long the seasons will be or when they will begin and end.  At the beginning of the story, summer has lasted a long time.  Many of the younger characters have never experienced winter.

There are two other fantasy elements.  First, this world has dragons.  Although, at the start of the story, they are creatures of the distant past.  Second, there are dangerous creatures that live in the far north where it is always winter. To protect Westeros from these creatures there is an immense wall manned by warriors.  However, since winter is but a distant memory, the quality of these warriors is rather poor.

Most of the action takes place in a kingdom named Westeros.  Westeros is comprised of seven smaller kingdoms united under a single king.  Recently, there has been a violent change of rulers.  The current king is a great general, but a poor king.

There is no one main character but a cast of many characters.  Each chapter concentrates on one character in a third person limited point of view.  The characters are members of different families.  Each family has aspirations for gaining the kingship for a member of their family.  The major characters are grouped into three main families:  The Starks (the good guys, generally), The Lannisters (the bad guys, usually) and The Targaryens ( the wild cards who control the dragons when they exist).  Martin advances the action by following the different characters at different times.  Thus, we get differing points of view of the action.

The novels read pretty much like a historical knights and castles type story.  By placing the novels in a fantasy realm, Martin avoids any anachronisms which might detract from a historical fiction novel.

Upon reading the first novel it apparent that Martin has set himself a daunting task.  A Song of Fire and Ice will be an epic story, if he ever finishes it.  After four novels there is very little plot resolution.  The fourth novel,  A Feast for Crows was published in 2005.  The next novel, A Dance With Dragons, may be published in the summer of 2011.  There are two more novels planned for a total of seven.

So, check out the miniseries, if you can.  Then read the novels.  They are great!

Link to the HBO miniseries :

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