A Game of Thrones
George R.R. Martin
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Get *A Game of Thrones* delivered to your door! A Song of Ice and Fire: A Game of Thrones
George R.R. Martin
Bantam Spectra
Copyright 1996
835 pages
rated 5 of 5 possible stars

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"It's brilliant," Robert Jordan says. "Such a splendid tale," raves Anne McCaffrey. "It is perhaps the best of epic fantasies," Marion Zimmer Bradley writes. "The major fantasy of the decade," says The Denver Post. These high praises from such giants in the industry of the written word sound the hue and cry: If you're going to read just one heroic fantasy in the next few years, it should be George R.R. Martin's first book of "A Song of Ice and Fire."

Curled Up With a Good BookA Game of Thrones tells an epic tale of honor and treachery, love and vengeful hatred, intrigue and heroism set in a world where summers and winters can last for years, even lifetimes. The story fashions itself around the Starks of Winterfell, a family whose legacy is one of stiff-necked honor. "Winter is coming," says the House of Stark motto, and that is nowhere more true than in the cold northern reaches of the Seven Kingdoms, where trees have faces and direwolves bond with children themselves bound to fate. Winterfell lies just south of the Wall that separates the Seven Kingdoms from ancient forested wastes; beyond that Wall, supernatural powers as old as the land itself are massing, posing a greater threat than anyone can conceive of.

When King Robert Baratheon's Hand (read "right-hand man") dies, he makes the long journey north to ask his old friend, Lord Eddard Stark of Winterfell, to become the new Hand. Lord Stark dislikes what ruling has made of the man whose throne he helped win, and distrusts the queen and her entire House, but honor dictates that he agree. One of the young Stark children witnesses something he shouldn't have seen of the visiting royalty and nearly pays with his life. His grave condition makes the House Stark a family divided. Eddard and his two daughters journey south to the royal court; Lady Catelyn stays at Winterfell with their three sons; and Eddard's bastard son Jon Snow, unwelcome company to the Lady Stark, leaves Winterfell to take the oath of service in protection of the Wall.

Lady Catelyn receives a message from her sister who claims that her husband, the dead Hand, was murdered at the queen's orders; on the heels of that news comes a murder attempt on her recovering middle son, and a blade that implicates the queen's House of Lannister. Leaving her eldest son in charge of the keep, Catelyn travels incognito to present the blade to Eddard so that he might find the truth of the matter. On her return journey, she chances to meet the queen's younger brother, a dwarf whose weapon the blade apparently was. Catelyn seizes the Imp, taking him to her sister's stronghold built atop a sheer rock face in the mountains. Catelyn's actions set in motion wheels within already-turning wheels, and the Houses of the Seven Kingdoms will find their loyalties torn and themselves at war. In a very different land across a narrow sea, the last of the Targaryens, whose reign Robert and Eddard toppled, gathers her strength to return the House of Dragons to power in the Seven Kingdoms.

A Game of Thrones easily deserves the many kudos it has so far received. A huge yet surprisingly well-developed cast of characters interact in a story intricately told, weaving through plots and counterplots in the deadly quest for power. Martin's prose is gripping, pulling you quickly and fully into this world so vividly described that it almost is real. A few fairly graphic (but brief) sexual situations might cause a few readers to shy away, but these scenes maintain the story's integrity and so are non-gratuitous. A Game of Thrones spans a lot of pages, but is so well-written that you will find yourself too soon coming to its end and facing the fantasy reader's curse (and blessing): the eager, interminable wait for the next book.

Also written and/or edited by George R.R. Martin:

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