[Book Review] Game of Thrones

Winter is coming.”

George R.R. Martin‘s Game of Thrones premiers this Sunday on HBO. And, yes, you’re too late to go out and buy the first book now and finish it by 9pm tomorrow night.

It’s great to see cable channels taking chances on adaptations of books you wouldn’t normally see. Ultimately, adaptations can be tricky game of either sticking too close to the source material or not at all. HBO’s True Blue strayed a bit keeping one character alive for the last few seasons while The Walking Dead on AMC stayed close but strayed a bit and did not turn out so bad even if a few crowed about the lackluster writing at points. The Dark Tower is next on the list.

So what makes Game of Thrones different then say Camelot which continues to wet our midieval whistle on Starz or BBC’s Merlin or Robin Hood?

Simply put: Game of Thrones is a medieval Sopranos where death, sex, scheming and power threatens everyone.

If you do decide to go paperback with Game of Thrones I recommend the bigger paperback version and not the standard paperback. Your eyes will thank you later.

Started in 1996, Game of Thrones details the lives of several different families living in far away land called Westeros where the seasons of summer and winter could last years or just months. Detailed enough that first book has an appendix of twenty pages for family lineage .

The book’s plot moves between the different houses as their heads scheme against each other as the drums of war begin to beat.

Lord Eddard Stark of House Stark, ruler of the North is visited by King Robert Baratheon, a friend from childhood and requests he become the Hand of the King after the previous hand died possibly at the hands of the Lannisters. The Lannisters while at House Stark manage to have one of Eddard’s sons have a little accident that nearly kills him. While Eddard goes to King’s Landing to investigate one his bastard sons, Jon Snow joins the Night’s Watch at The Wall. Not just a Pink Floyd reference, the Wall is a giant crumbling defense parameter that lines the north that keeps unseen horrors out. These horrors are barely seen but felt during the first chapter and the first fifteen minutes of the first episode and while they don’t show up for the rest of the book that doesn’t mean they’re still out there, somewhere. Along the way, we are introduced to the exiled Daenerys the sole survivors of their house and currently trying to desperately get back what is rightfully theirs by any means possible including marriage to warlord Khal Drogo.

The universe building in this book is enough to introduce many of the families without boring the reader and for that I can whole heartily recommend them since the characters are likable, the villains are hissable and the fantasy aspects are kept to a whisper.

And while some of the plots further along in the series may twist in the wind (or so I’ve heard) the universe that Martin has created is throughly enjoyable since people do not live happily ever after.

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