A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 1)

A Game of Thrones - George R.R. Martin Though there are many problems with HBO's version of A Game of Thrones, I must admit that it is compelling viewing. It has often been my experience that there is normally a large difference between a text and a film version and with that in mind, I set out to read A Game of Thrones.Martin set his world in an alternate medieval history where dragons, earth based religions, the dead walk the earth. In this alternate world summers can last for decades bringing bounty and comfort however the ominous statement that winter is coming is continually uttered. The wall is 700 feet high and 300 miles long. It is all that keeps the seven kingdoms safe and is guarded by the nights watch, who are men who swear to guard the wall, never to marry or produce any children. So seriously is this oath taken that Lord Eddard Stark beheads a man who deserts. Each family in A Game of Thrones has a motto and sigil by which they live. The families that we see the most of are the Starks who are led by Lord Eddard of Winterfell and the Lannisters who are led by Tywin of Castlerock. For Eddard duty and honour are his two primary concerns and eventually his undoing when he comes to serve as the hand of the king. The Lannisters are a devious, wealthy family who always put self interest above everything else. The trouble between these two noble families begins when Bran, Eddard's son discovers Jamie and Queen Cersi engaging in incestuous sex. Not wanting to be discovered, Jamie throws Bran from the roof leaving him disabled for life. The situation then escalates when Catelyn takes the dwarf Tyrion Lannister captive in the belief that he is responsible for the injury of her son. While in the Kings service, Eddard discovers that the children the world believes were sired by Robert Baratheon the king, and birthed by his wife Cersi are in fact the product of her incestuous relationship with her brother and king slayer Jamie Lannister. Robert is betrayed and summarily executed by Joffrey. This quickly leads to a declaration of war with the Lannisters on one side, the Starks on another and Roberts brothers, Stanis and Renly fighting as well for their right to the throne.If that were not enough, the nights watch is suffering from a lack of men and crumbling facilities. Eddard's son Jon, joins the night watch because he cannot see a future for himself within the Stark household. Almost immediately he is pulled between the vow he swore and the family he still loves. His vow cannot be easily cast aside because the others have made themselves known and with winter coming, it is only a matter of time until they become a real threat to the seven kingdoms. To the east the last Targaryens - Viserys and Daenrys are struggling to regain what they deem to be their rightful thrown from Robert who they consider to be a false king and usurper. To that end with the help of Magister Illyrio, Viserys promises his 13 year old sister to Khal Drogo, the leader of the war hungry Dothraki. In return for Daenrys hand in marriage, Drogo promises to help Viserys regain his throne. As a wedding gift Daenrys is given a horse and three petrified dragons eggs. The eggs are fitting because the Targaryens are considered dragons and had used the mighty beasts to win confrontations though now, they have long since been considered extinct. As you can tell from my brief summation, there are many political sub plots in A Game of Thrones. There are a lot of characters and at times it is easy to get lost and forget exactly which parties are aligned. The standouts however are: Robert Baretheon (the King), Cersi Lannister (the queen) Jon Snow (Roberts legitimate son) Catelyn Stark (Eddard's wife) Rob Stark (Eddard's Son) Sansa Stark (Eddard's oldest daughter) Arya Stark (Eddard's youngest daughter) Tyrion Lanniester (the dwarf) Joffrey Baretheon (King Robert's heir) Khal Drogo (khal of a Dothraki tribe), Daenrys (the last Targaryen.Those familiar with A Game of Thrones the HBO series are well aware that it is obviously filmed for the benefit of the straight male gaze as nearly each week there is a trip to a brothel and female nudity is always on display. I was relieved to see that this is not the case with the book. Women are still very much considered secondary to men as can be seen from Rob's refusal to trade Jamie Lannister for his two sisters Sansa and Arya. Women are property to be used whereas men run all but one of the kingdoms. They are the warriors and the kings - they rule the world. Though Cersi is technically Joffery's regent after Robert dies, Twyin is quick to send Tyrion to become the hand of the king and essentially run the kingdom. Danerys is abused by her brother for much of the novel, though she does eventually stand up to him. It would however have been more redeeming had she been the one to take his life rather than her Drago. Unlike the series, Catelyn does not couch every single action in her motherhood. Being a Tully and defending the family and Tully land is very much a motivation for her, though I could have done with her turning into a spunky agent and deciding on virtually a whim to arrest Tyrion Lannister when bumping into him in a tavern on her way back from Kings Landing.Read More