I reviewed A Game of Thrones back in 2021 quite early on after I started this blog – since then I’ve done a reread and decided I want to give it another crack. I wrote my review based on memories of about two years after I’d read the book. This updated review is based on a reread I finished literally days ago.
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A Game of Thrones is the first book in the epic A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R.R. Martin – if you’ve not heard of it then I imagine you’ve been living under a rock. The book series has been turned into arguably the biggest television series ever made – pioneering the way of not only fantasy TV series but large-budget fantasy TV series.
A Game of Thrones introduces us to the land of Westeros and its families, cultures and political goings-on. It introduces us to the Lannisters, the Starks and the Targaryens and other families throughout Westeros.
Plot – 4.5/5
You can’t really describe what happens in A Game of Thrones as it’s so long that many things happen. Essentially everything starts off quite calm, controlled and peaceful, however, a large secret comes to light and things start to spiral out of control. Old friends become enemies and the peace is eventually broken, causing the land of Westeros to become as unbalanced as it has been for decades.
On top of this, there are whisperings of dark creatures and beings not seen for hundreds of years being seen by travellers, suggesting other things are at unrest beyond “the wall” too. it’s all very interesting and exciting to read. It’s a storyline with lots of twists and turns where Martin isn’t afraid to kill of the characters you like or keep those you dislike alive.
George R.R. Martin does an incredible job of throwing us around to different characters involved in different plot points but making us feel at the same time that they’re all connected. Despite being a book that focuses on different points of view, you feel like you’re following one continent move at the same time.
Characters – 5/5
When I first read A Game of Thrones, I had no perspective as to what makes well-written characters or not. George R.R. Martin has carved some truly fantastic characters in this book. He could have taken the easy fantasy option of having “a chosen one” and the main villain but instead, he’s developed families, genuine relationships, flawed heroes and detestable characters. There’ll be characters in this book who you can’t help but have respect for and others for who you spend your time hoping to meet an unfortunate end.
Tyrion is probably my favourite character – as he is many. He’s smart, witty, and sometimes rude but has a very strict moral compass. Tyrion is a dwarf and his life has seen his lack of height make him feel that he must make up for it with a sharp mind. There’s an argument here that because he’s the smartest, this makes him make some of the best and wisest decisions.
What I love about many of the characters is that nearly all of their actions are steeped in reason. Joffrey for example makes cruel and awful decisions because he is young, naive and has no idea how to rule. He believes ruling by force is the best way as it seems the easiest way to get people to obey you. However, I can see in the future how this might fail him.
There are copious amounts of other characters I’m looking forward to seeing the rise and fall of too. Yes, I’ve watched a couple of series of the TV series, but I’m still excited to read about them all as I imagine the books portray them differently. In fact, I know this to be even more true in the latter books.
Summary – 5/5
A Game of Thrones is the best opening book to a fantasy series you’ll find. It has become a sensation for a reason – the TV series is brilliant, yes. But the first book is probably better. You get such a great feeling of grandeur but also a really personal feeling from some of the characters. One moment you’re learning of great wars, deep histories and long legacies and the next you’re sitting by a campfire as Tyrion Lannister tells Jon Snow why he reads so many books. It’s an epic in every sense of the word and is, without a doubt, an absolute must for any fantasy fan and even those who don’t think fantasy is their bag.