Game of Thrones is set in the fictional world of the Seven Kingdoms, a fantastical world where summer can last a lifetime and winter twice as long and ten times as harsh. Eddard Stark is Lord of Winterfell and is expecting an imminent visit from his old friend Robert Baratheon, King and Ruler of the Seven Kingdoms and the one who sits on the Iron Throne. The King’s visit sparks of a chain of events spanning the whole of the Seven Kingdoms and the lands to the East, affecting all families and dynasties throughout the world and an epic fight for the Iron Throne. Whilst this battle rages in the South in an age of never ending summer, there are signs in the North that winter is gradually creeping closer to the 400ft Wall that separates the two areas and bringing with it an evil not seen before in the Seven Kingdoms.
I have a confession to make; I watched the first series of Game of Thrones before I read the book! Tut tut! Everyone I knew seemed to be talking about it and I was beginning to feel as though I was missing something so I borrowed the boxset from a friend of mine. I was hooked! I whizzed through seven episodes over the course of one weekend I was so addicted. Even when I said ‘oh I’ll just watch this one episode’ I couldn’t help moving on to the next. If a TV show can grab my attention that quickly I think it is only fair that I give the books a try.
I always say that fantasy really isn’t my genre but I feel myself becoming more and more engaged with it as I get older and I am pleased to say that I still feel this way and that I loved reading Game of Thrones. It is an epic read of nearly 800 pages and yet from the moment I picked it up I did not feel intimidated by its size or worried that I would lose interest. I was hooked from the beginning and even though I had watched the first series recently I did not feel disengaged or that there was no point reading the book because I already knew what happened. In fact I felt the complete opposite and I loved the fact that I knew what was going to happen next as I liked discovering how different events were captured in the book as opposed to the TV show.
Perhaps one of the main reasons that made this such an enjoyable and easy going read is that each chapter is from the perspective of a different character and this is how the story develops and how key events unfold. Most chapters then end on a mini cliffhanger so you are keen to return to different characters’ journeys. It is hard to choose a favourite character from the array Martin creates, but Tyrion Lannister is certainly one of the most memorable. Tyrion is the second son of Lord Tywin and brother of the Queen. However he is a dwarf and therefore has always been marginalised and treated with contempt and suspicion by all he meets, including his own family. Despite this Tyrion displays a keen sense of loyalty and honour to his family throughout and also brings humour to the story.
Martin has created a hugely fascinating and complicated world with a history spanning hundreds of years and a map of characters as intriguing as it is complicated. This sounds like a recipe for a heavy going read, yet it is delightfully easy to engage with and become engrossed in right from the first chapter. I am incredibly keen to read the second instalment and I am determined to do so before I watch the second series; this would be much easier if my brother didn’t keep messaging me to tell me how amazing the second series is. I take credit for introducing Game of Thrones to him as I bought it as a birthday present. I am off to Devon for a week tomorrow and I am so tempted to buy book two to take with me, however I have already packed five books and I should probably get started on my Jane Austen reading for Austen in August. Either way I am eager to return to Martin’s writing and see what happens next in the battle for the Iron Throne.