I think I first discovered the book, A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin, as part of the series, A Song of Ice and Fire, back in 2000, when the third book was released. Not having paid television, I didn’t hear about the TV series until it started winning awards. I tried to hold out as long as I could, but I had to check out this new fad and see if the wagon was worth jumping on.
Since my discovery of the TV show, I have been devouring the books, rereading them repeatedly, and I have remained on the wagon, watching and rewatching every season of the show. With the twists and turns that this deliciously raw and complex story delivers, I am holding on for dear life. George R.R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones, book one in the A Song of Fire and Ice series, is a must read for everyone who loves a complicated battle between good and evil, and the fight for power.
By now, so many fellow band-wagon riders are obsessed with the show. HBO never fails to deliver sex, violence, and drama in the most lavish way. But even though Martin works closely with the writers and writes some of the episodes himself, nothing can compare to the magnificent and mystical world within the pages of the books. Martin flawlessly keeps the readers guessing; no one is safe from tragedy or death. Good guys can lose and protagonists can die. With multiple points of view shown through eight different characters, readers can immerse themselves into the intricate world Martin created, across far-ranging distances and multiple plot points that are his biggest strength. For some readers unfamiliar with switching back and forth between characters this has also been a weakness of Martin’s. But overall, following the different characters enables readers to gather the vast backstory that is slowly revealed throughout the book.
In a world where seasons may last decades and “winter is coming,” A Game of Thrones explores themes of power, trust, betrayal, family, honor and coming of age within three main plot lines that occur simultaneously throughout the novel. The game that characters play to sit on the iron throne is the most obvious. The struggle for power and the difficulty in maintaining it is the theme that drives the inhabitants of Westeros to plot, scheme and eliminate their enemies. The second plot line follows ambitious Daenerys Targaryen who claims the hearts of readers with her plight to free the slave states and her motivation to reclaim her ancestral right to the iron throne. Looming over these parallel plots is the rising threat of creatures called the Others, who live beyond the Wall at the Northernmost part of Westeros and threaten all of the seven kingdoms.
My interest in A Game of Thrones began with the books, but my obsession is a result of watching the show. Maybe it was about timing for me. When I first read the books I was about 24 and had yet to experience the numerous struggles and losses that would occur for me over the next 13 years. This is a dark story, and I think the grit and horror of it has deeper meaning for me now. Readers do get to experience eight magnificent characters playing crucial roles in this book in a way that television is just not able to replicate. If you have yet to see the show, then I highly recommend you read the book and start watching the show simultaneously. Having done both, my knowledge of Westeros and my relationship with the characters has been enriched and strengthened by combining the two.