A Game of Thrones and A Clash of Kings  

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Cover of "A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ic...Cover via Amazon

A Game of Thrones and A Clash of Kings

By George R.R. Martin, 1997 and 2000, paperback

You should know


I like science fiction and fantasy novels. I also like good deals.

See, the first book I picked out because I was looking for a book that wouldn’t move too fast (I can finish a novel in a day, given a chance) but also wouldn’t involve too much thought. A Game of Thrones looked like a good pick, and was.

As for A Clash of Kings, I was at the bookstore trying to decide what to do with some store credit I’d saved up. I had narrowed my choices down to three books, and decided that, all things being equal, I’d go with the highest page count.

I scored almost 1000 pages for under a buck. But that’s neither here nor there.

So?


These two books are the first in the Song of Ice and Fire series, still in progress.
 Cover of Cover via Amazon
A Game of Thrones introduces the reader to the main characters (particularly the Lannister, Stark, and Targaryen families) and the conflicts between them; A Clash of Kings then shows the conflict escalating into full-blown war. This way, in addition to having a solid story in each book, the books together have set up what appears to be a solid narrative arc.

As for the plot, I’m going to keep this as spoiler-free as possible, so let me set the stage for the opening of the first book: King Robert has won the throne from the previous king, a tyrant; Princess Daenerys is dreaming of returning to the home Robert took from her family; and Lord Stark, Robert’s old friend, is ruling the North with a just hand and raising four children and a foster son. Enter the Lannisters, Robert’s less-than-virtuous in-laws, and the Night’s Watch, who defend the Seven Kingdoms from the mystical Others. Politics, intrigue, battle, and espionage ensue.

The point of view shifts from chapter to chapter, allowing the reader to follow the story from the perspectives of various characters, from small children to lords and knights. However, the narrative voice never dives into the first person, so the perspective shifts don’t disrupt the more-or-less consistent narrative voice – this isn’t a Baby-Sitters Club Super Special or anything.

I really enjoyed these books. This should be evident from the fact that I went out and bought the second after having read the first; I intend to continue reading this series. As it turns out, my initial judgment of the books were correct: while they do not move quickly (they are long), they are also not especially heavy, at least in terms of plot. If you don’t mind bringing a fantasy novel down the shore, these will make good beach reading, and should last the whole vacation; if you don’t want to wait until summer, a comfy chair, warm blanket, and hot cup of tea will work just as well.

Rating


Check it out.
Now, these stories may not be your thing. That’s fine; I would actually recommend staying away if you’re not fond of the genre. But if any element I’ve described sounds appealing to you, I highly recommend these books – preferably in order.

The rest of the Internet


Spoilers ahead...
George R. R. Martin’s official website.
The Wikipedia page for the series and author.
Westeros.org, a fansite.
The A Game of Thrones card game.
A less favorable review of A Game of Thrones, and a more enthusiastic one.
A nice review of A Clash of Kings, and a very positive one.
HBO is optioning the series.
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