December 05, 2010

Review: A Game of Thrones - George R. R. Martin

The Chronicles of Ice and Fire is a series written by George R. R. Martin and released in the USA around 1996 and it's not over yet, with 7 books predicted.
The series was compared with The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien as “the largest and best fantasy series since Bilbo found the ring" and, with a mixed feeling of love, hate and hope, I must say yes, this book is as amazing (or boring, that's up to you) as LotR.
A Game of Thrones (as well as the rest of the series, as far as I know) tells the story of a medieval land, very much like our own medieval story, but with a difference: summer and winter don't have estabilished periods of time (3 months) but are random.
Right at the beggining of the book we're told that the summer has been going on for around 10 years, many children never saw winter, but "The Winter is coming" as the Stark's words say, who are the main family in the book, and each winter lasts as long as the summer that was right before it (despite that where the Stark's live they have "summer snow").
The Stark, Eddard (Ned) and Catelyn Tully's family, composed by three sons and two daugthers, besides a bastard son, rule the Northern lands for centuries, from before the southern kings arrive.  
The story is told alternating chapters, by all of Ned's children: Rob (oldest son), Bran, Arya (a girl that's not very well adapted to lady's chores and only in the family that looks like their father), Sansa (a “perfect Lady” that right at the beggining of the book is promised to marry the Prince of the 7 kingdoms) and Jon (Ned's bastard son, that ends up "wearing black" and making a sort of monastic oath, not to have a wife or family and to defend the Northern Wall until death).
We also have some chapters narrated by Catelyn and Eddard. Each of Ned's children has a giant pet wolf (when grown they're around the size of a horse), that were found next to the mother wolf, that died, and Jon's wolf is albino and makes absolutelly no sound.
While the Stark family's history rolls, we also have chapters telling the story of Daenerys (Dany) and Vyseris Targarien, last descendents of the old Royal Family, that was dethroned and slaughtered by Robert Baratheon and his supporters (Eddard Stark included).
Dany marries a "Lord of the Horses" called Drogo, he's a king (Khal) and promises Vyseris lots of warriors to get his land back, despite that Vyseris is very cruel to Dany. Also, we have some chapters told by Tyrion Lannister, Queen Cersei's brother (Cersei is Robert's wife), he's a midget and, in my opinion, one of the smartest and most interesting characters.
I admit the story is MUCH more complex than this. It is very hard to explain in few paragraphs, so I'll leave it around that, before I start to spoil the story for others.
I loved A Game of Thrones. It's a catchy, complex story. One of the things I liked a lot was the alternating chapters, because we could see what each character was thinking and their reasons to act the way they did... Besides understanding more about the characters that don't narrate their own stories.
Dany and Arya are, no doubt, my favorite characters... Arya even more than Dany, despite Dany being a major promise for next books, she does something SO stupid, that you could sooo obviously see it wasn't going to be cool, but she was so desperate and didn't notice it. Arya, on the other hand, learns, she is a child, but she learns and grows a lot along the book.
Family, honor and duty, those are the Stark's motivations. Riches and power are the Lannister's motivations. In the end, these two forces move the mountains of the kingdoms and all of them are forced to choose their party.
I loved the fact that there are two maps in the book, or I would never know where the characters are. The writing is small and the book is long, my edition anyways, but there is so much story to tell, and still I'm afraid the next books may be a bit dragged.
The story keeps the same, with the same characters until the fifth book and probably until the seventh. Some people say it has a "mild inspiration" in the War of the Roses, from England, so maybe they do have story for all that, but I'm really ansious to read it all quick, because I heard the author promised to released book #5 in 2008 and now it's postponed to 2011, which is very worrying.
The supernatural factor is also in A Game of Thrones, since the beggining with Jon and in the end, with Dany. I imagine it will be very important until the end of the series, but until now they were just... a few happening, basically. As the magic in Lord of The Rings. It is a part of the world, part of history, but without being a main part, without removing the human aspect of the story. This is a book about people, relationships, love, loyalty and decisions.
It's a long, complex, full of family trees, battles, places and descriptions that will last several pages. If you read  Bernard Cornwell and/or Tolkien and really liked it, I'm sure you'll love A Game of Thrones.

Originally published at Sobre Livros