Sunday, March 09, 2008

A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin

A Game of Thrones is the first of the 'A Song of Ice and Fire' series. It follows several people involved in the various kingdoms. And in this world, these conflicts have as a backdrop the beginning of the long winter cycle, with unknown beings from a northern wasteland which come south during that barren time.

It is a story of duty, honor, of people having to decide where their loyalties lie. There is jealousy, selfishness, the wisdom of age. The hardheadedness of age. Folly of youth. And innocence (taken in both the good and the bad senses.) This book follows mostly the young, a generation of leaders that are rising, but full-fledge participants in a war started by the elder generation, some of whom have old scars.

What I appreciate is that it is following people from different sides (as well as some that do not have a side, such as the Black Watch who watches the northern wastelands). It shows even opposing actors acting out of their conflicting desires, fears, and duty. Noble, deceitful, brave, cowardly, lust, greedy and pragmatic are all present, on both sides, and among all the characters in various degrees. And you can see the unintended consequences of actions, even those that on seeing them for the first time, one could regard as noble. And those that are cast as cowardly, you see great nobility and sacrifice.

There are some good characterizations for a not-so-large book, and it makes the rest of the series promising. The focus on high-born (or at least related to nobility) characters is initially off-putting, as I usually prefer more down-to-earth characters, but the fact that some of these nobles are forced (because of not being all that noble or by circumstance) into situations that put them down in the mud, it is ok. Recommended for the characterizations that have much depth to explore.
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