Over the past three years, I was told multiple times that I needed to read and watch GAME OF THRONES by George R. R. Martin. I wasn’t sure I wanted to dedicate my time to a five-book series—each more than seven hundred pages long! Then, with the airdate of the sixth season quickly approaching on April 24, I borrowed the DVDs for a cross-country flight. Two months later, I find myself five seasons and one book into Martin’s incredible creation.
For those who have viewed the show, you can rest assured that HBO did a terrific job depicting the first novel, but the novel itself is still worth reading. For those who have not seen the show—and those who have no plans of watching it—do not disregard the books. The first in the series is a gripping story of murder, treason, family bonds, incompetent monarchies, and unstable kingdoms.
There are several characters and story lines, but the main focus is on Eddard Stark and his wife and children. Each one has mostly unwanted roles and responsibilities thrust upon them, particularly Eddard, who is named the Hand—or chief advisor—of the King, following the death of the previous Hand, Jon Arryn. As they struggle to grasp these roles, it becomes apparent that they must succeed in order to, hopefully, prevent the world from breaking out in war.
Yes, this is a fantasy series set in a medieval-esque era, but it appeals to me because it also traverses genres. Lovers of mystery will find intrigue in the unknown circumstances surrounding Jon Arryn’s death. Fans of romance will enjoy the deep relationship between Eddard and Catelyn Stark, along with the complicated arranged marriages between Robert Baratheon and Cersei Lannister, and Daenerys Targaryen and Khal Drogo. Fantasy readers will still find themselves with plenty of swordfights, dragons, and dark magic to deeply root this series in the genre.
Overall, GAME OF THRONES is incredibly deserving of the adoration it has gained over the last several years, and I regret that I procrastinated in reading and watching it. I may be a new fan to the series, but I will definitely be reading book two and sitting in front of my television anxiously awaiting season six this Sunday, April 24.
This is high fantasy at its bloodiest, morally complicated finest, and is the inspiration for another brilliant television adaptation to obsess over.