Monday, July 23, 2012

Review: The Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin

I am not too big on the fantasy genre but on occasion I do enjoy a good fantasy. I'll forever love anything by Piers Anthony. His witty and clever humor has never failed to delight me. That is really as far as my fantasy reading has went though. So it was with a mild surprise to me that on a recent trip to the bookstore I picked up the four book set of The Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin. I guess I have this pre-conceived notion that all fantasies will be alike. A plethora of futuristic wonder with alien beings and star ships and death ray guns. Bleh! I was most pleasantly surprised by GOT. Not only does it have everything I love, fantastic costumes, damsels in distress, handsome warlords, and epic battles, but it also has magic, dragons, suspense, a little bit of horror, honor and of course love. Not just your everyday boy meets girl love but true, honest love. The kind of love you would expect to see back then. Love that stands the test of time and isn't without its struggles. From cover to cover I was left on the edge of my seat ready to fall off. I couldn't put it down! My most favorite characters would have to be

 Daenerys Targaryen the beautiful princess and the last of the dragons. She has to survive the brutality of her brother Viserys who in my opinion was a spoiled callus brat who got what he rightly deserved.

Robb Stark, who is handsome and lordly. (Every girl needs a good looking man to picture when she's reading! I never fail to crush on at least one character from each of my books. *sigh!)

And then there is Jon Snow. Jon is the bastard son of Eddard Stark, Robbs' father. He is handsome and honorable and brave. He leaves @ just 14 to join the Brotherhood of the Black on the Wall to protect the realm from the evils in the Wasteland.

In the HBO series all the characters are made a bit older and the casting director sure chose some good looking people! The ending of both the book and the series were IMHO AMAZING!!! The author and director have both hooked me good and I am a fan for life!.Mr. Martin sure knows how to spend you a fantastical story! So this blogger and avid reader has to give this book/series ***** enthusiastic stars! LOVE LOVE LOVE!!!

A Game of Thrones follows three principal storylines simultaneously.
Early in the story, Eddard Stark, as Lord of Winterfell, on behalf of the Seven Kingdoms, must condemn and execute a deserter of the Night's Watch, with his sons among the witnesses. On the return journey to Winterfell, Eddard's sons discover six direwolf pups, which are entrusted to Eddard's six children. (The direwolf, the sigil of House Stark, is integral to the Stark family.) Following the death of Lord Jon Arryn, previous "Hand of the King" (the highest advisor to the king), King Robert Baratheon visits Eddard at Winterfell. Because he trusts him as an old friend and as an ally in the previous struggle for the throne, King Robert asks Eddard to become the new Hand of the King. Eddard agrees, against his instincts, and at the same time promises his wife, Lady Catelyn Stark to investigate the death of the previous Hand, Jon Arryn, who may have been the victim of poison and political intrigue involving King Robert's wife, Queen Cersei and her powerful family of House Lannister, according to a message directed to Catelyn from her sister Lysa Tully, who is Lord Arryn's widow.
Before the Starks leave for King's Landing in the South, Eddard's young son Bran Stark is gravely injured when Jaime Lannister flings him from a tower after Bran witnesses Jaime and his twin sister Cersei committing incest. Bran survives but enters a coma and becomes a paraplegic, and remains at Winterfell along with his older brother Robb and younger brother Rickon. During his recuperation, an assassin attempts to murder Bran, only to encounter Catelyn. Bran's direwolf then saves his life as well as Catelyn's by killing the assassin. Catelyn realizes her husband faces danger in King's Landing, so she travels there incognito by ship to warn him, leaving the eldest son Robb Stark to rule as the Lord of Winterfell. Not long after Catelyn's departure from Winterfell, Bran awakens from his coma and names his direwolf Summer. However he has no memory of how he came to fall from the tower or what he witnessed there.
Meanwhile, Lord Eddard travels toward King's Landing, the capital, taking with him his daughters Sansa and Arya. Eleven year-old Sansa is betrothed to King Robert's twelve year-old son Joffrey, the heir apparent. At King's Landing, Eddard assumes the duties of the Hand and the ruling of Westeros, as Robert is a renowned knight with little interest in governance.
Upon Catelyn's arrival in King's Landing, she is brought to a secret meeting with Petyr Baelish, known as Littlefinger, a childhood friend and admirer turned "Master of Coin", or Treasurer, of King's Landing, who identifies Tyrion Lannister, the dwarf brother of Cersei and Jaime, as the owner of the dagger used in the attempt on Bran's life. While traveling back to Winterfell, Catelyn encounters Tyrion, returning from the Wall, and takes him captive. She changes her destination and takes him to the remote Eyrie, where her sister, Lady Lysa Arryn rules as Lady of the Vale. Lysa blames the Lannisters for Jon's death and is eager to execute Tyrion, but he demands trial by combat and regains his freedom when his unlikely champion, hired-sword Bronn, wins the duel. In retaliation for Tyrion's abduction, Tyrion's father, Lord Tywin Lannister wages war. He is soon joined by Jaime, who angrily confronts Eddard in King's Landing, orders the death of his men, and then flees the city.
Eddard learns, as the murdered Jon Arryn had learned before him, that Robert's legal heirs are in fact Jaime Lannister's children by his sister. He confronts Cersei and offers her a chance to escape before he tells Robert the truth, but Robert is mortally injured in a hunt and Eddard cannot bear to tell Robert the truth about his supposed children, on his deathbed. As Robert is dying, his youngest brother Renly suggests to Eddard that they should use their combined household guardsmen to detain Cersei and her children and take control of the throne during the night, before the Lannisters can act. Eddard refuses, deeming such a deed dishonorable. Renly flees Kings Landing with the loyal House Baratheon guards instead. Eddard recruits Littlefinger to have the city guards arrest and charge Cersei, but is betrayed by him, resulting in Eddard's arrest, the death of all of his men, and Sansa's capture. The Lannisters attempt to capture Arya as well, but she flees the castle after her fencing instructor, Syrio Forel, interferes.
With Eddard imprisoned, Cersei and Jaime's eldest son, Joffrey, is crowned as Robert's heir and King of the Seven Kingdoms. Eddard is persuaded by Varys to confess to treason, and to swear fealty to Joffrey as the trueborn King, in exchange for Sansa's life and his own, as Varys has arranged with Cersei to have Eddard sent to join the Night's Watch rather than be executed. Eddard then makes a public confession, but Joffrey orders his execution despite his council and mother's advice to spare him. Lord Eddard is then beheaded in full view of his daughters, Sansa and Arya. Arya is then taken by Yoren of the Night's Watch, her fate unknown.
A civil war erupts as news of Eddard's death spreads across the Seven Kingdoms. Robb, now Lord of Winterfell, masses an army of northmen and marches south, joining with Catelyn to rescue his father and sisters in King's Landing, but upon learning of Eddard's death, goes instead to the Riverlands to raise support from his maternal grandfather, Lord Hoster Tully. To reach Riverrun, he agrees to a marriage pact with House Frey. At Riverrun, Jaime Lannister is currently laying siege, while holding Lord Hoster's heir and Catelyn's brother, Edmure Tully as hostage. Upon hearing of Robb's march, Lord Tywin also advances his army to meet Robb's. In a bold move, Robb covertly detaches his cavalry towards Riverrun, while his infantry under Lord Roose Bolton engages Tywin's army. Tywin, joined by the now liberated Tyrion who has massed his own army of mountain clansmen, defeats Bolton's host, only to discover too late that they were a decoy. Robb's forces then take Jaime's army by surprise during the night, capturing Jaime himself after setting a trap for the reckless knight. Jaime's host is scattered and Edmure Tully is liberated, joining the houses of the Riverlands to Robb's army.
Renly Baratheon is the younger brother to Stannis Baratheon, who is the next rightful heir to the Iron Throne. But Renly campaigns for the Throne and wins the support of Houses Baratheon and Tyrell by wedding Lord Mace Tyrell's daughter, Margaery Tyrell. Declaring himself king, Renly masses all the strength of the south and begins his march on King's Landing. After extended discussion, Robb's bannermen to House Stark and the House Tully bannermen, lords of the Riverlands, proclaim Robb King in the North.

On the Wall

The Prologue of the novel introduces the out-kingdom Northern wilderness beyond the Wall, an ancient 700-foot-high (200 m), 300-mile-long (480 km) barrier of ice, stone and ancient magic, shielding the Seven Kingdoms from the North, manned by the order of the Night's Watch. Men of the Night's Watch (nicknamed "crows") swear an oath to serve on the Wall for life, living in celibacy, and they wear clothing dyed only in black. In the lawless lands North of the Wall, a small patrol of Rangers from the Night's Watch encounter the Others, an ancient and evil race of beings thought to be long extinct and mythological. All the Rangers are killed except a single survivor (who flees south, becoming the deserter whom Ned executes in the beginning of the story). Jon Snow, the bastard son of Lord Eddard and despised by Catelyn, is inspired by his uncle, Benjen Stark, the First Ranger of the Night's Watch, to "take the black" and go to the Wall to join the Night's Watch. Jon travels north to the Wall with the Queen's brother, Tyrion Lannister, and other members of the Night's Watch. He becomes disillusioned when he discovers that it is little more than a penal colony meant to keep "wildlings" (human tribesmen who live in relative anarchy, north of the Wall) in check.
At the Wall, Jon unites the recruits against their harsh instructor, and protects cowardly but good-natured and intelligent Samwell Tarly. Jon hopes that his combat skills will earn him assignment to the Rangers, the military arm of the Night's Watch. Instead he is assigned as steward to the Lord Commander of the Watch, Jeor Mormont, nicknamed "the Old Bear". He arranges for his friend Samwell Tarly to be made steward to elderly Maester Aemon. Meanwhile, Benjen Stark leads a small party of Rangers on patrol beyond the Wall but fails to return. Nearly six months later, the dead bodies of two of the Rangers from Benjen's party are recovered from beyond the Wall, and their corpses re-animate as wights in the night. Undeterred by sword wounds, these kill six men while Jon and his direwolf, Ghost, save Lord Commander Mormont by destroying one of the wights with fire. For saving his life, Mormont presents Jon with the Valyrian-steel bastard sword "Longclaw", an heirloom of the Lord Commander's House Mormont. Lord Mormont has replaced the existing bear pommel with a pommel in the shape of a white direwolf's head, representing both House Stark and Jon's direwolf.
When word of his father's execution reaches Jon, he attempts to desert the Night's Watch and join his half-brother Robb's war against the Lannisters. His friends among the Night's Watch convince him to return. Mormont convinces Jon that his place is with his new brothers, and that the war for the throne does not compare to the evil that winter is about to bring upon them from the North. With Jon's loyalty secured, Mormont declares his intention to lead a massive ranging north of the Wall, to find Benjen Stark - dead or alive - as well as investigate the disappearance of many wildings and the dark rumors circling the King-Beyond-the-Wall, a Night's Watch deserter known as Mance Rayder.

[edit] In the East

Across the sea in the Free City of Pentos, Viserys Targaryen lives in exile with his thirteen-year-old sister Daenerys. He is the son and only surviving male heir of Aerys II of house Targaryen, "the Mad King", who was overthrown by Robert Baratheon during the War of the Usurper. The Targaryens had ruled Westeros as dragon-lords for about 300 years, but their dragons and power are now gone. Viserys negotiates a marriage contract that exchanges his sister to Khal Drogo, a warlord of the nomadic Dothraki horse warriors, in exchange for use of Drogo's army to reclaim the Westeros Iron Throne for House Targaryen. The wealthy merchant, Magister Illyrio, who has been hosting Viserys and Daenerys, gives a wedding gift to Daenerys of three petrified dragon eggs. A knight exiled from Westeros, Ser Jorah Mormont (son of Jeor Mormont, Lord Commander of the Night's Watch), joins Viserys as an advisor.
Unexpectedly, Daenerys finds trust and love with her barbaric husband, and she conceives a child who is prophesied to unite and rule the Dothraki. When Drogo shows little interest in conquering Westeros, the temperamental Viserys initially tries to browbeat his sister into coercing Drogo, but Daenerys, emboldened by her position as the Khal's wife, begins to stand up for herself and refuses to be bullied by her brother any longer. Initially, Drogo endures Viserys and punishes his outbursts with public humiliation. When Viserys publicly threatens Daenerys, Drogo executes him by pouring a pot of molten gold on his head, giving him the golden crown he had been promised in return for Daenerys. As the last Targaryen, Daenerys takes up her brother's quest to reclaim the Iron Throne of Westeros.
An assassin seeking King Robert's favour unsuccessfully attempts to poison Daenerys and her unborn child. Enraged, Drogo agrees to invade Westeros to seek revenge. While sacking villages to fund the invasion, Drogo is wounded. The wound festers, and Daenerys commands a captive maegi to use blood magic to save him; the treacherous maegi sacrifices Daenerys' unborn child to power the spell, which keeps Drogo alive in a vegetative state. As the leaderless Dothraki horde disbands, Daenerys takes pity on her once-proud husband and smothers him. Eager for revenge, she orders the maegi tied to Drogo's funeral pyre and places her three dragon eggs on the pyre with Drogo. While she watches it burn, Daenerys is seduced by the beauty of the flames and walks into the inferno. Instead of perishing in the flames, she emerges unscathed and with three newly-hatched dragons draped around her and nursing at her breasts. As a true Targaryen, she is immune to flame. The few remaining Dothraki and Ser Jorah swear their allegiance to her as The Mother of Dragons. 

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1 comment:

  1. My sister has been bugging me to watch this show, and I've seen so much buzz about it. I may have to break down and watch it when I finally have some free time! It sounds interesting -- fantasy + political intrigue + man candy.

    I'm a new follower -- I found your blog via bookblogs. Mine is