Friday, February 22, 2013

A Game of Thrones

I recently came across the fantasy/adventure novel series by author George R. R. Martin entitled A Song of Ice and Fire. The first book, entitled A Game of Thrones, takes place in Westeros, the Land of the Seven Kingdoms. It involves tales of intrigue and maneuvering of lords and knights and royalty as they jockey for power and control. We are introduced to the different lords of the land from House Stark of Winterfell, House Lannister of Casterly Rock, House Arryn of Eyrie, House Tully of Riverrun, and House Baratheon of King's Landing. One of the focuses of the story is on Lord Eddard Stark and his family. Eddard is a noble and honor-bound man who is fiercely loyal to his king, Robert Baratheon. Robert was once a great warrior, but has grown fat and lazy over the years. This has lead his enemies to develop powerful networks that are threatening to destroy the kingdom. When Robert's main advisor, Lord Arryn, dies, he asks Eddard Stark to fill this role. Yet the queen, Cersei Lannister, is secretly plotting to kill him and install her son as king. When the king dies, the queen and her son move to seize power. This throws the kingdom immediately into discord and it divides into powerful factions. Such is the outcome when one plays the game of thrones.

There are two other focuses of this powerful novel. One is the Night's Watch. A group of knights and rogues that has been assigned to guard the boundary of the northern extent of the kingdom. In the vast, untamed domain beyond the wall, dark magic and sorcery are believed to linger. We are given tastes of this through disappearences of groups of the kingdom's rangers and several scenes of the dead coming to life. Due to the crumbling of the kingdom, little attention is being paid to this serious threat to all who inhabit the land. The final focus of this work involves the last remnant of the old dynasty, House Targaryan, that ruled the land before Robert Baratheon and his forces defeated them. Two young teenagers are scheming to raise an army from their place in exile. The life blood of the last of this line is said to flow with the blood of the dragons. Yet the last of the dragons is believed to have disappeared centuries ago.

Martin has a wonderful talent for developing his characters and their settings to such a level that the words on the page are transformed to detailed images in your mind that pull you in and fully immerse you in the settings. This was a very enjoyable book that I highly recommend. Now onto the next book in the series, A Clash of Kings.