An epic, action packed starter from George R. R. Martin.
As warden of the north, Lord Eddard Stark counts it a curse when King Robert bestows on him the office of the Hand. His honour weighs him down at court where a true man does what he will, not what he must ... and a dead enemy is a thing of beauty. The old gods have no power in the south, Stark's family is split and there is treachery at court. Worse, a vengeance mad boy has grown to maturity in exile in the Free Cities beyong the sea. Heir of the mad Dragon King deposed by Robert, he claims the Iron Throne.
Ever since my entry into the heady and wonderful peaks of fantasy literature following the release of the Fellowship of the Ring movie in 2001, I have been hard pressed to find an author greater than the inimitable J.R.R. Tolkien. Robin Hobb’s ‘Realm of the Elderlings’ story tops it in terms of pure enjoyment for me, and Terry Pratchett writes with such skill he too edges out Tolkien. But both authors have fallen short of the sheer scope that Tolkien envisioned and, successfully, created.
Since then, I have only come across two authors who have come close to envisioning and successfully carrying out their literary creations to match Tolkien; Steven Erikson and George R. R. Martin.
Martin’s epic fantasy series, ‘A Song of Ice and Fire,’ has managed to – in both scope and creativity, not to mention simple writing ability – capture and recreate the story that started in Martin’s head. Some authors try, and fail miserably. Some capture and recreate perfectly, but the author’s scope is minimal.
For Martin though, in scope, creativity, and writing ability, A Song of Ice and Fire is everything you want in an epic fantasy tale.
The first book, ‘A Game of Thrones,’ was first released in 1996, and since then another three books have been released, with the fifth hopefully to be released this year (2009). Set in a world very akin to our own medieval history, specifically the English War of the Roses, A Game of Thrones introduces us to one of the greatest (and largest) character lists around.
The story is told from eight perspectives. Each perspective is held within a chapter which, when the characters move away from each other, allows the author to continually leave minor cliff-hangers at the end of each chapter.
While six of the characters from this first book are from the same family, the perspective is shifted around in preceding books. Death is commonplace, almost to the point of horror, but conducted in such a way that it, sadly, reminds us of our own bloody histories. Martin does not shy away from the death, rape and plunder that would have been norm for the setting and in doing so provides a much more complete story.
Mindless destruction is often the cause for character splits and confrontations, and by the end of the book characters you assumed you would be attached too for some time are left headless, gutless or simply gone.
Throughout the entire series Martin focuses almost primarily upon one continent. However there is one character, Daenerys Targaryen, who has been forced to flee to a separate continent as a young girl. At first I remember feeling disorientated and a little slighted at seemingly being provided this perspective which seemed nothing short of pointless. However as I have continued to read, she has become one of my favourite characters.
‘A Game of Thrones’ is without a doubt one of the most involved and simultaneously enjoyable books I have ever read. Dense to the point of labour, but captivating well past my bed time, Martin knows exactly where to draw the line between lots of information and tedious boredom.
If you like Tolkien, or if you like the idea of an epic fantasy series, then you must pick up ‘A Game of Thrones’ as soon as possible. Martin’s ability to create a world both entertaining and disastrously realistic is nothing short of mind numbingly brilliant.
Joshua S Hill
The novel, A Game of Thrones, begins with an encounter with supernatural beings; this may give a false impression as to what will come. As the story begins to unfold, the theme moves strongly into the area of political intrigue and this forthcoming war that will happen as a result. The fantasy element, while always there plays only a minor role in the majority of the rest of the book.
A Game of Thrones in not your usual fare, it is hard-hitting and bad things do happen to the good people. Two families take centre stage in a battle for the Throne; the Starks and the Lannisters. The Stark family live in the cold hard North, Winterfell is the seat of their domain. We are, using chapters headlined with the family names, introduced to the Stark family. Once we have familiarised ourselves with the Stark’s, King Robert and his family visit them at Winterfell. King Robert is married to a Lannister, Queen Cersei. The King’s main reason for visiting is to offer Eddard Stark the honour of becoming his Hand (most trusted advisor). Eddard unhappily accepts and he must move to King’s Landing in the South.
Eddard Stark’s young son Bran is injured during the King’s visit, whilst this is originally thought to be an accident that occurred when he was climbing it becomes apparent that the Lannisters played a part in this tragedy.
In an interesting sub-plot Jon Snow, Eddard’s bastard son, joins the “Black” or the “Night’s Watch”, a company of men who’s role is to guard a huge wall of ice in the far North. He is accompanied there by Tyrion Lannister, a dwarf. Although they do not become friends they end up with a grudging respect for each other. Once Jon has pledged himself to the “Black” he must forsake friends, family, marriage and children and his whole life will be spent in the protection of Land.
With Eddard now in place as the King’s Hand, tensions rise between himself and the Lannisters. Then, suddenly one day, the King is killed hunting wild boar and Eddard and the Lannister are drawn into a battle for the throne.
Finally, at the end, the fantasy element once again returns and we are left looking forward to the second instalment.
This is a very good novel, full of twists and turns. It leaves you wanting more and move on to A Clash of Kings.
"Colossal, staggering ... one of the greats" SFX
"Fantasy literature has never shied away from grandeur, but the sheer mind-boggling scope of this epic has sent other fantasy writers away shaking their heads ... It's ambition: to construct the Twelve Caesars of fantasy fiction, with characters so venemous they could eat the Borgais." Guardian
101 positive reader review(s) for A Game Of Thrones
243 positive reader review(s) in total for the A Song of Ice and Fire series
Natkrit from UK
This movie is very interesting in it's setting and story line. Character development are so smooth they make you attached to the story. I recommend this series to everyone but keep in mind that it is quite dark.
Game of thrones from Kazakhstan
This is the best book I've ever read. It's gripping. It feels like you are in another world. I recommend it.
Eric from America
This is a great book. I enjoy the brutal realism of the characters and the world that Martin has built.
McIntosh from USA
How are they considering Game of Thrones high fantasy? It seems like the perfect example for low fantasy to me. Most of the show revolves around politics and wars, and magic isn't a normal part of everyday life.
Brecken from USA
There are no books I love more than the A Song of Ice and Fire. Honestly, it deserves so much better than a 9.5 (based on books I've seen with higher ratings that don't measure up nearly as high as ASOIAF). I almost exclusively read fantasy and these books are as good as lord of the rings, in a different way (a very different way). The best thing is they are all about character. In fantasy, characterization is often put to the side so that cool battles and fun magic can be explored more. There are only two characters in the entire series that I know are the bad guys, and the author even has me feeling bad for them at some points. Every character feels real, and there are moments where I have hated every one of them, and moments where I have loved them. They all develop over time in ways that you can barely notice until it hits you that, wow, that character isn't evil anymore. There are a million plot lines, and each one is very real. No one cheats, no one can "just do the magic thing" to get out of a situation. Actions have consequences. Our favorite characters die, and the bad ones get to live. It is extremely well written, fast paced in some places and slow in others. The books have a depth that make you want to read the series over and over again so you can find out just what is going on with the characters, and catch all of the hints and symbolism the author puts in there. I will never look at fantasy the same again, this series has changed my world view.
Kath from England
Takes a while to read and some parts are slow but the storyline is amazing and I highly recommend.
Bo from US
I loved AGOT. An absolute masterpiece. I could not put it down even if I had wanted to.
Sundar from Lal
This book, and the other books published of the series, are as impressive and amazing piece of literature. The characters in the story are superb. I read these book and absolutely had to recommend them to every book buddy.
Rebekah from New Zealand
This thick, material crammed book is written so brilliantly that it is impossible for one to get bored whilst reading. I enjoy the fact that everyone is somehow connected in the story, no matter how far away they all seem from each other. What additionally made this novel awesome was that at each end of chapters, GRRM would leave a cliff-hangar, forcing you to read on till it's 3:34 on a school morning. I would rate this book 11/10 is I could.
Ewan from Scotland
This book was the first book I finished on my own and not being forced (English in school). This book is so good that it made me, someone who would never even try a book. Get into reading, you know it's good.
Alice from England
I will give it just over half stars, purely because I think that the concept is brilliant, and the series begins very strongly, with the first book in particular being excellent. However, sadly, what could have been an explosive series slowly dissolved into an anti climax with absolutely nothing happening. Book one, and most of book two are very good, book three has some interesting parts, although admittantly it begins to loose structure, book four however, I struggled with despite flying through the preceding books and I gave up on book five. It seems that the interesting characters that Martin established in the first book have either been killed off or their storylines have dried out and have subsequently been replaced with much less interesting characters and storylines. All in all, the disappointment factor when reflecting upon what this story could have been is perhaps the worst thing about it. It could have been great, and it has its moments, but when you look at the potential that Martin had to begin with, which slowly dissolves into nothing, it's just such a shame that he couldn't carry it out and that's the worst thing about the series, the dreadful waste of potential. Still, I wouldn't say avoid it completely, just be aware that this story will probably not play out the way you had hoped and you may well find yourself as disappointed as I was.
Alex from Greece
I absolutely loved it, the whole idea, the writting style... but damn I have to admit that the fourth book was bloody boring. I do not get why everyone disses that "Dance with Dragons" (fifth) book though. I found it quite interesting.
Maria from US
"Six" as a rating is deceptive. I gave 10 to the first three books, and single stars to the last two books, and 6-7 is what I got. Sadly, the last two books take all the momentum of the first three, and flush it down the toilet. I wish they didn't. I'm waiting for book six, and hoping that Martin gets his act together, but at this point the story is so bloated that it's unlikely to happen. If anyone wants an excellent series that moves like a well-oiled machine from start to finish, try Joe Abercrombie's First Law trilogy.
Wayne from US
Awesome book, enticing read. Love the series and people complaining how it's poorly written... Seriously?This is really a great series, not a single one of you could even come close to matching Martin's writing.
Jayne from United States
For a while, I've been trying to figure out how I feel about these books (I've read all 5). They're a deviation from the traditional fantasy storyline (hero that overcomes all vs. true evil) and I can appreciate and respect Mr. Martin's boldness. I do think he does it well, the story is well written and always keeps you guessing. I didn't have a problem with the multiple characters and their separate chapters (I made it through the Wheel of Time series and loved it), but I did have a problem with caring what happens. I like that Mr. Martin has no qualms about killing off whatever character needed to die and the revolving complexity of the plot is really interesting. But honestly, what I think he lost between the multiple characters and their impermanence was making me care about the character. I think he shows their negative sides much more than any goodness in them and in not knowing how long they're going to be around, I found myself avoiding getting too emotionally involved in their stories to the point that I just don't really care what happens to them anymore. I also agree with another reviewer here in that somewhere the overall plot gets lost. Also I'm just confused about the role of the whole "winter is coming" idea - I would like to see that come to more prominence because I could see that forcing everyone to set aside their differences and their petty politics to fight a common foe - and it's seemed like that since the very first chapter. Overall, I say kudos to Mr. Martin for daring to break the traditional fantasy conventions and hopefully opening a whole new realm of possibilities for other writers but I hope that after this series, he learns from his mistakes and writes a much better one. I give it 6 stars for boldness, creativity, interesting characters and good writing.
Felix from America
An absoloutely brilliant novel. In my opinion, A Game of Thrones is one of the greatest fantasy novels ever written by one of the best authors ever. George RR Martin is able to capture emotions and build suspense and leaves you wanting more. A truly great novel.
Jake from Australia
To all the haters, you're entitled to your opinion. I like to recall the story of how the producers of the TV show read a part of the first book and were immediately overwhelmed, impressed, taken by the imagery, the ambience, the sense of place and the characters. So, at least 2 people in the world were touched by the book. Now that's 2 more than a lot of other writers.
Anthony from UK
To those who say the writing isn't good, I challenge you to write at Martin's level. You'd fail. The different pespectives add depth to the story but I understand that some people might have trouble understanding.
d'Argantel from Japan
Since so far I read but Game of Thrones, the first book to the series. I wish to note that in no mean I judge the series alltogether. G.R.R. Martin have created an interesting world with lots of likeable charachters, epic story and unique in a sense playing with reader... The problem I have is that it's boring. No, not the story, however overdone and simple, but the narrative. Never have I reade such flat descriptions and emotionless dialouge, not to mention forced expositions... Honestly , the idea of charachter perspective told story with each chapter being presented from pov of different one involved in an event is nice, the execution is less than impressive. If not for the HBO show I would have hard time getting into the presented world. Another thing are all the Deus Ex Machina literaly forcing the plot to continue the intended way. [spoiler] Honestly no one thought that it is odd that before Joffrey there was no other Baratheon of blond hair?[/spoiler] To be honest I am almost sure the whole book series was written from the very first page to be made into a movie or, as it came to be, tv series. HBO patches some holes, adds here, takes away there and makes the story overall better and of course... Puts life into the charachters and dialogue! I hope the other books of the series are better because so far my jaw hurts from yawning.
Gordon from Oklahoma, USA
A Game of Thrones, and the rest of the Fire and Ice series, are the finest stories I have read in many years, and I am a prolific reader who enjoys many different categories of literature. After having read Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy as well as the Hobbit a few years ago while the Peter Jackson movies were being progressively released, I am of the opinion that "A Game of Thrones" and the entire Fire and Ice series to this point are several steps above anything Tolkien ever wrote. An added bonus is the result of HBO is doing a great job of bringing the Fire and Ice books to the homes of people who would never consider picking up a 1000 page novel. Anybody who bothers to read each of the books from both writers can count themselves lucky to be able to enjoy such well written literature. For those who have seen the HBO series and enjoyed it so far, you should read A Game of Thrones and decide for yourself if the written material is superior to the theatrical release. I would also put this series above the Harry Potter books and movies.
Emily from England
Read it because of the series on television and am not ashamed. It does include adult scenes, which I thought fitted the atmosphere of the novel and I am a teenager, so it is understandable I would find them more awkward... I didn't. You can't complain about not understanding the novel if you don't read all of it, including the 'boring' parts. All the Tolkien lovers need to broaden their horizons. GRRM isn't trying to be Tolkien, he's an epic writer on his own with his own style.
Kah from Brazil
This is modernity, I guess. The way of narrating a story has certainly changed. Things are about discourse and action, now. "Less plot" and "more character". This is a great epic which is providing nice adaptations. Of course, the plot is very long and, because of this, its quality oscilates sometimes. I myself didn't like the fourth book (the first three books were an amazing experience) and the fifth has been little playful. But this is not about comparing G.R.R.M to Tolkien or Lewis. This is about accepting what this generation is producing and understand it withouth making anacronisms.
Thomas from England
I would like to point out that the book being reviewed is Game Of Thrones, not the whole series, A Song Of Ice And Fire, which many people seem to be forgetting...
Eric Showatt from Australia
People seem to think the reason why the opinion about this series is so divided because the way the author kills off the character and the amount of angst, miseries this series content. While this may seem like a plausible reason, the real reason is actually far more simple. Game of Thrones sucks. Period. Now I'm not here to troll or bash the author - I'm here to review this series honestly. There is no doubt in my mind that GRRM is one of the most prolific writer of our time. His world building ability is on par with Tolkien, and the character he has created are very realistic and interesting. One can almost read Game of throne like an alternative history if we forget all the magical element within the story. The political motivation of each character are very well defined and the consequences for failure in this series are heavy - you are lucky if you managed to die a clean death, as is the case with Ned Stark. He died, sure, but there are many character who ended up wishing they were dead but couldn't quite manage it because their tormentors prevent them from doing so. There is beauty in this book. Beauty in the finality of death and the cruelty of living. However... I would like to ask every reviewer and every reader of Game of Thrones, what is the actual plot of this series? Lots of things happen, sure. You get loads and loads of characters. Each of them have their own arc. Some gets killed off, some don't, but are any of them truly relevant? Just consider this for a second and you will see what an appalling story the series is - it's not actually a story. It's many story woven into one book, like a game that contains several character sheet and no main plot whatsoever. Things unfold, but it's just things that happens. If I were to describe what this story is about, I would simply say "It's a book about a bunch of things that happened in a land called Westeros", and that's pretty much what the series has become by the end of the third book. Now I will go on to say that the first book is simply breath taking. There is actually a plot, and the characters pov are consistent and - most importantly - relevant. You get the honorable idiot Ned Stark who is trying to figure out why Jon Arryn was killed, while his wife and kids are trying to figure out who pushed Bran off the balcony. The two conspiracies tied together, because what Bran witnessed was the key to Ned Stark's hunt for the reason why Jon Arryn is killed and why he is becoming involved in the first place. The subplot with Dany? That's just the icing on the cake, like something that you can either read or ignore completely. The tradition continues on to the second book, after Ned stark's tragedy, the land is divided and the war happens. We see the brutal aftermath, we see the people fighting for the Iron Throne. While the plot began to dwindle after the first book, the characters are presented with one goal - that is to fight for the Iron Throne, with a subplot of getting their loved ones back to safety. However, after the third book everything went downhill. The war is more or less resolved. The winner and losers are already evident. Major character are killed off, new ones are introduced but none of them are coherent anymore. Everything literally becomes "just shit that happens", and the entire series has become a wait for "something to happen". And that's why the series has become such a disappointment in so many eyes. If anyone has to ball to say GRRM can't write for a damn, they have no business in writing or creative industry in general. However, if anyone says reading A Song of Ice and Fire is becoming increasingly pointless, then you have my sympathy. I've no doubt that things are going to change now that Dany and Tyrion is coming back to the mainland to reclaim their home, but as it stands today, Game of Thrones is a massive disappointment that has a strong beginning but poorly executed plot throughout the middle.
Manpreet from India
This book is full of all the emotions and elements; this book is a journey full of violence, treachery, loyalty honesty, love, families, romance, conspiracies, back stabbing and much more. Read the complete review of the book - GAME OF THRONES on my blog - http://manpreetkaur93.blogspot.in/2013/03/book-review-game-of-thrones.html
Maja from Croatia
I studied literature and know that some of the best books ever written did not develop stories, characters and endings the way the audience wants or deserves. It's not a matter of a compromise. However, these days, for the fact of globalisation we as readers want to think that the book, the author and the reader are one big factory. I prefer waiting for each book sequence in suspense, even if it does not satisfy my expectations. JRRM's Song of Ice and Fire in my opinion is simply amazing, and it's definitively not easy to read. It's like an expanding storm that swirls the characters and plots in concentric circles. Consumes time for sure, and if you think it's too long - you should read shorter books. If you think it's overly descriptive - you're missing the beauty of visualisation of every spot and object and character, when you should be grateful to JRRM for letting you see what he is seeing. It's not a one-read-book and will show you something new every time you reread.
Hans from Belgium
I enjoyed reading it. And i will finish it. This is mainly because i believe the story has enormous potential to end , and i quote the great academic J Clarkson , on ' a bombshell'. But i do have to critisize a bit. The book is frustratingly long. To long. 5 books would have sufficed. At this point i'm acctually just hoping jrrm doesnt screw up the ending his readerers/fans deserve.
Jonathan from United States
This is a great and wonderful read, from start to finish it keeps you guessing and gets you involved with each and every character, so much so that you find yourself falling in love with each one of them, even the not so nice ones, and if you see a bad rating it's simply because that person did not get it or understand the plot.
Anon from Sydney, Australia
It's not that the author is trying to say that good people die, it's just that a lot of people really don't get what goes on. It's the most cunning and luckiest that survive. The characters do tend to change quickly from time to time, which would level my rating down a bit, and some of the characters I love to hate. It is unpredictable and the last two books have been a droll, again lowering my rating. Overall, it's a great fantasy book, and better in quality than a lot of other fantasy novels. The lore is immersive and detailed, though some parts unecessary. The book may have started out as Lancaster vs York (as in War of the Roses, which is what the books are based on) but now it's turned into a massive fight for dominance over land and power, with no one exactly safe and leaving a lot of hype. Do hope Martin picks up in the next book and hurries it up a bit. And I don't get why people say the good guys always lose... most of the characters are grey and do what they believe is right. The good guys occasionally triumph. For the people saying that they want to argue why it's not good, wish there was a comment section.
Jon from UK
Captain Frogbert, you a clearly a moron who is obsessed with LOTR. I really don't even know where to start with how wrong you are on every point you made in your review of this book. If you are really that upset with this book you should just go read LOTR another eleventy twelve times and leave the rest of us alone.
Anon from Anon
OMG I have just finished the blooming lot of them and I have to exactly the same confusion, I am utterly exasperated that barely a plot line has been concluded... The whole thing after the quite good Clash of Kings has become an utter nonsense, time I will never get back.
Sean from Australia
It's ok. He's not a particularly good writer, in terms of characterisation (some of the pov writing of the younger characters is execrable) and the book is pointlessly long. I have severe difficulty in accepting that any reader who gave this book 10 stars has seriously thought at all about the possibility that a 15 year old could successfully lead a hardened army into battle without a viceroy pulling he tactical strings or that a 4 year old would be capable of being the master of a a wild wolf... Ok it's fantasy, but that doesn't mean it has to be total b.s. If it wasn't for Tyrion the book would stink quite badly. Convolution is no substitute for good writing, by the way. Good for fantasy writing but it ain't great... Watch the series instead, still contains a teeth- gratingnumber of 'yes, my liege' type conversations, but again, Tyrion saves the day.
Guy from England
I am outraged at the position of this series on the top 100 list. This should be at least second (the Malazan Book Of The Fallen is also AWSOME). Out of the many, many books that I have read these are my favourite: the many interwoven storylines are well thoughtout and presented. The books set a new level of fantasy, portraying a brutal, gritty and mature story with many hundreds of realistic characters. There are no good vs evil here, no super powered imortal heroes. Martin is a master writer, he leaves you laughing and weeping and it is extremly easy to loose yourselve in his world. Once I got the first book (purchased on a whim) I was hooked and had read the whole series on the inside of a month. READ!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
John from John
Incredible. Simply incredible. Best high fantasy series I have ever read.
Andy from uk
the most engrossing read i just couldnt put it down. the first and third books are by far the best in the series up to this point in fact i read the third book in a fortnight. it does however contain an enourmous amount of characters and book four and five do meander somwhat however they are worth reading if not just for the character of ramsey bolton who is perhaps the most despicable creation ever to polute prose. overall a satisfying read and i just hope GRRM finishes the series before time catches up with him
John from Australia
Possibly one of the best series I've read in a while, every chapter is a cliff hanger.
Fateh from Canada
"Words are wind" go read the book to see for yourself how amazing it is!
Uday from Canada
I think most of the readers giving negative remarks just either can't take the complexity of the story or are the kind of people that have to have everybody live and have a corny happy ending. I mean one of the great things that GRRM has done with this series is how he makes you really love the characters-yes even Cersei- and how he isn't afraid of actually killing off those characters. That alone makes the story so much more interesting and suspenseful, because you never know when any character might die. Also, as for those of you saying that you don't see the importance of characters like Jon, Dany and Sansa you just haven't read far enough into the series. They're chapters become very interesting and you can really relate to them. The first three books have to be the best. The characters are rich, writing style superb, more of the fantasy and magic further on in the series and way the chapters are split really make you see things on a much larger scale and make you appreciate the effort of all that detail even more. Another thing, it takes lots of superb writing and imagination to not just use the "magic" part of fantasy to solve all of the conflicts, and than you can appreciate characters like Tyrion who use their intellect a lot more. If you liked the Wheel of Time I feel you will like the Song of Ice and Fire series just as much or more.
Jake from United States
Personally, I find people who really criticize this series only look at things on the surface (it's too long, too many characters, too graphic, poor characters, etc.). They don't look at things deeper, try and see why things are the way they are, and just think of this great series as a pointless kill fest. In reality, a lot of the space is meant to build tension and expand on things, the characters are much deeper than people give them credit for, and if you can't follow along then there is nothing I can do for you. Also, why would anyone say Martin's writing is bad? I think his prose is excellent and really develops emotion, atmosphere, and setting.
Wes from Australia
First off - this series isn't for everyone. It introduces a lot of characters, so if you struggle with that you won't like it. Second, no one is safe. For this, I love the series. But for many people who need to have their heroes survive - you will hate this. Third, the writing is long - but beautifully written, and I think some people will miss a lot of the intricacies and don't quite get the writing style. This series breaks a lot of convention, but if you can handle that and have the patience you will love it! If you struggle with multiple characters, need a safe happy warm ending and like a more traditional style this series isn't for you, and frankly that is where a lot of these negative comments are coming from. Also many of the negative reviews abandoned the series early on, and in my opinion the second volume of Storm of Swords is where it gets amazing. One reviewer felt characters got killed off and the story arcs ended there - to that, I say they aren't getting the bigger picture, but I won't say specifics as not to reveal any spoilers. Bear in mind it will be years before the next book, so if you don't want to wait that long (and possibly many years after that for the final book) then you might want to avoid the series. Otherwise, great read.
Jon from England
Overall, a very good series. The first three books are excellent (the third truly brilliant, 10/10 if considered in it's own right, in my opinion). The last two not so good, but still a reasonable read (I'm hoping that Martin will pick up his game again for the next books). It's been levelled here that he's not the best writer in the world and that's probably fair, but then neither was Tolkien (and he was an Oxford don) and I'm unlikely to read Erikson or Jordan for their literary value either, if it comes to it. He tells a good story and, whilst they're not as atypical as some reviews might like to suggest, he creates characters that you actually care about. This is evidenced here by the number of peole moaning about how he's killed off their favourite characters - it wouldn't upset you if you didn't like them. One thing that I particularly like about the series is the sparing use of magic. It's always been an annoyance in fantasy that when faced with a difficult situation, the writer could (quite literally) wave a magic wand at it. It also increases the impact on the reader when there actually is magic. As a result, this isn't a series for fans of more overtly magical fantasy. There aren't wizards, elves, goblins and orcs pouring out of the woodwork here. I think that due to the size of the series, there are now a lot of plot strands for Martin to hold together. This means that, firstly, it's tough to follow some times and secondly, it's tough for Martin to write. As a result, it takes him a while to get each installment written, so you need patience and a good memory. Finally, there's a lot of sex and violence. Really, who cares? Get over it.
Bob from England
This is a fantastic book but too little action and its quite slow to start.
Ivan from Canada
Wow, these books are incredible. Best books I've ever read. Do not listen to the trolls calling it poorly written. The number of different story lines and character incentives is incredible.. Probably too much for some readers to understand and they get lost with the amount of characters. Do yourself a favour and get these books!!!!!
Brett from Canada
Not sure if half the people are elitest or the other half are fanboys but I found the book very engrossing, funny and angering at times although I hate that he killed off my 3 favorite characters.
Maurice from Cayman Islands
Anyone not loving this series must be seriously dull or retarded. I have an IQ of 147, making me a genius and have read just about all the great fantasy series. This series yields to none.
Alex from Italy
The best book I ever read, just finished the third book and I can't get enough of it!
Andy from Ottawa, Canada
When I read these books (and I did read 1-5) there was not one moment where I was not totally into it. Once you get to know the characters, the books get better and better all the time... never mind the sex and the battles (for all you action thrillers who need "Actions" all the time). After book 1-3 there are no requirements for big battles scenes at least until the characters are deemed ready to do so. Its fantasy, its action, its drama, its horror, its all I need all at once. George R.R. Martin did a great achievement so far writing this most excellent story and I'm sure the next two books will be as good as the first five. - Cersei is sooooo cunning!
Veronique from Canada
The best book I have ever read!
Plato from Timbuktu
Nice writing style, excellent plot, amazing world. I love how Martin weaves together seemingly unconnected plotlines and shows us so many perspectives, giving us a much more sophisticated understanding of the story. The world Martin created is awesomely huge and complicated, although the endless introductions of new characters can be hard to get into. Also, the not-deaths get pretty annoying after a while. Other than this, I have no criticism for the series, and am eagerly awaiting the release of the 6th book.
JW from Canada
The best series of books ever written, IMHO. Martin is the Shakespeare of our time.
Nat from India
Well I had heard a lot about this book online and saw that it had got great reviews from everyone, moreover the HBO series of AGOT was also there so I finally decided to read this one.The book is um something very unique and good in its own way. It's gritty and mature more to the extent than I had anticipated, the plot is laid out brilliantly. The storyline and characters are good though it seems that Martin according to me didn't satisfactorily end it. The tortures through which the characters are put through and it seems that Martin's focus on keeping things like this makes me wonder that there won't be a great ending to this thing and things would cross to such an extent that it wouldn't matter at all. One more thing is that it's surprising a bit that there is absolutely next to no magic though there are some fantasy elements but for most of the times it seems like maybe a non fantasy novel. The book was with all things still great. Full of twists and surprises. Definitely a good read though maybe not for everyone.
Jani from Finland
I can't really understand many of the reviews posted here. The sex scenes I don't have a problem with. It's not like they are great, but I don't get ticked off about them either. The only complaint I agree with is the occasionally dull storyline (Arya's chapters mostly) but there are just more good chapters than bad. But the thing I really don't get is the overwhelming complaining of G.R.R. Martin killing the likeable characters. I mean come on people! SPOILERS!: The only important and likeable characters he has killed have been 1) Ned, who's from the old storyline like Robert with most of his grand deeds already done, 2) Robb, who was NOT a POV, and clearly not invested in storywise as much as his bastard brother, 3) Khal Drogo, again not a POV, 4) Oberyn Martell, appears only in like 4 chapters, not a POV, 5) Renly, not POV, his death making great room for Stannis character arc, 6) Tywin, who also was not a POV, and his death granted a great boost for Tyrion's character arc. I might be forgetting someone but not anyone special. Remember, Catelyn DOES NOT die, Bran and Rickon don't die either, not Davos, not Tyrion, not Jaime, not Daenerys, not Brienne, not Arya and it also seems that the Hound is still alive, working with his sins as are gravedigger. I am pretty sure that Jon doesn't die in book 5 either, just another Martin cliffhanger. A lot of the unlikeable characters have died. Joffrey, The Mountain, Balon Greyjoy and Theon is a spacecase. SPOILERS END. I myself found the books great, but a rating of 9 is accurate because George is occasionly stretching the storyline through cliffhangers and dull chapters.
Frank from Cork
The best fantasy series of all time in my opinion. It's a complex plot that makes you work and even re-read the books to pick up the clues, but if you do then you will be rewarded. It's not for everyone and if you want instant gratification, black and white good guys and bad guys, clean-cut dragon-slaying heroes, evil wizards, etc., or if you need to have the plot spoonfed to you, then ASoIaF is not for you. If you're the type of idiot who skips whole chapters and still expects to get something from the book, then ASoIaF is most certainly not for you. GRRM is a genius and this series is a brilliantly woven masterpiece. That said, I'm not surprised by some of the negative comments, there will always be people who prefer the likes of 50Cent to Beethoven.
Matt Cole from Vancouver BC
If writers are Gods - and they are - then George R.R. Martin is Zeus, King of Gods. Martin flawlessly weaves a tale of epic fantasy to launch, which is arguably the best fantasy series ever ( I know The Lord of The Rings and The Malazan Empire have their fans). Game of Thorns achieves not only because of a great plot, which does not stagnate, but because of the intriguing characters, both male and female, that are brought to life through Martin's skill. Tyrion, Sandor Clegane (the Hound), Cersei, Arya, and Daenerys are particularly memorable. This first installment is not heavily loaded with magic and the supernatural. Other than the appearance of a supernatural race in the opening pages and again briefly later on, and the emergence of other mythological creatures in the closing pages, Game of Thrones is devoid of magic and the supernatural. The conflict is among men and women, noble houses positioning themselves for the throne of a Kingdom. The book is laden with political intrigue, conspiracy, ambition, and hidden family secrets. Still, while the great houses maneuver for control of the throne, the reader is ever aware of a long dormant evil, that may rise to threaten the populace of the seven kingdoms. I am looking forward to getting into Clash of Kings & Storm of Swords and beyond. As per the suggestion from other reviewers that this book is too explicit, I can say I have no idea where this is coming from. I would not consider either the sex or violence in this book too explicit. Certainly Steven Erikson and R. Scott Bakker have gone farther in their series.
John from Ljubljana
I have read the first three books and they are all fantastic to read; they involve everything a great fantasy book needs. The series has an absurd amount of astonishingly realistic characters who couldn't be more different and yet at the same time they are all still the characters inhabiting this amazing fantasy world. I fell in love with the Game of Thrones almost immediately, mainly because of unexpected turns and twists, that are not so common in this genre. I highly recommend it to all fantasy fans out there.
Cat Fitzpatrick from London, UK
I think a main reason why there is such a difference in opinion regarding this series is that the fantasy element is very small compared to the huge volume of story. The main strength of A Song of Ice and Fire lies in the politics of a kingdom embroiled in a civil war where there isn't just two armies battling for the throne, there are up to seven various forces struggling to lay claim to either part or the whole of Westeros. There are very good characters that come through - Tyrion Lannister for one is really interesting, and I really like the deviousness of Petyr Baelish - but as you go through the books the volume of characters increases, which can swamp the story in parts, and characters can vanish for quite a long time whilst the others are worked through. The story can be quite slow and repetitive, and not enough time is spent to really build all of the main characters as well as they could be. Sex is also overused with everybody at it like rabbits or raping their way up and down the length of Westeros. However, some great set pieces are developed such as the use of wildfire in a river battle, and if you like epic stories this is richly detailed if maybe too over ambitious as to the amount of stuff crammed in. It's worth a read, but takes a lot of investment of time to get to the good bits.
James from Philadelphia
This is one of my favorite series of all time. Being able to understand so many different characters' perspectives on the books' events makes the series an extremely interesting read. Books 1-3 are absolutely brilliant. 4 and 5 are a little less so, but I partly chalk that up to the fact that you only see half the POV characters in each. I am eagerly awaiting the final two installments and I hope they can live up to the promise that the series has shown up till now.
Jørn from Hagalid
Amzing is an understatement.
Erik from Ohio
The first three books are great. They held my attention throughout with lots of different things happening in the same time period due to the variety of characters. I like the setup of writing chapters about certain characters, and it's even more exciting when one character's fate brings them alongside another main character in the same chapter. I wish GRRM would have kept the Starks intact with their direwolves completing the immensely strong family, but it's not all happy endings in life either.
Modesto from New York
This is a great adult fantasy series. This story is not for everyone. Especially for people who like sexy elves and tough dwarfs... Not for those who seek instant gratification. This is fantasy, a whole new fantasy, an adult fantasy. I love how people are mad that certain characters are killed off but yet they bash the book, if you were not hooked and attached to the character you wouldn't care someone got knocked off. So that is what GRRM does, he hooks you right in, (**SPOILER**) I see a lot of complaints over Ned's death, Ned is in the book maybe a handful of chapters, HAHA. (**End of Spoiler**) Sure there is a lot of fill in but that makes the world he created bigger, brighter, darker, dangerous, sexier and more alive than most reads out there today. This story is fantasy, thriller, exotic and poetic, you can argue it's real, if Westeros existed and Dothraki... That is how people would have lived, killed and ventured. It would be A Song of Ice and Fire!
George from Toronto
This story is the best ever written in any genre, period. The first book is a wonder, the second is as good, and the third is best in the series. I agree, the fourth and fifth aren't my favourites. But they're still above-average. I can't wait to see how the story concludes -- Martin is planning a total of 7 books. I read some of the negative reviews. The ones who are negative put right in their review that they skipped chapters. What? Martin is a genius story teller, he didn't write 1,000 pages for his health. It was for a purpose. If you skip a chapter, how on earth can you complain if the rest of the story stops making sense? The man is a God. I read Erikson, Tolkien, Rothfuss, Hemmingway, and also crap like the Hunger Games. Martin's story is #1 by a significant margin.
Claire from Cardiff
Finished reading 'Game of Thrones' last night. Now I am just falling out of bed to get to my nearest bookshop for 'A Clash of Kings'. Yup. It's that GOOD! Haven't been able to put it down...
Kaleb from Colorado
After having just finished reading the first book in the series. Anyone who says it is boring or not well written has odd to questionable taste. This book is easy to read and I found my self engrossed in the plot and totally lost in the world the author created. Martin leaves it no secret that characters make the story. I don't see how people can be so quick to criticize. I have only read the 1st book, but I would say Martin is the equivalent of Hemmingway when it comes to the Fantasy genre. I was lost at times due to the amount of characters, but between watching the show and reading the novel, it wasn't that bad. The book definitely is better than the series. The HBO writers tried to make it adaptable to their style shows. There are gay references, an over emphasis on sex, and it strays from the dialogue of the book where I thought it would be better to just be faithful to the book. Overall an amazing read and I'm looking forward to the 2nd book.
Alex from Alaska
This is a different kind of fantasy book. This is my favorite of the 5 books out so far in the series. I like it because it lays such a powerful groundwork. (Spoiler alert). I thought the prologue with the Others was an introduction to a world of magic and wizardry. Much the opposite. Eddard Stark goes south, I thought to right the wrongs of the kingdom. No, he dies. I felt like Sansa in the book - I grew up reading 'fantasy' novels where good wins and good and evil are clear and heroes did great more than human things. But Martin is not interested in that kind of story - he is telling history the way it happens - to individuals involved in the muck. I was drawn to the book for its fantasy roots, but in truth this is a book for anyone interested in political thrillers or history buffs. It's like reading the diaries of many historical figures, and putting the history together that way, as a historian does it. I don't think it's accurate to refer to Martin as the American Tolkien. Few characters in Tolkien's world are interested in being human. They are superbly good or superbly bad. I prefer to compare him to Victor Hugo, specifically to Les Miserables, which goes into great detail in order to explain a moment in a characters life. The book doesn't tell you the moment is important, because it has BECOME important. Such is the ability of Martin to cause us to care about his characters. Must-read.
John from New York
Do not listen to the low rated reviews. Anyone who claims that "nothing is happening" or that the characters "lack depth" are probably not capable of picking up on how much is actually happening in the book.
Ben from California
I can't see why people are so divisive in their reviews of this book... I almost listened to the negative comments, and I'm glad I didn't! It is extremely entertaining for those who like to actually read, and I suggest any fan of the fantasy genre to pick it up immediately. You'll find yourself rooting for characters you wouldn't think to -Tyrion Lannister is perhaps the best anti-hero I've ever read. READ IT!
Michael Patrick from Niceville, Florida
Great series. I'm on the second book and like them so far. Many of these reviews have said that as you progress the writing gets weaker, but so far I see no cause or effect of that. Bottom line great series similar to Tolkien but easier to understand and not so boring.
Joel from Australia
These comments seem to be either at the bottom or the top of the scale. It's quite confusing, really. I'm currently on the second book and loving it, the main flaw I have is that I find Bran's character and his chapters are boring, but that's subjective. Aside from that, I recommend these books if you aren't afraid of some adult themes.
Simao from Vila Nova de Cacela
Excellent book, a must read, Tyrion lannister is simply incredible, lots of twists. Incredibly written.
Anders from Norway
An excellent book! If you like action fantasy you should deffinitly read this book.
Chris from Middlesbrough
Excellent book, loved the structure of it. the series was a little dissapointing (only minor things such as Tyrion's war efforts not being the same as in the book, and possibly a general low 'first series' budget). I'm just instantly thrown into the fictional world that GRRM created and wish that I'd lived in times like that myself!.. Brilliant
Jessica from Belgium
Nearly finishing book 2 - A Clash of Kings - of the ICE & FIRE Series, this is indeed an incredible way of writing , capturing times that we will never know. Because of the multiple character roles, you get different perspectives of the storyline and the plots combined. Reads a lot more fluent then Lord of the rings ever did. Highly recommendable author. This is what fantasy really needs to be .. I won't be surprised if these were filmed by James Cameron or Steven Spielberg one day.
Mike from Pittsburgh
I just don't understand how some reviewers are giving this series less than nine stars and are calling the writing middle school level. Martin's prose is leagues above any modern fantasy writer and is better then Tolkien in my opinion. I have read some good modern fantasy, namely Erikson and Sanderson, and none of them even come close to matching the character depth and plot development that Martin weaves. Hands down, this is the greatest fantasy series of all time.
Gary from Vancouver, BC
This book will always have a special place in my heart for it's heavily inspiring story-line. George R.R. Martin has the vigorous spirit to lift this tale of the altered Europe (via medieval period), with plenty of appealing characters which seem astute as they are tantalizing. The fact that it doesn't follow a typical mono myth had me interested, because many high fantasy that I have read, had done so. Overall this book had a few faults (What book doesn't?) though it was an enriching tale.
Kyle from Kentucky
HMMMMMM.... lets imagine for a second, you're stuck in a time period where there are no cell phones, security cameras or even police around to keep the naughty kids from coming out to play. What do you think would happen? Probably wouldn't be pretty, but we now chose to forget that our morals of today weren't the morales of ancestors. They didn't have welfare or the Salvation Army, if you were hungry or freezing you would probably have to do some pretty bad things to better your situation. And if you've bashed a man's head in for a chunk of bread some of the other things that GRRM writes about probably wouldn't seem to bad. I think he does an excellent job capturing the morale dilemmas of the time period. If you think murder, rape and incest weren't common in that time period then you're extremely naive! Great book though, do read.
Connor from America
I find it funny how the shallow reader claims this book is all about good versus evil when it's really about how people are neither good or evil but GRRM is a great writer and one I will gladly keep following.
Zuzurlo from Italy
Stunning! That's what this serie is! I couldn't even sleep because I had to read more and more. It's the best around for whoever is not afraid of a little adult content. The only downside is that it's 2 books and many years short of the end.
Tony from UK
My god how is this series not in the top ten! George RR Martin is the American Tolkien. A Song of Ice and Fire is top notch adult fantasy and there is a good reason why these books are best sellers. The current rating here is not a good advertisement for the website. I voted 10/10 to try and bump it up a bit.
Aaron from Australia
An engaging and thrilling start to a fanastic series, Game of Thrones is fantasy filled with political intrigue, double crosses, betrayals and shocking reversals. The characters of Game of Thrones are the stand out feature, with deep personailites, it's difficult to identify who the real heroes and villains are (and after five books I still don't know). Oddly these reader reviewers have been hijacked by puritans who feel compelled to descibe the books as dull AND obscene. Allow me to retort: what a load of bollocks. While sex and violence are elements of the book, they're never used gratuitously. Anyone who claims the books are pruile or offensive, or that they felt ill reading them, obviously hasn't read many novels above a Harry Potter reading level. There's more explicit content in the 117 bible verses that make Song of Songs of Solomon.
Rod from West Country
I saw the HBO mini series, and thought that the book is usually better, I will read it. I am so pleased I did! Absorbing, Super Epic, no one is safe, not the heroes, not the villains. There is magic but malevolant........ Downside only five books...
William from London
I think that this is a good read, however, having read four of the books now, I am struggling to carry on. Firstly Martin seems to take an age to write his books, and secondly, it just to seems to me to be unbelievable how many of the main protagonists and characters are all killed off or changed dramatically in such a short period of time. So, a good read, but don't get too close to any of the characters, as by the end of a novel, it is likely something you don't want to happen to them... has.
Rob from UK
Epic is an understatement.
Kyle from Indiana
I've only just started this series and I plan to finish it. It's the best thing my eyes have ever seen, hands down!
Paul from Glasgow
Steep learning curve at the start as Martin introduces a plethora of new characters in rapid succession; still found myself sucked in completely and ended up reading the whole series.
Shell from Winchester
Brilliant series - can't wait for film series.
Ryan from Wisconsin
A Game of Thrones definitely deserves to be rated up with Lord of the Rings. Has some of the most interesting and in-depth characters of any fantasy book.
JP from Finland
I have read first three books of this series so far and enjoyed it very much. GRRM is not a superb writer in all meanings of that but he definitely knows how to write hard as rock fantasy series.
John from Leeds
A Song of Ice and Fire is pretty much the last word in medieval fantasy. Martin's work is in a league of its own, head and shoulders above the next comparable work in terms of plotting, characterisation, world building and quality of writing. Other authors may as well abandon the medieval milieu and explore new avenues in fantasy, as there is little left to say on the matter that this series does not say better.
Mathias from Gothenburg
Simply the best fantasy epic ever written. Nuff said.
Tim from Perth-Andover
Someone said Eragon was better than this. .. .. .. ...after I stopped laughing, I decided to write this review. Martin's books are some of the best fantasy being written today. The time it takes for them to come out should not judged as part of their quality. Are they simple commercial fare? No. Emphatically no. These are books for intelligent people who like to read. They deserve to be higher on the list.
PP from The Hague
One of the best fantasy series so far... however I understand why it is not on the top of the list: the series is not complete and me and probably many others will wonder whether or not the series will ever be complete. The story lines are becoming more and more complex and interwoven in every next book GRR writes. But still, like a Leonardo's David without the head...
Anthony from Cardiff
I had to correct my review. Just finished the 4 books and I am totally ashamed of my last comments. Its simply that the more you read the rewards will come. I am 37 and have been listening to audio books for a year now, since I have lost my sight. Talented writers like this keep blind people in the world sane. I am gutted I have to wait for the next book - Mr Martin please hurry up!
Eric from Quebec
In my opinion, one of the best series, probably my favorite. In most series, it is easy to expect what will come next. This is one series where everyone has an opinion, and a different one (if you debate with other readers). Not everyone agrees who they think will be the "main" character in the end, if any. I really love to see how, from every character's perspective, their perception of Right and Wrong changes. It makes you think about what we do in our lives, that we consider "right", that from another perspective would be viewed as "wrong". Overall, this story makes me think, surprises me and captivates me, which are the foremost reasons I use what time I have to read =)
William from California
First off George R. R. Martin has got to be the SLOWEST author in history. With only 4 of the 7 planned books released, don't plan on finishing this series for at least a decade. The book itself is not bad. The prose is good and the plot is fairly intricate. However what I find the drawback of this series is the, I guess you would call it realism, or pessimism maybe. The good guys don't always win in this, in fact, they usually lose. I am going to finish the series because it is fairly well written and I am curious about the ending. But I doubt I will ever want to reread it like I have with many other series. Just my 2cents.
Dustin from Washington
Amazing piece of literature, the character development and the story telling is superb. I read these book and absolutely had to recommend them to everybody I knew. Several of my co-workers started reading the books and they all love them as well. There IS a reason for all the hype behind this series.
Tom from Qc
Really, GRRM is not a writer, he is a god! A Song of Ice and Fire is way better than the Lord of the Rings! I have almost finished the last published book so far. A Song for Lya is very good too, GRRM is not only good for fantasy, he is a great SF writer too!PS - sorry for my bad English, I'm a French Canadian.
Lester from Manchester
This is amazing. The entire series is amazing. Buy these amazing books!
Darren from Wilkinson
This book is much better than Lord of the Rings. It really is that simple. LOTR was overly descriptive and had far too many silly songs and dances. Tyrion Lannister is one of the best characters in fiction. Buy the whole series - you won't be disappointed.
Chris from Netherlands
This book, and all of the series, got me reading till 3.00am. Martin uses Point of View characters to reveal bits of his plot in such a maner that you're always hoping to find out more. I for one couldn't wait to read the next chapter of my favorite characters. Beware, as the review says, bad things will happen to the characters you like most. Hate it or love it, every page you turn could mean the end, it's thrilling and exciting in every way...
Steve from Burton
This book, and the other books published of the series, are as absorbing and intriging as any I've read. Could replace Tolkien at the top of your bookshelf.
Russell from Cardiff
I think you've rated this book to low, it at least deserves to be on a par with Ursula Le Guin's books. Don't get me wrong, the Earthsea books are great and among my favourites but this is quality fantasy and needs to be seen as such.
9.2/10 from 102 reviews