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Book Recommendations | March 29, 2015

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A Game of Thrones by George RR Martin – All men must die!

A Game of Thrones by George RR Martin – All men must die!

Review Overview

BR JoyMeter

Must Read

A Game of Thrones  
by George RR Martin

A Game of Thrones is George RR Martin’s adult fairytale and may be, one of the seminal works of fantasy conjured up since the marvelous insanity of Tolkien. While sometimes life could indeed be stranger than fiction, it’s a rare sight to behold a piece of fiction, that too – a fantasy, appearing more real than life itself.

Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “A man who won’t die for something is not fit to live.” A Game of Thrones – the opening volume in George RR Martin’s magnum opus – A Song of Ice & Fire, truly epitomizes this.

Mercifully, its triumph does not lie in rehashing old tools of the trade. It lies in its relentless ability to demolish the mould and shove a mirror in our face, making us see things that we would otherwise like to believe, happen only in make believe worlds.

And, what a make believe world it is – making us drool, squirm, wonder and curse at the same time. Magic, mystery, romance, and adventure exude from its pages but, be warned, it’s not for the faint of heart.

A Game of Thrones charms you beyond measure and then promptly knocks you off your feet without apology as your favorite characters get outwitted, waylaid and butchered. It shows us the world the way it is – where bad things often happen to good people, where words cut sharper than knives and where heroes die first.

Life is not a song, sweetling.
Someday you may learn that, to your sorrow.

– George RR Martin, A Game of Thrones

So, if you are a fan of the genre, go right ahead and join this glorious song of love and dying. But, if you can’t stand fantasy and find it frivolous, shallow and insipid, than we at Book Recommendations are willing to stick our neck out and recommend it even to you, dear skeptical reader, as a Must Read! Here are the three reasons why:

1. Read it for the Characters

Are you tired of always seeing good people win? Do invincible heroes and dumb villains make you cringe? And, what about those damsels who seem to be perpetually (and, often wilfully) in distress? Welcome to a land where heroes often take a beating, villains can think and women can talk – “When you play a game of thrones you win or you die.” Wicked!

So, read A Game of Thrones for all those characters you love to hate and those you’d love to meet – an otherworldly band of warriors brandishing swords no human can forge, a gang of wildlings who carry men (and, women as well) into mountains of madness and a dragon prince who trades his own sister for a far away throne.

And I have a tender spot in my heart for cripples and bastards and broken things.
– George RR Martin, A Game of Thrones

But, remember not to read it only for the living. Read it also for those who are long gone or dead. The world of Seven Kingdoms and beyond is a living character in itself – deliciously inviting, hopelessly unforgiving and always eager to bite. A land where past is cursed, future is ominous and present is for sale.

2. Read it for the Plot

It’s amazing how a book with such magnitude and scope still manages to engage us without compromising on so many meandering storylines. And, to keep it all coherent, balanced and entertaining without drowning anything is truly an amazing feat for George RR Martin.

A Game of Thrones has massive surprises – stuff that will punch you in the gut with savage delight. Worse, you’ll ask for more. It’s a land where summers can last decades and winters a lifetime. Where the Seven Kingdoms, Free Cities and of course, the Wall and beyond are getting engulfed in a well deserved pandemonium – a dynastic struggle, slavery, incest, war, genocide, palace politics, secret alliances and before you can catch your breath – a few otherworldly threats as well.

Different roads sometimes lead to the same castle.
- George RR Martin, A Game of Thrones

This is a tale where seeds planted early are carefully cultivated. Magic appears rarely, making it infinitely more interesting. And, the plot stubbornly refuses to go where you’d hope or expect. And, amidst all these plots and counterplots, tragedy and succor, victory and terror, George RR Martin deftly ensures that, to quote his own words, “some of the old wounds never truly heal, and bleed again at the slightest word.”

3. Read if for the Wall

Imagine a 700 feet tall barrier made totally of ice that stretches from sea to sea. It was erected ages ago when a vicious supernatural threat emerged out of the North and almost vanquished the Seven Kingdoms.

But now, it’s been so long that even the riff of that wretched darkness has faded away from the living memory. And, as the warmth of summer slowly drains away from the land, the organization tasked with maintaining the Wall is left utterly neglected and ill-prepared for whatever seems to be waking up beyond it!

Why is it that when one man builds a wall, the next man immediately needs to know what’s on the other side?
– George RR Martin, A Game of Thrones

Ultimately, while the world of Westeros provides all the muscle to propel the story forward, it’s the Wall (and, what lies beyond) that forms the fantastical backbone of the saga – a clear dividing line between the known and the unknown, the utter darkness and whatever glimmer of hope (and sanity) is still left alive.

A Game of Thrones, at its core, is an uninhibited celebration of our own world with all its beauty and savagery pooled together. Here, George RR Martin manifests a complex and multi-layered world where anything can be used, abused and then, conveniently re-used, slaughtering every sacred cow of the genre and injecting a passion that hasn’t been witnessed for a long time.

And, if you’ve ever felt that Tolkien’s world is sexless and bloodless, you won’t be making similar complaints here. It doesn’t matter if you have already seen the TV series. Or, you detest graphic violence, sex and colorful expletives. A Game of Thrones is a moving narrative of love, loyalty, ambition and death – the last being the only certainty and at times the sole comfort.

Truly, works like these deserve to be read, reread and then, recommended from the rooftops. So, run and grab it right away while you still can. Time is short and… winter is coming.

Valar Morghulis!

Question: Do you consider A Game of Thrones by George RR Martin among some of the finest works of fiction? You can add a Comment below.

  • Fatal Feline

    I definitely loved your review. I don’t usually read anything dubbed ‘Fantasy’, and as you expressed, this is so much more. It’s difficult to hand someone a 750+ page book and convince them of its brilliance. Your review is worth printing and giving it to the person whose hand you’re pushing the book into. As a huge fan of the series, I find the books as intriguing ~ more so, since there are emotions, and motivations that words can convey, and film cannot. You’re correct that it is a book worth reading, re-reading, and perhaps reading again. It should become a staple in Modern Literature classes. Martin created multifaceted characters, none who are completely faultless, or flawless, and none who are completely depraved, or malevolent (except Joffrey). He wove a storyline that entangles all of them, and placed them in a cruel world in which it is carried out. The book demands the reader to think, and dares him to deny. I love how you advised, ‘It doesn’t matter if you have already seen the TV series. Or, you detest graphic violence, sex and colorful expletives. A Game of Thrones is a moving narrative of love, loyalty, ambition and death – the last
    being the only certainty and at times the sole comfort.’ Life is fraught with contradictions and injustice, with grinning deceit and prejudices. Game of Thrones portrays it all as it captivates its reader until its final page. As for those of us who’ve read the book, and fell in love ~ It is known.

    • Book Recommendations

      Glad you liked our recommendation for A Game of Thrones. And, thanks for such an insightful comment.

      Also agree on your point regarding Joffrey – the only character with almost no redeeming quality. Though, it will be good fun to figure out what made him so totally, utterly rotten!

      And, do let us know if there is any other book you truly love & would like us to recommend to our readers.



  • Scott

    Not quite true, there are a few examples of death not being a comfort – to the one that has died, or the ones left behind. Excelent books, and definatly worth reading.