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I acquired a copy of the Game of Thrones book, fully prepared to face the notorious sex, violence, and immoral acts it was purported to have. Thus, I figured nothing from the cheating wife, the incest, or of the kid being thrown off a tower. I have read far worse in contemporary and historical fiction. Yet when I reached the inevitable death of an innocent, golden-eyed wolf pup in the reluctant hands of their master's father, I felt a tugging of heartstrings. It was then that I realized that George R.R. Martin can spin a great yarn Body that entangles you in its fine threads before you realize what is happening.
If you are expecting a hardcore fantasy epic, there is a Game of Thrones book sadly lacking. There is nothing Westeros and its Seven Kingdoms have to offer that you cannot get in any other medieval setting, save for seasons that last many the mysterious beings known as the 'Others' lurking beneath the great Wall in the north. Instead, Martin provides a different kind of fantasy, one that focuses more on the human part of the story. Get rid of the dragons and the magic and you'll find that the gritty human nature is still there, driving the main plot of political intrigue, conflicts, and ambition that compel someone to commit acts of murder, rape, or worse.
Still, it has enough fantastical elements by means of knights, dragons, queens and kings, princes and princesses, and also the whispers of magic working behind the curtain. It is War from the Roses inside a fantasy world. For someone who enjoys reading both fantasy and historical fiction, Martin's masterpiece is a godsend.
The truth is that that near to 800 pages quite a bit of take in, for the most avid of readers. Thankfully, Martin's talent is within producing words that offer enough information, but stops short of being tedious. While Martin will not win awards for beautiful prose, his writing keeps the reader engaged. It never feels dragging and that i appreciate more an author who can keep my attention until the end instead of one who waxes lyrical.
The best and most frustrating thing about the book is that the story is told from eight different perspectives, with each perspective held within a chapter. Just like you start associated with a character and are eager to see what happens to him (or her), you are thrown off for several chapters. Yet Martin's character development can also be what makes the books so enjoyable to read. His way of creating three-dimensional characters with a great deal of depth, feeling, and back story is what keeps the readers from getting bored. The resolution of the 13-year-old exiled princess and child-bride, Dany; the bleak coming-of-age story from the bastard, Jon Snow, in the northern Wall; the raw emotions of young, tomboyish Arya at King's Landing; the noble intentions of Eddard Stark amidst a court of mummers; and the sarcastic wit from the impish Tyrion Lannister are but a few of the assorted cast of players you'll find yourself rooting for within this bloody game of thrones.