Here an enigmatic band of warriors bear swords of no human metal; a tribe of fierce wildlings carry men off into madness; a cruel young dragon prince barters his sister to win back his throne; and a determined woman undertakes the most treacherous of journeys. Amid plots and counterplots, tragedy and betrayal, victory and terror, the fate of the Starks, their allies, and their enemies hangs perilously in the balance, as each endeavors to win that deadliest of conflicts: the game of thrones.
Released: January 1st 1996 Pages: 835
Publisher: Bantam Source: Library
First Look: ***** It was probably only a matter of time before I read this. It was going to happen, sooner or later. I kept putting it off, because lately it seems that high fantasy novels have been more misses than hits with me (even though it's my favorite genre). I guess I'm a bit unhappy with recent YA high fantasy debuts like Defiance or Throne of Glass, since I didn't really care for either. Also, older stuff like the Dragonlance Chronicles looked as if they had all the ingredients to be awesome, but fell short. (And then there's The Cup of the World, which isn't recent but it's just...I can't even begin to describe how it made me want to pound my head against a nice brick wall.)
And still, I gave this a shot. (Sort of because I just wanted to see what the hype was all about.) After all, it's high fantasy with plenty of intrigue. I'm glad I tried it.
Setting: ***** I love the setting. I really do. Possibly because, unlike some people, I'm rather fond of the standard European-based fantasy setting, providing it's got enough unique elements to keep me interested. And this one definitely did. I like the weird seasons aspect, and I'm curious as to whether or not this will be explained in the rest of the series. Or maybe it's just a thing that happens in this place just because they rotate around the sun differently or something. I don't know.
But, apart from the interestingly illogical weather, I still liked it. The setting itself is so full of backstory, which makes it interesting. Yay.
And then I went ahead and made the mistake of picking out my favorite characters. Arya Stark, Jon Snow, Bran Stark (I suppose I'm rather fond of all the Stark kids except Sansa), Tyrion Lannister, etc. (and I've got my eye on Theon Greyjoy, because I have a feeling he'll be up to something in the next few books). Guess what happened to one of my favorites...he fell from a tower. I've been told not to get attached to anyone in this series because George R. R. Martin is notorious for killing off major characters, but I couldn't help it.
Plot: ***** It was a little slow, in places. Other than that, I really enjoyed it. The plot was compelling, probably because the characters were compelling, so I wanted to know what would happen to them. It was very complex, too, which I enjoyed. Sometimes it's just plain fun to sit down and immerse yourself in an 800+ page tangle of plots and schemes.
Uniqueness: ***** I've heard some complaints that this series borrows too much from other fantasy series. I could see some similarities, but...*shrug* They didn't really bother me.
Writing: ***** This story is actually told in about eight different POVs. (I didn't count--I just threw a number out there. If someone knows, please let me know!) While these confused me a bit at first, I ended up liking it. I got to experience the story from so many different angles, which I really enjoyed. Also, I never lost track of who was narrating.
Likes: Dragons! At the end! Yay! Also, I really like this book's title.
Not-so-great: Nothing worth noting.
Other: (And once again, my image links have gone weird. Oh well. Anyway...)
Overall: This book is well worth the time it takes to read all 800+ pages. I grew attached to some of the characters, and wanted to know what would happen to them and what everyone would do. It was so easy to sit down and immerse myself in the story. It's wonderfully complex, and has so many different sides to it. I'm glad I finally read it.
Similar Books: Eragon, the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Possibly Dragons of Autum Twilight? aGoT is much more political than Eragon, and much less quest-y than LotR. Its only similarities to DoAT are that they're both high fantasy and they both have this gigantic epic tome feel to them.