At least I got some reading done on vacation :)
It is about 20 years since Robert Barratheon killed the old king, a madman named Aerys, and took the throne for himself. But all is not easy for the new king and his allies. The story revolves, primarily, around the members of House Stark, a noble house in the far north. Lord Eddard Stark, close friend of King Robert, is asked to travel south to be the King’s Hand, a lofty position that Eddard hasn’t the desire to hold, but does so to appease his friend and liege.
Events begin moving quickly, as Eddard discovers the real reason for his predecessor’s sudden death. We soon discover fouler, more evil plots as the book unfolds into a well-orchestrated chaos that leaves you frantically flipping pages.
Any scene where Tyrion has a lot dialogue is wonderful reading.
The younger characters (especially Sansa) can be a little too whiny. I can say, though, this comes back around to nip them in the hind quarters in the next book.
This is one of the most original fantasy books I’ve read in a very long time. Unpredictable storylines and complex political twists will keep you guessing right through to the end. 6 out of 6.
Martin has to cover a lot territory in this book. As a result, the imagery lacks somewhat. It isn’t that he’s bland, it’s just not as eloquent as other fantasy writers. 4 out of 6.
The story sucks you in from the very beginning. It’s deep, complex, and entertaining. 5 out of 6.
Characterization is where this book stands out, since that’s what it’s really all about. The beauty of this novel is the fact that each chapter is told from a given character’s point of view, that is it’s still in third-person narration, but you are only privy to the thoughts of one person at a time. 6 out of 6.
The emotional response is fantastic. I’ll warn you now not to get emotionally attached to any one character as things shift quickly. Martin isn’t afraid to axe a main character here or there. It’s what keeps the story out-of-balance and keeps you guessing. 5 out of 6.
The editing is superb. One thing that makes this book ungainly is the sheer number of characters you have thrown at you. Don’t be afraid to take notes in the beginning, I wish I had. A nice touch is the family trees at the back of the book. Use them often. 4 out of 6.
Overall this book was a real surprise. Not since the Dune series have I had this kind of fun reading. ‘Round and ’round it goes, where it stops, nobody knows. 5 out of 6.
Total: 35 out of 42
Martin has continued this series with A Clash of Kings, A Storm of Swords, and A Feast for Crows (coming April 2003). The author has announced (on his website) that there will be a fifth volume, A Dance with Dragons.