A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire: Book 1)
George R.R. Martin
So... I don't know if I love this book because (a) I love the show, (b) it's the cool thing to do, or (c) because it's just a great book. I guess its a little bit of all, but mostly "c".
Intrigued by the HBO Series "Game of Thrones", I was hungry to read these books, off of which the show is based. In fact, I had to hurry through the last few novels of the "Wheel of Time" series to get to it. Arriving at the first novel, I find that socially I am late. When I speak of the books to friends and acquaintances, they look at me as if I'm a lost child who has only recently found the light. After reading this first novel, I realize why.
"A Game of Thrones" follows the Stark family as they are drawn one-by-one from their homestead of Winterfell in the North into a world of kings, queens, princes, as well as fear, murder, and conspiracy. I had insanely high hopes for this book, and I can honestly say that Martin delivers. First off, the scenery he paints line-by-line is elaborate and vivid. We're drawn between the frozen grey of "The Wall", to the slightly more temperate "Winterfell", and down to the southern capitol of the realm "King's Landing", all of which are in Westeros. Across the sea to the south lay the Free Cities, complete with vast deserts and grass lands. As the characters begin their divergence from one another, the detail of these lands helps the reader to keep track of everyone.
I love the characters in this story as well. My favorite, hands-down, is the imp Tyrion Lannister. If you watch the show, he's played by Peter Dinklage, who did a great job bringing this character to screen. Tyrion, against all odds, is the most grounded and objective of all the characters. Though he can be conniving at times, he still wants what's best for everyone, sometimes to his own detriment. Other key characters include Eddark Stark, patriarch of the Stark clan, Catelyn Stark, his wife, Robb, Jon, Bran, and Rickon, all sons, and Sansa and Ayra, their daughters. Each in their own time have to come up against others such as King Robert Baratheon, his wife Queen Cersei Lannister, her brother Jaime Lannister, and Prince Jofferey. Jofferey...that's one you'll love to hate. There's a special place in hell for that boy. I'd kill him myself, given the chance. The last main character of note is the exiled princess Daenerys Targaryen, who lives among the Free Cities, plotting her return to Westeros.
The story is strong. Though the central Stark characters are separated, their individual plot lines still hold everything together. There is suspense, drama, a little dry humor, and plenty of death. Martin has a habit of killing off the ones you like, which I commend him for as an author. In my own writing, if I like a character, they're more than likely going to be here for a while. Martin, it seems, was born without that gene.
I have already begun the second book in the series "A Clash of Kings" and I can't wait to get to the others.