I am currently reading my way through a long list of science fiction and fantasy titles. (http://www.npr.org/2011/08/07/138938145/science-fiction-and-fantasy-finalists if you are interested in the list).
Long ago, in a time forgotten, a preternatural event threw the seasons out of balance. In a land where summers can last decades and winters a lifetime, trouble is brewing. The cold is returning, and in the frozen wastes to the north of Winterfell, sinister and supernatural forces are massing beyond the kingdom’s protective Wall. At the center of the conflict lie the Starks of Winterfell, a family as harsh and unyielding as the land they were born to. Sweeping from a land of brutal cold to a distant summertime kingdom of epicurean plenty, here is a tale of lords and ladies, soldiers and sorcerers, assassins and bastards, who come together in a time of grim omens.
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.
What a pleasure to read! GRRM writes fabulous fantasy. I can see why this was turned into a TV series--the world is so well realized. I could easily picture it in my mind’s eye. Yes, it’s a violent, dark world, but there are also moments of kindness and compassion. Martin’s female characters have to live within the bounds of this very medieval society that he has created, but they find creative ways to achieve agency and to become formidable in their own right.
The boundaries between good and evil are muddy in GoT. I found myself cheering for people on both sides of the battles. For example, I love both Catelyn and Tyrion. I also have to admit that I love any fantasy world that includes dire wolves and mammoths. I’m hoping that there will be more prehistoric animal action in upcoming books.
Maybe it’s because I’m Canadian, but the Stark’s motto, Winter is Coming, really speaks to me. I could feel the chill of standing on the great North wall, looking out into the wilderness and wondering what was out there in the dark and the cold.
It has taken me a long time to start this series, but I look forward to continuing with it in 2020. I’m interested in every character introduced thus far--I realize that Martin is famous for killing off his characters, but I’ll take what I can get!
Book number 345 in my Science Fiction and Fantasy Reading Project.