In a time long forgotten, a preternatural event threw the seasons off balance. In a land where summers can last decades and winters a lifetime, trouble is brewing. As the cold returns, sinister forces are massing beyond the protective wall of the kingdom of Winterfell. To the south, the king's powers are failing, with his most trusted advisor mysteriously dead and enemies emerging from the throne's shadow. At the center of the conflict, the Starks of Winterfell hold the key: a reluctant Lord Eddard is summoned to serve as the king's new Hand, an appointment that threatens to sunder both family and kingdom. In this land of extremes, plots and counterplots, soldiers and sorcerers, each side fights to win the deadliest of conflicts: the game of thrones.
©1996 George R.R. Martin, (P)2003 Books On Tape, Inc., published in arrangement with Random House Audio Group,a division of Random House, Inc.
"Martin's trophy case is already stuffed with major prizes...He's probably going to have to add another shelf, at least." (Publishers Weekly)
"The first volume in Martin's first fantasy saga combines intrigue, action, romance, and mystery in a family saga." (Booklist)
"Grabs hold and won't let go. It's brilliant." (Robert Jordan)
"This novel is an absorbing combination of the mythic, the sweepingly historical, and the intensely personal." (Chicago Sun-Times)
I was discouraged from selecting this book based on the high volume of negative reviews blasting the narration. The synopsis of the book sounded so good that elected to give it a try anyways. I'm sorry I did. I've listened to a ton of audio books and I definitely consider this one impossible to follow. It's not that Dotrice's voices or pronunciations are tough to understand... He fires sentences in 4 or 5 word "matter of fact" bursts. His reading does not follow what I would consider a natural flow of thought. It's like being a passenger in a car with a driver that rides the brakes and jerks the wheel when changing lanes. 2 credits... Ouch. The publisher is doing this author a great disservice. Guess I'll have to find out what happens the old fasion way.
Another man with a word processor who just can't stop typing. Someone once said that if you make a movie over three hours long you'd better be David Lean. In the same vein, if you write a book of this kind that's this long, you'd better be J.R.R. Tolkien, or at least Martha Mitchell. Unfortunately, Martin is neither, despite the cutesy "R.R." in his moniker. if you can't tell the difference between World of Warcraft and Tolkien you might actually enjoy this book. Otherwise, don't waste your time.
By my nature, I am not big on fantasy. Yet, having devoured the original Pern series in my youth, I admit to a certain tolerance for things to do with dragons. That's why I picked up this tome.
Indeed, "tome" seems an apt description of this book. The audio version weighs in at a hefty 39 hours, enough to cause me to wonder if Mr. Martin's publisher evaluated his work by its weight! To be sure, Mr. Martin has no shortage of depth to his work. Other reviewers have noted the abundance of story threads that intertwine like wisps of smoke from a growing fire. In fact, a "growing fire" is a fair description of this first book of the series, because it is really set up for subsequent books. But, the set-up stories are as meaty and compelling as the roasted haunches served at the feasts. You end up caring about even the most annoying of the protagonists.
This book must be called an "adult fantasy" in that it makes no effort to sugar-coat how life would be on such a world. One of the story threads deals with how one of the young female protagonists must face the destruction of her fantasies. This unnamed world is not gentle, and I think that's why I finished the book. It's fantasy, but not a child's fantasy.
Long live the dire wolves!
Let me preface this by saying I really enjoyed most of this book and am reading the next volume in the series
Not for the first time, Audible has helped me finish a book that I had previously tried to read. Mr Dotrice's fine narration definatley helped, although his slow pace benefited from the "faster" setting on my I-Pod. But the primary reason I was able get through the book was that the narration contined on even as my mind wandered during the ocassional less than engaging bits, something that proved fatal when trying to read the print edition.
Mr. Martin is an accomplished, inventive story teller, with an excellent ear for dialog, the abilty to deftly handle a complex plot and to draw memorable characters. The down side is that like many talented writers, when given his head by his editor, he doesn't always know when "enough is enough." (Not every knight has to speachify at a counsel.) A scene should be no longer than it needs to be. The fact that you can make it longer or embroider it does not necessarily make it better -- sometimes just the opposite. This needless expansion may be the result that old saw that "there is no such thing as a fanasty novel that is to long," -- more pages equal more sales.
Whatever the reason, IMO this book is not really a challenge to get through because of shear length nor the Old Testament like number of characters. More importantly, it could easily lose 100-200 pages through careful editing that would neither diminish the plot nor character development and would certainly enhance readability. If Mr Martin wanted to add back another 200 pages, I would have prefered that he developed some of the tantalizing subplots that he introduces but barely develops in this volume. He has created a huge landscape. I'd rather he explored more of it in this book, rather than lingering longer than needed.
First let me say that this book is not for kids, it can be very vulgar at times, a damsel in distress is more like to be defiled by a knight than rescued by one. There is no "great quest", actually it seems like there's no real plot to this book at all. With this said, it just happens to be the best book that I have ever read. I've never read a book where the author spends more time on character development than on the storyline. This may sound bad to you, but trust me, read it, you will be hooked! Also, a note for those of you with ADD (like me), it starts out kind of slow and it's a little hard to get into at first, give it a few chapters, you will be hooked I tell you!
I gave this book high scores because it has been one of those that hooks you good. Every chapter leaves you hanging as the next introduces you to new characters or takes you to place and happenings of characters you've already met. There are far reaching threads that begin to unravel, people do surprising things; braves crumble and cravens find courage; powers fail, while new darker ones come to life. A kingdom united becomes a kingdom in tumoil and men rise to triumph while a darker force has its will too. I do caution however that the writing is definitely for mature persons or persons not easily offended by violence, rape or even incest. These are offensive things and some persons may not be able to appreciate the development of characters if bothered to much by bloody battles, the raping of the conquered, whoreing, or incestual relations between brother/sister. The narrator is exceptional and does all three books available here. There is another book coming: A Feast of Crows and I heard Roy Dotrice will be narrating that one as well.
I have been pleasantly surprised by this book. While it does move along rather slowly, the characterization is some of the best I have ever come across in a fantasy novel. Each character is a believably unique blend of strengths and weaknesses, and over time you really come to care about them. It's true, bad things happen and some characters die. It's also true that there is some rough language and crude behavior, including rape, murder and incest. But this is what makes the drama that much more compelling. After all, this is supposed to be a medieval setting. Unlike the typical fantasy novel where you know the hero is going to triumph over the dark lord in the end, here you really feel like there is something at stake in this story. I really enjoyed this book and I'm looking forward to the next in the series.
The reader, Roy Dotrice, is the best audio book reader I have heard thus far. His different voices, accents, and character mannerisms keep this massive book flowing. For me, he set a standard of how an audiobook should be read and has tainted my opinions of other books that I have listened to.
The story presented here is massive. Many characters, many events, and much visualization. From this book, you can truely get to know the characters, the cities, and the lore of this vast world created by George Martin.
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