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A Game of Thrones: A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 1 | [George R. R. Martin]

A Game of Thrones: A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 1

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.
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Audible Editor Reviews

Why we think it's Essential: A favorite of Audible listeners, the first book in Martin's series introduces a world of deep intrigue, dark fantasy, and varied characters. It might prove overwhelming, were it not for Roy Dotrice. With a voice so seasoned and gripping that he may have stepped from, well, a George R. R. Martin novel, Dotrice gives each character their own persona and regionality, helping to anchor the listener throughout the action and intrigue. —Ed Walloga

Publisher's Summary

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.

What the Critics Say

  • Locus Award, 1997

"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)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

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Performance
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  •  
    Jessica minneapolis, MN, United States 11-01-07
    Jessica minneapolis, MN, United States 11-01-07 Member Since 2015
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    "terrific tale!!!!!!!!!!!"

    Used to be my favorite books were the Merlin series by Mary Stewart, and now I am afraid my beloved Myrddin Emrys has fallen to the number two spot.

    The story here reads like a historical fiction cake with magic icing. The story is told with the point of view changing from chapter to chapter and adds a dimension of engaging complexity that makes the whole story seem all the more real, and all the more magical.

    I was concerned when I purchased this that it might be some endlessly tedious description of knights in battle, but its not. It is a very character- driven human story with castles and dragons.

    As a point of interest, there is what I imagine to be a true representation of medieval life. There is much violence including but certainly not limited to the murder of children and rape. The author does not dwell on these things or glorify them. To my mind, as I said, it seems to to be true to the reality of life at that time.

    And dont forget, there is magic too! Here again the author handles this element so that it is impotant, but it is not the focus of the story.

    I cannot imagine hearing this tale and not wanting the hear the rest of the series so be aware that there are 3 more available. The next two are read by the brilliant, great, incomparable Roy Dotrice. The fourth in the series is read by John Lee.

    We are all waiting for Mr Martin to finish writing the fifth.

    68 of 83 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gilmara Lima Mendes Piscataway, New Jersey 03-16-13
    Gilmara Lima Mendes Piscataway, New Jersey 03-16-13 Member Since 2014

    Audible Obsessed wishes she had more time for so many audiobooks.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Not for the soft hearted"
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    Well, I would recommend the print version since I did not like the narrator's acting. I felt awkward and disgusted at times.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The way that George R. R. Martin makes you connect with the characters and keeps you hooked to long to know what happens to them.


    What didn’t you like about Roy Dotrice’s performance?

    At first I thought It was just annoying and picky me, but then, I should it to my students and they also thought they were listening to the narration of a drunk orc. It is the first time I say this, but I am not going to buy the next ones because of the narrator. When he was only reading and not doing the voices it was ok, but then when he started doing the voices I just couldn't continue. I felt disgusted at parts. This is the kind of book you want to read / listen to in one sitting, but maybe with a different performance.


    If this book were a movie would you go see it?

    Because of the book, I started to see the HBO series and see how loyal it is to the book. I surely would go see it if it were a movie.


    Any additional comments?

    This book is not for the soft hearted. This is not for the mellow people. If being violent and explicit is what you call adult reading, well, this is it. There are some pretty rough scenes that are pretty shocking. So, if you decide to read it, brace yourself.

    15 of 18 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Charles TULSA, OK, United States 10-25-14
    Charles TULSA, OK, United States 10-25-14

    Criminal defense attorney. Love audible and I'm kind of obsessed with writing reviews. No plot spoilers please. Seriously.

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    "This Is Not Going To Be Popular..."

    I tried really *really* hard to get into this book. I listened for hours. It just couldn't grab me, no matter how hard I tried. I thought it was long winded and obsessively intent on describing every detail.

    To be completely honest and fair, I have been watching the TV show. That very likely has ruined the books for me- I know the show doesn't track exactly as the books do, but knowing where it all is headed kind of kills it for me.

    I also think there is a serious herd mentality that is attached to these books as a result of the show. I would love to see the numbers and reviews of the books prior to HBO picking it up. But maybe that's just my cynical worldview.

    Just not for me.

    10 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Megan Arlington, TX, United States 06-21-13
    Megan Arlington, TX, United States 06-21-13

    Megan in TX

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    "Love the Book, Hate the Narrator"
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    I've listened to over 50 audiobooks at this point, and this is the first time I have ever had such a negative experience with a narrator. Horrible! The voices are not even remotely aligned with the age or personality of the characters. A 15 year old sounds like a shaking voiced 80 year old. Just awful. So disappointed. So, no I wouldn't recommend the audiobook to anyone, especially people who are sensitive to bad narrators. But i've powered through and am on book 4 at this point- purely because I love the series that much.


    What didn’t you like about Roy Dotrice’s performance?

    Everything. I am praying that with the renewed interest in this series, they will redo the audiobooks. Tyrion Lannister is the absolute worst though. I almost can't listen to it, it's so grating and annoying.


    28 of 35 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kyle Los Angeles, CA, United States 03-15-13
    Kyle Los Angeles, CA, United States 03-15-13
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    "Amazing Story Basically Ruined By Narrator"
    What didn’t you like about Roy Dotrice’s performance?

    I love the Game of Thrones series on HBO so let's just get that out of the way. And it may not be fair to compare Roy Dotrice's performance to those of the amazing actors on the show, but it's really hard to listen to his vocalizations of Tyrion and Varys after seeing them so expertly portrayed by Peter Dinklage and Conleth Hill.

    If you are coming to the books fresh, you may find Mr. Dotrice a good narrator. He does put a lot of variety in his characterizations and inflections. It's just that for me they were almost all bad choices.

    Plus, the language of the books is very unique and Mr. Dotrice's accents did not assist in understanding. There were multiple moments when I was unclear if I didn't understand what he was saying because it was literally a foreign language (e.g. Dothraki), a specifically medieval reference (e.g. portcullis), or I just couldn't make out the English word he was saying (e.g. Did he say wolf or wife???). I was constantly rewinding to re-listen to sections and wishing I had a transcript. Oh wait, I do, it's called the book!

    In fact, I ended up buying a box set of the first four books in paperback, returning my purchase of the second book on Audible and I've found great joy in simply reading them.

    The entire series is comprised of amazing writing and storytelling that I just could not allow to be further destroyed for me by Roy Dotrice. I would not discourage anyone from jumping into the world of Ice and Fire, in fact just the opposite, but you should be very wary of these recordings.


    6 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jeff Clifton Park, NY, USA 02-27-04
    Jeff Clifton Park, NY, USA 02-27-04
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    "Absolutely amazing!"

    Several frineds of mine have been trying to get me to read this for a few years now. I actually started reading it, but only got about 100 pages or so in before I gave up. When I saw it on Audible, I decided to give it another try just to shut them up. Boy, am I glad I listened to them!! One you have all the characters straight, the story is quite engaging. some things which may seem superfluous at the time end up being critical later on. One thing that Martin does much better than the master himself, Tolkien, is write interesting female characters. Whereas the females in The Lord of the Rings seemed "tacked on," the females in this book are well-written, deep characters who are critical to the story. Also, you never really seem sure whom to root for. Characters you may dislike at first soon become your favorites. I'm not a big fan of fantasy overall, and after reading this series, I doubt I'll be able to read anything else in this genre, because nothing can top this! I'm now listening to the second book, A Clash of Kings, and I hope the third, A Storm of Swords comes to Audible in the next few weeks, because I'm seriously addicted to this series! I must also comment on the narrator, Roy Dotrice. I love the different voies he uses. They are clear enough that you know who you are listening to even if he doesn't tell you right away. The only negative is that he sometimes changes pronunciations of names (Joffrey become Jeffrey, for example) but that is hardly enough to detract from his otherwise excellent narration.

    50 of 64 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Suzanne Puligny-Montrachet, France 03-18-13
    Suzanne Puligny-Montrachet, France 03-18-13 Member Since 2014
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    "irritating performance"
    Would you consider the audio edition of A Game of Thrones to be better than the print version?

    I didn't read the book and found the perfomance difficult to comprehend ( slurred accents and irritating voices ) - too much repetition of the same lines ( as if the book had been laid down and same lines repeated when picked up again )


    What do you think the narrator could have done better?

    I think the narrator did his best but his style is not suitable to the tale. He would probably do much better reading Dickens


    Any additional comments?

    I will buy the book and read it

    15 of 19 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Christine Koeln, N/A, Germany 05-21-04
    Christine Koeln, N/A, Germany 05-21-04
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    "great book, great reader!"

    It's a shame that the rather negative review of Roy Dotrice's is still at the top. I don't think the reading could have been done any better! English is not my mother tongue and A Game Of Thrones is certainly not the easiest book to read out loud, yet Roy Dotrice manages to make it come to life without effort. He never slurs, his voice never becomes annoying even after hours of listening.
    Considering the book at hand and the wealth of minor characters it introduces, it's not suprising that an inattentative listener would have a hard time following some of the more obscure plot twists of George R. R. Martin's wonderful epic. If you have not read the book before listening to this, you will have to concentrate on listening to be able to understand the many lines of plot without becoming confused. If you are looking for an easy listening (or even reading) experience, this may not be the story for you. If, on the other hand, you like complex plots and well thought out worlds, this is one of the best around.
    Five stars for a superb reading of a superb book.

    54 of 71 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ryan M. James Seattle, WA USA 09-04-13
    Ryan M. James Seattle, WA USA 09-04-13 Member Since 2012

    Bookworm

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Worst narrator"
    If you could sum up A Game of Thrones in three words, what would they be?

    Thrilling, addictive and immersive


    What was one of the most memorable moments of A Game of Thrones?

    Ned Stark's end.


    Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Roy Dotrice?

    Anyone else. I absolutely hated this narrator. He didn't know how to pronounce names. In fact, he pronounces Bran as "Brian," Winterfell as "Winterfall," Catelyn is pronounced multiple ways. And his mewling voice didn't match the tone of the book at all. Hated hated hated his narration. Game of Thrones deserves so much better than this.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Yes


    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amber Fort Collins, CO, United States 07-25-13
    Amber Fort Collins, CO, United States 07-25-13 Member Since 2014
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    "I like Brian** but not Jeffery**"

    If you're even remotely contemplating listening to this you should! If you are a fan of the show and worried about knowing the story already, there’s no need to – it won’t ruin any of your enjoyment of the book. George RR Martin packs so much into his characters, plot, and even the landscapes, that you will be guaranteed to still find the novel just as gripping as someone who has never seen the show.

    This is the second time I've listened to this audio book and found it just as engaging as the first time (having also seen the show in between readings). The characters are so rich, and the plots so in depth and unpredictable that the ending caught me by surprise – it came so quickly despite the run length of 30 hours. There wasn’t a single moment that I checked the time remaining because I was impatient for the book to “hurry up and get on with it”, like so many other novels.

    **Brian and Jeffery are part of the reason I’m marking down the narrator, Roy Dotrice. He does have a great voice for the book, it matches well with the period and feel of the novel, and generally he does well with such a mammoth amount of text. But he is just so lazy and inconsistent I can’t help but mark him down – especially knowing how far off the rails he goes in later books. He mispronounces names often – some seem to be him misreading the names - Bran/Brian and Joffrey/Jeffery for example (both happen quite close to the beginning of the book, though it happens with others throughout) – but with a few it’s as though he just didn’t worry about remembering how he pronounced them last time – even if it was in the same paragraph. Hodor, for example, is by turns “Ho-door”, “Ho-deer”, “Ho-duh”, “Ho-daar” (all of these happen in the narration, so it is not merely character accents). It’s a minor annoyance, though, and not too distracting – unlike the way he holds character’s voices after they stop talking. By this I mean he will be using Robb’s voice to say something, but keep using it to say “Robb said to his mother”. It’s not as noticeable/distracting with the characters he’s voiced similar to his narration style, but for crones or heavily accented characters, like our favourite Imp, it can be quite distracting. It takes me out of the story for a moment once I realise that the character has stopped talking and it is now narration. He also has a habit of slipping into acting during the narration, grunting or laughing or groaning while reading a description of the character doing these things – but he will only do it randomly. The inconsistency of the technique blurs the distinction between characters and narration further, and removes the listener for the story a little.

    Overall these are minor distractions, though, and Roy Dotrice has given voice to Westeros well.

    Game of Thrones is a fantastic read, and a bargain for 1 credit! Do yourself a favour and give it a shot. You’ll be amazed at how often you start making time to listen.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
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