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 understand that there are to be 7 books in this series, but as of this writing there are only 5. I listened to them all, one right after the other, so it is difficult for me to review them separately. Besides, I think anyone new to the series should know what they're getting into right up front. However, there are no spoilers here.
I'm going to use the word "read" instead of "listen" because it's all the same to me and "read" is shorter.
My sons, both of them "men grown," have been nagging me for at least two years to read these books. Recently, they both accosted me about it from different parts of the country on my birthday, so I grudgingly agreed to try the first book. I have now read them all, as I said. My sons have been disinherited several times during the reading process. They had better hope that the last two books come out before I die.
I have read a number of reviews comparing Martin to Tolkien. This might be true if Tolkien had been a warped, sadistic bastard who enjoyed tormenting his readers. During the course of reading these books, I have called Martin everything but a good guy. Lucifer, Beelzebub, and Spawn of Satan top the list, along with accompanying adjectives. But I read all the books and am biting my nails waiting for the next one. True to his nature, however, Martin is making no promises about when that will be. Judging from the spacing of these first 5 books, I may have no fingers left by the time book 6 hits the presses. (This would help me relate better to some of his characters, I guess.)
So, for those of you who have not yet begun this series: If you are very squeamish, you'd better not start. There is a lot of torture, violence, explicit sex, and explicit violent sex. Even worse, there's some really bad language.
It is set in a world that seems to be based on Medieval England, but is not England nor any other place on this earth. The number of characters and story lines that are converging on each other seems daunting at first glance, but I was surprised at how easily I could keep the major ones straight in my head.
There are some characters that you will love and others that you will love to hate, and still others that you will hate to love. Some of them you will hate and then come to love or pity, and the other way around, too. Some of them, mostly Tyrion Lannister, are very witty and humorous no matter what the situation, so that provides a little relief sometimes. Some of them you will forget about entirely, as a whole book might go by before they pop up again.
If you like to feel safe and secure when reading a book, this series is not for you. Nothing is sacred, no one is safe. Bad things happen to good people, and vice versa. If I had been reading a paper book, I would have a lot of holes in my walls from repeatedly throwing the books against them. However, reading them has given me plenty of practice climbing the walls. (Unfortunately, as a woman, I would still not be able to become a Black Brother.) No one is happy in any of the seven kingdoms. The only joy comes from vengeance or, more rarely, justice. I hate books like that! But I read all the books and am biting my nails waiting for the next one.
I have given the series 5 stars because I could not stop reading once I had started, no matter how angry it made me. I would never have read these books if my sons had not hounded me into it. But wait--no--I have no sons. That was that other woman who lived before she embarked on the torturous journey that is Game of Thrones.
Great story and fantastic narration. I have nothing to add on that front.
About the quality, however...once an hour a sentence repeated itself. I'm assuming they recorded from a CD where the last sentence of a disc is repeated as the first sentence of the next disc. Also, the last 40 minutes of Audible's Part 3 were repeated at the beginning of Part 4. Not at all on par with Audible's usual quality...surprising and disappointing that they would let one of their best sellers go out in this condition.
I read a lot of fantasy and sci-fi, and I can promise you that this series of books is among the best.
This tale takes place in a land known as the "Seven Kingdoms." However, these kingdoms are actually ruled by a single King with various Lords under him. The history of these kingdoms is expertly blended into the plot, so that you effortlessly become emersed into the world. I can't overstate the skill with which the author draws the reader into his world. It feels as if this land, with its people, traditions and history is as real as our own.
Magic does exist in this world, but it is rare. It is used to color the plot, not to dominate it. There are hints of other races, but varieties of humans are all we encounter. There is some profanity, but it's fairly rare and in context. There is some sexual content. I wouldn't recommend this book for children.
Large sections of the plot revolve around the "palace intrigue" of the King, his family and the Lords. This is a book about the nobles of this realm and, as the title suggests, the high stake games they play for power. The characters in the book are deep, colorful and simply splendid. Their lives have a depth to them that few authors accomplish. I confess that, when not reading the book, I actually thought about them during the day and laid awake wondering about them at night. In the audio version, the narrator does a wonderful job of giving voice to these vivid characters.
The plot has numerous twists and turns. Sometimes I think the author intentionally speculates about what the reader would expect in the plot of a fantasy novel, and then does something completely different. I gave up trying to predict what would happen, and decided to just enjoy the ride. However, there is an overall "master" plot that is slowly unveiled in this and subsequent books.
If you enjoy fantasy, this is a must read. Even if you usually don't like fantasy, you may very enjoy this one.
"A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one." - Jojen Reed. #ADanceWithDragons
I am without words.... This book is just epic! I am still reeling from the captivating storyline and the amazing narration! This is what mature fantasy literature is all about, it is magical and yet feels so realistic. The vast array of characters are engaging and beautifully developed. The characters age so realistically in the book and the many sub-plots and intertwining leaves you just wanting more and more. The narration is so spot on I can't think of anyone else that could do this book any more justice, Roy Dotrice, you are just plain great. This was one of those books that you CANNOT stop listening to. I mean I listened to this book non stop, going to bed some UNREAL hours because of it. I am so impressed, so so so impressed!
Just wandered over here and the reviews currently sitting on the page paint a picture of people who, with all due respect, have interesting tastes.
Roy Dotrice is a brilliant reader who ranks up there with Jim Dale. I say this because every character has his or her own distinct voice and there's 14,712 of them, so that's impressive. The only problem I will tell you up front is that in Book 3, one character changes voices and it's a bit disconcerting. Beyond that, he's amazing.
For people who think this is too long and is slow to get started, I admit it took me until the bit at the inn (that description will make sense) and then I was hooked. And if you prefer things that aren't, well, epic, then yes, this isn't your book.
It's frankly brilliant. And the best put-together fantasy world I've read since Tolkien. If you are a patient reader/listener who loves epic fantasy, a twisty plot, and don't mind not having any idea how big a story is actually happening (not at first anyway), then you'll dig the heck out of it. If that's not for you, then look elsewhere.
Just felt compelled to say something.
Hey Audible, don't raise prices and I promise to buy lots more books.
Thank goodness for reviews. I am happy with my Audible subscription but I might not be had I made many mistakes in spending my credits. I have not made many mistakes thanks to reviews by listeners.
This was an incredible book. The narrator took some getting used to in particularly the way children and women are spoken. Otherwise, the narrator is brilliant. He sounds like the great actor that he is. This is not just a good narration; it is a great performance. As strange as it was at times, I have been tempted to listen to the next book in the series just for the narrator.
The story is deep and complex… exactly what I was looking for. The characters are rich and it is easy to become invested in their fate. Therein lies the rub. If the character is good and kind and honorable, they are probably going to die. This is a story in which it pays to be bad. Maybe that was the way things were back then, whenever then or where is. The sex and violence did not seem gratuitous… only the evil that men and women do. Okay, there was a lot of violence, which brings me to my conclusion.
I give the book 5 stars because the book was that good. Reading beyond the first in the series feels, for me, like self-flagellation. The book was just too dark and depressing. There was too much torturing of characters and eventually, I felt like was starting to feel the pain myself. I am not a sadist nor am I a masochist. So as well as the book was written and narrated, I do not think I will continue beyond Vol 1.
Wow. George R. R. Martin has renewed my faith in the Fantasy genre. I enjoyed this book so much I was pulling my hair out waiting for the month to end so I could download the next 2 books in the series. The writing is excellent. The dialogue is wonderful. The setting is dark, intriguing and original. The narrator, an experienced actor, is exceptional and he easily allowed me to immerse myself in the story. The only thing that I fear would turn people off from this book is the intense violence and certain taboo situations--but such things are expected in a more gritty, realistic medieval setting. So if you prefer your fantasy novels rated PG, than A Game Of Thrones is not for you. Also, those of you who expect all of their fantasy novels to end with shiny, happy people holding hands can just stop reading now and find another book. R.R. Martin isn't afraid to kill characters. So if you're not already squeamish by what I've said above, then read this book. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll shake your fists into the air and seethe with rage. I have found my new favorite fantasy author, and his name is George R. R. Martin.
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.
I should start off by saying that my comments will not pertain to the story, plot, characters or descriptions contained within "A Game of Thrones." If you are curious about these things, other reviewers have described them at length and in a far better manner than I ever could. If I was just going to judge this book based on its content, I would have given it the highest score possible.
However, I was sorely disappointed by the quality of this audio book. It is obvious that the producers did not spend a good deal of time reviewing these recordings or they would have noticed several things.
First - The narrator does not pronounce character names the same every time he says them. Within the first six hours, I heard Lady Stark referred to as CAT-LYNN, CAT-EH-LYNN, and CATE-LYNN. I also heard Prince Joffrey referred to as Jeffrey, Theon referred to as both THEE-ON and THAY-ON and the man somehow managed to put an "h" into Sansa's name several times. There are similar problems with some of the place names and words invented by the author. This is distracting, to say the very least.
Second - No less than three times during the first six hours, a small portion of the text was repeats at least twice (either due to a poor editing cut or some sort of glitch with a track break).
Third - When not reciting dialogue, the narrator's voice is fairly flat and monotonous. During scenes of heavy description/exposition (the set-up for the tournament, for example) this slows the pace of the book to a crawl.
IN short, I would strongly recommend this book to anyone who wanted to read it, but I would suggest that they stay away from the audio version. Sadly, the others in the series have the same narrator, so I suspect that they suffer from the same problems. I, however, am not going to spend the money to find out.
Megan in TX
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.
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.
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