• A Game of Thrones

  • A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 1
  • By: George R.R. Martin
  • Narrated by: Roy Dotrice
  • Length: 33 hrs and 46 mins
  • 4.8 out of 5 stars (143,678 ratings)

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A Game of Thrones

By: George R.R. Martin
Narrated by: Roy Dotrice
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Editorial review


By Seth Hartman, Audible Editor

A GAME OF THRONES IS A MASTERFUL START TO AN EPIC DARK FANTASY

I wasn’t properly introduced to A Song of Ice and Fire until my freshman year in college. My roommate at the time was a bona fide superfan of the series—when I told him that I hadn’t yet given it a try, he could barely contain his excitement. A week after this discovery, I had already watched the first season of the television series and was hungry for more. Instead of binging the remaining seasons, I elected to crack open the first book in order to get the "definitive" experience. Even at the time, I could already tell that this series would leave a strong impact on me.

A Game of Thrones mostly follows House Stark, a noble family controlling the northern portion of the great kingdom of Westeros. Ned, the Lord of House Stark, is asked to join his old friend King Robert Baratheon in court as his new right-hand man. Shortly after arriving in the royal capital, Ned begins to unravel a conspiracy involving Queen Cersei Lannister and her family. Far to the North, Ned’s bastard son Jon Snow joins the Night’s Watch, a group of banished soldiers tasked with defending The Wall, a massive chunk of ice that keeps the mysterious White Walkers confined. To the East, a young girl named Daenerys Targaryen, the last of her line and heir to the previous regime, begins her bid for the throne with little more than a couple of dragon eggs.

While this series becomes increasingly complex book to book, the first entry is delightfully streamlined. Rather than introducing a million characters and locations, A Game of Thrones focuses on the three major families in the series, devoting a lot of time to fleshing out the main cast. On my first read, I was struck by the subversive nature of Thrones. Despite its setting, this is not a triumphant tale of knights and dragons. Rather, George R.R. Martin has created a world of betrayals and backstabs, one that values information and subterfuge far more than swords and shining armor. Veteran voice actor Roy Dotrice brings his highly adaptable voice to the audiobook, giving even more color to Martin's writing.

Continue reading Seth's review >

Publisher's summary

Now the acclaimed HBO series Game of Thrones - the masterpiece that became a cultural phenomenon

Winter is coming. Such is the stern motto of House Stark, the northernmost of the fiefdoms that owe allegiance to King Robert Baratheon in far-off King's Landing. There Eddard Stark of Winterfell rules in Robert's name. There his family dwells in peace and comfort: his proud wife, Catelyn; his sons Robb, Brandon, and Rickon; his daughters Sansa and Arya; and his bastard son, Jon Snow. Far to the north, behind the towering Wall, lie savage Wildings and worse - unnatural things relegated to myth during the centuries-long summer, but proving all too real and all too deadly in the turning of the season. Yet a more immediate threat lurks to the south, where Jon Arryn, the Hand of the King, has died under mysterious circumstances. Now Robert is riding north to Winterfell, bringing his queen, the lovely but cold Cersei, his son, the cruel, vainglorious Prince Joffrey, and the queen's brothers Jaime and Tyrion of the powerful and wealthy House Lannister - the first a swordsman without equal, the second a dwarf whose stunted stature belies a brilliant mind. 

All are heading for Winterfell and a fateful encounter that will change the course of kingdoms. Meanwhile, across the Narrow Sea, Prince Viserys, heir of the fallen House Targaryen, which once ruled all of Westeros, schemes to reclaim the throne with an army of barbarian Dothraki - whose loyalty he will purchase in the only coin left to him: his beautiful yet innocent sister, Daenerys.

©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.

Critic reviews

  • 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)

Featured Article: The top 100 fantasy listens of all time


When compiling our list of the best fantasy listening out there, we immediately came up against the age-old question: Is this fantasy or science fiction? The distinction is not as clear as you may think. Dragons, elves, and wizards are definitely fantasy, but what about wizards that also fly space ships? (Looking at you, Star Wars.) For the sake of fantasy purity, the top 100 fantasy listens include the best audio works in all manner of fantasy subgenres.

What listeners say about A Game of Thrones

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Terrible editing, though...

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.

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714 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Audible, PLEASE re-record series w/ new narrator!!

Game of Thrones is an excellently written series, and the books should be recorded with a narrator who does it justice. Roy Dotrice is an absolute legend and his speaking voice is excellent, however he fails to be a good fit for this series. I got through the first two books and gave up somewhere around the third GOT book ,solely because of the narration.

All the characters sound like old men, even the ones in their 30s and 40s. Many of the voices have that wet, mealy-mouthed, too much saliva in my throat sound and it is SO distracting. Drogo sounds like a poor imitation of a cholo gangbanger. I understand the narrator was elderly when he recorded this, but when he attempts to give the characters voices it is just awful and cheesy.

Hopefully audible will listen to the countless complaints about this series and invest in re-recording the GOT books with a new and superior narrator. May I suggest Ray Porter? He would do a stupendous job with this material and finally the series would get a talented voice to match the quality of the writing.

For now, with the current narrator I can't recommend this purchase unless you truly don't mind bad narration and it won't bother you.

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443 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Why oh why was this guy chosen for the narrator?

Love, love, looooooove this series but good lord-this guy's terrible. I don't understand all the people that like his performance?! His range is horrible. He uses ever so slight variations on the same 2 voices over and over, sometimes inconsistently changing his voice for various parts. His only saving grace, for me, is I recognize he has a nice voice but he would have been better off not trying to change his voice at all and just doing straight reading. Michael Kramer would have been brilliant narrating this series.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

A fantastic tale!

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.

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Terrible narrator ruins a great book

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

Dotrice makes a slew of mistakes and errors that should have been caught with editing and multiple takes. Not only does he occasionally trip over lines, but he doesn't seem to know how to pronounce a single name in this entire book. It's incredibly jarring to listen to Brian and P-tire and Sancha. Not only that, but his voices are frequently distracting. Aftere being spoilt for talent in the show, the caricature voices are either too difficult to understand, like Varys slurring his words disgustingly, or downright insulting, as with the strange Warwick Davis impression he seems to be doing for Tyrion.

I sincerely hope to find other narrators for the subsequent books, because I have no intention of continuing this series with Dotrice narrating.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

OMG! OMG! OMG!

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!

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

Great book - not so great audiobook

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.

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Entertaining story, narrating not so much

Highly recommend this book if you enjoy the television series. There are some differences, but the history is richer in the novel(s) and I found it easier to follow.

However, Mr. Dotrice's narration leaves a lot to be desired. His voice is harsh and gruff, which doesn't lend itself to a plethora of various characters (I found the voice of Tywin especially obnoxious - forcibly pompous, uttering 2 or 3 words between lengthy pauses and breaths, like the worst caricature of a fat old British member of parliament). His interpretation of the pronounciation of the characters' names was inconsistent - "Joffrey" became "Jeffrey" at one point, "Hodor" was used interchangeably with "Hodar," and the Stark matriarch was sometimes "Catt-lin" and other times "Cait-lin," just to name a few. Narration of dialogue in a character's voice sometimes carries over into non-dialogue parts (i.e. reading "...said Arya" in Arya's voice). I found myself actually surprised this recording was given the thumbs-up for release, especially for a story so wildly popular as this one.

The narration almost ruins the book for me. I so wished for a different narrator for the remainder of the series, but alas - if you want to experience Game of Thrones on audiobook, this is what you're stuck with.

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Narrator ruins this epic fantasy

What did you like best about A Game of Thrones? What did you like least?

I love this series. I've read it already but decided to go through it again, but this time through audible.

How could the performance have been better?

In a story that is built off the richness and complexity of characters, it behooves the narrator to familiarize himself with the names, ages, and personalities of at least the main cast. This guy consistently misreads names, puts on an idiotic oaf voice for large and fierce characters, narrates a teenage boy's dialogue in the voice of an old man, and makes practically every other make character out in the same gruff voice. Completely ruins the diversity and dynamics of this great sory.
Further, after 30+ hours of him, I can say his prose and tone at times are just odd. They confuse the meaning of the passages and are littered with random pauses and abrupt continuations. It's like an actor breaking the fourth wall. His performance really jars you out of the story and is completely distracting.

Any additional comments?

It's a crime this guy goes on to narrate several more books in this series. I hope he improves, he's just awful.

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

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.

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