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A Game of Thrones

A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 1
Narrated by: Roy Dotrice
Series: A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 1
Length: 33 hrs and 46 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (106,416 ratings)

Regular price: $31.50

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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)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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    87,761
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    13,401
  • 3 Stars
    2,874
  • 2 Stars
    1,074
  • 1 Stars
    1,306

Performance

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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    69,701
  • 4 Stars
    14,974
  • 3 Stars
    4,959
  • 2 Stars
    1,383
  • 1 Stars
    1,319

Story

  • 5 out of 5 stars
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    79,897
  • 4 Stars
    8,912
  • 3 Stars
    1,947
  • 2 Stars
    657
  • 1 Stars
    827
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Review of First 5 Books

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.

2,283 of 2,407 people found this review helpful

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

83 of 89 people found this review 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.

77 of 83 people found this review helpful

  • 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.

224 of 247 people found this review helpful

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

How many ways can one man pronounce Catelyn?

Would you consider the audio edition of A Game of Thrones to be better than the print version?

Absolutely not. Somebody should have given Mr. Dotrice a style sheet or pronunciation key. And perhaps also reminded him that very few of the characters are grizzled old men.

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

Anybody.

Any additional comments?

I read and enjoyed this book so long ago, I thought it would be a nice refresher to listen. The narration is painfully slow and Mr. Dotrice's inconsistent pronunciation of names and places is maddening. There are so many characters to keep track of in these books, but listening to this might leave you thinking there are three times as many!
I also hated his creepy Varys voice and daft-sounding Tyrion.

44 of 48 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    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.

660 of 734 people found this review helpful

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

The Narrator Roy Dotrice was an awful choice.

Is there anything you would change about this book?

I think the narrator Roy Dotrice is a poor choice, literally anyone else would have been better. Roy could not pronounce even the simplest names (really, who cant pronounce Peter?) Was he not coached on names? Was the Narrator completely clueless about this book when he was cast? Other books I have listened to the narrators at least try to do different voices, Roy isn't even trying. His voice does not suit the book at all. Roy sounds like he is choking on phlegm when he laughs. It was super off putting when he pronounced names wrong and when he grossly laughs. Its super cringe worthy. With a book and show as popular as this, I would have thought the audio book would have been 1000x better.

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

Literally anyone one else. He was awful.

23 of 25 people found this review helpful

  • 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.

358 of 403 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    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.

294 of 332 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    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.

233 of 264 people found this review helpful

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Graeme
  • 07-20-17

Narration is everything

I've been told by everyone I know that this is an amazing story and couldn't wait to hear it. That said I think I will buy the Kindle version as I simply cannot get past the narration production. I've been too spoiled by outstanding Audible books to slog through here. I'm sure I will be hooked once I have read it myself...