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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.

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


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  • Jenpur
  • california, usa
  • 11-05-13

narrator leaves somehing to be desired

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

Not really. I think you'd do better to read it yourself, or wait till a better narrator does it.

What did you like best about this story?

The story itself is fantastic.

How could the performance have been better?

The performance was lacking because the actor misreads words and names, but mainly because he only does old men voices well. Of all the books I've listened to, this is the only time I've ever really disliked a performance.

13 of 15 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
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Avoid the narration and read the book

What made the experience of listening to A Game of Thrones the most enjoyable?

Listening to this book was difficult. I tried on many occasions to get in to it, but the narrator grated on me so much that I kept putting it down. I thought I must hate the story and the characters, but when someone handed me the book I read and loved the story.

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

His voices were awful and never felt like they fit any of the characters. The guard sounded like a pirate, and so did the old nursemaid, etc.

36 of 43 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Poor production, annoying narration, great book.

I greatly appreciate Roy Dotrice's regular reading voice, but in this book, I find his vocal acting to be incredibly annoying; there are a couple of places where I've skipped sections of the book just so I don't have to listen to the huffing and puffing and wet-mouthed saliva sucking.

To add to the frustration, whoever cut the audio together for this book together wasn't paying much attention; nearly every chapter, there are one or two places where two sections overlap; a sentence will be read, then there'll be a long pause, then that same sentence will be repeated, and the book will continue.

The book itself is fine, but I won't spend two credits to listen to the narrator groan and moan his way through another chapter. I'll wait for the miniseries, or get the actual books from the library.

69 of 85 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
  • Story

Maybe I'm just spoiled by TV

Like many, I decided to finally read George R.R. Martin's epic novels after being drawn in by the HBO TV series based on the books. But perhaps the awesome visuals and great cast of actors spoiled me, because I couldn't get in to the audiobooks. I found the narrator's pace plodding and his accents irritating...again, this could just be because I already had voices for the characters in mind. In any case, I finally just bought the series for my Kindle and am reading them the old-fashioned way.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

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They're all hoary old men

I've read several reviews that love Dotrice's work. I'm not one of them. I love this novel – I wouldn't have purchased it in yet-another-format and be re-reading if I didn't, but I really wish they had cast the different parts with different narrators as many other books have done. The voice really makes the character and with Dotrice even 8 year old girls sound like hoary old men. It's hard to remember that Rob and Jon are only about 14 here or that Theon isn't much older with the voices they've been given. And do you really need to put *that* much slobber into Old Nan? Really? I felt like I had to wipe down my face after listening to that.

The narration really dragged a beloved novel down.

11 of 13 people found this review helpful

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  • Story

Prefer tv show over book

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

The audio quality of this book is horrible and this draws the entire story down a bit as well. In order for this to have a potenial to become a 4 star experience it has to be re-recorded. It's also hard to know when they've change the "scene" sometimes which draw the experience down even further.

How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

The story in itself is ok, but this is so far this is the only book where I would prefer the TV series over the book which in my opinion say a lot.

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

I'd say this narrator is below avarge although the poor sound quality might be a contributing factor. My personal favorite narrator is Allyson Johnson.

If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from A Game of Thrones?

I wouldn't remove any scene, i haven't read the other books yet. Scenes in stories over mutliple books tend to be used in later books thus I think removing any scene can cause problem for a long series down the line.

Any additional comments?

Sometimes they repeat the same sentence twice, I'm guessing this is when you should have change "sides" on a tape. In that scenario it could make some sence but in the current setup it's just confusing. A clearer cut would be nice so you know when scenes are changed. Different accents to each character also help to grab the story a bit easier. It could have been nice with a similar setup as they have in the wheel of time series. They use a male narrator when the perspective comes from a male character and the the other way around, when it's a female character they would use a female narrator.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Ryan
  • WESTMONT, IL, United States
  • 02-12-13

Can't even listen to it!

What would have made A Game of Thrones better?

I have yet to listen to it because it's unbearable to listen to.

Would you recommend A Game of Thrones to your friends? Why or why not?

I probably would recommend the book but not the audible version. I know I'll read the book eventually.

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

Probably anyone with a little more enthusiasm.

Any additional comments?

I have no idea if Roy is better in other books but it's very hard to get into a book if the reader isn't in to it himself.

26 of 32 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

A Game of Thrones

I found this book unbelievably well read. I have listened to books before read with feeling, accents and no one does it like the British. From the accents of Wales, Northern England, Ireland and even London's back streets, Mr. Roy Dotrice's reading leaves nothing to be desired. Why that Wiley LIttle Finger can't be mistaken for anyone else! Thanks for making the book come alive with it's pageantry and scope. Mr. Martin's skill of characterization is not diminished by this audio presentation, it is given the breath of life.

126 of 158 people found this review helpful

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  • Kyle
  • Los Angeles, CA, United States
  • 03-15-13

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.

37 of 46 people found this review helpful

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  • Jessica
  • minneapolis, MN, United States
  • 11-01-07

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 88 people found this review helpful