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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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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.

1,134 of 1,210 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

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.

317 of 357 people found this review helpful

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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.

323 of 364 people found this review helpful

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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.

158 of 179 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Simply Outstanding.

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.

168 of 193 people found this review helpful

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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.

105 of 122 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

I beg to differ...

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.

363 of 424 people found this review helpful

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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!

337 of 396 people found this review helpful

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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.

128 of 150 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

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.

256 of 301 people found this review helpful

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  • 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...