Kicking things off with a re-read of book one in George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire.
A Game of Thrones needs little introduction thanks to HBO. This is the second time I’ve read Martin’s first entry in his Song of Ice and Fire series, the first was after HBO made the announcement that it would be adapted for cable television. Like many others, I used the announcement as an excuse to purchase a copy in order to see what the fuss was about. I thought that the book offered a strong narrative built upon fascinating medieval-style political intrigue and a sprinkling of fantastical elements. Although the ice zombies called the Others pose a significant threat, it is the game of thrones – the warring of Houses for the rule of Westeros – that serves as the plot’s primary focus. My first read through wasn’t without its challenges, chief among them was my inability to keep track of the numerous characters. There are a lot of names in A Game of Thrones, each with their own extensive family trees, motivations, characterizations and House histories that existed long before the start of the novel.
The re-read, on the other hand, was a much more pleasant experience and I have four seasons of the television series to thank for that. From now until the end of time, Peter Dinklage is Tyrion Lannister just as Lena Headey is Cersei Lannister and Maisie Williams is Arya Stark. This may sound as if I have lost the ability to interpret character descriptions because video games have destroyed any semblance of imagination. However, by identifying characters with their TV counterparts I could spend more time enjoying the story without having to reflect on the relationships between the characters. This also makes certain plot lines shine. When Eddard finds himself closer to uncovering the truth, I was struck with how well the book conveys suspense. With his interactions with Littlefinger, Varys and Cersei, I could see the noose tightening around his neck as he struggled to do what he thought was right. I also grew to appreciate Ned as a tool designed to present Westerosi politics as a dangerous game where one’s morals and sense of justice are constantly challenged (and often overwhelmed) by House squabbles and the corruption that comes with absolute power.
A Game of Thrones proved itself to be better the second time around and as much as I’d like to spend the summer would like to spend the summer exploring different genres and authors, I can easily see myself returning to A Song of Ice and Fire. I’d also like to know if they hold up against their television counterparts just as well.