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A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

A Game of Thrones

When you play the Game of Thrones, you either win or you die.  In George R.R. Martin’s rich fantasy, King Robert of the House of Baratheon wins the game by defeating the Old Dynasty, the House of Tagaryen, but as his best friend, Eddard Stark, Lord of Winterfell’s family motto states, Winter is Coming, and things are changing.  Robert was a better soldier than king so the House of Lannister threatens his power, and a civil war breaks out. Jaime Lannister fights with his brawn, and his brother, the dwarf Tyrion Lannister, with his wit.

Martin’s characters are not black and white; he goes back to Sir Thomas Malory, where even Lancelot, the role model for chivalry, has deep, fatal flaws. Stark is an honest man, yet he does not know whom to trust and endangers himself and his family.  If you love fantasy combined with the Arthurian legend of knights and chivalry and an added twist of Machiavellian political intrigue, this book is for you. The magical elements of the godswoods, the dragon eggs, and the evil beings lurking the wilds of the north add an air of mystery and the supernatural to the novel.

Told by a different character in each chapter, this is also the tale of next generation in the Seven Kingdoms coming of age and being tested.  Each point of view lets you get to know the character and moves the story forward.  The Stark children and their half brother Jon Snow lose their innocence and have to grow up quickly.  Young Joffrey Baratheon is manipulated by his mother, Cersei Lannister. Young Dany Tagaryen has lost everything and has to find the strength to move forward.

This is part one of a series called  Song of Ice and Fire: A Game of ThronesA Clash of Kings, A Storm of Swords, A Feast for Crows and the last in the series, A Dance with Dragons, is due out July 12, 2011.

HBO recreated the book this year on the small screen, but the TV series has much more graphic violence and adult scenes, and, of course, the book is better! The HBO series will continue with A Clash of Kings in the spring of 2012.