A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin
"When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die." -Cersei Lannister
I think epic fantasy literature offers the best kind of escape. In a well-constructed fantasy you can lose yourself in mastering the intricacies of plotlines, character charts, and the physical environment of the world. George R. R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones, the first in the Song of Fire and Ice series, is the perfect book to hook you and then submerge you in its rich, imaginative prose peppered with bravery, cowardice, betrayal, loyalty, violence, lust, and death. In other words, it's great fun all around.
A Game of Thrones follows three main storylines, each populated with a complex number of characters and sub-plots. In the Seven Kingdoms we have the plotting Lannisters, ever eager for power and riches; and the duty-bound, severe Starks, proud to the last. Along the Wall in the north there is John Snow, Eddard Stark’s illegitimate son and part of the Brotherhood of the Knights Watch, who guards the Seven Kingdoms from the savage barbarians, undead, and beasts in the wild beyond the Wall. And in the East there is young Daenerys Targaryen, an exiled princess now wed to a Dothraki horse lord, dreaming of reclaiming the Iron Throne.
I first read A Game of Thrones in 1996 when it was published, so I chose to listen to it on audio this time around. British actor Roy Dotrice narrates the book and does a fantastic job of bringing the cast of characters to life. It took me 2 months to get through this by just listening on the way to and from work and around town, but each hour made my commute a pleasure.
There’s been a resurgence of interest in A Game of Thrones owing to the HBO television series and the long-awaited publication of the fifth book in the series, A Dance of Dragons. I am not sure that I am willing to alter my mental image of the characters by watching the show, but I intent to savor each part of the series on audiobook this year. The library owns the audiobook, print, and ebook version of the story. You can also find more information about it here: http://www.gameofthronesaudiobook.com/.