(pb; 1996: Book One of A Song of Fire and Ice)
From the back cover:
"In a land where summers can last for decades and winters a lifetime, trouble is brewing. The cold is returning, and in the frozen wastes to the North of Winterfell, sinister and supernatural forces are massing beyond the kingdom's protective protective Wall. At the center of the conflict lie the Starks of Winterfell, a family as harsh and unyielding as the land they were born to. Sweeping from a land of brutal cold to a distant summertime kingdom of epicurean plenty, here is a tale of lords and ladies, soldiers and sorcerers, assassins and bastards, who come together in a time of grim omens. Amid plots and counterplots, tragedy and betrayal, victory and terror, the fate of the Starks, their allies, and their enemies hangs perilously in the balance, as each endeavors to win that deadliest of conflicts: the game of thrones."
I'm not fan of sword-and-sorcery fantasy novels, but this may be first book of this genre to fully immerse me in its vivid, often grim, sometimes kind and seductive world since I read J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings trilogy as a teenager. In fact, Game - for this middle-aged reader - may even trump Tolkien's work for its better editing and brutal realism.
I'm sure this review will add little to what others have already said, given my late entrance into Martin's created world, but to be clear: I loved and/or loathed the fully realized characters and their twisted, interwoven and intense histories; the action was raw, intriguing and unsparing; and the epic scope of Martin's world, as well as the "plots and counterplots" of its widely varied denizens absorbed this noir-minded (that is to say jaded) reader into its wild storylines.
One of my all-time favorite books - worth owning, this.
Followed by A Clash of Kings.
The first HBO/cable episode of A Game of Thrones aired on April 17, 2011. This series is still going - HBO recently aired its Season 3 finale, with a fourth season set to air next year.
Given the many characters in this series, I'm not going to list the characters, nor the actors who play them. (I have a busy schedule. Maybe later, when I have a little more time, I'll list those who have worked on the series.)