George R.R. Martin lives up to his initials with Game of Thrones. Review by Violet Kane

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For those who have grown weary of multi-epic fantasy, George R.R. Martin has rescued the 800 page saga from its maligned status among fantasy connoisseurs! I do not exaggerate when I describe Game of Thrones as a modern classic.

Game of Thrones is the first book of Martin's Song of Ice and Fire series. The first book opens at the chilly northern castle of Winterfell, where Ned Stark rules the seat formerly occupied by a great line of kings. He now serves as vassal to his old friend King Robert. The only hint of tension in Ned Stark's world is the bastard son, Jon, he has raised among his legitimate heirs—that is, until King Robert's progress shows up at his door, begging Ned to leave Winterfell to serve as his top advisor. A tough decision on any day, Ned's dilemma is all the more difficult with Robert's wife and her family, the ambitious Lannisters, sniffing around. Out of a sense of duty, Ned ultimately agrees to leave Winterfell to serve his old friend, splitting up his family in the process. If the Lannisters' power and influence weren't intimidating enough, unbeknownst to Ned and King Robert, a new threat is brewing across the sea. The heir of the old dynasty of kings, the one that King Robert displaced, is constructing a plan to reclaim power.

Martin's tale of royal politics and underhanded alliances is set in a gritty realistic world based upon Medieval Europe. The vivid detail of this world betrays a depth of research. But the setting does not overpower the real center of this tale: the characters. Martin has a particular talent to drawing realistic, flawed and fascinating characters. There are no "good guys" or "bad guys" in this book. Martin employs the technique of switching point of view characters from one chapter to the next. You'll find yourself rooting for whomever you're reading about at the time. Martin's penchant for killing off main characters—when you're not necessarily expecting it—may shock first time Martin readers. But his gumption for "making good on his threats" will keep you absorbed. Above all, I must laud Martin for constructing a plot wholly from out of his characters. No nameless formless evil besets Martin's fantasy world. His characters create and confront their own problems. His story is well-crafted and character-controlled, keeping the reader anxious for the next chapter. Never will 800 page go more quickly. His fantasy world is admittedly light on magic—certainly not something I object to. But this book isn't a strict Medieval adventure. Fans of magic will fine enough sorcery to spark their imaginations.

This book is a must read for any fan of Medieval fantasy. It is also a good crossover book for any fan of other popular fiction genres who has considered giving fantasy a try.

Read our reviews of Song of Ice and Fire Book 2, Clash of Kings, and Book 3 Storm of Swords!

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Violet "Violanthe" Kane is the Webmaster and Founder of ARWZ.com. She is an editor of ARWZ Literary Zine and is currently pursuing a Master's degree in Medieval studies.