Denver Science Fiction & Fantasy Book Club

A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
Book One of A Song of Ice and Fire

Copyright - 1996
Del Rey paperback cover by Stephen Youll (left)
Bantam Spectra hardback cover by Tom Hallman (right)

A Game of Thrones paperback A Game of Thrones hardback

A Game of Thrones: cover art & blurbs
A Game of Thrones: Amy's book summary
A Game of Thrones: Our book ratings
A Game of Thrones: Aaron's Commentary
Blood of the Dragon
Path of the Dragon, artwork for story
A Clash of Kings, book two
Storm of Swords, book three
A Feast for Crows, book four
Future books in the series
A Game of Thrones CCG
Dragon® Magazine - May 2003
George R. R. Martin bibliography

A Game of Thrones (1996) - Book One of A Song of Ice and Fire
1997 Locus Award for Best Fantasy Novel
1997 Nebula Award Nominee

From a Bantam Spectra promo for book:
Set in a kingdom where summers can last decades and winters a lifetime, this is a tale of corruption and betrayal, heroism and intrigue, where an ancient evil threatens in the north, while in the south a multitude of factions plays at that most dangerous of pursuits: the game of thrones.
Amy's short summary:  George R.R. Martin - A Game of Thrones

This is a gritty, epic fantasy.

The Starks of Winterfell are pulled into the politics of the Seven Kingdoms.  It's thirteen years after a civil war deposed the Targaryen Dynasty from the Iron Throne, and after years of summer, winter is coming.

King Robert Baratheon, who was once strong in battle, is proving to be a poor ruler.  Queen Cersei and her family, the Lannisters, are grabbing what power they can.  Lord Jon Arryn, the Hand of the King, has died suddenly and mysteriously.  Lord Eddard Stark is asked personally by his old friend King Robert to become the new Hand.  Reluctantly he accepts the position and takes part of his family south to King's Landing.

Meanwhile across the sea, the head of the Old Targaryen Dynasty, Viserys, sells his sister Daenerys into marriage to Khal Drogo, a Dothraki horse lord, for armies to reconquer the Seven Kingdoms.

This book is told from multiple points of view: Lord Eddard (Ned) Stark, his wife Catelyn, and their son Bran, their daughters Sansa and Arya, Eddard's bastard son Jon Snow, Tyrion Lannister, and Daenerys.

summary written by

Blood of the Dragon - Asimov's SF magazine Blood of the Dragon

Winner - 1997 Hugo Award for Best Novella

Asimov's Science Fiction magazine July 1996 issue featured this novella length excerpt, basically the chapters about Daenerys, from A Game of Thrones

Illustration by Darryl Elliot

How we each rated this book
Dan 10 Amy 10 stack of books 10   Wow! Don't miss it
8-9  Highly recommended
7    Recommended
5-6  Mild recommendation
3-4  Take your chances
1-2  Below average; skip it
0    Get out the flamethrower!
U    Unfinishable or unreadable
-    Skipped or no rating given
Cheri - Barb 6
Aaron 7 Cynthia 8
Lars - Jackie 10

Aaron's Commentary:  George R.R. Martin - A Game of Thrones

Whether it's science fiction, horror, or fantasy, Martin is one of the most skilled writers around.  His style is easy to read, yet he always finds an interesting way to say things.  In an early scene, for example, instead of telling us that Jon feels sorry for himself because he's a bastard, Martin shows Jon thinking how lucky he is to be a bastard so he can sit with the lowborn at a banquet and get drunk, which he only wants to do because deep down he's feeling sorry for himself.

The characterization in this novel is solid throughout.  All of Eddard Stark's children are nicely developed and sympathetic in different ways (even Sansa, for all her faults).  The villains are delightfully despicable, except for Tyrion, who is the most likable villain you're ever likely to meet.

My major criticism with the book is probably unfair, since it's a complaint I can (and do) make about most "fat fantasy" novels: It just takes much too long to advance the story. It's clear from the outset that there will be three main story lines in Martin's series: (1) the supernatural Others will descend on the Seven Kingdoms from the North; (2) there will be a clash of cultures when the nomadic Dothraki attack from across the sea; and (3) there will be internal battles among the existing nobility for the throne of the Seven Kingdoms.  For all its length, this volume barely advances story lines (1) and (2) at all.  (While we're at it, these two story lines again hardly move at all in A Clash of Kings, the second lengthy entry in this series.)  Only story line (3) has anything happen, but it's the least interesting of the three.  Why should we really care who is king?  Robert Baratheon certainly leaves a lot to be desired as a ruler.  If anything, we can expect that the scheming Lannisters will do a better job of running the kingdom - they could hardly do worse!  Most of the Lannisters' machinations in trying to seize control are rather predictable anyway.

Having said all that, I read through this book compulsively, I tore through the second book when it came out, and I fully expect to follow Martin through however many volumes he devotes to this series.  (Supposedly it's to be six, but will anyone be surprised if it expands further?)  Not only is the characterization very strong, but Martin's dialogue is terrific and he writes action scenes well.  Several times I've caught myself pulling the book off my shelf to reread scenes like the rousing Battle of the Whispering Woods.  So I've got a lot of nerve complaining, eh?

What do you think? Your comments are welcome. Please send them to
(Aaron has also written reviews for the next two books - see links below)

A Clash of Kings (1999) - Book Two of A Song of Ice and Fire
1999 Locus Award for Best Fantasy Novel
1999 Nebula Award Nominee

Aaron's book review of A Clash of Kings on Fantastic Reviews
A Clash of Kings - book cover art, links to reviews, USA and UK book blurbs

A Storm of Swords (2000) - Book Three of A Song of Ice and Fire
2001 Locus Award for Best Fantasy Novel
2001 Hugo Award Nominee
2001 Nebula Award Nominee

Aaron's book review of A Storm of Swords on Fantastic Reviews
A Storm of Swords - book cover art, links to reviews, USA & UK cover blurbs

Path of the Dragon
Asimov's Science Fiction magazine December 2000 issue featured this novella length excerpt of Dany's story from A Storm of Swords. My page for "Path of the Dragon" shows the nice artwork featured with this story.

For UK paperback publication A Storm of Swords was split into two books, Steel and Snow and Blood and Gold.

A Feast for Crows (2005) - Book Four of A Song of Ice and Fire

A Feast for Crows, the fourth book in the series, was released on November 8, 2005. It went to #1 on the New York Times bestseller list.  It was a pleasure to see George R.R. Martin talk and sign books at the Tattered Cover Book Store in downtown Denver.

Aaron's book review of A Feast for Crows on Fantastic Reviews
A Feast for Crows cover

This epic series, A Song of Ice and Fire, will continue...

A Dance with Dragons (5th book)
The Winds of Winter (6th book)
A Dream of Spring (7th book)

AGoT CCG House Stark A Game of Thrones CCG (Collectible Card Game)

For more information go to my AGOT CCG site Thrones & Dragons

Featured character card art
Daenerys Targaryen | Melisandre | Stannis Baratheon | Arya Stark | Robb Stark | Sansa Stark | Jon Snow | Cersei Lannister | Jaime Lannister

Shown at left is a A Game of Thrones Westeros Stark starter deck
© 2002-2004 George R. R. Martin  © 2002-2004 FFG Fantasy Flight Games

Dragon® Magazine - May 2003 - Issue 307

Dragon, a Dungeons & Dragons gaming magazine, has a George R.R. Martin exclusive in the May 2003 issue. It features tips for running a campaign in the world of Westeros, a George R.R. Martin interview, and a Westeros poster map.

On the cover Donato Giancola shows us the beauty of the red priestess Melisandre from A Song of Ice and Fire
Dragon May 2003

Our book group has also read the following books by George R.R. Martin:
-- Dying of the Light   in January 2005

George R. R. Martin (1948-     ) Is a US writer and editor. (His middle initials, R.R., stand for Raymond Richard). He has written short fiction, novels, and for TV. He has edited original and reprint fiction anthologies.

1974 Hugo Award best novella for "Song for Lya"
1979 Hugo Award best novelette for "Sandkings"
1979 Nebula Award best novelette for "Sandkings"
1979 Hugo Award best short story "The Way of Cross and Dragon"
1985 Nebula Award best novelette for "Portraits of His Children"
1987 Bram Stoker Award for "The Pear-Shaped Man"
1989 World Fantasy Award for novella "The Skin Trade"
1997 Hugo Award best novella for "Blood of the Dragon"

A Song of Ice and Fire series:
George R.R. Martin's bestselling epic fantasy series.
--A Game of Thrones (1996)
--A Clash of Kings (1999)
--A Storm of Swords (2000)
--A Feast for Crows (2005)

The anthology Legends (1998) contains "The Hedge Knight", a novella set in the A Song of Ice and Fire world, but a century earlier. It features Dunk, a poor but honorable young man who wants to be more than a mere hedge knight. He goes to Ashford Meadow hoping to win a tourney. A clever boy, Egg, wants to be his squire. Things get complicated when Dunk fights to defend a pretty puppeteer from a cruel Targaryen prince.

Legends II (2003) contains "The Sworn Sword," which continues the adventures of Dunk, a young hedge knight, and his unusual squire, Egg.

Other novels:
--Dying of the Light (1977)
--Windhaven (with Lisa Tuttle, 1981)
(Windhaven was reprinted in hardcover in 2001)
--Fevre Dream (1982), a tale of vampires and Mississippi steamboats
--Armageddon Rag (1983), a thriller
--The Ice Dragon (1980), a story published as a short book in 2006
--Shadow Twin (with Gardner Dozois and Daniel Abraham) (2005)

Short fiction collections:
--A Song for Lya and Other Stories (1976)
--Songs of Stars and Shadows (1977)
--Sandkings (1981)
--Songs the Dead Men Sing (1983)
--Nightflyers (1985)
--Tuf Voyaging (1986, linked SF stories)
--Portraits of his Children (1987)
--Quartet (2001, collection of three novellas)
--GRRM: A Retrospective (2003) from Subterranean Press contains novellas, unpublished teleplays, short stories, and commentary
--Dreamsongs: Volume I (2007)
--Dreamsongs: Volume II (2007)

Television work:
Martin was story editor for the TV series The Twilight Zone (1985-1987), and a writer and a producer for Beauty and the Beast (1987-1990). He wrote a number of teleplays for episodes of these series.

Wild Cards series:
Martin created and edited the superhero shared-world anthologies - "mosaic novels" - Wild Cards. The Wild Cards books are being reissued as a trade paperbacks. The books in this linked series are:
#1: Wild Cards - A Mosaic Novel (1987)
#2: Aces High (1987)
#3: Jokers Wild (1987)
#4: Aces Abroad (1988)
#5: Down and Dirty (1988)
#6: Ace in the Hole (1990)
#7: Dead Man's Hand (1990, written by Martin and John J. Miller)
#8: One-Eyed Jacks (1991)
#9: Jokertown Shuffle (1991)
#10: Double Solitaire (1992, a novel by Melinda M. Snodgrass)
#11: Dealers Choice (1992)
#12: Turn of the Cards (1993, a novel by Victor Milán)
The "new cycle" of Wild Cards books are:
#13: Card Sharks (1993)
#14: Marked Cards (1994)
#15: Black Trump (1995)
There is a companion graphic-story Wild Cards series including, #1: Heart of the Matter (1990), #2: Diamond in the Rough (1990), #3: Welcome to the Club (1990) and #4: Spadework (1990)

G.R.R. Martin as editor:
Martin edited New Voices in Science Fiction, Volumes 1-4 (anthologies 1977- 1981), The Science Fiction Weight-Loss Book (1983, with Isaac Asimov and Martin H. Greenberg), The John W. Campbell Awards Volume 5 (1984); and Night Visions 3 (1986).

Graphic novels from Martin's works
1987 DC Comics graphic novel adaptation of George R.R. Martin's novella "Sandkings"
HEDGE KNIGHT #1 to #6 - graphic novel/trade paperback of The Hedge Knight (2004) adapted by Ben Avery with pencils by Mike S. Miller.

Site Links:
USA and UK cover art, book blurbs, links to reviews
A Game of Thrones
A Clash of Kings
A Storm of Swords
Artwork from A Song of Ice and Fire series novella
Path of the Dragon
George RR Martin book reviews
Aaron's review of A Clash of Kings on Fantastic Reviews
Aaron's review of A Storm of Swords on Fantastic Reviews
Aaron's review of A Feast for Crows on Fantastic Reviews
Other George RR Martin books
Our book club's page for The Dying of the Light by George R.R. Martin

Links to other George R. R. Martin sites on the Web:
Official website of George R. R. Martin
A Song of Ice and Fire
Westeros: The 'A Song of Ice and Fire' Domain
Harenhall : Home of Kings
SF Site: A Conversation with George R. R. Martin (Nov. 2000)
Wild Cards Comes to Roleplaying - Short article
A Song of Ice and Fire chapter summaries - Hunter Rose
January Magazine Interview | George R. R. Martin - Entertainment - George R. R. Martin (Apr. 2001)
George RR Martin interviewed - infinity plus (Dec. 2000)
A Game of Thrones CCG Tournament Site
Thrones and Dragons - AGOT CCG card lists and art, fan site
Eis-und - German A Song of Ice and Fire site
The Red Keep - fanart site
Winterfell - A Song of Ice and Fire illustrations

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This page was last updated October 20, 2008