Review: A Game of Thrones – George R.R. Martin

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a game of thrones book cover

A Song of Ice and Fire #1

Eddard “Ned” Stark, Lord of Winterfell, is approached by his oldest friend and the king, Robert Baratheon, to take up the role of Hand of the King after the previous Hand, Jon Arryn, dies. Ned is not keen on the position, his place is in Winterfell, with his family in the North. His wife, Catelyn, insists that he take the job, especially after her sister Lysa Arryn warns her to beware of the Lannisters, whom she suspects are involved with the death of her husband. Robert’s wife, Cersei, is a Lannister, as well as her twin brother Jaime, who is a member of Robert’s kingsguard and known as the Kingslayer, making it difficult for Ned to approach Robert and discuss his fears with him. Ned decides that he will go with Robert to investigate the suspected murder of Jon Arryn. Shortly before leaving Winterfell, Cat and Ned’s youngest son, Brandon, who loves to climb, witnesses Jaime and Cersei together in a way that is most incestuous, and Jaime pushes Bran from a window, damn near killing the boy in the fall. Ned is loathe to leave, but Robert will hear nothing of it, and so he sets off for the capital of Westeros, King’s Landing, with his youngest daughter Arya and Sansa, whom Robert has proposed should marry his son, Joffrey, to bind the families together.

Once Ned has left Winterfell, his eldest son Robb takes up his place to rule, with the younger brothers, Rickon and the comatose Bran, remaining behind. Ned’s bastard son Jon Snow, moves to take his place as a member of the Night’s Watch, though he is sad to do so, but eager to make something of himself. He leaves with his uncle Benjen Stark, but is disappointed when the Wall turns out to be a terrible place, and that Snow still does not fit in. Many people are terrified of the direwolves that the Stark children have, and the wolves protect each child in turn. Across the Narrow Sea, Daenerys Targaryan is sold by her brother Viserys to Khal Drogo, a powerful warlord who is to help Viserys win back the Iron Throne from Robert. Daenerys initially starts unhappy, a young girl who was bartered for a crown, but soon takes up the Dothraki as her own people, falling deeply in love with her husband. In the khalasar, she makes the acquaintance of Ser Jorah Mormont, a banished knight from Westeros who swears to serve her brother. Daenerys receives beautiful gifts for her wedding, including three stone dragon eggs which are priceless. Daenerys dreams of the Targaryan dragons of old, reflecting that her and her brother are the last of that line, and that Viserys is the last dragon. Soon she discovers that she is pregnant, and is overjoyed by the news.

After Ned has left Winterfell, someone makes an attempt on Bran’s life, who wakes some time after the incident. Cat, meanwhile, has rode off to meet Ned in King’s Landing and discuss the rare dagger that the assassin had used. There they learn from Lord Petyr Baelish, a member of the king’s small council, that the blade belongs to the dwarf Tyrion Lannister, youngest brother of Cersei and Jaime. On the way back to Winterfell, Cat encounters Tyrion and captures him, taking him with her to the Vale, where her sister resides, to make him stand trial and answer for his wrongs. This, however, causes complications when Ned deals with Jaime in King’s Landing, who wishes for his brother’s safe return, and with Tywin Lannister rallying his men to go to war in order to retrieve Tyrion and show that they are not afraid to fight for their own. Arya and Sansa are at opposites with each other, Arya wanting to master the art of the sword, whereas Sansa is terribly embarrassed by her sister and wishes she was more ladylike. Ned investigates further, and his findings are very complicated and messy, meaning that there is no way that he can ignore the discovering Jon Arryn made and was slaughtered for. His news will have to wait, however, seeing as Robert is away on a hunting trip. Daenerys, on the other hand, has problems when Viserys starts pushing her husband to hurry up and complete his end of the bargain, saying that a deal is a deal. Jon Snow is dealing with life on the Wall, but is terribly lonely since Benjen Stark left and never returned. The Stark words of Winter is Coming are starting to ring true, as rumours and evidence of dark, evil things beyond the Wall are making their way to the ears of men.

What will Khal Drogo do about Viserys Targaryan and his anger? What will Ned to with the monstrous discovery that he has made in King’s Landing concerning the Lannisters? Will he be able to prove that Jon Arryn was murdered? What will happen with Tyrion at the hands of Lysa Arryn, who holds him responsible for her husband’s death and the attempt on her nephew’s life? What will Jon do at the Wall, and will Benjen Stark return?

GRADE 8.5So I had actually started these books a few  years ago, but stopped when someone asked me if I really wanted to ruin the show for myself by knowing what was going to come next (because so seldom do things get adapted correctly). At any rate, a friend of my of mine was kind enough to have let me borrow his books which he got for Christmas. So trusting, right? Well, I jumped at the opportunity. Physical books trump ebooks anytime, though reading wherever works anyway. Initially I was afraid (because of the range of characters and events) that these books would read like textbooks, overburdened with information, though still possess a great story (think The Lord of the Rings – wonderful but definitely not light reading). My fears were almost immediately allayed. Martin writes with a style and grace that simply flows, it reads easily, and you don’t get stuck and don’t stumble or anything like that. The layout and presentation is interesting, too, what with each chapter being told by a different character. Initially the chapters are all relatively close together, but as things start to happen, the characters drift apart, the scope of the story ever widening. It is far easier to keep up with the characters in the books as opposed to the series, and there is an awesome amount of history in here that is just so interesting. I found the story to be rich and presented well, with an abundance of characters both likable and hated. I also like how you get to see how each of them think and develops differently over the course of the  book. My other half calls Petyr Baelish “Petyrphile” because of the whole Sansa Stark thing. When I started reading this book I was horrified to feel that I was a Petyrphile when the knowledge was dropped on me that Robb Stark is only fourteen, for instance, and that Jon Snow is the same. WTF man?! Oh well, aside from that, if you are not a reader and you have watched the show, that should be enough for you, it has been very loyal to this one (and to where I have read in the next one). If you liked the show and love reading, these are well worth the read.

Game of Thrones: Season 1 (2011)

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game of thrones season 1

*CONTAINS SPOILERS*

Synopsis: Eddard “Ned” Stark (Sean Bean) beheads a deserter of the Night’s Watch in Winterfell, of which he is Lord. The deserter claims that though he is a coward, he knows that he saw the White Walkers. His claims are dismissed. Ned returns to his home with his bastard son, Jon Snow (Kit Harington), and his legitimate sons Brandon (Isaac Hempstead-Wright) and his eldest, Robb (Richard Madden). Along the way they come across a ravaged carcass, and find five dire wolf pups. Being the sidgel of the Stark house, Ned gives one to each of his child. King of the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros, Robert Baratheon (Mark Addy) travels with his wife, Queen Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey), to Winterfell, where he wishes to request Ned’s acceptance of the appointment of the King’s Hand. They also discuss marrying his son, Joffrey (Jack Gleeson), and Ned’s daughter Sansa (Sophie Turner), with one another, joining the families properly now seeing as Lyanna died prior to her marriage to Robert. Brandon is climbing where he should not be, and witnesses Ser Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), the Kingslayer, sleeping with Cersei, his twin sister. Pushing Brandon out of the window, they are both horrified to learn that the boy survives the fall. Jon Snow decides to join his uncle Benjen Stark (Joseph Mawle) at the Wall with the Night’s Watch, choosing a life of exile and celibacy to get away from Lady Catelyn (Michelle Fairley), Ned’s wife, who despises him. In Essos, Prince Viserys Targaryen (Harry Lloyd) weds his sister Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) to Dothraki warlord Khal Drogo (Jason Momoa), with the agreement that the Khal and his men assist him in reclaiming his stolen Iron Throne. They receive three dragon eggs that have turned to stone as a wedding gift.

game of thrones season 1 dragon eggs

“I have never been nothing. I am the blood of the dragon.” – Daenerys Targaryen

Jaime sends in an assassin to kill Bran, who is saved by his dire wolf. Catelyn also receives word from her sister that the Lannister’s are not to be trusted. Ned has already started for King’s Landing, and along the way conflict arises between the Starks and the Lannisters when Arya’s dire wolf attacks Joffrey after he hits the butcher’s boy and threatens her. Sansa is called before the King and sides wth Joffrey. Ned is to kill Sansa’s dire wolf, seeing as someone has to pay for having wounded Joffrey. Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage), the dwarf son of Lord Tywin Lannister (Charles Dance) and brother of Cersei, sets off to the Wall with Jon Snow and the Night’s Watch entourage as opposed to following his family back to King’s Landing. Daenerys has decided that she needs to find a way to please her husband, a way for their marriage to be a beautiful institution, not one of pain and suffering. Ned’s arrival in King’s Landing comes with a lot of issues. For one, it seems that Westeros is being exceptionally poorly managed. The King does not participate on anything on the Small Council, which comprises of Robert’s brother Lord Renly Baratheon (Gethin Anthony), Councillor Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish (Aidan Gillen), Grand Maester Pycelle (Julian Glover), and Councillor Lord Varys (Conleth Hill). The Lannisters have the King in serious debt with them. Catelyn Stark has ridden to King’s Landing to warn her husband, but Baelish gets to her first, offering her safe passage and a meeting with her husband. He also confirms to her that the blade the potential assassin carried was very distinctive. It was his, though he lost it to Tyrion Lannister. Meeting with Ned, Catelyn shares her fears, though he tells her to do nothing but return home. Baelish promises Catelyn that he will help Ned, and Ned knows that Baelish is still in love with Catelyn. Jon Snow is having issues at the Wall, where he is treated indifferently to the rapists and murderers and thieves that train alongside him, his lineage means nothing to them. Watch Commander Lord Mormont (James Cosmo) is friendly with Tyrion, though Yoren (Francis Magee) speaks with Tyrion, asking him to get more men from the King and Queen to be sent to the Wall for training. Tyrion leaves with him to get more men for the Night’s Watch. Daenerys is becoming a true Khaleesi, and is very popular with the Khalasar. Viserys is getting very edgy about when they will cross the Narrow Sea to reclaim his Iron Throne.

game of thrones season 1 direwolves

“Lord Stark. There are five pups. One for each of the Stark children. The Dire Wolf is the sigil of your house. They were meant to have them.” – Jon Snow

Tyrion stops in Winterfell with a design to make it possible for Bran to ride a horse once again. Robb responds initially with distate and bitterness towards Tyrion, though later he attempts to be friendly. Tyrion does not care for it. Ned, meanwhile, is starting to look closely into the death of the previous Hand of the King, Jon Arryn, who died mysteriously. His quest takes him to the blacksmith’s worker, Gendry (Joe Dempsie), who is the illegitimate son of King Robert. Samwell Tarly (John Bradley) joins the Night’s Watch, and is pretty useless, though Jon takes him under his wing against his will. On the road home, Catelyn comes across Tyrion Lannister, and has him taken into custody by those who were loyal to her father. She sets of for the Eyrie, so see her sister Lady Lysa Arryn (Kate Dickie). The Small Council, however, has a meeting with King Robert, who has decided that Daenerys, now pregnant with Khal Drogo’s son, must be put to death. They cannot afford to have a son come into the world, a son that comes from the lineage of the Mad King (who had Ned’s father and brother killed), who will also head a powerful army.  Ned refuses to participate in the slaughter of a young girl, and resigns as the King’s Hand, causing a huge upset between him and Robert. Tyrion, meanwhile, has been thrown into prison in Eyrie, and needs a way to get out. Ned learns that Catelyn has taken Tyrion prisoner. Jaime is angered by the news, and attacks Ned in the streets, killing his right hand man Jory Cassel (Jamie Sives) and the remainder of his guard, telling him that he wants his brother back. Jaime sets off to the Eyrie to recover his brother. Viserys is furious that his sister has such power over the Dothraki. Bran is captured by wildlings, and Robb comes to save him. When things do not go as planned, Robb has to relinquish his weapon to save Bran. Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen) kills the man, and they take Osha (Natalie Tena) into captivity. King Robert goes on a hunting trip, and Ned digs around some more. In his search he discovers that Joffrey is certainly not Robert’s son, but the child of Jaime and Cersei. He warns Cersei to get out of the city, to take her children and flee. She threatens Ned. Cersei has Joffrey apologise to Sansa, to ensure that his father passes the crown to him when the time comes. Meanwhile, Lord Renly has his lover, Ser Loras Tyrell (Finn Jones), convincing him that he has what it takes to be King. It seems that Tyrion will not be heard, and ultimately calls for trial by combat. Lysa chooses her champion, and Tyrion names Jaime his. When it is said that he will fight it out that day, he asks the onlookers for a champion. Eventually Bronn (Jerome Flynn) steps up for him, and wins, gaining Tyrion his freedom.

game of thrones season 1 jaime confronts ned

“I’m looking for my brother. You remember my brother, don’t you Lord Stark? Blond hair, sharp of tongue, short man.” – Jaime Lannister

Viserys attempts to leave the Dothraki camp, sure he will never get the Iron Throne. Attempting to steal the dragon eggs to buy his army and passage over the water, he is prevented by Ser Jorah Mermont (Iain Glen), who will not let him leave. In a fit of rage, Viserys barges into some Dothraki celebrations, threatening to kill Drogo’s unborn son and his sister if he does not get what is owed to him. The Khal says that he will give Viserys the golden crown he so desires, and subsequently melts gold and pours it over his head, killing him. Daenerys is not too phased, believing that Viserys was not a true Targaryen if he burnt like he did, seeing as she herself does not burn. King Robert is gravely wounded by a boar while hunting, and is dying. Ned is to take over as the regent of the Iron Throne until Joffrey is of age to take charge. Knowing that Joffrey is not truly Robert’s son, as well as the knowledge he has of the many illigetimate children in the city, he phrases it that the heir must be of age before stepping up. Robert also tells Ned to call off the assassination attempt against Daenerys. Ned attempts to arrange with Baelish to get the City Watch to work with him and stop the Lannisters from taking the Throne when Robert dies. Renly approaches Ned to rally him to have him assist Renly in attaining the crown when Robert is gone. Ned insists that the next in line is Stannis Baratheon (Stephen Dillane), and sends word to Stannis that he should return to King’s Landing and take up his job. Jon Snow takes his Night’s Watch vows, though he is exceptionally worried about the fact that his uncle’s horse returned without him. He is furious that he has not been made a Ranger but instead Lord Commander Jeor Mormont’s personal assistant. After Jon and Sam take their vows, Sam notices that Ghost, Jon’s wolf, has a hand in his mouth. Corpses are brought back in, though Sam is suspicious that they don’t smell like anything, considering how long they have been out. In the middle of the night, Snow saves Lord Commander Jeor Mormontfrom a White Walker, one of the corpses reanimated itself. Lord Commander Jeor Mormont gives Snow a blade that has been in his family for a long time. Ned, however, receives a terrible shock when he gives Robert’s final words on and Cersei tears up the paper. The City Watch sides with the Lannisters, and Ned is taken prisoner and branded a traitor, conspiring to usurp the Throne from Joffrey. The City Watch goes after the Stark children, catching Sansa, though Arya manages to escape, though it cost her instructor, Syrio Forel (Miltos Yerolemou) his life.

game of thrones season 1arya and syrio

“What do we say to the God of death?” – Syrio Forel

News of Ned’s capture spreads across the lands, and Robb Stark begins to rally his father’s bannermen when Sansa writes to him, requesting that he go to King’s Landing and express his loyalty to King Joffrey. Sansa pleads with Joffrey to be merciful to her father, and Councillor Lord Varys visits with Ned in the dungeons. Joffrey wishes to hear Ned Stark admit that he is a traitor and attempted to usurp the Throne, and wants to hear him admit that Joffrey is the one true King, and will then be merciful. Sansa says that it shall be so. Robb leaves Winterfell, leaving Brandon in charge with the help of Maester Luwin (Donald Sumpter). Robb is prepared to go to war to get his sisters and father back. Lord Tywin Lannister is preparing for war due to the abduction of Tyrion, who returns to his father with Bronn at his side as well as a group of barbarians that assisted him escape from the Eyrie, protected. His father tells him he will fight in the upcoming battle against the Stark army. He has Bronn find him a woman, and is very taken with Shae (Sibel Kekilli), whom he returns with. Robb Stark needs to cross the River Trident via The Twins to launch an attack on the Lannisters, and eventually a deal is brokered that Arya will marry one of Walder Frey’s (David Bradley) sons and Robb one of the daughters. They get safe passage across the bridge. A Lannister scout is caught by Robb and his men, and Robb has him tell Tywin that they are marching twenty thousand men on them. Instead Robb sends two thousand men to Tywin and his armies, and the rest of them go and abduct Jaime, who offers to end the war right then and there by having him and Robb fight it out. Robb refuses, knowing that the kingslayer is too good. Khal Drogo has decided to give Daenerys the Iron Throne she desires, and they set off to cross the Narrow Sea to Westeros. Pillaging their way across, Daenerys is almost killed by an assassin at the behest of Robert, now dead. His informant spy is Ser Jorah Mermont, who has now turned into a loyal follower of Khaleesi, and he saves her. While in a city, Daenerys attempts to save the women from being raped, and one of the Khalasar riders fights with her. He takes the matter up with Khal Drogo, who sides with Daenerys. The rider is angry, and attempts to fight the Khal, though he loses and is killed. The Khal is cut, and the woman that Daenerys saved, a witch named Mirri Maz Duur (Mia Soteriou), says that she can help. The Khalasar doesn’t want to hear anything about a witch touching their Khal, but Daenerys has final say. Ned realises that to protect his children he is going to have to say the words that Joffrey wants to hear.

game of thrones season 1 ned's beheading

“You think my life is such a precious thing to me, that I would trade my honour for a few more years…of what?” – Ned Stark

The wound that Khal Drogo sustained in his fight has festered and infected, weakening him greatly. The Khalasar refuses to follow a Khal who cannot ride, perceiving him as weak. Daenerys convinces them to stick around for a little longer. Calling Mirri Maz Duur in, she brokers a deal. The witch can perform magic, blood magic, to give the Khal life. Daenerys is desperate and says she will do whatever it takes. While the witch is busy, she goes into labour, and Ser Jorah Mermont brings her in and try to help her. Snow has received word of Ned’s predicament, the family’s predicament, and suddenly his vows are under pressure. He feels he must help, and a Targaryen reveals himself, the blind Maester Aemon (Peter Vaughan) at the Wall. Ned is brought before the King, and makes his false confession. Joffrey, saying that the mercy he should give Ned according to Cersei and Sanda, is the request of women, and orders Ned have his head cut off. There are heavy objections. Ned has signalled to Yoren to get Arya, who is watching. Cersei and Sansa are both horrified, but ultimately Ned is killed. Yoren grabs Arya, hacks off her hair, and passes her off as a boy. She is to leave the city with him to go to the Wall, where he will then have her sent to Winterfell. She meets up with Gendry here, and he sort of protects her. Robb and Catelyn are crushed by the news of Ned’s death, and Robb has become decidedly angry. His men proclaim him the King of the North, and are ready to follow him into battle and to die for him. Lord Tywin assigns Tyrion to act as Hand of the King in his stead to keep Joffrey and Cersei in line, knowing that executing Ned Stark was a big mistake. Snow attempts to leave anyway, though Sam, Grenn (Mark Stanley), and Pypar (Josef Atlin) bring him back in. Lord Commander Jeor Mormontis glad that Snow has returned, and says that they are to rally together and go out beyond the Wall. Brandon is still suffering from his strange dreams involving the three eyed crow, and he and his little brother know of Ned’s death before it is properly announced to them. Daenerys awakens, and is crushed to learn that her child was stillborn and monstrous. She curses the witch, but wants to know that the life of her son has bought her. She finds a zombified Drogo, and is crushed. He is alive, but not living. The Khalasar has left. She has the witch tied to Drogo’s funeral pyre, and frees the remaining slaves. If they stay, they will be cared for, if they leave, they are welcome to it. She places the three dragon eggs on the pyre, with Ser Jorah Mermont objecting, saying that Drogo will not need them. He is horrified when Daenerys, too, steps into the flames. The next morning, however, when the sun rises, Daenerys is fine, and she has three live dragons with her.

game of thrones season 1 khal drogo and daenerys

“Even – even if he dies, why would I run? I am Khaleesi, and my son will be Khal after Drogo!” – Daenerys Targaryen

Best Episode: Fire and Blood

Worst Episode: You Win or You Die 

Rating:
GRADE 8.5
This is definitely one of the better shows out there. This was something that came in and surprised the hell out of me the first time I came across it. I knew that the show was highly anticipated and I knew that it was really well received. Soon I would figure out why. Meeting the Starks was interesting, watching how their ties to many people spread across Westeros was cool, too, as well as how they seemed to tie in to Robert Boratheon. The characters were also worth watching here, though my favourite without a doubt is Tyrion Lannister. Peter Dinklage really was the best man for the job, and he seems to be the one man who is not like his family, who is far more objective, and who does not seem to make his life fantastic by killing off others, crushing them or anything like that. Eddard Stark is an honourable man, and that is something that never wavers throughout the show, and I appreciate it. Then there is Robb Stark, who rose up to rescue his father, to stop a war, and instead rode for a war due to his mother’s rash decision to avenge Brandon’s severe injuries. Meeting Khal Drogo was intense, and I think that Jason Momoa was perfect to play him. I mean that guy was big, and just watching him with Daenerys initially pissed me off. What her brother did was reprehensible, just giving her away, and the things that she endured. However, watching the romance blossom between Daenerys and Drogo was rewarding, and how she became his absolute everything, not just the woman he wed and beds when needs be. They developed a seriously deep bond with each other. Jon Snow is someone I feel really sorry for, I feel that Catelyn is truly excessively nasty to him. I think it is adorable to watch him with the other Stark kids, they are close to each other. Arya is also a character that I enjoy. She is who she wants to be all the time, and will not conform to society’s expectations of her, though it seems inevitable. I thought it was adorable that Ned humoured her and got her “dancing” lessons, in which time she learns a lot. Then there is Sansa, who irritates me endlessly because she is a whiny, selfish little bitch. But whatever. Shall we move on and talk about the most beloved Joffrey? You know, Jack Gleeson did a damn fine job of embodying this character, he really is a detestable little twit. He is cruel, he is a sissy, he is weak, arrogant, selfish… actually you know what? Let’s not spend too much time focusing on him. I really appreciated how his spiral in cruelty and nastiness was a gradual one, the path paved with small indecencies that ultimately led to him becoming one of the most hated characters in TV history. Then there are these Lannisters. Damn. They are everywhere, and I think that what is going on between Cersei and Jaime is really despicable. Jaime, however, for all his faults, is really good at his fighting skills and scheming and entertaining. This show introduces a massive array of characters, and manages to play with all of them, though not all of them are developed. Some are developed more, others are there to convey the story. The costume design for this show is fantastic, and the way it is shot is great, too. It looks really good. I liked the score, it was pretty epic and carried the show. The one thing that is insanely long on one hand but really cool on the other hand is the intro. The length is excessive, though it is also really cool to see Westeros pulled up the way it is, giving us an idea of how vast the land is that it is played down in. Overall, there is a lot to say about this show, but let’s just settle for this is something that definitely needs to be seen.

game of thrones season 1 the hound and sansa