I finally had to see what all the hype was involving George R. R. Martin's "A Game of Thrones" (694 pages). From the cover of the book:
"Long ago, in a time forgotten, a preternatural event threw the seasons out of balance. In a land where summers can last 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 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.
Here an enigmatic band of warriors bear swords of no human metal; a tribe of fierce wildlings carry men off into madness; a cruel young dragon prince barters his sister to win back his throne; and a determined woman undertakes the most treacherous of journeys. 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 really wanted to like this novel more than what was given me. I plugged through a bunch of different chapters centered around a multitude of characters. So many characters in fact it was hard to keep everyone straight initially. Finally after about 500 pages into this tome everything started to click and the action began to pick up speed. By the end of the first part of this series I was thirsty for the story to continue and naturally it ended on a cliff hanger. Now that I'm somewhat sucked in I guess I'll need to buy the next novel.
A friend of mine described "A Game of Thrones" as "Lord of the Rings" with tits. I'm not sure I would go that far. There is some gratuitous sex sprinkled throughout the novel but nothing too extreme. I enjoyed Martin's writing style for the most part and give him credit for creating an engrossing world with a ton of characters and cultures. As a book to set up a series I think "A Game of Thrones" mostly succeeds but damn if it doesn't take its time getting on with it! Recommended especially for fans of fantasy which admittedly I'm not.
After reading the "A Game of Thrones" I watched the first season of the HBO series of the same name online. It's a great treatment to the novel, following it very closely. Violence, sex, and nudity abounds. All good stuff...