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What the Heck is A Game of Thrones, and Why Is It So Amazing?

What the Heck is A Game of Thrones, and Why Is It So Amazing?

By Dan_Bergstein

You may have heard of it. Perhaps you saw the ad for the HBO series beginning next month. Maybe you spotted the dense books at the store, or read about the upcoming release of the long awaited fifth book in the series. But what the heck is A Game of Thrones? And why is everyone talking about it?

Short answer: It’s a fun, addictive novel about a kingdom in political turmoil, the first volume in author George R. R. Martin’s fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire.

Longer answer: OMG! It’s like, so freaking great!

There are wolves and this one guy has a scared face and then this little person is awesome, and there’s this wall, and the wall is made of ice, and it’s big, and there’s a bunch of castles and dungeons, and there’s this one dude called Eddard, and he’s kind of boring but he’s awesome too, and there’s war and dragon skulls, and then, OMG, you don’t know who Jon Snow’s mother is, and Jon Snow can’t have a girlfriend, ever, and there’s something bad happening in the North, and Robert went hunting, and where is Uncle Benjen…and…and…[breath] Sorry.

Let me compose myself and try that again. Though I’ve only just finished the first book, I haven’t been this excited about a book series since my cousin’s handwritten notebooks filled with clever knock-knock jokes. (He has a gift.)

If you’re thinking of joining the legion of A Game of Thrones fans, or if you just want to sound as if you know what you’re talking about, here’s a quick rundown of what you should be familiar with.

1. It’s not really Fantasy…but it is.
The press has been calling it a cross between The Lord of the Rings and The Sopranos. Even if you hate Fantasy novels, you still might enjoy this story. In the first book, most of the supernatural fantasy stuff is mildly hinted at. There are no elves, wizards, orcs, goblins, or magic rings. There is some vague, spooky evil happening in the background of the story, but most of the novel deals with human drama. Unlike most (every?) Fantasy novel on the market, there is no epic quest to save the world. Instead, you sit back and read about politics and family arguments.

2. It sounds boring…but it isn’t.
Imagine the world’s best soap opera, filled with characters so real you’ll want to find and stalk them on Facebook. Mix in swords and violence. Add a giant wall with the possibility of monsters on the other side. Throw in some fun dialogue and a little romance. And move the story along at breakneck speed. Does that sound boring? Did I mention the swords?

3. It’s the shortest 800-page novel ever printed.
Despite its length, tiny font, and list of characters so long it makes A Tale of Two Cities look like a one-man show, this book is fast paced. Each chapter focuses on one of eight characters. Before you can become the slightest bit bored with a character, the story shifts focus and you watch another part of the puzzle fall into place. And you’ll want to keep reading, and reading, and reading…and then it’s Thursday and you wonder why you’re still wearing your Monday underpants and why your mouth tastes like nothing but plaque.

4. There are many main characters.
He’s a quick rundown of who’s who:

Eddard Stark – The Lord of Winterfell, a castle in the North. He's a nice guy, loyal to fault, and arguably the book’s protagonist. In the HBO series, he's played by Sean Bean, the same actor who played Boromir in The Lord of the Rings, which means this dude can date every single person at Comic Con.

Jon Snow – Eddie’s son, fathered out of wedlock. He’s brave, strong, friendly, and sensible. But because he’s a bastard, he’ll never have an easy life. The people in this world care a great deal about lineage and loyalty, so poor Jon-Jon can’t be a Lord or Knight. (Neither can I, because my mom was a simple bank teller, and my father had strong allegiances with dragons and trolls.)

Sansa Stark– Eddie’s oldest daughter. She’s about eleven years old, she sucks, and I hate her.

Arya Stark– Eddie’s youngest daughter. She is awesome and I wish she were my daughter.

Bran Stark – Eddie’s six-year-old son. He’s good at climbing. But something happens and…um. N’mind.

Catelyn Stark – Eddie’s wife. She’s OK, but she hates Jon Snow, so I kind of hate her.

Tyrion Lannister – The dwarf brother of Queen Cersei. He is the best and most interesting character (thus far). He’s wise, funny, and sneaky. Is he a hero or a villain? Hmm…either way, he’s invited to our Easter Egg hunt.

Daenerys – It would take a whole lot of internet space to explain who she is in relation to everyone else. Let’s just say she’s a princess who marries a dude who looks like a pro wrestler. She has pretty hair.

And then there’s the long list of other major characters, and the various lords, knights, council members, guards, etc.

5. “Winter is coming.”
This is the Stark family motto. In the fictional world of Westeros, seasons can last decades or longer, and winter is a harsh time filled with nasty things and hardship. So the Starks are party poopers, always reminding each other that soon it’s going to be bad. It’s still a cool thing to say. It’s like, “May the Force be with you,” but for the sad kids. My family motto is, “We're out of Pop Tarts.” (It’s just as ominous.)

That’s all we’re willing to reveal right now. The book is filled with surprises and twists. And wolves. And trees. And the sword is called Ice and there’s this other lady who lives in this castle up in the mountains, and the dungeons of that castle only have three walls, and there’s a tournament, and this wolf finds a hand, and the chapter when Sam is introduced made me cry, and then Sam does something, and this other guy is mean, but then he isn’t mean, and this one Knight doesn’t have a tongue, and Lord Stannis needs to return to King’s Landing before it’s too late!!!!

Have you read this book? We can't wait to buy it!

Related post: The Greatest Modern Love Story

Topics: Books
Tags: george r. r. martin, a game of thrones, fantasy novels

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