George RR Martin is a writer with a long, if less than best-selling, list of hits. His previous work includes science fiction like Tuf Voyaging, the tale of a solitary "eco-engineer" with the resources of an intersteller bioweapons facility at his command, or editing the Wild Cards collection, which featured short stories about the real problems faced by comic-book superheroes. He was established as publishable -- but there was absolutely no hint of what would come.
When he released A Game of Thrones, the first volume of his epic fantasy A Song of Ice and Fire, it took the world of fantasy by storm. The same field which Dianna Wynne Jones had lambasted for lack of originality, failure to characterize, and predictable plotting in A Tough Guide to Fantasylandhad suddenly produced something entirely different.
A Game of Thrones (henceforth, aGoT) was an epic fantasy that broke all the rules. Most fantasy novels offered an idealized view of medieval life, focusing on nobles in castles, knights in shining armor, kings and queens on the throne, the occasional heroic peasant or cheering crowd; in short, it was about the medieval age as people liked to imagine it, rather than as it really was. aGoT has its noble characters, to be sure, but many are bitter and petty and greedy and self-interested and often vicious. It has knights -- and more than a few of them are what the modern world would consider psychopathic killers. It has peasants; they are dirt-poor and unpleasant. It has a celibate brotherhood of soldiers dedicated to defending the world against the return of an ancient evil; they are drawn from the dungeons of the realm, murderers and rapists, subsisting on the dregs of the nobility and regularly breaking their vows of chastity. There are good, honorable men in positions of power; but all too often their honor is their downfall, and when it is not, the good men of the realm find themselves at odds with one another, or betrayed by those they thought to trust.
In short... everything you thought you knew about a fantasy novel was wrong. This novel is a tour de force of gritty realism, a fantasy epic that spits in your face and fights dirty.
This entry was published Sat Sep 04 19:13:51 CDT 2004 by Matthew
and last updated 2018-06-08 01:36:43.0.