Game of Thrones (A Song of Fire and Ice Book #1) by George R. R. Martin
Narrated by Roy Dotrice
Summary (from GoodReads): 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.
Thoughts: I listened to the audio of this (33 hours!) and even before I was done, I started recommending it to everyone I talked to. The scope of the story is breathtaking, but the characters are what made me care about what is going on in the world. The Starks make up a large portion of the point of view characters and all I want is for them to make it through alive (yes, I realize that is unrealistic). And yet, I love Dany, their potential and probable enemy, just as much. And while I love to hate the Lannisters, the Imp Tyrion is smart and charming and hilarious.
It is hard enough to love characters with opposing interests, but nothing is off limits in Game of Thrones. It's a dark book. If you can think of it, it's probably in this book: war, murder, sex, lies, betrayal, rape, incest, etc, etc. As Queen Cersei tells Ned, "In the game of thrones, you win or you die." So, yeah, high stakes and high suspense. I can already tell that I will be stressed out until this series is finished.
I don't want to say too much more, because part of the fun of this book is discovering everything for yourself. But if you've wondered about it, give it a shot. It's long and the beginning feels slow at first, but it is intricately plotted with real (read morally ambiguous) characters and a ton of suspense.
Moments I Loved: When Eddard Stark set up "dancing lessons" for his young daughter Arya, only they were sword lessons. Now that I'm sitting down to think of favorite moments, it's hard. I adore the characters and am invested in the politics of the world, but each triumph also tastes of bitterness.
WTF Moments: This book is comprised almost entirely of WTF moments, especially the last third of the book. So lets go with the first major one... avoid this if you don't like spoilers: Bran Stark (he's 6 or 7 at this point) gets thrown out of a tower window by Jaime Lannister after Bran sees Jamie having sex with... Queen Cersei, Jaime's sister. How is that for WTF?
Narrator: Roy Dotrice is the perfect narrator for this book. His voice is rough and gritty, much like the story. He doesn't really do voices, but he uses different accents and masterfully conveys emotion, which is what I prefer.
Overall: I am obsessed with this series. I would complain that they are long, but when they end, I want more, and my biggest fear is finishing the series and having to wait for the next book.
Game of Thrones gets a FakeSteph rating of...