Review: A Game of Thrones

A Game of Thrones A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Note: This review was originally written in the early 2000s and published for a no longer running website: AudiobookCafe. This review is focused on both the book and audiobook. Epic fantasy can be an extremely hard sell when it comes to audiobooks, especially if there isn’t an accompanying guide. “The Game of Thrones” is immense in breadth, and torturous in detail and design. While it is a great launching story for the six-book epic “A Song of Ice and Fire,” it can be daunting and confusing to remember all the characters, places, relationships, and histories. In fact, it is beneficial to go online to the many fan sites of Martin’s series to use their appendices, dictionaries, and other resource material to help keep track of what’s going on in this world.

That being said, if you can keep track of everyone, it’s an exciting and intriguing story filled with delicious characters of all sorts. As two families wield their might in a power-struggle for the Iron Throne, the author introduces us to a slew of characters both big and small who have integral parts in this epic. Whether they are fighting, fleeing, scheming, or even dying, Martin’s characters range from a bastard boy to an eloquent dwarf to whoring noble wives and everything in between. The two main families, Stark and Lannister are preparing for the approaching decades-long winter and each hope to solidify power before first snow.

What propels this book is the politics and scheming of the main characters. The dynamics and exchanges between various members of the two opposing families intrigue any listener and only gets better as the listener further understands who each character is on the larger scale. Martin paints such a vivid world with believable characters filled with their nuances and various details. While it is epic fantasy, it does not hold the traditional epic fantasy cliches meaning it is not steeped in lost histories, excessive powerful and threatening magic, mythical beasts (for the most part), and tedious prophecies.

Roy Dotrice has a great voice for narrating this saga. With an eloquent voice that hints of an English upbringing, Dotrice maintains an elderly wise-man persona during much of the narrative. However, when it comes time for people to speak, he puts his ability and range to the test with a full cast of colorful characters. He creates clear and distinct voices for the central cast making it much easier to remember the voice of the character than the name. He jumps from straight reading to dialects and accents efficiently.

This audiobook might surprise many folk—particularly those uninterested in fantasy. With so much detail and breath to the book, there is nothing fantastic to this world; it is real. If you want an audiobook that will have you entertained for well over thirty hours, then pick up this one and get started on the adventure.

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