Flap Copy: Here is the first volume in George R. R. Martin’s magnificent cycle of novels that includes A Clash of Kings and A Storm of Swords. As a whole, this series comprises a genuine masterpiece of modern fantasy, bringing together the best the genre has to offer. Magic, mystery, intrigue, romance, and adventure fill these pages and transport us to a world unlike any we have ever experienced. Already hailed as a classic, George R. R. Martin’s stunning series is destined to stand as one of the great achievements of imaginative fiction.


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.

Review: Briefly, this review will serve for the entire A Song of Ice and Fire series – chiefly because as in most series, the books following are too difficult to review without giving away spoilers than can ruin the earlier books for new readers. In short, I love this series.

I’ve read (and somewhat agree with) the feminist criticisms of the books, but this is not new in the epic sci-fi/fantasy mold of women not directing their own lives, getting raped, and being either venerated mothers or prostitutes. I’ve also read (and somewhat agree with) the criticisms that the series is gratuitously violent – it is, indeed, extremely violent. Whether this is an accurate representation of the Middle Ages-type period that the books represent, I can’t say, but Steven Pinker’s The Better Angels of Our Nature did a pretty good job of convincing me that those of us now living truly have no idea what kind of everyday violence was common for our forebears.

So, despite those issues with the series, I am a devoted fan. The series as a whole (some books are better than others) is engrossing, entertaining, and lives on in my imagination well after I’ve finished reading – pretty much everything I demand from leisure reading. And at around 1,000 pages each, that’s a LOT of leisure reading!  I’ve read the currently-published books in the series twice now, and I’ve seen the HBO show. I’ve made a blithering idiot out of myself the one time I got to meet George R.R. Martin. I’ve read great high fantasy and I’ve read great epic fantasy, and this series will be at the top of my recommended list for a long time to come.

Source: Personal library