A Game of Thrones - George R.R. Martin
My fiance bought this particular book for the same reason he bought [b:Battle Royale|6786692|Battle Royale|Koushun Takami|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1350148530s/6786692.jpg|2786327] - he thought it would be a great book to read, and wasn't willing to wait for it to show up in one of the used bookstores in town. I actually started reading Battle Royale before I got the urge to try reading this one, but I ended up putting that book (which is, by the way, about an island of teenagers who kill each other off) aside to read this book. I will repeat what I just stated: I put aside a book about teenagers ordered by the government to kill each other - and has not got a Mary Sue in the role of the main character - to read this book.

Although a different creature entirely from the series, reading this book reminds me of the days I spent reading the first three books and then, eventually, the last two books of the Harry Potter series. I guess the comparison could be made that both happen to be epic in their scopes, both are positively bursting with an overload of characters - and, oh, yeah, both happen to belong to the fantasy genre. Still, comparing Harry Potter to A Game of Thrones is not unlike comparing The Watchmen to Slaughterhouse Five. Or, shit, comparing The Watchmen to Akira - they may belong to the same camp, but they really feel as though they're on opposite sides of the camp, sharing their meals together, but separating into craft classes and LARPing sessions. No, wait, LARPing isn't entirely accurate - medieval reenactments would be more fitting.

And medieval the setting certainly is, and boy is it used to its full potential! Martin has an amazing imagination, one that understands how to set up and explode conflict in a dramatic manner that keeps you feeling as though you are not reading a scene in which the characters are doing needlepoint, but one in which the actions and the language of the characters are revealing of their personalities and their feelings for other people. Really, I am amazed to read such masterfully written scenes, after having previously read fiction in which some amateur thought that a scene in which a character puts groceries away while thinking about exposition to herself is a tension-builder. Way to go thar, guise, srsly.

The character list balances out very well, filled out ambiguous and realistic people who believe in their points of view very strongly. Head butting occurs frequently and only grows in what's at stake and in its repercussions, and what's more, I felt as though I could at least understand the point of view of every character whose point of view I was introduced to. Is everybody right? Certainly not, but that's hardly the point.

Don't let scenes of needlepoint and puppy rearing fool you, as this book can get brutal, when the need arises. I once heard someone, when referring to George R. R. Martin, say that the man doesn't give two shits about mercilessly crushing people's hearts with character deaths, both literally as well as figuratively. I won't say the exact number of each that occurs, but the ratio of one to the other is definitely in the favor of figuratively. People get broken, changed and left out to dry as the story progresses, but I get the feeling that Martin is telling his readers that the characters' ultimate fate is a complicated affair - one that will take more than one book to unfold.

Expect that you'll be out and hunting for the second book as soon as you hit the last page of the first book. As great as the first book is, by the end of it, you'll get the feeling that this book is really the prelude into a more vicious, amazing and, yes, fantastical story. Or, I should say, stories.

As I recommend with nearly EVERY book out there, but especially with books belonging to a series, get a sample of this book, read the first few pages in a book store, or just get this from the library. If you're like me, you'll be pulling your money out to own a copy of this before you hit the point of view of Bran Stark, and please, trust me when I say that if you truly enjoy the first ten pages, the rest of the book is a great progression of the tension built in the prologue - surprises, back-stabbing and nail-biting tension abound and is melded wonderfully in between character establishment and relationship evolution.