I picked up a copy of the Game of Thrones book, fully prepared to face the notorious sex, violence, and immoral acts it was purported to have. Thus, I thought nothing of the cheating wife, the incest, or of the kid being thrown off a tower. I have read far worse in contemporary and historical fiction. Yet when I reached the inevitable death of an innocent, golden-eyed wolf pup at the reluctant hands of its master's father, I felt a tugging of heartstrings. It was then that I realized that George RR Martin can spin a good yarn – one that entangles you in its fine threads before you realize what's happening.
If you are expecting a hardcore fantasy epic, you will find the Game of Thrones book sadly lacking. There is nothing Westeros and its Seven Kingdoms have to offer that you cannot find in any other medieval setting, save for seasons that last years and the mysterious beings called the 'Others' lurking beneath the great Wall in the north. Instead, Martin offers a different kind of fantasy, one that focuses more on the human aspect of the story. Take away the dragons and the magic and you will find that the gritty human nature is still there, driving the main plot of political intrigue, conflicts, and ambition that compel a person to commit acts of murder, rape, or worse.
Still, it has enough fantastical elements in the form of knights, dragons, kings and queens, princes and princesses, and the whispers of magic working behind the scenes. It is War of the Roses in a fantasy world. For someone who enjoys reading both fantasy and historical fiction, Martin's masterpiece is a godsend.
I admit that close to 800 pages is a lot of take in, even for the most …