Martin, George R. R. A Game of Thrones. New York: Bantam, 9/97. 835pp.
I hate big fantasy series. With a passion most people reserve for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Oh sure, I read a few in my youth, like David Eddings's Belgariad. The Lord of the Rings is an exception. Can't blame the parent for the excesses of the children. But overall, I have no time for the twenty volume saga of Sir Elvin Lightsmith Cornflakes and his quest for the One Ring That Rules All The Kraft Dinner. I just don't, so shoot me. Then along comes George R. R. Martin and A Game of Thrones, the first of a projected six part series. Needless to say, I was skeptical. Basically two factors conspired to get me to give this a try. On the one hand, I'm pretty familiar with Martin's other work. Fevre Dream and Armageddon Rag are classics of their respective genres, the vampire novel and the Rock & Roll fantasy. Tuff Voyaging is a solid, gritty space opera. “Sandkings” is a classic SF horror story, made into a pretty good two-parter on The Outer Limits. On the other hand, the novel got a lot of really good reviews from reviewers I respect. Keith at Nebula pushed it on me. Finally, I gave in. A Game of Thrones is a brilliant story, a headlong ride from page 1 to page 800. Martin keeps lots of balls in the air, occasionally dropping one big surprise on you to keep you honest. This is a gripping, brutal novel which never lets up and never cops out; it is fanatsy written as if it were reality. Volume two, A Clash of Kings, just came out. I'll keep you up to date.