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This book, the first in a series, is too big to easily sum up the plot and do it justice. Basically, Robert Baratheon led a revolt against the old king of the Seven Kingdoms when he was a young man. Now that he’s middle-aged, he’s found that he was more interested in fighting for the throne than he is in sitting on it. He calls on his oldest friend, Ned Stark, to take the office of the Hand of the King, and effectively leaves him to run the kingdom while Robert hunts, womanizes, drinks and has a good time. But people have noticed that Robert isn’t truly a king, and his throne is vulnerable to vast conspiracies.
That synopsis does this no justice. There are so many different plots woven into this epic, it’s incredible. The characters are wonderfully depicted and complicated. The story is told through the eyes of many different characters. From Ned’s daughter, Sansa, an 11-year-old girl who is too romantic and prim and proper for her own good, to the cynical dwarf, Tyrion, who is the king’s brother-in-law, each character has something to say and a unique voice to say it in. But it never gets confusing. Just in case, though, there’s a “family tree” of characters at the end to help keep everyone straight, but I never had to use it.
For an 800+ page book, I really ripped through this. I picked it up to read just a little one night and I was over 60 pages into it before I realized it. For such a huge book, it really was hard to put down. I got sucked into each character’s story and lost track of the time. And this happened every time I picked the book up. It’s hard to maintain that kind of pace across a book this big.
I love fantasy, and I can’t believe I’ve never picked this up before. In fact, I don’t think I’d even heard of it. I just happened to pick it up at a library book sale. But now that I’ve found it, the other books are going on my wishlist. Fans of epic fantasy will love this, and I’m even tempted to say that fans of historical fiction will like it. So far the only thing “fantasy” about it is the fact that it’s set in an imaginary world. But I can see where that will change in the following books, so that might not be a good idea. Your call. But I highly recommend it.