When A Game of Thrones was published in 1997, it was quickly embraced by readers. Celebrated for its mature themes, realism and for the fact that no character is held sacred, the book and its series changed the topography of the fantasy genre.
The first book was lauded by writing organisations, winning the 1997 Locus award and being nominated for both the 1998 Nebula and the World Fantasy Award. It introduced a diverse cast of characters, all from different noble lineages, with the intrigues that unite and separate them. The first book begins in media res, plunging readers into political landscape of the continent Westeros as the great houses of the land, Stark, Lannister, Baratheon, Tyrell, Greyjoy and Martell struggle for power over the seven kingdoms.
The popularity of the books led to HBO optioning rights for a film series, the first sequence of which was released in 2011. A testament to high-level adaptation, the series captured the brutal tone and emotion of the original and brought the world of Westeros to a wider audience. The world has reacted well to the televised version, with the first episode of the third series becoming the most pirated TV episode in history.
The story essentially has three major plotlines and is explored via different characters’ point of view:
The Wall: A massive wall of Ice over 300ft high, built in the north to protect against a half-believed threat: the White Walkers, hideous abominations stemming from the corpses of men. Winter is coming, and many of these creatures have been seen. Also the raiders living beyond the wall have formed an army and intend to try and overcome the great boundary and march to the south.
The only bulwark against these forces is the Nights Watch, an ancient order given command to man the wall and protect the southern kingdoms.
The Seven Kingdoms: Political intrigue is rife, as the great houses jostle for power. Civil war breaks out at the end of the first book and the Westeros becomes divided. Four claimants to kingship arise, and begin to battle it out for control of the country.
The Dragon Across the Sea: The exiled heir of the original kings of Westeros has come of age. She is possessed of three dragons, still hatchlings, and she must make alliances, raise an army and build a fleet to cross the ocean and take back her kingdom.
The characters are numerous. The world is wonderful. The story is legendary.