Book Review: A Game of Thrones (Audiobook)

19 Dec

Genre: Fantasy

Series: A Song of Ice and Fire #1

Publisher: HarperCollins

Pub date: July 2011

Source: Personal copy

Format: Audiobook

Narrator: Roy Dotrice

Length: 33 hrs and 53 mins

Not another review for A Game of Thrones, you say? I agree – this blockbuster success that has also seen great success on the small screen probably doesn’t need another review. But since this blog is about my reading experience and the books I read and liked, I’m going to say my 2 bits.

Synopsis

The Starks of Winterfell are preparing for a long winter. But King Robert of the Seven Kingdoms has other plans for Ned Stark. Ned has been asked to be the King’s Hand – in this role he will speak for the King and help him run the kingdom. Although all Ned wants is to stay in Winterfell with his family, he takes on the position and goes with King Robert and joins his court. There he is enmeshed in some twisted politics and has to be very nimble to keep him and his family safe.

Review

This book and the series itself is rather intricate and epic in size, so summarizing it is very hard.

Narrated from the points of view of different characters, the story gets you right into the thick of things. I formed loyalties rather early on with some of the characters and this is one reason that I liked the book.

There are three main factions in the first book of the series: The Starks, Baratheon (the King), the Lannisters (the Queen and her family). There is also another  faction – the original Kings of the land from whom Robert won (or stole) the throne.

While this is classified as fantasy, the first book of the series has a lot more court and political intrigue rather than magic. I was a little disappointed that all mention of fantasy and magic was in the past – as in stories about things and people that existed that have now become old wives’ tales. The characters are to an extent largely stereotypes, but with the huge canvas that Martin is playing with, this is rather to be expected.  Some of the characters break the mold – they are not necessarily good or evil and the reader can’t tell what their motive could be. On the whole, the epic nature of the series and the characters make this worth a read/listen.

Martin has set up a lot intrigue and mystery – many questions need to be answered and some of the characters who became my favourites have a lot to do in order to resolve their lives.

In short, I really loved the first book of the series. The epic fantasy genre is one of my favourites. While the magic and adventure parts are always more interesting to me rather than political dealings and battles for thrones, the brilliantly large canvas of this story make this series (definitely the first book) a win for me.

I’m a big fan of Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series. (Still waiting for that last book, Sanderson.) So I know how the first book of the series can grab you and how subsequent volumes may not keep up. I’m hoping that the magic element becomes a bigger part of the series and that the characters show more shades of grey.

The audiobook: Roy Dotrice takes some getting used to. His style of reading with unexpected breaks and stops was a little annoying in the beginning, but I sort of got used to that. He does a brilliant job with the voices, though. I always find that an audiobook might be less intimidating when dealing with such a door-stopper of a book and a huge series. On the other hand, if like me, you like to know the spelling of names and see maps, you’d be better off reading it in print.

Verdict

Definitely recommended. This is not a book for everyone, naturally and not even a book for all fans of fantasy. If you are planning to watch the series, though, I suggest you read/listen to the books before you watch the series. The audiobook is great fun to listen to and makes any long commute worth it. Starting this series means making a commitment (33 hours and 53 mins) – if you’re busy, it will take you a loooong time to complete it. I’m okay with that since that means there’s no waiting time between the books!

Rating: 4*

*See my Rating policy

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© Stargazerpuj and Stargazerpuj’s Book Blog, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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6 Responses to “Book Review: A Game of Thrones (Audiobook)”

  1. Jennifer, bookspersonally December 19, 2011 at 11:51 am #

    Really would love to read this (and see the tv series!). Am definitely daunted by the length – maybe a great read for over the holiday break.

    • stargazerpuj December 19, 2011 at 12:27 pm #

      I’m trying to finish the second book over the break. And think I might watch the first series as well. They are really long!

  2. Shivanee @ Novel Niche December 19, 2011 at 5:25 pm #

    I’m glad you’re embracing the series, Pujitha 🙂 I read all five books this year (yes, I got slightly addicted!) and now I have years to wait before the sixth, no doubt! Actually, I began listening to Dotrice’s reading of ‘A Game of Thrones’, but after a few chapters in, realized I had to switch over to reading it visually for myself — I had no complaints with the narration, but I simply needed to absorb the writing that much more immediately.

    Looking forward to your thoughts on the second in the series — and it’s great to have you back in the book reviewing blogworld! 🙂

    • stargazerpuj December 19, 2011 at 11:55 pm #

      Thank you for the welcome back!
      I’m listening to the second book as well, but think will switch to print or e for the next one.
      I don’t feel too bad about taking it slow – I hate the wait!

  3. Marko @ Game of Thrones Audiobook December 27, 2011 at 2:55 pm #

    Waiting for the next book/audiobook (book 6) of ASOIAF series is really annoying. The good thing is that the HBO season 2 will be soon on the air and it will ease up the waiting 🙂

    Great review BTW!

  4. Michael August 4, 2013 at 8:00 pm #

    Thank you for this review! I think Roy Dotrice’s voice is amazing, and agree that his character narrations really help the reader get into the story. Audiobooks are great for building the castles and battlefields in your mind. Afterwards seeing the television characters can be a little jarring! The HBO series got me interested in the books. George RR Martin is a master with weaving together hundreds of characters in this epic drama. Most epics are just long, but this story also has a depth of alliances and battles that always keeps you guessing.

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