Picking up this book totally threw off my normal reading pattern. I grabbed it at a friend's house when I needed something to read, meaning it got ahead of the stack of books I should be reading. I have wanted to check out this series, A Song of Ice and Fire, for quite some time, but I never found the time to add it to the stack of books I always have out from the library. But now I've read the first one, and my friend has loaned me the rest. Not that I'll be reading them anytime soon, but I will get to them eventually.
A Game of Thrones is the story of the land of the Seven Kingdoms, which are not actually seven separate kingdoms, but one, under the rule of King Robert. Robert gained the throne 15 years previous to the beginning of the book when he overthrew the tyrant before him. He was supported in that war by his closest friend, Eddard Stark, the man who is Lord of Winterfell, and the over all of the northern parts of the Seven Kingdoms. The Starks are an old family who have been in the north for centuries. Most of the story is told from one of their points of view. (Each chapter has a different narrator, though the story is told in third person.) The book begins with the death of the Hand of the King, and Robert comes to Winterfell to offer that position to Stark. Stark does not want it, but the King's wife and her family are scheming for power, and he believes that the best way to keep his family safe is to become the new King's Hand.
The story is incredibly complicated, in a way only an epic fantasy can be, with ancient families and grudges, intrigue, murder, bastard sons, and kings-in-exile. But the characters are wonderful, even the ones you hate, and hearing the story told from so many different angles is interesting, but frustrating at the same time. I honestly almost had to give up on the book a few times, because I don't deal well with terrible things happening to characters that I like, unless the author has a very good reason for it. Martin convinced me to keep reading, even if I didn't figure out all of his reasons for what his characters go through. I am definitely looking forward to the next book, whenever I get around to reading it.