Note: this blog has been migrated to Medium, with the articles here available to preserve permalinks. Please see this post at https://medium.com/@ianrbuck/a-game-of-thrones-review-54f083622d3f
I'm not sure exactly what I was expecting, but A Game of Thrones wasn't it. And that isn't a bad thing! I'm used to fantasy that either has a lot of magic, dragons, elves, and the like or fantasy that has none of that. The world that George RR Martin presents is one where those fantasy elements used to exist in abundance, but have since withdrawn to the edges of the world. Don't worry though, it looks like the overall story of the book series is going to be magic trying to make a reappearance in the world, and how the people of this world deal with it.
I also was not expecting the perspective to change every single chapter, or for many of the protagonists to be children. It makes sense though, because it would have been impossible to tell a story on this scale without using many characters for perspective. I also get the sense that the timeline of the book series is a long one, and pretty soon these children will be adults making important decisions that will affect the shape of the politics. Oh, and have I mentioned that the politics here are very strange?
I found that I quickly placed most of the characters into two categories: those who I absolutely loved and rooted for unconditionally, and those who I absolutely despised and wanted to die. I think that this was exactly Martin's intention, and normally I don't hold to that kind of polarization. But he does it so well that I don't care!
I'm looking forward to plunging into the rest of the series and getting started on the show as well. If you are interested in reading it, now would be the time. The longer you wait the more likely it is that someone will spoil something for you, as they did for me. Some friends are the worst.