A Game of Thrones is the first book in the A Song of Ice and Fire series, an epic fantasy series by American author George R. R. Martin. It was first published on August 6, 1996. The novel was nominated for the 1998 Nebula Award and the 1997 World Fantasy Award, and won the 1997 Locus Award. The novella Blood of the Dragon, comprising Daenerys Targaryen chapters from the novel, won the 1997 Hugo Award for Best Novella.
Background and SummaryEdit
Fifteen years prior to the novel, the Seven Kingdoms were embroiled by a civil war. Prince Rhaegar Targaryen kidnapped Lyanna Stark, arousing the ire of her family and of her betrothed, Lord Robert Baratheon (the war's titular rebel). The Mad King, Aerys II Targaryen, had Lyanna's father and eldest brother executed when they demanded her safe return. Her second brother, Eddard, joined his boyhood friend Robert Baratheon and Jon Arryn, with whom they had been fostered as children, in declaring war against the ruling Targaryen dynasty, securing the allegiances of House Tully and House Arryn through a network of dynastic marriages (Lord Eddard to Catelyn Tully and Lord Arryn to Lysa Tully). The powerful House Tyrell continued to support the king, but House Lannister and House Martell both stalled due to insults against their houses by the Targaryens.The civil war climaxed at the Battle of the Trident, where Prince Rhaegar was killed in battle by Robert Baratheon. The Lannisters finally agreed to support King Aerys, but then brutally turned against him, sacking the capital of King's Landing. Jaime Lannister of the Kingsguard betrayed and murdered King Aerys and House Lannister swore fealty to Robert Baratheon. The Tyrells and remaining loyalists surrendered and Robert Baratheon was declared king of the Seven Kingdoms. Unfortunately, during the war, Lyanna Stark had died, apparently of illness shortly after her brother captured the fortress where she'd been held captive; Robert Baratheon instead married Cersei Lannister to cement the alliance with her House. Despite Robert's victory, the Mad King's younger son Viserys and only daughter Daenerys were taken to safety across the sea by loyal retainers. After the war, House Martell chose a path of isolation, since Prince Doran's sister Elia Martell (Prince Rhaegar's wife) and her young children had been killed by knights sworn to House Lannister during the storming of the capital.
Six years later, King Robert proved his resolve by defeating a rebellion by Lord Balon Greyjoy of the Iron Islands. Balon's two eldest sons were killed and his youngest son, Theon, was taken as a political hostage and raised by Eddard Stark in Winterfell.
- Main Article: Chapter Summaries
A Game of Thrones follows three principal storylines as they develop a tandem with one another. The most storylines begin in the year 298 AC (After Conquest), whilst the prologue takes place in 297 AC. The story continues for many months, until 299 AC.
In the Seven KingdomsEdit
Eddard Stark, Lord of Winterfell and Warden of the North, performs the execution of a man of the Night's Watch who has betrayed his vows and fled from the Wall. His sons Robb and Bran, his bastard Jon Snow and his ward Theon Greyjoy all attend. After the beheading, Robb finds a dead direwolf (the sigil of House Stark), killed by the antlers of a stag (the sigil of House Baratheon), which had given birth to five pups before it died. Robb and his brothers ask to keep them and Eddard consents, on the condition that the children themselves take care of them, rather than leaving the matter to the servants of House Stark. There are five pups, one for each of Eddard's trueborn children; Robb names his Grey Wind and Bran names his Summer, whilst Eddard's daughters Sansa and Arya name theirs Lady and Nymeria respectively. Eddard's youngest, Rickon, names his Shaggydog. Unexpectedly, Jon finds a sixth, much smaller, pup lying separately nearby; an albino runt with white fur and red eyes. Jon claims this one, naming it Ghost.
King Robert I Baratheon arrives at Winterfell with his court and many retainers, including his wife, Queen Cersei of House Lannister, and his children: Joffrey, Myrcella and Tommen. The queen's twin brother, Ser Jaime Lannister of the Kingsguard, and their younger brother Tyrion the Imp (so named for his dwarfism), also accompany the group. Robert asks Eddard to become the new Hand of the King after the death of the previous office holder, Lord Jon Arryn. Eddard agrees and travels south with his daughters Sansa and Arya, leaving Catelyn, Robb, Bran (now in a coma after a grevious fall from a window) and Rickon at home. Jon Snow elects to travel north to the Wall to join the Night's Watch and is joined by Tyrion, who is eager to see the fabled construction for himself.
Catelyn Stark learns from her sister Lysa Arryn (widow of the late Lord Jon Arryn) that the Lannisters had Jon Arryn murdered. After Eddard leaves for the south, an attempt is made on Bran's life, thwarted only by the direwolf Summer. Catelyn realizes that Bran must have seen something and been pushed from the window deliberately, and that the would-be murderers are trying to cover their tracks. She travels by sea to King's Landing and learns from her childhood friend Petyr "Littlefinger" Baelish that the dagger used in the assassination attempt was last seen in the hands of Tyrion Lannister. Traveling north again, Catelyn and her retainers encounter Tyrion by chance in an inn (as he returns south from the Wall) and take him captive to the Eyrie, where Lady Lysa places him on trial. Unfortunately, Tyrion chooses trial by combat and his champion, a sellsword named Bronn, wins freedom for him.
In the capital of King's Landing, Eddard investigates Jon's death and learns that Jon Arryn and King Robert's brother, Lord Stannis Baratheon, had discovered that Robert's three children are actually the products of an incestuous liasion between Queen Cersei and her twin brother, Jaime. Spurning the advice of Robert's youngest brother, Renly, to take Cersei into custody, Eddard instead offers mercy, telling Cersei to flee. King Robert dies of a mishap whilst hunting in the kingswood and Cersei's eldest son Joffrey is proclaimed king before Eddard can pass the crown to Stannis, Robert's true heir. When Eddard moves against Cersei, he is betrayed by Littlefinger. Eddard reluctantly agrees to sign a false confession of treason in return for Sansa and Arya's lives and the chance to go into exile on the Wall. Instead, Joffrey has Eddard brutally executed. While Sansa is retained in custody, Arya manages to escape with the help of her fencing instructor, Syrio Forel, and Yoren, a recruiting agent for the Night's Watch.
A civil war, later dubbed the War of the Five Kings, erupts. Robb Stark leads an army of northmen into the Riverlands to support Lord Hoster Tully, whose forces had come under attack by Lord Tywin Lannister after Catelyn took Tyrion prisoner. Riverrun, the Riverlands capital and seat of House Tully, is besieged by an army under Jaime Lannister, whilst Lord Tywin holds a large army south of the Trident to halt Robb's advance. Unexpectedly, Robb wins the support of House Frey by agreeing to a dynastic marriage. This allows him to detach his cavalry and cross the Green Fork whilst his infantry carries on to the Trident under Lord Roose Bolton, one of Robb's bannermen. Tywin, joined by the liberated Tyrion (who has won the support of the mountain clans of the Vale) defeats the Stark force along the Green Fork before learning that Robb has outmaneuvered him. Shortly afterwards Robb's forces surprise and capture Jaime Lannister before smashing the Lannister army at the Whispering Wood north of Riverrun. Tywin falls back on the strong castle of Harrenhal and orders Tyrion to go to King's Landing and counsel King Joffrey I, acting as Hand in his stead.
Lord Renly Baratheon flees south from King's Landing to Highgarden, seat of the powerful House Tyrell, and there is declared king by acclamation, becoming the second of the war's five kings. Robb Stark becomes the third, when he is proclaimed the King in the North by the Stark and Tully bannermen present at Riverrun.
On the WallEdit
In the lands beyond the Wall, three men of the Night's Watch stumble across the massacred remains of wildlings. Ser Waymar Royce is confronted by several creatures of ice, the fabled 'Others' of legend. He fights one, but is killed. The second man, Will, investigates Waymar's corpse only for it to come back to life and strangle him. The third, Gared, is so terrified of what he sees that he flees back to the Wall, and then further south behind it. He is the deserter that Eddard Stark executes at the start of the book.
Jon Snow chooses to join the Night's Watch when his father departs for King's Landing and travels north with his uncle Benjen Stark, the First Ranger of the Watch. At the Wall, Jon finds the Watch is beset with problems. A new King-Beyond-The-Wall has arisen in the far northern lands to rally the wildlings to his banner. This man, Mance Rayder, was once a brother of the Night's Watch before defecting to the wildlings and joining them. Jon also learns that the Watch is greviously under strength, mustering barely a thousand men to cover the three hundred miles of Wall and nineteen castles that man it. To make things worse, its manpower is now made up of murderers and other criminals who chose the Wall over execution or other forms of punishment. Some time after Jon's arrival, Benjen vanishes whilst on a ranging beyond the Wall.
Jon and many of the other younger men are remorselessly bullied by the master-at-arms, Ser Alliser Thorne, but Jon concocts a plan for them to stand up to him. Jon wins the friendship of Samwell Tarly, a craven but intelligent boy from the Reach, and also that of Maester Aemon. Jon is startled to learn that Aemon is a member of House Targaryen, the grand-uncle of the now-deposed King Aerys II Targaryen, and the oldest man alive in Westeros.
The Lord Commander of the Night's Watch, Jeor Mormont, is attacked by a corpse which suddenly comes back to life. Jon burns the wight, saving Mormont's life. Shaken, Mormont resolves to lead the Watch beyond the Wall in strength to test Mance Rayder's capabilities. Although news of his father's execution and his brother's war causes Jon to doubt his calling, he decides that his place is with the Watch.
In the Free City of Pentos, Magister Illyrio Mopatis and the exiled Prince Viserys Targaryen conspire to marry Viserys' thirteen-year-old sister Daenerys to Khal Drogo of the Dothraki. Drogo commands a horde of forty thousand mounted warriors whom Viserys plans to use to reclaim his homeland from the usurper Robert I Baratheon. Among the wedding gifts are three petrified dragon eggs from Illyrio. Unexpectedly, Daenerys and Drogo find love in their marriage pact, eventually journeying east into the vast greenlands of the Dothraki Sea, and Daenerys becomes pregnant with his son, who is to be named Rhaego, after her dead brother, Rhaegar. Ser Jorah Mormont, son of Jeor Mormont and a knight exiled from Westeros by Eddard Stark for dealing in slavery, joins Viserys' entourage as an advisor on the current state of the Seven Kingdoms.
Viserys becomes angry about how long he must wait before Drogo decides to invade Westeros and, in a drunken rage, insults Drogo greviously. Drogo decides to crown him on the spot - with molten gold. Daenerys picks up her brother's quest to reclaim the Iron Throne, but Drogo is just as obstinate with the moon of his life as he was with the Beggar King. The tables turn when a Westerosi assassin, in the pay of King Robert, nearly kills her and their unborn child; a furious Drogo agrees to invade Westeros. However, during a raid on the peaceful Lhazareen to fund their invasion, Drogo takes a wound fighting a rival khal. Daenerys loses both Drogo and her unborn child to the machinations of a Lhazareen witch, and has the witch burned in Drogo's funeral pyre. Daenerys had previously felt the eggs and found them warm in her touch, but not to the others'. Before she had placed them in a small fire and thought that the flames made something in the eggs alive. While the witch was being burned she placed the eggs in the blazing fire. Incredibly, the eggs hatch, and Daenerys Targaryen, the Stormborn, becomes mother to the first three dragons seen in the world for one hundred and sixty years.
All of the novels in the series use a system for the chapters where they are not listed numerically or with any particular subtitle. Instead, each chapter is based on a particular character's limited third-person perspective, and as a result the name of that chapter will be their name (For eg. A chapter from the point of view of Tyrion will be called "Tyrion"). The story will flip back and forth between a particular set of these POV characters. This system is used for all chapters except the Prologue, which are named "Prologue".
The tale of A Game of Thrones is told through the eyes of eight POV characters and a one-off prologue.
- Prologue: Will, a ranger of the Night's Watch.
- Eddard: Lord Eddard Stark, Lord of Winterfell, Warden of the North and Hand of the King.
- Catelyn: Lady Catelyn Stark, daughter of Hoster Tully, wife of Eddard Stark, mother of King Robb.
- Sansa: Sansa Stark, eldest daughter of Lord Eddard and Lady Catelyn Stark, proposed wife to Joffrey Baratheon.
- Arya: Arya Stark, youngest daughter of Lord Eddard and Lady Catelyn Stark.
- Bran: Bran Stark, middle of the three sons of Lord Eddard and Catelyn Stark.
- Jon: Jon Snow, bastard son of Lord Eddard Stark and steward to the Lord Commander of the Night's Watch.
- Tyrion: Tyrion Lannister, a dwarf, son of Lord Tywin Lannister and Queen Cersei's brother.
- Daenerys: Daenerys Targaryen, the Stormborn, Princess of Dragonstone and heiress to the Targaryen throne through her older brother, Viserys.
- Main article: Differences between TV Show and Books
A lot of changes were made to the book material for adaptation to the TV series, Game of Thrones. This is either for condensation reasons, or simply due to artistic license.
Allusions/references to other worksEdit
One of Martin's earliest attempts at writing a fantasy story was 'Dark Gods of Kor-Yuban', which was never published. The two heroes of the short story are the exiled 'Prince R'hllor of Raugg' and his boisterous, swaggering companion 'Argilac the Arrogant'. In an abandoned sequel Argilac teams up with Barron, the Bloody Blade of the Dothrak Empire, to slay the winged demons who killed Barron's grandfather Barristan the Bold. Most of these names reoccur in A Game of Thrones: R'hllor is the red god worshiped in the east (although not specifically named until A Clash of Kings); Argilac the Arrogant was the last Storm King thrown down by the Targaryens; the Dothrak Empire became the Dothraki horse-riders of the eastern plains; and Barristan the Bold was recast as Ser Barristan Selmy of the Kingsguard. Martin covers the origin of these characters and names in his essay 'The Heirs of Turtle Castle' in Dreamsongs: A RRetrospective.