Reviews provided by Syndetics
Library Journal Review
A Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy Award nominee, writer Abraham is renowned for his own fantasy and horror writing as well as experience in adapting Martin's work to sequential art (as in Fevre Dream; "Skin Trade"). Basing their effort on the first novel in Martin's "A Song of Fire and Ice" series, Abraham and Patterson (Farscape) have created two volumes, with an anticipated third forthcoming, that contain half of Dynamite Entertainment's 24-issue comic book series, plus an array of extras, including a too-generous foreword for Volume 1 by Martin, preliminary drawings, and a scene's original-text-to-finished-artwork dissection in Volume 2. Unfortunately, each virtue reveals a vice. While the artwork is consistently handsome and vivid, it fails to convey the medieval grit of the books (and the TV series) when it should. The scripting respects the source text, and fans may enjoy comparing the similarities and differences of the adaptations to the originals. However, only readers already familiar with the material will understand the context of the larger work and the important developments to come, which is necessary to counter the frequent unpleasantness on display. Based on the first two volumes alone, casual readers will wonder what all the fuss is about rather than crave more; stick with the TV show or Martin's original books. Verdict Violence, gore, and sexual content; appropriate for older teens and up. Acceptable for curious fans of Martin and the TV series Game of Thrones and for collections looking to capitalize on their popularity or cross-promote their DVD/Blu-ray sets.-J. Osicki, Saint John Free P.L., NB (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly Review
In a world where the approaching winter will last four decades, kings and queens, knights and renegades struggle for control of a throne. Some fight with sword and mace, others with magic and poison. Beyond the Wall to the north, meanwhile, the Others are preparing their army of the dead to march south as the warmth of summer drains from the land. After more than a decade devoted primarily to TV and screen work, Martin (The Armageddon Rag, 1983) makes a triumphant return to high fantasy with this extraordinarily rich new novel, the first of a trilogy. Although conventional in form, the book stands out from similar work by Eddings, Brooks and others by virtue of its superbly developed characters, accomplished prose and sheer bloody-mindedness. Although the romance of chivalry is central to the culture of the Seven Kingdoms, and tournaments, derring-do and handsome knights abound, these trappings merely give cover to dangerous men and women who will stop at nothing to achieve their goals. When Lord Stark of Winterfell, an honest man, comes south to act as the King's chief councilor, no amount of heroism or good intentions can keep the realm under control. It is fascinating to watch Martin's characters mature and grow, particularly Stark's children, who stand at the center of the book. Martin's trophy case is already stuffed with major prizes, including Hugos, Nebulas, Locus Awards and a Bram Stoker. He's probably going to have to add another shelf, at least. Major ad/promo. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
The first volume in Martin's first fantasy saga, A Song of Ice and Fire, combines intrigue, action, romance, and mystery in a family saga. The family is the Starks of Winterfell, a society in crisis due to climatic change that has created decades-long seasons, and a society almost without magic but with human perversity abundant and active. Martin reaches a new plateau in terms of narrative technique, action scenes, and integrating (or not injecting) his political views into the story. He does not avoid a dauntingly large cast and a daunting number of viewpoint shifts, but these are problems seemingly inseparable from the multivolume fantasy genre. Accordingly, one doubts there will be any other comfortable entry point into this example of the genre except at the beginning. Judging by this beginning, however, it promises to repay reading and rereading, from first volume to last, on account of its literacy, imagination, emotional impact, and superb world-building. --Roland Green
Kirkus Book Review
After a long silence (Portraits of his Children, stories, 1987), the author of the cult The Armageddon Rag (1983) returns with the first of a fantasy series entitled, insipidly enough, A Song of Ice and Fire. In the Seven Kingdoms, where the unpredictable seasons may last decades, three powerful families allied themselves in order to smash the ruling Targaryens and depose their mad king, Rhaegar. Robert Baratheon claimed the throne and took to wife Tywin Lannister's daughter, Cersei; Ned Stark returned north to gloomy Winterfell with its massive, ancient Wall that keeps wildings and unspeakable creatures from invading. Some years later, Robert, now drunk and grossly fat, asks Ned to come south and help him govern; reluctantly, since he mistrusts the treacherous Lannisters, Ned complies. Honorable Ned soon finds himself caught up in a whirl of plots, espionage, whispers, and double-dealing and learns to his horror that the royal heir, Joffrey, isn't Robert's son at all but, rather, the product of an incestuous union between the Queen and her brother Jaime--he murdered Rhaegar despite the latter's surrender. Ned attempts to bargain with Cersei and steels himself to tell Robert--but too late. Swiftly the Lannisters murder the King, consign Ned to a dungeon, and prepare to seize the throne, opposed only by the remaining Starks and Baratheons. On the mainland, meanwhile, the brutal and stupid Viserys Targaryen sells his sister Dany to a barbarian horse-warrior in return for a promise of armies to help him reconquer the Seven Kingdoms. A vast, rich saga, with splendid characters and an intricate plot flawlessly articulated against a backdrop of real depth and texture. Still, after 672 dense pages, were you expecting a satisfying resolution? You won't get it: Be prepared for a lengthy series with an indefinitely deferred conclusion.