A Song of Ice and Fire fits into the medieval politics subgenre of fantasy fiction. A Game of Thrones, the first book of the series, is all about the politics with barely an introduction to the fantasy world waiting in the wings. If you are like me and enjoy the connections to real life in fantasy, then George R. R. Martin may be one of the best. Not quite the level of Robert Jordan, but then who is? It is still an intriguing read.

Martin does a good job of character development. My favorites being Eddard Stark (the lord of the most northerly lands, on the edge of the fantasy dwellings), Jon Snow (Eddard’s bastard son, raised and trained as his sons but ostrasized by his wife, goes to guard the Wall between the Northern lands and the Others), Arya (Eddard’s wayward daughter, left mostly to roam free and train with the boys, she is now expected to become a proper lady), and Tyrion Lannister (dwarf son of Tywin Lannister, not expected to inherit or make much of himself, yet he seems to have inherited the brains).

The kingdom is in upheaval. King Robert is believed to have been murdered. The King’s son takes over with the help of the Queen. Eddard, the King’s right Hand, doesn’t have a good fate. There is plenty of intrigue coming from several directions. Eddard is about the only one who didn’t have a desire to kill the King, his best friend. The Queen is a Lannister who is on the opposite political side as the Starks. The King’s Council is made up of yes-men, scheming behind the King’s back (who didn’t pay much attention to what was going on anyway). The ex-King’s (before Robert) daughter, Daenerys, is exiled across the sea, and there are men in the kingdom plotting to bring her or her brother back to rule. The Others (creepy fantasy people/spirits, not explained much yet) are moving Southward.

Though I enjoyed the book, wanting it to move quicker at times, but not ready for it to end, there is the sense that the story is just now starting. The first book was only an introduction. There are 4 other Stark siblings (3 of them at least will grow in importance in the series). Sansa was meant to be wed to King Robert’s son, until the Court is in chaos. Robb has already inherited Eddard’s title and is involved in his first battle in the book. Bran is the smart one, meant to rule secondary lands, but has been crippled by a fall from a tower. Rickon is so far not much more than a baby. Jon and Bran have already been influenced greatly by Tyrion.