Game of Thrones, or: Reviewing War and Peace, but with no peace and ten times the war

So … you’ve probably heard of this book, which has garnered some moderate success from an otherwise unknown author by the name of George R. R. Martin. Long-winded fantasy? Who does that anymore?

My wife and I planned two long trips this summer, so we headed to the library to find an audio book that wouldn’t make the dog howl like a direwolf. We were somewhat taken aback by Game of Thrones, an audiobook roughly as thick as the U.S. tax code. It was on 28 disks.


Winter is coming. Maybe they could get some heated cushions for that uncomfortable iron throne.


  Over a two week period we were on the road for 26 hours of driving, and we still had to renew it from the library for another three weeks.

Game of Thrones opens with an execution, and believe me when I say that’s far from the only death to come along. We’re in a world where summers can last decades but winter hits hard, where dragons once flew, and where a giant, centuries old ice wall protects the continent of Westeros from the supernatural dangers of the north. There’s also stuff that’s hard to believe.

Most of the story revolves around the Stark family, led by Lord Eddard “Ned” Stark. Ned is the reluctant King’s Hand–basically the guy who does all of His Grace’s dirty work. He also spends a lot of time warning darkly, “Winter is coming” … one way in which he’s a lot like me.

What could possibly go wrong? In Martin’s world, pretty much everything. Tragedy, misunderstandings, treachery, accidents, war, all while winter nears along with evil from north of the wall. Meanwhile, the former royal family plots to take back what they consider theirs. It’s a lot like my family reunions; it’s also more complicated than the tax code. You can find dozens of maps online, just to show where all the lands and cities are, and character trees to make interrelationships a little more clear. There’s also plenty of nastiness, from graphic violence to child endangerment to incest.

It’s like … modern basic cable.

We’re talking dark, crazy dark (and horribly addictive). Despite one character’s weakness for quips, you can find more feel-good moments in a single page of a Humor Outcast book than in this whole series of five books, which are the length of two dozen average books.

Emily and I were still catching our breaths when she took the audiobook back to the library. She returned with a new book, this time on good old fashioned paper.

Also useful in knocking out burglars.

Yep. Second book in the series, A Clash of Kings. We haven’t seen the TV series, but my biggest warning about the world of A Song of Ice and Fire (which is the name of the entire book series) is that you should maybe schedule some vacation days before you start reading.

HBO covered this book in seasons three through twelve.

Mark R Hunter

Mark R Hunter is the author of three romantic comedies: Radio Red, Storm Chaser, and its sequel, The Notorious Ian Grant, as well as a related story collection, Storm Chaser Shorts. He also wrote a young adult adventure, The No-Campfire Girls, and a humor collection, Slightly Off the Mark. In addition, he collaborated with his wife, Emily, on the history books Images of America: Albion and Noble County, Smoky Days and Sleepless Nights: A Century or So With The Albion Fire Department, and Hoosier Hysterical. Mark’s work also appeared in the anthologies My Funny Valentine and Strange Portals: Ink Slingers’ Fantasy/Horror Anthology.

For two decades Mark R Hunter has been an emergency dispatcher for the Noble County Sheriff Department. He’s served over 32 years as a volunteer for the Albion Fire Department, holding such positions as safety officer, training officer, secretary, and public information officer. He also has done public relations writing for the Noble County Relay For Life, among other organizations, and served two terms on the Albion Town Council. When asked if he has any free time, he laughs hysterically.

Mark lives in Albion, Indiana, with his wife and editor Emily, a cowardly ball python named Lucius, and a loving, scary dog named Beowulf. He has two daughters and twin grandsons, and so naturally is considering writing a children’s book.

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