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A Game of Thrones

George R.R. Martin

Key Facts

Main ideas Key Facts

full title · A Game of Thrones

author · George R.R. Martin

type of work · Novel

genre · Epic fantasy; high fantasy

language · English, with occasional words from the fictional Dothraki language

time and place written · 1991-1996, United States

date of first publication · August 6, 1996

publisher · Bantam Spectra

narrator · The book is narrated by an anonymous third person narrator. Each chapter is written from the limited omniscient perspective of one of eight characters, meaning that the narrator only has knowledge of the perspective character’s thoughts and experiences for the duration of the chapter. Each character has a slightly different style of narration and perspective, indicating the possibility of eight unique narrators.

point of view · The point of view is third person limited omniscient, alternating between eight different perspective characters. Within a single perspective chapter, the narrator describes and comments on the perspective character’s thoughts and feelings but never reveals knowledge of the thoughts and feelings of other perspective characters. Thus the point of view is subjective depending on the focal character.

tone · The narrative’s tone varies with the current perspective character. Tyrion’s chapters may have a humorous tone, while Ned’s chapters are gravely serious.

tense · Past

setting (time) · An era resembling Europe’s Middle Ages and 298 years after Aegon’s Landing

setting (place) · The setting shifts from the North to the South of the fictional continent of Westeros, which has a climate and culture resembling the Western hemisphere of Earth. A simultaneous plotline takes place on a continent east of Westeros. The fictional world’s seasons differ from those of the real world as winters and summers vary widely in length and can last many years.

protagonist · Eddard (Ned) Stark

major conflict · Jon Arryn's assassination leads to changes in the kingdom's political hierarchy and ultimately to growing political tensions between the Lannister and Stark families. In the East, Daenerys Targaryen struggles to deal with her intemperate brother and to adapt to the lifestyle of her new Dothraki husband and his people.

rising action · Ned takes Jon Arryn’s place as Hand of the King and investigates the reasons behind Jon Arryn’s assassination. The animosity builds between House Stark and House Lannister as a result of conflicts between Arya and Joff as well as Cersei and Tyrion. Across the Narrow Sea, Viserys becomes increasingly impatient to invade Westeros, giving rise to tension between him and Daenerys.

climax · Ned claims that Joff is not the true heir to the throne. Moments later, Littlefinger betrays him and Cersei imprisons Ned to await Joff’s judgment. In response to Viserys's threats, Drogo kills him by “crowning” him with molten gold.

falling action · After Ned is beheaded, Robb leads Winterfell’s forces into battle against the Lannisters. Also, an attempt on Daenerys's life convinces Drogo to invade Westeros, but after Drogo falls ill from a battle wound, Daenerys Targaryen ultimately becomes the leader of a small band of Dothraki and births three dragons.

themes · The conflicting demands of duty and love; The difficulty of facing a hard truth; The corrupt nature of politics

motifs · Sight; hands; birds

foreshadowing · Tyrion’s king-size shadow; Joff and Robb’s hostile training session; The death of Sansa’s direwolf