Oh boy, where to start? This epic saga is epic and sagacious (yeah, I know, just humour me). We’ve got the Starks in the North, with Ned and the gang being all kinds of noble and cool, including his bastard (his?) John Snow. Ned’s friends with the king of all the lands, fatass Robert, who’s married to a not-nice lady named Cersei, who’s fucking her twin Jaime. All of the king’s kids are actually Jaime’s, but no one seems to notice or care that they look nothing like him.
Ned gets dragged to work for the king, and brings his daughters with him for some ridiculous reason. Ned’s not stupid, but he’s so freaking honest and noble that it makes him do so very many stupid things. His elder daughter is a vapid tween who cares for nothing but boys and clothes (and is betrothed to the heir apparent, little bitch Joffrey); his other daughter is a total badass who knows which end of a sword to stick people with. Oh, and I almost forgot Tyrion Lannister. What was I thinking? One of the best characters across literature, not just this genre stuff. I also almost forgot about the Targaryens, brother and sister who may or may not be heir to the throne of Westeros. She gets basically sold to a barbarian by her nasty brother (seems like a lot of the royals in this series are a bunch of loonies). Long horse rides and dragons may be involved.
There is no way to encompass everything that happens in this book (and the subsequent books) – no. freaking. way. That’s why it’s taking Martin so long to write these bastards. One thing that I like, that I’m sure makes his job easier, is that each chapter is written from a different character’s point of view. I think he could work on a character, figure out his/her through-line, and write a good chunk of the book without having to worry about continuity. At least that’s how I’d approach it.
Anyway, this book ends with Ned’s beheading; civil war; stuff at the wall up North (long story, scary stuff up north, maybe the end of civilization, all kinds of crap); dragons being born; things in the Aerie; and with Ned’s son being declared “King in the North.” I’m just glad that I found this series way after the first 5 books had been published, because I needed to dive right into the next one.