A Song of Fire and Ice (A Game of Thrones) Series

Book review by
Michael Berry, Common Sense Media
A Song of Fire and Ice (A Game of Thrones) Series Book Poster Image
Dark, violent epic upends the usual fantasy clichés.
Popular with kidsParents recommend

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 7 reviews

Kids say

age 14+
Based on 23 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

George R.R. Martin creates a medieval fantasy world that is nearly overwhelmingly rich in detail. He aims to provide a more "realistic" kind of saga, upending clichés and providing viewpoints of unusual characters.

Positive Messages

Tradition is important, and promises should be kept. It's better to face a problem head-on than to deny that you're in trouble.

Positive Role Models & Representations

In A Game of Thrones and its sequels, author George R. R. Martin rarely shows only one side of his characters' personalities. Few of them are all good or all bad. He clearly sympathizes with the members of the Stark family, but each of them is also capable of accessing a dark side.

Violence

From its first scene to its last, A Game of Thrones contains violence, which often strikes without warning to the guilty and the innocent alike. There are beheadings, sword fights, wolf attacks, rapes, and death by molten gold. A young boy is thrown out a window. No character is ever safe, and the graphic details of their injuries or deaths are usually provided.

Sex

Although not as prevalent as violence, sex plays a large part in A Game of Thrones and its sequels. Cersei and Jaime Lannister engage in an incestuous relationship. Tyrion falls in love with a courtesan. Barely in her teens, Daenerys Targaryen enters into a sexual relationship with an older man before marrying him and becoming pregnant with his child. Sometimes such encounters are described in graphic detail.

Language

Think of a swear word, and it's probably used in A Song of Fire and Ice at some point, from "damn" and "bastard" to "c--t" and "f--k."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adults and teens drink alcohol at court and in pubs.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that A Song of Fire and Ice -- adapted for the popular and very mature TV series Game of Thrones -- is a seven-volume fantasy saga by George R.R. Martin, of which only the first five volumes have been published as of April 2016. Set in a magical version of the Middle Ages, it chronicles the exploits of the Stark, Baratheon, Lannister, and Targaryen families as they struggle for power in a deadly civil war. Violence percolates through nearly every scene, including sword fights, beheadings, rapes, wolf attacks, death by molten gold, and more. Sexual content includes an incestuous relationship between a brother and a sister, the marriage of an older man to a teen girl, and a prince's love affair with a courtesan. The language is predictably rough, ranging from "hell" and "damn" to "f--k" and "c--t." If the books were rated as movies are, they would receive a "hard R."

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bygkiller457 June 22, 2016

NOT AS BAD as PEOPLE say

This book is an epic read and has heavy violence and some sexuality throughout. Although many say it is to graphic me and my husband both agree that this book i... Continue reading
Adult Written byPaige S. August 4, 2016

Amazing, intricate story. Not as bad as everyone depicts it to be

First off let me tell you that this is one of the best books ever written. Its intricate themes, plot and characters leave you begging for more, eagerly flippin... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byviolet246 May 15, 2016

Think about your personal maturity level

I'm 14 and reading Game Of Thrones. People say it's got too much sex and violence even for teens, but I think it depends on the kid's maturity le... Continue reading
Teen, 17 years old Written byJflores14 April 14, 2016

Exciting fantasy for older teens; not as bad as people say

This epic fantasy is perfect for fans of eragon or lord of the rings. It's interesting, shocking, and extremely dramatic. Reads like a soap opera. CONTENT... Continue reading

What's the story?

After his predecessor is murdered, Eddard Stark reluctantly agrees to serve as "the Hand" to his good friend, King Robert Baratheon. His honorable decision has far-reaching consequences for his family. After King Robert dies, the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros are plunged into civil war, thanks to the plotting of the Lannisters, and the Stark children and their mother are scattered in all directions. Each must find a new way to survive in a rapidly changing world, even as magic grows stronger, a new peril approaches the Wall that protects the kingdoms, and the threat of the ultimate weapon -- tame dragons -- grows in the East.

Is it any good?

There have been many fantasy sagas published in the last half century, but few can boast the scope, depth, and attention to detail of A SONG OF FIRE AND ICE. George R. R. Martin is a master plotter, moving his huge cast of characters from one harrowing situation to the next and keeping readers anxious and surprised again and again. Some of the first five volumes work better than others (A Feast for Crows leaves many readers disappointed), but all add new elements that only increase the complex richness of the narrative.

This book series is certainly not for sensitive readers. The language is rough, the violence is brutal, and the sexual content sometimes veers into the perverse (including brother-sister incest). But readers with the maturity to handle adult material will be amply rewarded. Martin is a serious storyteller of the first order, and A Song of Fire and Ice is his masterwork.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about why fantasy sagas have become so popular in books, in movies, and on TV. What aspects of them appeal most to readers and viewers?

  • Why do some writers choose to include profanity in their dialogue and descriptions? Does it add a sense of realism to emotionally charged situations?

  • What role does violence play in the story? Would some of the characters be better off if they had not resorted to violence so quickly?

Book details

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