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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
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.
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
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 & Scariness
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.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
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.
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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."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Adults and teens drink alcohol at court and in pubs.
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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."
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.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.