Summer span decades. Winter can last a lifetime. And the struggle for the Iron Throne has begun. It will stretch from the south where heat breeds plot, lusts and intrigues; to the vast frozen north, where a 700-foot wall of ice protects the kingdom from the dark forces that lie beyond. The Game of Thrones. You win, or you die.
I will admit, i’ve never truly been the biggest fan of A Game of Thrones. I’ve never got into the hype of the HBO series. However, there was one character that stood out for me, intrigued me in so many ways. What can I say, I like dragons. Hence, I have finally decided to start reading the novels, chapter by chapter. Perhaps then, the books will change my mind. After all, an epic fantasy novel should be a good read.
“The Other slid forward on silent feet…its eyes; blue, deeper and bluer than any human eyes, a blue that burned like ice.”
Let me briefly summarise the prologue. We are introduced to a few members of the Night’s Watch, Gared, Will and Ser Waymar Royce, who appear to be military officers on patrol; tracking a band of Wildling raiders in the haunted forest. They quickly find themselves in danger and encounter the Others, a non-human species who appear to be very powerful and equipped with crystal blades. The Others pierce into Royce’s armour, not long after Royce shatters one of their crystal blades. Will, thinking that his comrade is dead, picks up his sword to return it to Gared. However, Will dies at the hands of Royce; who appears to have risen from the dead by the Others.
Having never been a huge fan of prologues, I’ll admit this is a pretty good one. The author, George R. R. Martin, does a brilliant job describing in depth, not only the Night’s Watch but the mysterious humanoid beings called the Others. Who are the Others and where exactly do they come from? Furthermore, the prologue sets out a very dark tone to the rest of the novel. I will assume that this is the start of a very gruesome tale, where happy endings are hard to come by.
We begin the chapter with Bran Stark, a seven-year-old boy, with long brown hair who will be witnessing his first execution. In Bran’s world, seasons are long, varied and unpredictable. Nine years of summer had passed and winter was about to begin.
Blood sprayed out across the snow, as red as summerwine.
The old man being executed appears to be Gared, one of the Night’s Watch men from the prologue. Having lost his ears and fingers to frostbite, he flees in terror from the Wildlings. Eddard, Lord Stark of Winterfell brands Gared as a deserter from the Night’s Watch and sentences him to death.
Eddard Stark is a very honourable man. He stands by his own traditions and beliefs. Whether killing Gared was just, that is up to the readers to decide. In my opinion, Gared, instead of reporting back to the Night’s Watch of what he had seen in the haunted forest, broke his oath and ran away. Consequently, law is law and the ultimate punishment is death.
…Our way is the older way. The blood of the First Men still flows in the veins of the Starks, and we hold to the belief that the man who passes the sentence should swing the sword. If you would take a man’s life, you owe it to him to look into his eyes and hear his final words. And if you cannot bear to do that, then perhaps the man does not deserve to die.
On their way back to Winterfell Robb Stark discovers a dead direwolf and her litter of five pups alive, three males and two females. Upon closer inspection of the dead direwolf they find an antler pierced into her throat. A long silence casted over, as if the stag that attacked the direwolf symbolises a bad omen foreshadowing of what is yet to come. Subsequently, the three male and two female pups represent Eddard Stark’s three sons and two daughters. As such, each of his children will be given a direwolf as a pet.
Not long after, they find an additional direwolf pup, an albino, outcasted by the rest of the litter. Here, we learn that Jon Snow is the illegitimate or shall I say bastard son of Eddard Stark. Needless to say, the surname Snow and the albino direwolf correspond quite well together.
Ultimately, we learn later that the direwolf is an emblem of the House of Stark. But what does the stag represent? Skipping ahead a few chapters, it is shown that the stag is the emblem of the House of Baratheon. Consequently, I fear this may not end well for the Starks.