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There is nothing to match the escapism of really great story-telling; a fictional world so complete, so captivating that you can walk around in it, hear the sounds, feel the heat and chill, look on the world with a character’s eyes and lose yourself in a whole other time and place. The writing may sometimes veer towards cliché and the idiosyncratic dialects become too intrusive but there is no doubting the engrossing story-telling at the heart of Game of Thrones (or rather the series of books otherwise known as A Song of Ice and Fire). Having idly started reading a friend’s copy of the first book in the series (A Game of Thrones) I found myself buying my own, reading it in near record time before rushing out to get the next three in the series. For the first time in a long time I felt a real thrill at the thought of getting home to launch into hours of uninterrupted reading. Oh yes, I am well and truly hooked on Westeros.

I know I’m late to the party here but I haven’t been tempted by fantasy fiction since finishing (and loving) The Lord of the Rings years ago. Sure, I’ve had recommendations to read David Eddings and others but I ignored them in favour of contemporary and classic fiction. So, having been away from the fantasy genre for almost a decade, I’m delighted to be back amongst pseudo-medieval characters, places and intrigues thanks to George R.R. Martin.

At the outset these type of novels can seem a daunting task with all their maps and a cast of seemingly thousands (and in my ignorance I didn’t realise how many books there were in this series or how long they are) but what has kept me turning page after page is the thriller-like pacing and neatly divided chapters, each propelling the story in a new or unexpected direction. At the same time I marvel at Martin’s ability to sustain the reader’s attention whilst weaving such a labyrinthine plot.

However he does it, all I know is that the prospect of at least five more novels in the series is no longer daunting but to be savoured. And there’s the HBO adaptation as a bonus once I finish book two, A Clash of Kings.

If there are any other readers belatedly catching up with this series, I’d love to hear from you. (No spoilers please!)