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If you recognized that title, you know of George R.R. Martin. I was overwhelmed by this author's first book, A Game of Thrones, swept into the second A Clash of Kings, dashed willy-nilly into A Storm of Swords and am now waiting breathlessly for the fourth book due out this fall A Feast for Crows and the fifth (due ??) A Dance of Dragons. Martin has been a screenwriter for years and is well honed in writing, though I believe these are his first novels.

If you haven't "found" these books and enjoy fantasy, go for it. They read more like a middle ages history (but not remotely dry) but set on a world where summers and winters can last generations and where some long forgotten horrific creatures or force in the past caused a great wall to be built in the north to isolate it/protect the kingdom. The lands to the south are reminiscent of desert societies in our world and used to be home to long dead dragons.

In the north lands, a king who took the throne from its previous occupant (and killed that family in the process) has uneasy alliances with other great families, all very realistically portrayed, with fostered kids to ensure alliances and covert plans by some individuals/families to gain more power than under the current regime. Of course, some of the previous royal family managed to escape, and intend to regain the throne from the "usurper." The book mainly follows the Starke family, who support the current king.

Each chapter has a character's name and follows their portion of the story for a while (third person though). Don't get to attached to anyone, since main characters actually die. On the other hand, don't presume a character has died even if the text implies it, since the perceptions of the character may be inaccurate (they assumed someone died for example.)

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