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Arts in Review

Book Review: A Game of Thrones: The Graphic Novel: Volume One by Daniel Abraham, illus. Tommy Patterson

With the show a major success and the books flying off the shelves, it was only a matter of time before George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series was adapted into graphic novel form. Writer Daniel Abraham takes on the challenging task of adapting the first half of George R.R. Martin’s first novel A Game of Thrones while Tommy Patterson provides possibly some of most detailed and beautiful artwork ever provided for a graphic novel adaptation.

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By Jeremy Hannaford (Contributor) – Email

Print Edition: June 6, 2012

With the show a major success and the books flying off the shelves, it was only a matter of time before George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series was adapted into graphic novel form. Writer Daniel Abraham takes on the challenging task of adapting the first half of George R.R. Martin’s first novel A Game of Thrones while Tommy Patterson provides possibly some of most detailed and beautiful artwork ever provided for a graphic novel adaptation.

Being that this was my first take on the series, I looked at this graphic novel with fresh eyes and saw for myself what all the wonder and hype was about. The first volume goes through roughly the first half of the original novel, introducing all of the main characters. Eddard Stark rules over Winterfell and the surrounding wilderness, and his family live a comfortable life within the walls of their keep – but the summer is ending and Stark can sense that “winter is coming.” However, a lingering winter is not the only threat that approaches Winterfell. King Robert is coming with his wife Cersei and the other members of the conniving Lannister family. Upon arriving in Winterfell, a tale of greed, lust and betrayal ensues as everyone is looking to gain from others’ misfortunes or even deaths.

Adapting half of the novel’s 846 pages into 183 illustrated and detailed comic panels is definitely no easy feat, as Daniel Abraham is forced to condense much of the novel’s backstory into small cliff notes as the main story plays out across the pages. With Patterson’s detailed sketches, all the main characters in the story are given proper introduction and develop throughout the novel. The story itself feels like stage play with characters conversing and plotting against each other all the while a war is beginning to brew. The most interesting shared trait of all the characters is that no one has a clear conscience or is in fact a good person at heart. Everyone has their secrets and it’s only a matter of time until they are betrayed by them.

Tommy Patterson also faces many challenges of his own with squeezing so much information into a limited amount of comic panels. This can be seen at times when the certain actions are skipped across the panels and one is left to fill in the blanks about the characters’ motions. This does not interfere or take away from the main story ark but merely causes inconveniences.

Patterson’s art is absolutely astounding, not just in the crisp outline of the characters or the intricate clothing and armor designs, but in the immense detail in the surrounding environments. Each panel looks like a small mural as the same ridiculous amount of dedication and skill is put forth onto the page. However, this makes for an unnecessary amount of establishing panels rather than concentrating on the character actions and evoking the story. Despite this, the detail of the characters is impossible not to appreciate. All have distinguishing facial features and hair styles, while their attire consists of various furs and pelts to intricate fabrics and clothing.

Daniel Abraham and Tommy Patterson provide a visual and literal take on George R. R. Martin’s saga and they have done an exceptional first job. They even impress Martin himself, as evident in the intriguing introduction that talks about the creation of the graphic novel and Martin’s take on the art medium itself. This, along with an extensive look at the creation of the graphic novel, makes it a worthy purchase at $30. I highly anticipate the second volume of A Game of Thrones to be released in December.

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