A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 1) Info

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NOW THE ACCLAIMED HBO SERIES GAME OF THRONES—THE
MASTERPIECE THAT BECAME A CULTURAL PHENOMENON
Winter is
coming. Such is the stern motto of House Stark, the northernmost of the
fiefdoms that owe allegiance to King Robert Baratheon in far-off
King’s Landing. There Eddard Stark of Winterfell rules in
Robert’s name. There his family dwells in peace and comfort: his
proud wife, Catelyn; his sons Robb, Brandon, and Rickon; his daughters
Sansa and Arya; and his bastard son, Jon Snow. Far to the north, behind
the towering Wall, lie savage Wildings and worse—unnatural things
relegated to myth during the centuries-long summer, but proving all too
real and all too deadly in the turning of the season.
Yet a
more immediate threat lurks to the south, where Jon Arryn, the Hand of
the King, has died under mysterious circumstances. Now Robert is riding
north to Winterfell, bringing his queen, the lovely but cold Cersei, his
son, the cruel, vainglorious Prince Joffrey, and the queen’s
brothers Jaime and Tyrion of the powerful and wealthy House
Lannister—the first a swordsman without equal, the second a dwarf
whose stunted stature belies a brilliant mind. All are heading for
Winterfell and a fateful encounter that will change the course of
kingdoms.
Meanwhile, across the Narrow Sea, Prince Viserys,
heir of the fallen House Targaryen, which once ruled all of Westeros,
schemes to reclaim the throne with an army of barbarian
Dothraki—whose loyalty he will purchase in the only coin left to
him: his beautiful yet innocent sister, Daenerys.


Average Ratings and Reviews
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Ratings and Reviews From Market


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Reviews for A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 1):

1

May 26, 2007

There are plenty of fantasy authors who claim to be doing something different with the genre. Ironically, they often write the most predictable books of all, as evidenced by Goodkind and Paolini. Though I'm not sure why they protest so much--predictability is hardly a death sentence in genre fantasy.

The archetypal story of a hero, a villain, a profound love, and a world to be saved never seems to get old--it's a great story when it's told well. At the best, it's exciting, exotic, and builds to a There are plenty of fantasy authors who claim to be doing something different with the genre. Ironically, they often write the most predictable books of all, as evidenced by Goodkind and Paolini. Though I'm not sure why they protest so much--predictability is hardly a death sentence in genre fantasy.

The archetypal story of a hero, a villain, a profound love, and a world to be saved never seems to get old--it's a great story when it's told well. At the best, it's exciting, exotic, and builds to a fulfilling climax. At the worst, it's just a bloodless rehash. Unfortunately, the worst are more common by far.

Perhaps it was this abundance of cliche romances that drove Martin to aim for something different. Unfortunately, you can't just choose to be different, any more than you can choose to be creative. Sure, Moorcock's original concept for Elric was to be the anti-Conan, but at some point, he had to push his limits and move beyond difference for difference's sake--and he did.

In similar gesture, Martin rejects the allegorical romance of epic fantasy, which basically means tearing out the guts of the genre: the wonder, the ideals, the heroism, and with them, the moral purpose. Fine, so he took out the rollicking fun and the social message--what did he replace them with?

Like the post-Moore comics of the nineties, fantasy has already borne witness to a backlash against the upright, moral hero--and then a backlash against the grim antihero who succeeded him. Hell, if all Martin wanted was grim and gritty antiheroes in an amoral world, he didn't have to reject the staples of fantasy, he could have gone to its roots: Howard, Leiber, and Anderson.

Like many authors aiming for realism, he forgets 'truth is stranger than fiction'. The real world is full of unbelievable events, coincidences, and odd characters. When authors remove these elements in an attempt to make their world seem real, they make their fiction duller than reality; after all, unexpected details are the heart of verisimilitude. When Chekhov and Peake eschewed the easy thrill of romance, they replaced it with the odd and absurd--moments strange enough to feel true. In comparison, Martin's world is dull and gray. Instead of innovating new, radical elements, he merely removes familiar staples--and any style defined by lack is going to end up feeling thin.

Yet, despite trying inject the book with history and realism, he does not reject the melodramatic characterization of his fantasy forefathers, as evidenced by his brooding bastard antihero protagonist (with pet albino wolf). Apparently to him, 'grim realism' is 'Draco in Leather Pants'. This produces a conflicted tone: a soap opera cast lost in an existentialist film.

There's also lots of sex and misogyny, and 'wall-to-wall rape'--not that books should shy away from sex, or from any uncomfortable, unpleasant reality of life. The problem is when people who are not comfortable with their own sexuality start writing about it, which seems to plague every mainstream fantasy author. Their pen gets away from them, their own hangups start leaking into the scene, until it's not even about the characters anymore, it's just the author cybering about his favorite fetish--and if I cyber with a fat, bearded stranger, I expect to be paid for it.

I know a lot of fans probably get into it more than I do (like night elf hunters humping away in WOW), but reading Goodkind, Jordan, and Martin--it's like seeing a Playboy at your uncle's where all the pages are wrinkled. That's not to say there isn't serviceable pop fantasy sex out there--it's just written by women.

Though I didn't save any choice examples, I did come across this quote from a later book:
"... she wore faded sandsilk pants and woven grass sandals. Her small breasts moved freely beneath a painted Dothraki vest . . ."
Imagine the process: Martin sits, hands hovering over the keys, trying to get inside his character's head:

"Okay, I'm a woman. How do I see and feel the world differently? My cultural role is defined by childbirth. I can be bought and sold in marriage by my own--Oh, hey! I've got tits! Man, look at those things go. *whooshing mammary sound effects* Okay, time to write."

Where are the descriptions of variously-sized dongs swinging within the confines of absurdly-detailed clothing? There are a set of manboobs (which perhaps Martin has some personal experience with) but not until book five. Even then, it's not the dude being hyperaware of his own--they're just there to gross out a dwarf. Not really a balanced depiction.

If you're familiar with the show (and its parodies on South Park and SNL) this lack of dongs may surprise you. But as Martin himself explained, when asked why there's no gay sex in his books, despite having gay characters, 'they’re not the viewpoint characters'--as if somehow, the viewpoints he chooses to depict are beyond his control. Apparently, he plots as well as your average NaNoWriMo author: sorry none of my characters chose to be gay, nothing I can do about it.

And balance really is the problem here--if you only depict the dark, gritty stuff that you're into, that's not realism, it's just a fetish. If you depict the grimness of war by having every female character threatened with rape, but the same thing never happens to a male character, despite the fact that more men get raped in the military than women, then your 'gritty realism card' definitely gets revoked.

The books are notorious for the sudden, pointless deaths, which some suggest is another sign of realism--but, of course, nothing is pointless in fiction, because everything that shows up on the page is only there because the author put it there. Sure, in real life, people suddenly die before finishing their life's work (fantasy authors do it all the time), but there's a reason we don't tend to tell stories of people who die unexpectedly in the middle of things: they are boring and pointless. They build up for a while then eventually, lead nowhere.

Novelists often write in isolation, so it's easy to forget the rule to which playwrights adhere: your story is always a fiction. Any time you treat it as if it were real, you are working against yourself. The writing that feels the most natural is never effortless, it is carefully and painstakingly constructed to seem that way.

A staple of Creative Writing 101 is to 'listen to how people really talk', which is terrible advice. A transcript of any conversation will be so full of repetition, half-thoughts, and non-specific words ('stuff', 'thing') as to be incomprehensible--especially without the cues of tone and body language. Written communication has its own rules, so making dialogue feel like speech is a trick writers play. It's the same with sudden character deaths: treat them like a history, and your plot will become choppy and hard to follow.

Not that the deaths are truly unpredictable. Like in an action film, they are a plot convenience: kill off a villain, and you don't have to wrap up his arc. You don't have to defeat him psychologically--the finality of his death is the great equalizer. You skip the hard work of demonstrating that the hero was morally right, because he's the only option left.

Likewise, in Martin's book, death ties up loose threads--namely, plot threads. Often, this is the only ending we get to his plot arcs, which makes them rather predictable: any time a character is about to build up enough influence to make things better, or more stable, he will die. Any character who poses a threat to the continuing chaos which drives the action will first be built up, and then killed off.

I found this interview to be a particularly telling example of how Martin thinks of character deaths:
"I killed (view spoiler)[Ned (hide spoiler)] because everybody thinks he’s the hero ... sure, he’s going to get into trouble, but then he’ll somehow get out of it. The next predictable thing [someone] is going to rise up and avenge his [death] ... So immediately [killing (view spoiler)[Robb (hide spoiler)]] became the next thing I had to do.
He's not talking about the characters' motivations, or the ideas they represent, or their role in the story--he isn't laying out a well-structured plot, he's just killing them off for pure shock value.

Yet the only reason we think these characters are important in the first place is because Martin treats them as central heroes, spending time and energy building them. Then it all ends up being a red herring, a cheap twist, the equivalent of a horror movie jump scare. It's like mystery novels in the 70's, after all the good plots had been done, so authors added ghosts or secret twins in the last chapter--it's only surprising because the author has obliterated the story structure.

All plots are made up of arcs that grow and change, building tension and purpose. Normally, when an arc ends, the author must use all his skill to deal with themes and answer questions, providing a satisfying conclusion to a promising idea that his readers watched grow. Or just kill off a character central to the conflict and bury the plot arc with him. Then you don't have to worry about closure, you can just hook your readers by focusing on the mess caused by the previous arc falling apart. Make the reader believe that things might get better, get them to believe in a character, then wave your arms in distraction, point and yell 'look at that terrible thing, over there!', and hope they become so caught up in worrying about the new problem that they forget the old one was never resolved.

Chaining false endings together creates perpetual tension that never requires solution--like in most soap operas--plus, the author never has to do the hard work of finishing what they started. If an author is lucky, they die before reaching the Final Conclusion the readership is clamoring for, and never have to meet the collective expectation which long years of deferral have built up. It's easy to idolize Kurt Cobain, because you never had to see him bald and old and crazy like David Lee Roth.

Unlucky authors live to write the Final Book, breaking the spell of unending tension that kept their readers enthralled. Since the plot isn't resolving into a tight, intertwined conclusion (in fact, it's probably spiraling out of control, with ever more characters and scenes), the author must wrap things up conveniently and suddenly, leaving fans confused and upset. Having thrown out the grand romance of fantasy, Martin cannot even end on the dazzling trick of the vaguely-spiritual transgressive Death Event on which the great majority of fantasy books rely for a handy tacked-on climax (actually, he'll probably do it anyways, with dragons--the longer the series goes on, the more it starts to resemble the cliche monomyth that Martin was praised for eschewing in the first place).

The drawback is that even if a conclusion gets stuck on at the end, the story fundamentally leads nowhere--it winds back and forth without resolving psychological or tonal arcs. But then, doesn't that sound more like real life? Martin tore out the moralistic heart and magic of fantasy, and in doing so, rejected the notion of grandly realized conclusions. Perhaps we shouldn't compare him to works of romance, but to histories.

He asks us to believe in his intrigue, his grimness, and his amoral world of war, power, and death--not the false Europe of Arthur, Robin Hood, and Orlando, but the real Europe of plagues, political struggles, religious wars, witch hunts, and roving companies of soldiery forever ravaging the countryside. Unfortunately, he doesn't compare very well to them, either. His intrigue is not as interesting as Cicero's, Machiavelli's, Enguerrand de Coucy's--or even Sallust's, who was practically writing fiction, anyways. Some might suggest it unfair to compare a piece of fiction to a true history, but these are the same histories that lent Howard, Leiber, and Moorcock their touches of verisimilitude. Martin might have taken a lesson from them and drawn inspiration from further afield: even Tolkien had his Eddas. Despite being fictionalized and dramatized, Martin's take on The War of the Roses is far duller than the original.

More than anything, this book felt like a serial melodrama: the hardships of an ensemble cast who we are meant to watch over and sympathize with, being drawn in by emotional appeals (the hope that things will 'get better' in this dark place, 'tragic' deaths), even if these appeals conflict with the supposed realism, and in the end, there is no grander story to unify the whole. This 'grittiness' is just Martin replacing the standard fantasy theme of 'glory' with one of 'hardship', and despite flipping this switch, it's still just an emotional appeal. 'Heroes always win' is just as blandly predictable as 'heroes always lose'.

It's been suggested that I didn't read enough of Martin to judge him, but if the first four hundred pages aren't good, I don't expect the next thousand will be different. If you combine the three Del Rey collections of Conan The Barbarian stories, you get 1,263 pages (including introductions, end notes, and variant scripts). If you take Martin's first two books in this series, you get 1,504 pages. Already, less than a third of the way into the series, he's written more than Howard's entire Conan output, and all I can do is ask myself: why does he need that extra length?

A few authors use it to their advantage, but for most, it's just sprawling, undifferentiated bloat. Melodrama can be a great way to mint money, as evidenced by the endless 'variations on a theme' of soap operas, pro wrestling, and superhero comics. People get into it, but it's neither revolutionary nor realistic. You also hear the same things from the fans: that it's all carefully planned, all interconnected, all going somewhere. Apparently they didn't learn their lesson from the anticlimactic fizzling out of Twin Peaks, X-Files, Lost, and Battlestar. Then again, you wouldn't keep watching if you didn't think it was going somewhere.

Some say 'at least he isn't as bad as all the drivel that gets published in genre fantasy', but saying he's better than dreck is really not very high praise. Others have intimated that I must not like fantasy at all, pointing to my low-star reviews of Martin, Wolfe, Jordan, and Goodkind, but it is precisely because I am passionate about fantasy that I fall heavily on these authors.

A lover of fine wines winces the more at a corked bottle of vinegar, a ballet enthusiast's love of dance would not leave him breathless at a high school competition--and likewise, having learned to appreciate epics, histories, knightly ballads, fairy tales, and their modern offspring in fantasy, I find Martin woefully lacking. There's plenty of grim fantasy and intrigue out there, from its roots to the dozens of fantasy authors, both old and modern, whom I list in the link at the end of this review

There seems to be a sense that Martin's work is somehow revolutionary, that it represents a 'new direction' for fantasy, but all I see is a reversion. Sure, he's different than Jordan, Goodkind, and their ilk, who simply took the pseudo-medieval high-magic world from Tolkien and the blood-and-guts heroism from Howard. Martin, on the other hand, has more closely followed Tolkien's lead than any other modern high fantasy author--and I don't just mean in terms of racism.

Tolkien wanted to make his story real--not 'realistic', using the dramatic techniques of literature--but actually real, by trying to create all the detail of a pretend world behind the story. Over the span of the first twenty years, he released The Hobbit, the Lord of the Rings, and other works, while in the twenty years after that, he became so obsessed with worldbuilding for its own sake that instead of writing stories, he filled his shed with a bunch of notes (which his son has been trying to make a complete book from ever since).

It's the same thing Martin's trying to do: cover a bland story with a litany of details that don't contribute meaningfully to his characters, plot, or tone. So, if Martin is good because he is different, then it stands to reason that he's not very good, because he's not that different. He may seem different if all someone has read is Tolkien and the authors who ape his style, but that's just one small corner of a very expansive genre. Anyone who thinks Tolkien is the 'father of fantasy' doesn't know enough about the genre to judge what 'originality' means.

So, if Martin neither an homage nor an original, I'm not sure what's left. In his attempt to set himself apart, he tore out the joyful heart of fantasy, but failed replace it with anything. There is no revolutionary voice here, and there is nothing in Martin's book that has not been done better by other authors.

However, there is one thing Martin has done that no other author has been able to do: kill the longrunning High Fantasy series. According to some friends of mine in publishing (and some on-the-nose remarks by Caleb Carr in an NPR interview on his own foray into fantasy), Martin's inability to deliver a book on time, combined with his strained relationship with his publisher means that literary agents are no longer accepting manuscripts for high fantasy series--even from recognized authors. Apparently, Martin is so bad at plot structure that he actually pre-emptively ruined books by other authors. Perhaps it is true what they say about silver linings . . .

Though I declined to finish this book, I'll leave you with a caution compiled from various respectable friends of mine who did continue on:

"If you need some kind of closure, avoid this series. No arcs will ever be completed, nothing will ever really change. The tagline is 'Winter is Coming'--it's not. As the series goes on, there will be more and more characters and diverging plotlines to keep track of, many of them apparently completely unrelated to each other, even as it increasingly becomes just another cliche, fascist 'chosen one' monomyth, like every other fantasy series out there. If you enjoy a grim, excessively long soap opera with lots of deaths and constant unresolved tension, pick up the series--otherwise, maybe check out the show."

My Fantasy Book Suggestions ...more
0

Sep 01, 2013

Reader Logic:

I HATE this book.

I HATE it so much I had to get a new hardback copy to read so I could underline all the parts I HATE about it so much and post them on Goodreads.

I HATE it with such a passion I also bought copies for all my friends and family, also in new hardback editions, so they could HATE it along with me.

When the TV series came on I was so fuming with rage I watched the entire season twice and bought six copies of the DVD, because I could not believe how much I could HATE Reader Logic:

I HATE this book.

I HATE it so much I had to get a new hardback copy to read so I could underline all the parts I HATE about it so much and post them on Goodreads.

I HATE it with such a passion I also bought copies for all my friends and family, also in new hardback editions, so they could HATE it along with me.

When the TV series came on I was so fuming with rage I watched the entire season twice and bought six copies of the DVD, because I could not believe how much I could HATE something.

I had spent so much time discussing how much I HATE this, with all my friends, who HATE it too and who all bought copies, I decided to get a George RR Martin tattoo on my buttock to show how strong my HATRED for his work is.

There was such a collectivity at the time—like everyone uniting in HATING this together—that some of us formed relationships in HATE. I met my wife at a George RR Martin convention and we got married as one of the characters, reciting parts of the book for our vows, and paid GRRM all our life savings to come read from his HORRIBLE book.

We HATE this beyond belief. Maybe one day, we’ll read a book we like, and the author can get rich on LOVE. ...more
1

Feb 04, 2009

Ten years and five hundred comments later and men still think I care if they disagree with me.

WARNING: If you enjoyed this book, even a little bit, you may not want to read this review. It will probably make you angry. Heaven knows that the book made me furious, and I intend to turn every bit of that wrath back on it.
Instead, I suggest you read karen's review, Brigid's review, Joyzi's review, or any other of the gushing four and five-star reviews here. If video reviews are more your style, I Ten years and five hundred comments later and men still think I care if they disagree with me.

WARNING: If you enjoyed this book, even a little bit, you may not want to read this review. It will probably make you angry. Heaven knows that the book made me furious, and I intend to turn every bit of that wrath back on it.
Instead, I suggest you read karen's review, Brigid's review, Joyzi's review, or any other of the gushing four and five-star reviews here. If video reviews are more your style, I suggest Melina Pendulum's vlog about this book.
Realistically, I know a lot of you are not going to listen, which is why the edit is here. At least it will slow you down a little.



EDIT: adding one more thing because, despite the warning and the redirect links I kindly provided, I have indeed gotten the kind of sexist bullshit comments I anticipated. Before you launch into the usual defense, therefore, I give you this:

"Alternatively, some fans may find it tempting to argue “Well this media is a realistic portrayal of societies like X, Y, Z”. But when you say that sexism and racism and heterosexism and cissexism have to be in the narrative or the story won’t be realistic, what you are saying is that we humans literally cannot recognise ourselves without systemic prejudice, nor can we connect to characters who are not unrepentant bigots. Um, yikes. YIKES, you guys.
And even if you think that’s true (which scares the hell out of me), I don’t see you arguing for an accurate portrayal of everything in your fiction all the time. For example, most people seem fine without accurate portrayal of what personal hygiene was really like in 1300 CE in their medieval fantasy media. (Newsflash: realistically, Robb Stark and Jon Snow rarely bathed or brushed their teeth or hair). In real life, people have to go to the bathroom. In movies and books, they don’t show that very much, because it’s boring and gross. Well, guess what: bigotry is also boring and gross. But everyone is just dying to keep that in the script."
Source.

Here's the scoop on this review. For a book that I hate, I usually write a lot. After suffering for several hundred pages, I have pleeeenty of things to say. I've never hated a book that was quite as long as this one quite as much as I do, so I've had to alter my review so that I can say everything I want to without going over the character limit.
The first part is an unorganized rant. I marked pages with particularly annoying quotes on them; for these rants, I broke the book into segments of 100 pages and wrote up quotes and responses for each segment into separate blog posts. These are all linked below.
The second part will be a more organized rant masquerading as a review. MAKE NO MISTAKE: THIS IS A 'HATER' REVIEW. IF ANYTHING WAS GOING TO CAUSE ME TO SPONTANEOUSLY DEVELOP THE ABILITY TO BREATHE FIRE, IT WOULD HAVE BEEN THIS BOOK.




Part 1:
Pages 1-100
Pages 101-200
Pages 201-300
Pages 301-400
Pages 401-500
Pages 501-600
Pages 601-700
Pages 701-807



Part 2:
There are books I don't like.
There are books I loathe.

And then...
there's this book, which did its level best to drive me to drinking.

and I don't even like alcohol.



I wanted to like this. I wanted it to be as excellent as so many people insist it is. There are some books that I went into expecting them to be horrible, but this isn't one of them. Oh, my hopes were high here - it was recommended by a plethora of great authors, including the guys of Writing Excuses, who I absolutely love. Reviewers who I greatly respect rated it four and five stars and wrote at length about how awesome it was. Other people praised the book as "the greatest achievement of the fantasy genre so far" and Martin as "the greatest fantasy writer of all time".

It's those last two that are most important, I think, because I love the fantasy genre - always have, and hopefully always will. Fantasy is what got me into reading (well, Harry Potter, specifically) and it's been one of my mainstays for as long as I can remember. I bought this book in large part because it was so often touted as, if not always the greatest achievement of the genre, one of the major works of fantasy published in our time. Having recently read several works by Brandon Sanderson, all of which were innovative, highly readable, and deeply philosophical, I was excited to see what Martin (by all reports an even better writer than Sanderson) could do. I expected my mind to be blown, repeatedly, and to be faced with the challenge of writing a review for a book so staggeringly brilliant that I could hardly think straight after finishing it.

That is far, far, far from what I got.

First of all, this book is definitely not what I think of when I hear the word 'fantasy'. It's certainly far from my definition of 'high fantasy'. Now, I realize that my definition of 'high fantasy', which includes pervasive magic, unusual creatures, and a setting that is vividly far from the real world, is not the definition you'll find if you look the term up online. I also don't care. Seeing as the critical definition appears to characterize high fantasy solely by the fact that it doesn't take place on our Earth, and as this definition is written as if high fantasy and sword-and-sorcery are mutually exclusive, I'm inclined to conclude that whoever wrote said definition is pretty damn stupid and carry on with my own outlines of what makes fantasy high, low, urban, epic, or any other subcategory or combination thereof.
That said - this book? High fantasy? Not as far as I'm concerned. It is, to say the least, distinctly lacking in the requisite elements of the fantastic.

Is it possible that Martin is going for a 'the magic comes back' subplot over the course of the series? Definitely. Do I give two shits about the rest of the series? NOPE.
This book comes off as a pathetic attempt at fantasy by someone who doesn't really care about the genre, or doesn't know much about it. It mostly struck me more as an alternate universe War of the Roses fanfiction, with some hints of magic thrown in in a halfassed attempt to give it a place on the genre fiction shelves of bookstores. You can explain to me over and over how Martin intended to make his world 'gritty' and 'realistic' and I will tell you over and over that that shouldn't matter: that it is possible to have a fantasy which is gritty, realistic, and also utterly fantastical. It's even possible to do it without losing the particular areas where Martin seemed to be trying for gritty realism: since he chose to make all of his characters of the nobility anyhow, he wouldn't have had to worry about overglorifying the lives of the peasantry, as one might with a more economically diverse cast.
Now, I'm willing to give Martin the benefit of the doubt a little bit on the possibility of the 'magic comes back' thing, because there did seem to be elements here that could become fantastical if fully explained later. The problem, of course, is that they're tossed out without background, let alone proper explanation, and so feel jarring and out of place - not a coherent part of the world, but bits tossed in to be linked together later. Right now... all they managed to do was trip me up, throw me ass-over-teakettle out of the story, and leave me blinking at the page in confusion and not a little bit of frustration.
(And yeah, maybe part of why I'm so sore about this is that, like I said, I started this book not long after reading some Sanderson, and Sanderson is basically the king of seamless, fantastical, elegant worldbuilding, so pretty much anyone looks bad in comparison, but still.)
If I had to assign this book to a genre, I'd call it 'low fantasy', because as far as I'm concerned it was running too low on the qualities that make fantasy what it is. It's about as much fantasy as fanfiction that translates characters to the modern day is - namely, basically mundane with a miniscule twist.

The characters of this book also stand out... and not in a good way.

There are a lot of them - eight POVs and plenty more on the side - and not a single one of them is likeable. They all had the potential to be, which makes it worse. Bran, the Stark boy who learns too much and is crippled as a result, could have an interesting arc if it weren't so slow and drawn-out. The hints of genuine pathos-inducing story are definitely there. They're also present in the chapters focused on Catelyn, who is the closest Martin gets to a truly nuanced character. Ned Stark, Catelyn's husband, is supposed to be the noble one - too bad his 'nobility' comes off as stupidity instead. Jon Snow, Ned's bastard child, is a truly stereotypical fantasy character: the super special 'outcast' who is nonetheless generally loved except by those the narration makes a point to show as bigoted and cruel, who never really has to work either for physical skills or personal growth, and who gets gifted by the narrative with an absurd number of SUPER UNIQUE TRAPPINGS, including an albino wolf (really, Martin, REALLY? Are you secretly a fourteen year-old girl writing horrendous anime fanfic or something? Answer: no, and the comparison is insulting to fourteen year-old girls.) and a bastard sword that was a family heirloom of a noble house not his own. Arya is by far the most entertaining of the Starks, but only because she fulfills all sorts of rebellious-noble-girl-learns-to-fight tropes that I'm quite fond of. Sansa's chapters made me set the book down for days on end; she is beyond a shadow of a doubt the most insipid, annoying, airheaded character I have ever read and she has not a single whisper of a redeeming quality. Tyrion Lannister is what Jon Snow could have become without the heapings of Gary Stu in his youth: a bitter middle-aged man with father issues who turns to sex and crudity as his only defense; somewhat akin to Catelyn, he had the potential to be interesting and nuanced if his behavior hadn't been played dead straight.

And there's one more: Daenerys Targaryen. Oh, Dany, Dany, Dany. I could write a dissertation on Dany and everything that went wrong with her story - but I don't have that kind of time.
For those of you not familiar with this most epic of George R.R. Martin's characterization and plot failures, here is a summary:
(oh and spoilers, but I honestly can't be bothered to tag it.)
When we first meet her, Dany is thirteen years ond and about to be sold (effectively) into marriage with Khal Drogo, a warlord of the Dothraki people, by her abusive and not-a-little-bit-crazy brother, Viserys. Viserys has convinced himself that Drogo will help him take back 'his' kingdom - this being the Seven Kingdoms where the rest of the book takes place - hence the whole 'selling his sister to be raped by married to someone he obviously sees as a barbarian' thing. The marriage occurs, and then the wedding night in truly squicky half-detail. There then follows a long journey across the plains to a Dothraki city, during which Dany is raped (and no, I will not call it anything else) by Drogo. By her fourteenth birthday she is pregnant. When they arrive in the Dothraki city, Viserys makes such an ass of himself that Drogo kills him by pouring molten gold over his head in the middle of a feasting hall. Robert, the current king of the Seven Kingdoms who the Targaryens see as a usurper, sends assassins to kill Dany - naturally, they fail - and Drogo gets so angry at this that he decides to commit all his people to attacking the Seven Kingdoms in retribution. They leave the Dothraki city (at this point Dany is heavily pregnant) and go out to wreak havoc across the countryside on their way to conquest. In one such battle Drogo is wounded; because he refuses to care for the wound properly, it gets infected. When it is clear that he is going to die, Dany appeals to an old woman to perform forbidden magic to save him; the rest of Drogo's people do not approve and try to cast Dany out. End result: Dany loses her child to create a Drogo-zombie, which she then smothers. When his body is placed on the traditional pyre, she adds in three supposedly dead dragon eggs (given to her as wedding gifts and which any fool could see hundreds of pages off were bound to hatch) and, surprise surprise, they hatch.

To which my primary objections are:
1. The blinding obviousness of the ending
2. The fact that this single plotline - this single POV among eight - is so far distant from and so barely related to the others
3. The fact that Dany being raped is never treated as what it is, and that the relationship between her and Drogo is portrayed as love.


The first two are self-explanatory; the third, of course, is the big thorny problem. Now, I can sort of understand the perspective which argues that Dany is taking control of her sexuality - she comes to enjoy sex and even to initiate and control it at times. However, SHE IS AT NO POINT OLDER THAN FOURTEEN. There's a reason that such a concept as an 'age of consent' exists - there is an age at which teenagers are genuinely immature and probably shouldn't be making life-changing decisions like, say, things that could get them pregnant. Now, I understand that in the medieval times like those that this book is based on, girls were getting married and having children a lot earlier, and that people in general were more mature at an early age. However, Dany shows none of that maturity until after she's been with Drogo for weeks - if not months. When she's married to him, she is if anything unusually innocent for her age. It's a little hard for me to accept the idea that she's taking control of her sexuality when she's so young and clueless that her first sexual experience is a choice only inasmuch as she chooses not to fight back. Not fighting back, by the way, doesn't mean it's not rape, particularly in the situation that Dany is in (vastly younger than Drogo, vastly weaker, browbeaten by her abusive brother and told over and over that her obligation is to do whatever her husband wants). Nor are her later sexual experiences ones of choice; in fact, it is explicitly stated that even when she had horrible saddle sores and could barely walk, she was expected to be available for sex and treated as such. If anything, her eventual enjoyment of it seems more like a psychological block put up as a survival tactic than genuine pleasure in the act or love for Drogo.
Yet, despite the fact that this situation is obviously, beyond a shadow of a doubt, rape, it's never addressed in-text. If anything, it's portrayed as a positive experience for Dany, one that makes her stronger and enables her to stand up for herself.

Stupid me; I thought that the cancerous expansion of rape-as-love was limited to abusive jackass love interests in YA paranormal romances; clearly, I was wrong. It's everywhere, people. We are all completely fucking doomed.

Which brings me to one of the other major frustrations I had with this book: the sex.
Ummm... what to say? I thought reading some of the V'lane bits of Darkfever while sitting next to my mother on the plane was uncomfortable; to my utter shock, that was nothing compared to reading the sex scenes of this book alone. No worry about someone looking over my shoulder and reading about MacKayla Lane getting hot and bothered - and yet even more awkward. Why? Well, as one reviewer put it (and I wish I could remember who to give them credit), they're written kind of as if they're these tremendous mythic events. I cringe at the very thought of quoting them, but to give you a little idea of what they're like... (worst romance sex scenes you've ever read) - (bizarre flowerly euphemisms) + (gratuitous use of the word 'manhood')*(general strange reverence for penises above and beyond the norm) + (incidences of incest) = Game of Thrones sex scene.
In general: AWKWARD.

(Just to be sure you feel my pain.)


This book felt male-oriented in a way that is so painfully forced that it made me distinctly uncomfortable. I don't mean that women can't enjoy it - obviously, as all the reviews I linked back at the top demonstrate, they can and they do. I mean that the book itself felt as if it were written for the most stereotypical male audience imaginable. As Tatiana described it, it reads like a soap opera for men. Because MEN want lots of violence, sex, swearing by female genitalia, and paper-thin motivations, right? Which is exactly what Martin dishes up.

and so is the book he's produced.


I thought at around the halfway point that I'd finish the book and be able to watch the HBO show to get the rest of the series without suffering through more awkwardly described sex scenes (not to mention the rest of it). By the time I finished, though, I had developed such a virulent hatred for this book, its author, and everything related to either of the above that I start grinding my teeth just reading praise for it. Watching the show would be vastly to my detriment - mostly because neither my hand nor my bank account would do well after I put my fist through the screen of my laptop.

In conclusion/summary:






Oh, and to the diehard defenders of this series, like those who were plaguing Keely's review, who like to tell people who disagree with them that GRRM is the greatest writer of ALL TIME and that the female characters presented herein are feminist (or, to use an exact quote, that "GRRM has written some of the most independent, self-reliant heroines ever to grace the fantasy genre. It's more than half the reason he's so beloved. His female characters disdain male attention, are always smarter, faster, deadlier, and braver than any of their male counterparts. Kinda like feminists with swords" which is complete and utter bullshit), I have only one thing to say:




THANK YOU AND GOODNIGHT. ...more
5

Nov 07, 2010

I rated this in 2010. In 2017 it's time I actually use my words.

Here's my long overdue review of A Game of Thrones. I was looking at the current reviews. Here you have a book with a ridiculously high average rating, vast sales, and … the most liked reviews are three 1*s and an unrated comedy piece.

Do we love to hate *that* much? Apparently we do. Not only is knocking down easier than building, it’s also more fun to watch.



Well, sadly all I have to offer here is a less exciting set of praise I rated this in 2010. In 2017 it's time I actually use my words.

Here's my long overdue review of A Game of Thrones. I was looking at the current reviews. Here you have a book with a ridiculously high average rating, vast sales, and … the most liked reviews are three 1*s and an unrated comedy piece.

Do we love to hate *that* much? Apparently we do. Not only is knocking down easier than building, it’s also more fun to watch.



Well, sadly all I have to offer here is a less exciting set of praise for the genius and importance of this book.

The first bit of genius is that on paper GRRM writes in not only the opposite manner to me but in a manner I profess to dislike. Wait … I like how he writes on paper … you know what I mean.

Things he does that should annoy me:

I) Lengthy descriptions of … everything, especially food, clothing, and architecture. Normally I hate wading through that stuff to get at the story. Somehow GRRM does it in a way I like.
II) Large numbers of point of view characters. I normally find this makes each of them rather shallow and stereotyped. GRRM is magnificent with characters and brings even the throw away non-point of view ones to life.
III) Huge, expanding story lines. I tend to like some sort of focus but every corner you turn in this series can end up leading you down a seemingly endless rabbit hole of minor noble houses, their retainers, local squabbles, history etc. And this has irked me at points, especially in the later books, but it’s also kind of marvellous and makes everything feel really real, and also deep-rooted in a Tolkienesque way.


I maintain that not only is Game of Thrones a brilliant read, it’s also an important one for the genre. It’s meaningful to talk about post-GRRM fantasy.

For many people, indeed for a decent chunk of a whole generation of fantasy authors, George RR Martin's A Game of Thrones was a step change in the genre.



For me and a lot of other authors Martin's work opened our eyes to what felt like a whole different world of what fantasy writing could be, and we've run out into those new territories eager to try to copy not the style or substance, but the quality.

In my youth when we entered a fantasy land we were expected to suspending our belief about magic and alternate worlds, but not only that. We were expected to enter a sort of mythic / fairy tale world where people weren't quite... real. They didn't feel like actual regular humans, bound by the same fears, worries, ambitions, aches and pains as you and I - they felt more like actors in roles, cogs in a plot engine, icons and ciphers. They were too good, or too evil.

Fantasy had its conventions and we played within them, reader and author exercised a mutual understanding regarding the rules - rather like ancient Greek theatre, or a musical where for no reason the cast can break from the story into a rousing song.




Of course I exaggerate. And this isn't to say that authors didn't weave fascinating and compelling stories within those conventions. The fantasy of the 70s and 80s kept me very happy and some of it was written by writers of surpassing genius. Even so... it was quite definitely 'apart' from the books that really touched me or showed me new things about 'what it's all about' - works of literary fiction, and miles distant from what 99% of the public was reading.

The step I'm talking about may be entirely artificial or demonstrable fact. It may be that in the 90's when I was reading very little fantasy the genre moved smoothly into what it is now. It may be that GRRM is talked of as a step change by so many simply because his success meant that A Game of Thrones was the first book that fantasy exiles actually picked up after their absence, and thus they saw in it a 'sudden' significant difference ... or it may be that he really did raise the bar in one swift move.

Either way, what he did was to present us with real people. I'm not talking about the 'gritty realism' that is of late so hotly debated in some quarters of the interwebs - I'm just talking about the strength of his characterisation, the creation of real people with everyday weaknesses, wants, ambitions, set in a world that feels like it has a genuine past that matters to them, both on the grand and small scales.

What he did drew many people back into the genre, as readers and as writers. His work was both a challenge and an invitation. He showed what fantasy could be. Real people who didn't carry a particular flaw around like an attribute rolled up in a role-playing game, but who were complex, capable of both good and evil, victims of circumstance, heroes of the moment. Heroes in gleaming mail could suffer from corns without it being a joke. That's a big part of his secret - EVERYONE IS HUMAN - get behind their eyes and nobody is perfect, nobody is worthless.

I don't write anything like George RR Martin. I don't lay claim to any significant portion of his talent. But I do count myself as one of his many inheritors (in this game you can inherit without requiring the other person to stop writing!). And what I inherited was the desire (if not the ability) to put it all on the page. Fantasy no longer feels like an acquired taste, a club where you have to learn the conventions, the forms, what the masks mean, what the short hand is for... fantasy feels real. And I love it.


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...... ...more
1

Sep 27, 2007

I really feel the necessity of a bit of personal backstory here, before I start the review. Back in 1996 when this book first came out, and I was about 14 or 16 years old, I saw the hardcover on a sale table for about $5 and couldn't resist a bargain (still can't, though I'm more cautious these days). So I started reading this book with the vague idea that it was a flop, and that may not have helped, but I got through 100 pages of it before feeling so crapped off with it that I shoved it in my I really feel the necessity of a bit of personal backstory here, before I start the review. Back in 1996 when this book first came out, and I was about 14 or 16 years old, I saw the hardcover on a sale table for about $5 and couldn't resist a bargain (still can't, though I'm more cautious these days). So I started reading this book with the vague idea that it was a flop, and that may not have helped, but I got through 100 pages of it before feeling so crapped off with it that I shoved it in my cupboard and tried not to think about it. Page 108 to be exact. More on why later.

If you've heard of this book, or read it, you're probably aware that far from being the flop I assumed it was at the time (and I didn't know anyone who was reading it), the series has gone on to be one of the big Cash Cows of the fantasy genre. Computer games, role-playing games - there's even a board game that looks like Risk. Sooner or later there'll be a movie or something, no doubt (I'm moderately surprised one isn't in the works already). People love this book and this series. So I'm well aware I'll probably be lynched for this review, because even the people on Goodreads who didn't like it still had great things to say about it.

But reviews are subjective, and here's mine.

In the vein of Tolkein, Jordan, Elliott, Goodkind, Hobb, Eddings, Feist et al, A Game of Thrones is set in the classicly boring-and-overdone medieval-England-esque setting, and is essentially about a bunch of nobles fighting over a throne. Great. Very original. Praised for its focus on political intrigue, its lack of magic and similar fantasy tropes, and its cast of believable and interesting characters, I found the book tedious. The first "epic fantasy" series I read (after Narnia) was Jordan's The Wheel of Time series, and it's true that I struggled with the first book, Eye of the World. But there were elements to it that I liked, characters who I felt attached to, enough to read the second book and become hooked, and so on. I love 1000-page long, fat fantasy books. I love huge casts of characters and have no problem keeping up with them. I've read Jennifer Fallon's Wolfblade trilogy and Second Sons Trilogy, both of which are heavy on political intrigue and very low on magic, and they're supurb. A Game of Thrones is not. It offers nothing new to the genre, and does nothing original with what it has.

Narrated in turns by Eddard (Ned) Stark, Lord of Winterfell; his wife Lady Catelyn; his bastard son Jon Snow; his very young daughters Sansa and Arya; his middle son Bran; Tyrion Lannister, a dwarf and brother to the Queen; and young Daenerys Targaryen, last of the line of dragon kings and exiled to the land beyond the narrow sea, the book is divided into neat chapters headed by the name of one or the other, so you know exactly whose point-of-view you're going to get and where you are in the plot. Thanks for holding my hand Martin, but I don't like this technique. The chapter headings, I'm referring to. It encourages me to start wondering about the character before I've even started reading. "CATELYN" the chapter title reads: is she young or old, a peasant, a farmer, a daughter, a mother, nice, mean... I start imagining things and then have to correct it all as the character is revealed during the chapter. There's power in names, and withholding them or putting elements of a character's personality first is often more compelling, and better writing. It also made it harder to get through the book, because at the end of one chapter I'd see the name of the next, think "oh great, him/her again, their story's boring" and put the book down.

Let me be perfectly straight: I did not find any of the characters to be particularly interesting; though Jaime Lannister had something about him, you hardly ever saw him. They all pretty much felt like the same character, just in different situations. The differences between them, for example the good-girl Sansa and her tomboy sister Arya, felt forced, superficial and clichéd. Ned is all about honour and duty, but especially honour, with love a more minor consideration, but honestly, could the man be more stupid? Eddard's a moron, and dull, and his only saving grace is that he's nice to his daughters. Let's be clear about something else right here: this world and its people are so sexist and misogynist it's ludicrous. There are many derogatory references to women's tits, metaphors about screwing whores, descriptions of Daenerys getting her nipples pinched by her horrible brother Viserys - not to mention her marriage, at twelve, to a horselord whose men rape women like there's no tomorrow; incest and so on. The first time I tried to read this book, I was offended and disgusted (it didn't help that I'd read Pillars of the Earth not long before; though I did not grow up sexually repressed or prudish or anything like that, I have never found reading descriptions of rape to be all that easy, especially when they're treated so dismissively) - yet oddly my impressions of the characters were much more favourable. I read it now and I just felt contempt.

No one character stands out, though Arya has potential. Catelyn is as boring as her husband, and her sister Lysa is, let's face it, mad as a hatter and a sure sign of why women are unfit to rule (a clear message in this medieval-esque patriarchal world). Queen Cercei too. Tyrion, the dwarf, seems on the verge of having charisma but fails, and Daenerys... I want to like someone, but Martin doesn't give his characters any depth. Sure, they're all flawed and a flawed character is a great literary device - the anti-hero, etc. But Martin's characters are walking clichés, even the dwarf.

The plot is also pretty weak. I don't need elves and magic and dragons - in fact, I tend to avoid them, especially elves *yawn* - but you've gotta give me something else. A bildungsroman does wonders - yes, let me see the characters on a journey of life rather than a quest, quests are tired. There's no quest in A Game of Thrones, and that's fine with me. But what is there? Jon goes to the Wall that separates the wilderness from the Seven Kingdoms (why is it called the Seven Kingdoms when there's only one kingdom?) and is attacked by an Other, a kind of zombie creature; Ned goes to the capital to take up the role of King's Hand because the King, Robert, likes to spend his time boozing, whoring and hunting; Catelyn follows to tell him someone tried to kill Bran; Ned tries to discover why the previous Hand died... And swords with names, seriously, what's with that? I'm so sick of such blatant phallic symbols and their representations, and the whole creed of honour and duty and gallant knights...

What frustrates me most is that this could have been a really interesting story, if only the author had better talent at writing characters - or letting them write themselves. The plot is not the problem, though it's largely uneventful, with no climactic moments because even those are written at the same pace as the rest, with no drammatic flourishes (come on, we all like those, let's be honest). But the characters, *sigh*, their motivations are simplistic, their actions extremely predictable, and while they don't blur one into another neither do any of them stand out. Also, the type of setting seems mostly convenient: with the focus on the nobles and their squabbling, you don't learn much about the lower classes, or what kind of food is grown here, or what kind of industry supports the economy, or anything about the cultures - using the clichéd medieval England setting allows Martin to ignore one of the more fascinating aspects of society and leaves his world shallow, like surface water, without support (using this old and worn Fantasy setting allows an author to get lazy about world-building). The history of the land is also riddled with clichés, and sort of thrown in here and there as if to remind the reader "it is a real place, look, here's what the First Men did!"

As for the writing, it's easy to read and calm, though very slow and rather lacking in tone or any interesting stylistic quirks: flat and bland, in other words. There's no atmosphere in this book. There're a few bad lines, like "A storm of rose petals blew across a blood-streaked sky, as blue as the eyes of death" (p.425) - his one concession to drama, it seems, though if you read it again you'll notice it doesn't actually make sense; and a few awkward sentences that leave you scrambling, such as "Catelyn watched her son [Robb Stark] mount up. Olyvar Frey held his horse for him, Lord Walder's son, two years older than Robb, and ten years younger and more anxious." (p.696) I noticed a similar sentence later, and I guess I know what he means but really, it's terrible writing.

On the plus side, there were a few things I liked. The direwolves - large ferocious animals as constant companions and protectors: always a winner with me; the intriguing climate, where summer and winter lasts years, decades even, before changing (how does that work? Seriously, what do they eat?); Daenerys' dragon eggs, and the Dothraki, the horse lords - though they were pretty superficial and confined to a rigid list of adjectives - I would have liked to understand their culture better. In many fantasy books my problem is the whole good vs. evil cliché, which generally involves the plot. Here, my problem is that the characters are so black-and-white. They are described, good, that's settled, now what? There's no grey. No character development. They never once surprised me.

I honestly don't know if I'll read the next book. The Wheel of Time taught me (at the same age as I first tried reading this book, 16) that the first book in a series can be the weakest, because of the amount of extrapolation and background etc. that goes on. I didn't find that problem here, it was very grounded in the now, which makes me think the next book will be more of the same. I keep coming back to the reasons why I struggled to finish this book: boredom, clichéd and empty characters, not enough balance (as in, there's no love in this book, and if the characters are so realistic why don't they love?), and predictable events. You know what it reminds me of? Marion Zimmer Bradley's equally famous The Mists of Avalon - another book I couldn't finish. If you like Arthurian fantasy, and that kind of style, then this would be a good book for you: the excessively patriarchal culture, the battles, the hint of magic and something glorious lurking around the edges but never coming to the fore, it's all here, neatly packaged. Obviously it works for a lot of people.

But to all those people who say that Martin has opened up the genre in new ways, that he is the best writer of the epic fantasy crowd and so on, I have to wonder, have they read anything else? And then I wonder whether it's a matter of which author you read first and grow attached to, and so compare all the others. I don't think I fell into that trap as such, because Jordan's lost the plot, literally, Goodkind's personal politics and propaganda have taken over his story, and the one epic fantasy series that I love above all others - to date - is Kate Elliott's Crown of Stars series, which I didn't start reading till I was in uni. But I really wonder, how this story grabbed other people. If it grabbed you, I'd love to hear how and why, because sometimes I feel like I'm too jaded or something, too snobby maybe .... ...more
5

Jul 29, 2011

yup.
nerds, now i am among you.

this is going to be a review where i just prattle on and on about meee meee meee, because let's face it - there are a million reviews of this puppy out there so i don't have to worry about doing a disservice to the book. you'll either read the book or you won't. but you should: it's got direwolves.

i wasn't going to read this. after years of watching hordes of desperate sad-eyed nerds coming up to me, asking "any news on the george r.r. martin release??" (like the bn yup.
nerds, now i am among you.

this is going to be a review where i just prattle on and on about meee meee meee, because let's face it - there are a million reviews of this puppy out there so i don't have to worry about doing a disservice to the book. you'll either read the book or you won't. but you should: it's got direwolves.

i wasn't going to read this. after years of watching hordes of desperate sad-eyed nerds coming up to me, asking "any news on the george r.r. martin release??" (like the bn computer knows more, somehow, than the internet. it doesn't) and i would have to tell them (not without some schadenfreude-glee) "nope - it has just been moved back another year!!" it gave me a solid sense of "there but for the grace..." like when you see a very young junkie and you congratulate yourself for dodging that particular bullet.

despite what i kept hearing about how awesome the books were, i just filed it away in the mental RA folder of "stuff nerds like" and figured one day i would read them, you know - for research, but not before they were all out - i wasn't going to get sucked into the trap of so many before me - the waiting game of disappointment and having to reread the older books again and again to keep track of who was even alive at this point. "when you play the game of thrones, you play to become frustrated and impatient."

i have seen it a hundred times.

so when the teevee show came out and people were drooling over how good it was, i paid them no mind. i pushed it two feet past the "someday" pile in my brain. because i am not one of those people who watch a movie before reading the book, am i??

but connor wore me down. he really wanted me to see it and he wanted to talk to me about it and his bearded little face was all lit from within with enthusiasm and i just couldn't say no to him.

so i did it. i watched the teeveee. on demand - several episodes in a row, pissed off if i started to get too sleepy to make it through another episode.

so so good.

so now, i had to read it, right? i owe it to the gods of fine literature and all.

so i did, and god this book is fun.

i am glad they changed a few things for the filmed version - i'm not sure i would have been too comfortable watching a thirteen-year-old actress play daenerys.

in the same line of thought - natalie - i know you have not watched the show yet, but your crush on jon snow?? perfectly understandable to someone watching the show - he has that dark brooding thing i can see a girl going for, but if you have only read the books?? girl, your crush is on a fourteen-year-old boy. i have notified the authorities, you perv.

in the end, i am glad i watched the show first, if only so that i know how to pronounce the characters' names. oh, you crazy high fantasy novels and your names...

alfonso won't read this series because of the incest and because they never tell you where the soldiers pooped. i am not kidding. several people complain that the seasonal imbalance complicates the growing cycle and where is all their food coming from. this point i can understand - fantasy novels are supposed to care about developing a fully-realized world and all, and that is kind of a major detail, but it doesn't bother me at all. i am no connoisseur of fantasy- i am a dilettante at best. so i don't care where people are getting their food - i don't care if the social hierarchy is a realistic one, given the particulars of this realm, i certainly don't care where the soldiers are pooping. nor do i care in any novel where and when the characters poop. i just like this book's quiet intrigues and betrayals. the diplomacy, the lack of hesitation when it is time for a character to be killed off. i love how there aren't any "good guys" or "bad guys," only "effective" and "ineffective" characters. every one of them does at least one thing that'll make a reader go, "oh, bad move." so he dropped a few details when it comes to agriculture - he spent all his energies into creating characters that i love reading about.there are facets to this thing - sides of the argument rarely seen in a straight-ahead rollicking plot-driven novel.

and i'm not really sure where the misogyny accusations come from. is it because women can't really ascend to power except through marriage?? because i don't think that was invented for this book - i am pretty sure that has happened, historically, in other places. and if it's the looting and raping, well - that happens in war, too. wait, is it sansa?? yeah, she's kind of a wash. but the girl wants what the girl wants. she's at least more complicated than bella, right? there are plenty of good characters here that aren't weak or power-mad, or just regular-mad... okay - there are a couple. but sheeeeit - all the characters here are pretty bad, on the moral spectrum, right? littlefinger is my very favorite, but i wouldn't want to know him in my real life. i appreciate his devotion, though.

so i am super excited about clash of kings, both the book i will read and the show i will watch. swords and boobies and direwolves. i don't even know how i am going to make it until then.

oh, because i was talking about boobies and HBO just there, connor was telling me this story about louis ck, and i loved it, and i found this quote. it is relevant!! hbo is nudity-crazy!! but he took care of their lust for flesh:

HBO was asking us why there was no nudity on the show, and what they really meant was, Why wasn’t Pamela Adlon, who played my wife, nude? When I hired Pam, I didn’t tell her she was going to be doing anything like that. It wasn’t supposed to be that kind of show. So I said, “You know what, I’ll do it.” And I did that episode, and they were like, “O.K., we have plenty of nudity, thank you.”

hbo, thwarted!


look, dana, i read one of your books!!


and i have just discovered betterbooktitles.com!



come to my blog! ...more
4

May 20, 2019

"When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die. There is no middle ground."
3 1/2 stars. So in one weekend I finally finished the book I picked up and put down about ten years ago, and watched the final episode of the TV series I have loved for eight years. How odd that the book ended up better than I expected, and the TV show, um... didn't. Warning: I will be talking about the depiction of rape in this review.

I think I was more ready to commit this time around. I'd already watched the "When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die. There is no middle ground."
3 1/2 stars. So in one weekend I finally finished the book I picked up and put down about ten years ago, and watched the final episode of the TV series I have loved for eight years. How odd that the book ended up better than I expected, and the TV show, um... didn't. Warning: I will be talking about the depiction of rape in this review.

I think I was more ready to commit this time around. I'd already watched the show and become invested in the characters, so reading 900 pages about them didn't seem so unattractive. I think it's quite well-written, especially the dialogue, which is where Martin shines. It's also just entertaining for the most part. The bloody vicious backstabbing kind of entertainment that, apparently, I do like.

It's also an amazing feat of world building. I was blown away by the amount of thought and detail that has gone into this-- and it's just the first book. Martin has considered details that would never have even crossed my mind - little sayings, folktales and quirks particular to the people of certain regions or certain houses - but it all serves to make a very rich and complex world that is all the more believable for it. He has created a whole new universe from scratch, one with thousands of years of history, and many different peoples and cultures. It's breathtaking, honestly.

Unfortunately, it's not all good. Saying nothing of the show's finale, there are many strong and smart women in this series with fantastic story arcs, and yet the book (and show) cannot shake some of its misogyny. Tatiana covered this well. 13-year-old Dany's "romance" with her rapist is one of the lowest points.

On this read of A Game of Thrones I found the exact moment I put it down the first time around. I got further than I remembered. It was that moment during Dany and Drogo's wedding when a woman is raped. It wasn't the rape in itself. Though of course I find rape deeply disturbing, I also know that it has been a horrible but true reality in many wars and societies. Showing that it happens does not seem unrealistic. What I found truly awful about this one scene, though, was the way the woman was barely described as a person. We don't know what her name was, what she looked like, what her reaction was, or what her fate was. This woman being raped was so throwaway, with the focus of the scene being the Dothraki who were raping her and fighting over her.

The only thing that kept me reading this time was knowing that there are so many amazing female characters in this series who are treated with empathy and - for the most part - respect by the author. I am just hoping that Martin finishes these bloody books so we can get a better ending than the show *fingers crossed*

Oh, and I 100% agree with the show writers decision to up the ages of major characters like Robb, Jon and Dany. It seemed like a very odd decision to have 13-15 year olds leading wars and revolutions.

This would be a good series if you're a fan of gory historical fiction. You know the kind with bloody battles, political upheaval, and despicable people? It's like that, but with dragons. Don't read this if you are sensitive to scenes of graphic violence, rape and/or incest.

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5

Oct 30, 2018



Okay - I am SO incredibly late to this party but hey, I made it! And the hype was real! Winter is coming. Lord Eddard "Ned" Stark lives with his family in a world where the seasons are thrown completely off - summers last decades, and winters are equally long.

His five children, plus his bastard son (Jon Snow) are on the way back to their home, Winterfell, when they stumble upon and subsequently adopt six direwolf pups (the symbol of the Starks), with the albino runt going to John. When the

Okay - I am SO incredibly late to this party but hey, I made it! And the hype was real! Winter is coming. Lord Eddard "Ned" Stark lives with his family in a world where the seasons are thrown completely off - summers last decades, and winters are equally long.

His five children, plus his bastard son (Jon Snow) are on the way back to their home, Winterfell, when they stumble upon and subsequently adopt six direwolf pups (the symbol of the Starks), with the albino runt going to John. When the snows fall and the white winds blow, the lone wolf dies but the pack survives. Upon returning home, King Robert Baratheon, an old friend of Ned, recruits the Lord to replace the adviser to the crown.

At first, he was hesitant but upon learning that the Queen Cersei Lannister may be behind the death of the previous adviser, he decides to go in order to protect his friend.

Unfortuntately, before he goes, Bran (Ned's youngest son) discovers that (view spoiler)[ the Queen is having an affair with her brother (hide spoiler)] which results in Bran becoming crippled.

Ned must leave his grievously injured son and travel with Sansa and Arya (Ned's daughters) to the King's Landing...where Ned realizes that the King has become ineffective and consumed by his love of drinking, gambling and hunting.

Meanwhile, tensions increase between the Starks and the Lannisters, especially between Joffrey, the crown prince, and the Stark children mount.

And tensions further rise when it's discovered that Tyrion Lannister's dagger is the one found near Bran...which leads to Tyrion's abduction.

Meanwhile, Jon Snow volunteered to go to the Wall - a barrier surrounding the Seven Kingdoms made of ice an magic - under the impression that it is a brave and noble occupation...only to find out that it's a last-hope sort of place. Nothing burns like the cold. After a period of rough adjustment, Jon finds his place among the recruits only to discover something distinctly Other lives beyond these walls. Fear cuts deeper than swords. Across the way, there is revenge on the air.

Viserys and Daenerys Targaryen are the last living Targaryens - the old ruling family before King Robert Baratheon overthrew their father, murdered their family and banished them to poverty.

Viserys is dead set on getting his kingdom back, and soon betrothed Daenerys, his thirteen-year-old sister, to Khal Drogo, a nomadic warlord with the promise of an army in exchange and three petrified dragon eggs for Daenerys.

Daenerys is terrified at first, but soon embraces her role as Queen of the nomadic tribes, even finding the courage to stand up to her brother.

When Khal Drogo is injuried, Daenerys is forced to make the ultimate decision...

And, I finally get the hype but gosh dang, this one was a challenge to follow at times.

The plot jumped place to place to place, weaving together such an amazing world in such an exciting way...and yet with so many characters and scenes and NAMES for things that I kept having to Google what was what.

Even then, I was absolutely hooked by the complexity of both the characters themselves and the intricate politics that accompanied them...all with a heavy dose of magic and mayhem.

I loved the plot of Daenerys - the way she overcame her situation and ultimately ruled the clan was absolutely enthralling.

She was a small part of the overall plot, but I'm so excited to see where her character goes.

The politics, at times, became too much but every time I would get the least bit bored the plot would pick up and there'd be an absolute insane twist.

Such a good one - so excited for the next!

Audiobook Comments
Read by Roy Dotrice - and I'm extremely pleased with the reading. Fabulous tone and pacing, good use of emotion.

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0

Sep 08, 2012

I tried reading this a long time ago and gave up very quickly. I know many love it but I think from the start I knew it wasn't for me. Looooong fantasy series never have been, for some reason. HOWEVER, I have to confess that the TV series is such a guilty pleasure of mine. And, even though I will never return to this series, can we all just take a minute to admit that how I spent my weekend is kinda cool...










And a sneaky bonus for Torchwood fans!



Just so you know, all the cool people totally close I tried reading this a long time ago and gave up very quickly. I know many love it but I think from the start I knew it wasn't for me. Looooong fantasy series never have been, for some reason. HOWEVER, I have to confess that the TV series is such a guilty pleasure of mine. And, even though I will never return to this series, can we all just take a minute to admit that how I spent my weekend is kinda cool...










And a sneaky bonus for Torchwood fans!



Just so you know, all the cool people totally close their eyes during at least one photo #truefact ...more
5

Nov 17, 2011

First off, I'm a heavy duty fan of GRRM. I've read over a 100 different fantasy authors in my time. Took about 5 years off from the genre b/c I felt it was all getting too formulaic and cliched. So, when I came back to fantasy I read the usual: Goodkind, Jordan, etc. and then someone told me about GRRM and man, that was the kicker!



Here are the reasons to choose GRRM. I've also listed the reasons not to choose him to make it fair b/c I know their are certain personalities who won't like this First off, I'm a heavy duty fan of GRRM. I've read over a 100 different fantasy authors in my time. Took about 5 years off from the genre b/c I felt it was all getting too formulaic and cliched. So, when I came back to fantasy I read the usual: Goodkind, Jordan, etc. and then someone told me about GRRM and man, that was the kicker!



Here are the reasons to choose GRRM. I've also listed the reasons not to choose him to make it fair b/c I know their are certain personalities who won't like this series:

WHY TO READ GRRM

(1) YOU ARE TIRED OF FORMULAIC FANTASY: good lad beats the dark lord against impossible odds; boy is the epitome of good; he and all his friends never die even though they go through great dangers . . . the good and noble king; the beautiful princess who falls in love with the commoner boy even though their stations are drastically different . . . you get the idea. After reading this over and over, it gets old.









(2) YOU ARE TIRED OF ALL THE HEROES STAYING ALIVE EVEN THOUGH THEY ARE UNDER CONSTANT DANGER: this gets even worse where the author kills a main hero off but that person comes back later in the story. Or, a hero does die but magic brings him back.







This sometimes carries to minor characters where even they may not die, but most fantasy authors like to kill them off to show that some risked the adventure and perished.

(3) YOU ARE A MEDIEVAL HISTORY BUFF: this story was influenced by the WARS OF THE ROSES and THE HUNDRED YEARS WAR.



(4) YOU LOVE SERIOUS INTRIGUE WITHOUT STUPID OPPONENTS: lots of layering; lots of intrigue; lots of clever players in the game of thrones. Unlike other fantasy novels, one side, usually the villain, is stupid or not too bright.



(5) YOU ARE INTERESTED IN BIASED OPINIONS AND DIFFERENT TRUTHS: GRRM has set this up where each chapter has the title of one character and the whole chapter is through their viewpoint. Interesting tidbit is that you get their perception of events or truths. But, if you pay attention, someone else will mention a different angle of truth in the story that we rarely see in other novels. Lastly and most importantly, GRRM doesn't try to tell us which person is right in their perception. He purposelly leaves it vague so that we are kept guessing.



(6) LEGENDS: some of the most interesting characters are those who are long gone or dead. We never get the entire story but only bits and pieces; something that other fantasy authors could learn from to heighten suspense. Additionally, b/c the points of views are not congruent, we sometimes get different opinions.



(7) WORDPLAY: if you're big on metaphors and description, GRRM is your guy. Almost flawless flow.

“What is honor compared to a woman's love? What is duty against the feel of a newborn son in your arms . . . or the memory of a brother's smile? Wind and words. Wind and words. We are only human, and the gods have fashioned us for love. That is our great glory, and our great tragedy.”

“Why is it that when one man builds a wall, the next man immediately needs to know what's on the other side?”

“You are your mother's trueborn son of Lannister."

"Am I?" the dwarf replied, sardonic. "Do tell my lord father. My mother died birthing me, and he's never been sure."

"I don't even know who my mother was," Jon said.

"Some woman, no doubt. Most of them are." He favored Jon with a rueful grin. "Remember this, boy. All dwarfs may be bastards, yet not all bastards need be dwarfs."

And with that he turned and sauntered back into the feast, whistling a tune.

When he opened the door, the light from within threw his shadow clear across the yard, and for just a moment Tyrion Lannister stood tall as a king.”

“Oh, my sweet summer child," Old Nan said quietly, "what do you know of fear? Fear is for the winter, my little lord, when the snows fall a hundred feet deep and the ice wind comes howling out of the north. Fear is for the long night, when the sun hides its face for years at a time, and little children are born and live and die all in darkness while the direwolves grow gaunt and hungry, and the white walkers move through the woods”

(8) LOTS OF CONFLICT: all types, too; not just fighting but between characters through threats and intrigue.

(9) MULTILAYERED PLOTTING; SUB PLOTS GALORE: each character has their own separate storyline; especially as the story continues and everyone gets scattered. This is one of the reasons why each novel is between 700-900 pages.

(10) SUPERLATIVE VARIED CHARACTERS: not the typical archetypes that we are used to in most fantasy; some are gritty; few are totally evil or good; GRRM does a great job of changing our opinions of characters as the series progress. This is especially true of Jaime in book three.







(11) REALISTIC MEDIEVAL DIALOGUE: not to the point that we can't understand it but well done.

(12) HEAPS OF SYMBOLISM AND PROPHECY: if you're big on that.



(13) EXCELLENT MYSTERIES: very hard to figure out the culprits; GRRM must have read a lot of mystery novels.

(14) RICHLY TEXTURED FEMALE CHARACTERS: best male author on female characters I have read; realistic on how women think, too.




(15) LOW MAGIC WORLD: magic is low key; not over the top so heroes can't get out of jams with it.



REASONS TO NOT READ GRRM

(1) YOU LIKE YOUR MAIN CHARACTERS: GRRM does a good job of creating more likable characters after a few die. But, if that isn't your style, you shouldn't be reading it. He kills off several, not just one, so be warned.







(2) DO NOT CARE FOR GRITTY GRAY CHARACTERS: if you like more white and gray characters, this may unsettle you. I suggest Feist or Goodkind or Dragonlance if you want a more straight forward story with strong archetypes.



(3) MULTIPLE POINTS OF VIEWS TURN YOU OFF: if you prefer that the POVS only go to a few characters, this might be confusing for you.



(4) SWEARING, SEX: there's a lot of it in this book just as there is in real life.



(5) YOU DEMAND CLOSURE AT THE END OF EVERY BOOK: this isn't the case for all stories in the series. Some are still going on; some have been resolved; others have been created and are moving on.



(6) IF YOU WANT A TARGET OR SOMEONE TO BLAME: this can be done to some extent but not as much. This is b/c he doesn't try to make anyone necessarily good or evil.





(7) ARCHETYPES: some readers like archetypal characters because it's comfortable; we like the good young hero (sort of like Pug in Feist's THE RIFTWAR SAGA); it's familiar and we sometimes like to pretend we're this upcoming, great hero. You wont' get much of this in GRRM with the exception of one or two characters.








(8) LENGTH: you don't want to get into a long fantasy epic series. In that case, look for shorters works as this is biiig.



(9) PATRIARCHY: men are most of the main characters with lots of power (one female exception).



STORY/PLOTTING: A minus; CHARACTER/DIALOGUE: A minus to A; LEGENDS/WORLD BUILDING: A plus; FANTASY FOCUSES: A; OVERALL GRADE: A; WHEN READ LAST: 2009 (5 readings) (revised review April 2012; more pics added August 2013)





...more
5

Apr 07, 2015



You can find the full review and more about this book on my blog!



GEORGE R.R. MARTIN,YOU FREAKING GENIUS!



To be honest,I never thought I would read this,not because it is something I don't like(it is something I most like),but it is so huge.But now I thank the gods and the kings for making me read this.I can't explain how much I admire this book.It has been a part of my geeky life and I am proud for that.I am a fan,an ultimate true fan!





These are some things you get from reading this book:

Smart

You can find the full review and more about this book on my blog!



GEORGE R.R. MARTIN,YOU FREAKING GENIUS!



To be honest,I never thought I would read this,not because it is something I don't like(it is something I most like),but it is so huge.But now I thank the gods and the kings for making me read this.I can't explain how much I admire this book.It has been a part of my geeky life and I am proud for that.I am a fan,an ultimate true fan!





These are some things you get from reading this book:

Smart talks and tactics
Tyrion Lannister
the freaking hot Daenerys Targaryen
Dragons
Blood

Okay so now I'll list things I like from the book:

Daenerys Targaryen
Daenerys Targaryen
Daenerys Targaryen
Daenerys Targaryen
Daenerys Targaryen
Daenerys Targaryen
Daenerys Targaryen
Daenerys Targaryen
Daenerys Targaryen


And things I didn't like:

Theon Greyjoy and the bitch(Joffrey Lannister)

everything else was perfect:)



Okay so now I'll talk about the perfection of them all Daenerys Targaryen.She is not only my favorite character of all,but after I started watching the show,and she had a face,and boy what a face,I am truly deeply in love(and I got to see her naked).God bless the show.Daenerys is the mother of dragons and you will know what I am talking about in the end of the book,which for me was one of the best endings I have ever read.





This world is so complex and there are so many characters,yet it is so thrilling and fun to read.And I love the idea of not having safe characters.In every page you turn,your favorite character can die.





I highly recommend this book,this is clearly one of the best works I have read of the last century.And this goes to Mr.Martin



Please kill Joffrey:)





*Pictures from the review are not mine, I took them mostly from Google images or Tumblr* ...more
4

Aug 01, 2013

(A-) 81% | Very Good
Notes: A shocking story that breaks fantasy conventions, it's seven hundred pages of realpolitik and character development.
5

Jan 17, 2014

Okay so I read it again. I didn’t quite get chance to last year, so I squeezed it in right at the start of this one. Plus, it gives me chance to share this review once more and tell my personal reading journey to any followers I might have picked up since 2015.

Original Review

A Game of Thrones changed my life. I know that may sound sad, but it’s true. Prior to reading it I had no interest in books whatsoever. I was on course to be a forensic psychologist; however, I began reading this wonderful Okay so I read it again. I didn’t quite get chance to last year, so I squeezed it in right at the start of this one. Plus, it gives me chance to share this review once more and tell my personal reading journey to any followers I might have picked up since 2015.

Original Review

A Game of Thrones changed my life. I know that may sound sad, but it’s true. Prior to reading it I had no interest in books whatsoever. I was on course to be a forensic psychologist; however, I began reading this wonderful series. Suffice to say, it threw me of course ever so slightly: I am now studying a degree in English Literature. One day I'd like to teach it.



A Game of Thrones kindled a fire within me that erupted into a love of books. I began to read other novels across the genres. It was slow at first, but I’d always come back to this series, which I read through its entirety at alarming speed, several times. I then went onto other fantasy novels and historical fiction, which distracted me from my degree work. I found myself reading Tolkien and Ken Follet when I should have been doing my degree prep. I then went onto classic authors such as Dickens and Robert Louis Stevenson. Books became my life.



I now spend countless hours reading literature of all varieties from Austen to Shakespeare, from Phillip Pullman to Sherlock Holmes. Reading for me provides a sense of escapism you just can’t achieve with other mediums because just for a moment you step into another world. Indeed, I find myself immersed in the plots, sympathising with characters and becoming engrossed in book after book. And to top it all I’m studying a degree where I get to read more wonderful authors I would never have discovered on my own.



A Game of Thrones is not the best fantasy novel that has been written nor is it my all time favourite novel or series, but, it will always be something special to me because it was the first book that turned me into a reader; thus, I'll read it once a year, every year, to honour it. ...more
4

Jul 06, 2019

(A-) 81% | Very Good
Notes: A slow parade of entropy, it’s a panoply of pain: a delicate sweater, knit finely together, unraveled to a tangled skein.
5

Jun 20, 2016

Even for someone who has watched the HBO series, George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones is an engaging and enjoyable read! The strength of Martin’s writing shines through in these pages. Each chapter is well-crafted. You know exactly how to picture the setting and you feel the desires and discontent of each chapter’s (POV) character. Watching how Martin develops characters, with all their flaws, keeps the story going as much or more than the ‘game of thrones.’ If you’re looking for new information Even for someone who has watched the HBO series, George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones is an engaging and enjoyable read! The strength of Martin’s writing shines through in these pages. Each chapter is well-crafted. You know exactly how to picture the setting and you feel the desires and discontent of each chapter’s (POV) character. Watching how Martin develops characters, with all their flaws, keeps the story going as much or more than the ‘game of thrones.’ If you’re looking for new information in the book; however, you’re not likely to discover much. Definitely nothing that one could really classify as a surprise.

In fact, it distracted me (for a while) that the two were so remarkably similar (scenes, dialogue, action all seemed to match). When there was a small conflict with the series, I found myself noting the difference. This often had to do with the age of the characters (they are younger in the book) or the description of a few of the characters such as Tyrion. In the end, however, I was swept up in this epic story! I liked the pace produced by the shifting perspectives. The one drawback to this approach (for me) came at the end. It somehow didn’t feel like I’d finished anything. The last chapter was a good one, but because there are so many perspectives and everything is still in motion, (despite the deaths) you don’t feel that anything has really ended. In fact this is true; the ending of book 1 is really just the beginning of Martin’s epic. 4.5 stars! ...more
4

Jan 24, 2018

I have finally done it! I have joined in on the fun that is A Game of Thrones. It is 2018 and I managed to make it all the way here without reading a page or watching a minute of the show. Now, it is the nature of the internet to keep me from being completely in the dark on this one, but I think I did a pretty good job of avoiding hearing or seeing too much about it.

Is this a great fantasy book? It really is quite good. The plot and the characters are well thought out. Comparing it to other I have finally done it! I have joined in on the fun that is A Game of Thrones. It is 2018 and I managed to make it all the way here without reading a page or watching a minute of the show. Now, it is the nature of the internet to keep me from being completely in the dark on this one, but I think I did a pretty good job of avoiding hearing or seeing too much about it.

Is this a great fantasy book? It really is quite good. The plot and the characters are well thought out. Comparing it to other fantasy books I have read, it is right up there or better.

Yeah, but since this has been taking the world by storm it must have blown your socks off!? Um, no, not really. It was good, but not, "OMG THIS IS THE BEST THING EVER!" good.

How about mainstream interest? So many people say they are not fantasy fans but they love this series. This has to be 95% because of the show. This book is SOOOOOOO fantasy, if it wasn't already popular I would never recommend it to anyone except a diehard fantasy fan. In fact, it isn't even really "fun" fantasy - it is dark with lots of politics and plotting. Some of my Goodreads friends said that historical fiction fans get a kick out of it, too, and it is loosely based on the War of the Roses.

Do I want to watch the show now? Yeah, I think I will check it out.

Sex and violence? I have seen some people wary of this book because of sex and violence. Internet spoilers, SNL skits, etc. sure do make it sound pretty vicious and risque. However, compared to other fantasy novels, it is pretty normal. In fact, the depiction of sex is pretty tame. Violence is maybe a little more intense, but nothing that made me feel the book was too extremely brutal. Perhaps these things get amped up in future books?

EVERONE DIES! One thing that seemed to leak through the internet and my friends talking about the book was to not get too attached to a character because they will probably die. So far, only one death was kind of shocking to me. I expect the death count and the shock value to go up as the books progress.

I think that covers the main points.
- I liked it, but wasn't completely blown away.
- I have no idea how HBO managed to get a bunch of non-fantasy fans into this.
- I cannot wait to check out the next one to see what happens! ...more
5

May 25, 2014

And thus I'm back to the beginning and hating and loving people all over again!

And the dumbass King ruins it all by having a wicked witch for a wife, but if not then it would just be some other wickedness to get the party started.



There are so many characters I love in these books and the wolves of course. And all who kill wolves can have their head on a pike!



"He must have crawled away away from the others," Jon said.

"Or been driven away," their father said, looking at the sixth pup. His fur And thus I'm back to the beginning and hating and loving people all over again!

And the dumbass King ruins it all by having a wicked witch for a wife, but if not then it would just be some other wickedness to get the party started.



There are so many characters I love in these books and the wolves of course. And all who kill wolves can have their head on a pike!



"He must have crawled away away from the others," Jon said.

"Or been driven away," their father said, looking at the sixth pup. His fur was white, where the rest of the litter was grey. His eyes were as red as the blood of the ragged man who had died that morning. Bran thought it curious that this pup alone would have opened his eyes while the others were still blind.

"An albino," Theon Greyjoy said with wry amusement. "This one will die faster than the others."

Jon Snow gave his father's ward a long chilling look. "I think not, Greyjoy," he said. "This one belongs to me."

So suck it Greyjoy! You get what's coming to you later on ????

And oh how I love Tyrian ❤️

"Boy," a voice called out to him. Jon turned.

Tyrion Lannister was sitting on the ledge above the door to the Great Hall, looking for all the world like a gargoyle. The dwarf grinned down at him. "Is that a wolf?"

"A direwolf," Jon said. "His name is Ghost." He stared up at the little man, his disappointment suddenly forgotten. "What are you doing up there? Why aren't you at the feast?"

"Too hot, too noisy, and I drunk too much wine," the dwarf told him. "I learned long ago that it is considered rude to vomit on your brother. Might I have a closer look at your wolf?"

Jon hesitated, then nodded slowly. "Can you climb down, or shall I bring a ladder?"

"Oh, bleed that," the little man said. He pushed himself off the ledge into empty air. Jon gasped, then watched with awe as Tyrion Lannister spun around in a tight ball, landed lightly on his hands, then vaulted backward onto his legs,

And he does this:



"One word," Tyrion said, "and I will hit you again."

"I'm going to tell Mother!" Joffery exclaimed.

Tyrion hit him again. Now both cheeks flamed

Oh if he only killed him off right then. And his mother for that matter but I digress.

All the sadness that came and a bit of revenge to come later on

In other parts of the world. I love Dany and Khal Drogo so much. Once again, love nothing in these books!




And the Mother of Dragons.



to be continued. . .

Mel ????????????



Old Review

I love the book and the shows. I still have the other books to read. The only thing I don't like is the killing of the wolves and horses and the rapes, but we know those things are going to happen.

And I will not like anyone again on the shows or in the books because every time I do they get killed! So, I'm just going to pretend I can't stand them all :)

I love the book and the characters. I hope to see some good revenge in some of the other books and I hope some certain lady takes most all of them out. I'm not saying any names in case I jinx it :) ...more
5

Jun 15, 2007

I know no one reading this knows me much (well some of you may) but I DON'T reread books. I usually read a book once and its quite well locked into my brain. As much as I've enjoyed many books I've read, they just don't require a second read for me. I read them, now its time to move on. "A Game of Thrones" is different. I loved this book and its characters so much, and crave the world and narrative so much that I couldn't wait for Martin to get the newest installment out. So I started rereading I know no one reading this knows me much (well some of you may) but I DON'T reread books. I usually read a book once and its quite well locked into my brain. As much as I've enjoyed many books I've read, they just don't require a second read for me. I read them, now its time to move on. "A Game of Thrones" is different. I loved this book and its characters so much, and crave the world and narrative so much that I couldn't wait for Martin to get the newest installment out. So I started rereading the first book I've ever reread.

Let me just say that I didn't find ANY of the characters boring. Even the characters that I would find an anoying personality type, are deeply engrosing in this tale. And those types of characters number just 2 for me in this book. There are so many characters, with such a broad range of personalities that there is someone to match everyones likes. Yet even the characters I initially found myself repulsed by, grow and change and are just as fascinating as those that I admire and empathize with.

Normally I dislike when an author has too many characters and jumps from character to character from one chapter to the next, not so in this book. Martin's ability to tell a story and hook you on it, is so great that I started to look forward to these jumps to different characters. With this many characters you really are provided with a great narrow and broad picture of the currents of this world and narrative. Its like watching individual storms all over the globe, all adding up to the global weather system.

Which leads me to my next point, his pacing. I've read my share of epic fantasy series. In particular Martin's two major contemporaries/rivals for the top spot of the epic fantasy genre: Terry Goodkind and Robert Jordan. Both these authors have good parts, and bad parts to their books. There are momments in their books where I stop and think, "That was the coolest thing (event) I've ever read". Yet there are way more parts in both author's works where I was thinking "when are we going to get to the next awsome and exciting event? Why are we still walking/riding/working/...etc(you get my drift)". I came to expect this in any book, particularly epic fantasy. I just thought that when a book/series gets as long as these tomes, you end up having to spread some borring filler in there because one imagination can only do so much exciting work. Martin broke that mold for me. I kept waiting for a momment where part of my mind would start, metaphorically, tapping its foot in bordom thinking, "are we there yet?". It never happened. Each chapter would grab me, and by the time the chapter ended I was groaning at having to leave behind this story thread because I was wrapped up in its narrative path. Then I'm instantly swept up by the events of the next chapters story thread.

Finally there is the commitment by the author to this narrative. Many stories have jeopardy but you kind of know that in the end, the main character can't die, there are more books to come. Don't ever count on that in "A Game of Thrones". Everyone of the characters is fair game, and people/characters will die in horrible and tragic ways. In this book and in subsequent ones in the series, I literally threw down the book and got up in shock. Sometimes even shouting out to no one at all, "Oh my GODS!, he killed !". It gives me confidence in Martin and his own level of commitment to telling me the best and most real story possible, complete with unfair and tragic events happening to good AND bad people (though in the case of the bad people I suppose it would be "fair and happy" when negative things happen to them..lol). Ok, thats it, I can't believe how much I wrote here. Hope this gets some folks to read this book. Cause once you read the first, you'll be hooked.

03/22/2009: I just finished re-reading this book, and have to say it was even better the second time around. I caught subtleties to the plot that I never caught before, particularly about Jon Snow, Lyanna Stark, and Eddard Stark. I also found it interesting how much more the tension in the book was increased for me because I knew certain great momments were coming in the book, and the tension that created for me was most enjoyable. This is quite possibly THE best first book in a fantasy series I've ever read. I can't wait to re-read book #2 now, if only I had more time to read! ...more
1

May 05, 2011

I am on page 470, and although it pains me to put a book down unfinished, it is simply time for me to quit.

A Song of Ice and Fire is the Grey's Anatomy of fantasy. It isn't perfect in the beginning (it's pretty flawed, actually), but you think "That's okay, the premise is good! It will improve!" And then before you know it, everyone is having everyone else's baby and murdering their mother (who is also their sister, and a schizophrenic) and traveling around on horseback setting things on fire I am on page 470, and although it pains me to put a book down unfinished, it is simply time for me to quit.

A Song of Ice and Fire is the Grey's Anatomy of fantasy. It isn't perfect in the beginning (it's pretty flawed, actually), but you think "That's okay, the premise is good! It will improve!" And then before you know it, everyone is having everyone else's baby and murdering their mother (who is also their sister, and a schizophrenic) and traveling around on horseback setting things on fire for no apparent reason.

The characterization is painfully, painfully flat. I'm tempted to go through the text and count the number of times Jon Snow is referred to as a bastard. I get it! His mother is not his father's wife! He is a bastard! Please, god, can we move on now? No, we can't move on; here on page 470, AGAIN, Jon points out in dialogue that he is a bastard. (Cue self-inflicted eye-stabbing.) The kicker: Jon Snow is probably the deepest character in the book.

And exactly like Grey's Anatomy, there comes a moment (often when a character married to two people at once and pregnant with some other dude's baby decides to throw herself off a bridge, and then survives, but is left in a coma that can only be cured by the medicine her dead best friend left in her nightstand) when you just can't take one more bit of drama just for the sake of it. (Plus, I totally cheated and looked up what happens in the sequels, and the plot only gets more convoluted and depressing.)

So yeah, thanks so much to all you guys who rated this FIVE STARS. I would like to know what you've been smoking, because it apparently gives you the power to turn crap into gold. ...more
5

Oct 23, 2010

there are about a billion reviews of this one so i doubt i have anything to add. the only thing i feel truly compelled to say is TYRION THE DWARF IS AWESOME! my God, i haven't read a character who is so different and so enjoyable in years. many-layered and consistently surprising, hero & antihero, generous & spiteful in equal amounts, as capable of high-handed miscalculation as he is of clever deduction, brave & loyal & vindictive... just overall a superb creation. Tyrion, you there are about a billion reviews of this one so i doubt i have anything to add. the only thing i feel truly compelled to say is TYRION THE DWARF IS AWESOME! my God, i haven't read a character who is so different and so enjoyable in years. many-layered and consistently surprising, hero & antihero, generous & spiteful in equal amounts, as capable of high-handed miscalculation as he is of clever deduction, brave & loyal & vindictive... just overall a superb creation. Tyrion, you are the tops! and now you're going to be played by the studliest dwarf actor in the business. GO, TYRION, GO!

the novel itself is fast-paced and fun, featuring lavish and completely enjoyable world-building, a narrative that is widescreen in scope but often intimate is scale, some nifty twists, and strong & vivid characterizations. this is not a novel with much idiosyncratic "style" but there is a very literary feel to it nonetheless. it is complex but straightforward, nuanced, carefully planned writing, in the classic historical-novel mode... but made grand & epic by the range of fascinating (and overlapping) multiple perspectives. the action scenes are sparse but very well-rendered; the magic is likewise rare but that rarity make each appearance even more fascinating. although it is all rather archetypal and familiar, it is still never less than pleasing.

___

when thinking on it again, a few months after first reading it, everything just seems perfectly accomplished, even meaningful. DING DING DING!! you & your sequel just won 1 more star, congratulations amazing novel! ...more
4

Sep 19, 2015

WE MADE IT!!!! WE HAVE EMERGED VICTORIOUS!!!!

this book was exhausting and knowing that all the other books are bigger terrifies me but the writing and world building in this book is so vivid and even though I chose favorite characters quickly, the ones that I thought less interesting still had very important story lines and every character has a distinct, well-written personality. Basically I am in love with Daenerys, and I also adore Jon and Arya and Sansa, and even Tyrion. Reading this makes WE MADE IT!!!! WE HAVE EMERGED VICTORIOUS!!!!

this book was exhausting and knowing that all the other books are bigger terrifies me but the writing and world building in this book is so vivid and even though I chose favorite characters quickly, the ones that I thought less interesting still had very important story lines and every character has a distinct, well-written personality. Basically I am in love with Daenerys, and I also adore Jon and Arya and Sansa, and even Tyrion. Reading this makes me super interested in the TV show and i've heard so many people telling me to watch it that as soon as I have the time (which might not be for a while lol) I will definitely be looking into that! At this point i'm too exhausted to even consider reading the sequels; i'm giving myself a break after reading this hahaha. geez louise it's a commitment, but it was worth it.

Also sidenote- the audiobook is great. I'd say I listened 3/4th of this. You can find the entire series on audiobook on Scribd.com, which I have a promo code for ;)
"WhittyNovelsOnScribd" at www.scribd.com/promo gets you two free months!! ...more
5

Jan 11, 2019

If you love watching Game of Thrones, you’re most likely going to love reading A Game of Thrones.

Like countless readers around the world, I probably wouldn’t have known about A Song of Ice and Fire without its TV series adaptation, Game of Thrones. I’ve been following the TV series ever since the release of its first episode, I was completely captivated by the originality of the storyline and characters. Upon finishing the first season of the TV show, I immediately picked up this book and If you love watching Game of Thrones, you’re most likely going to love reading A Game of Thrones.

Like countless readers around the world, I probably wouldn’t have known about A Song of Ice and Fire without its TV series adaptation, Game of Thrones. I’ve been following the TV series ever since the release of its first episode, I was completely captivated by the originality of the storyline and characters. Upon finishing the first season of the TV show, I immediately picked up this book and honestly? I DNF’ed it about a quarter into the book. It wasn’t that the book was bad, it was because the TV show—at least the first season—did a spectacular job of adapting the first installment of A Song of Ice and Fire. Something you have to know about me is that when my first entrance into a series is through a TV series/movies adaptation which I ended up loving, I tend to find the original material—usually novels—become super boring because I already know how it all will go down. It’s the biggest reason why I’m still not able to finish The Fellowship of the Ring. Unfortunately, it’s also the reason why I couldn’t finish this book back then. Now, years after my first try of reading A Game of Thrones, not only I was able to finish it, I loved it so much and I craved for more by the end of it.

“... a mind needs books as a sword needs a whetstone, if it is to keep its edge.”

Was there even anything new with the book once you have watched the first season? I wouldn’t say so. Other than the differences in character’s ages—The Starks and Daenerys ages in the book shocked me because they’re so much younger than the one portrayed in the TV show—and the fact that the book has more intricate world-building and history explained, story-wise almost everything else was the same. Just from the data and numbers that I saw so far, there are around fifty thousand reviews and almost two million ratings on this book, I doubt anything I say about it will be something new. I have watched all the TV shows and I pretty much know what the general plotline of the main series is all about, but I’ll keep this review strictly to the reasons that in my opinion makes this book and the first season of the TV shows reached its phenomenal fame.

Picture: A Game of Thrones by Marc Simonetti



“Bran thought about it. 'Can a man still be brave if he's afraid?'
'That is the only time a man can be brave,' his father told him.”

There’s a ridiculously powerful strength in the unpredictability of Martin’s storytelling; he doesn’t stick to the classic fantasy norm, what he wrote became the current fantasy norm instead. I’m serious, Martin pretty much shaped modern fantasy with A Song of Ice and Fire. Sure, the series wouldn’t have reached its worldwide praises and fame without HBO adaptation of the series, but now just look at the amount of inaccurate “if you love Game of Thrones you will love this” and “George R. R. Martin meets whoever.” blurb in the current fantasy market, they’re insanely many.

In my opinion, Martin brought a lot of something refreshing to the fantasy genre. Instead of writing a high fantasy that’s full of magic battles and magical creatures, he did the other way around and make it work. Instead of a battle of good versus evil, Martin wrote a realistically grim story where characters were morally flawed and the evilest beings in the world may truly be human after all; the good doesn’t always win, the bad could triumph. He explored this deeply and brilliantly within the dispute and politics over the Iron Throne, the seat of the Lord of the Seven Kingdoms. In the battle for the throne, no one is safe, not even the good and honorable ones; the good tend to suffer more actually. The sense of unpredictability sparked from Martin’s freedom in hurting and killing off his crucial main characters brought an intensity that can only be found in very few of my favorite fantasy series, and get this, a majority of them claimed Martin as one of their main inspirations. There’s this meme that got spread around in which the creator compared George R. R. Martin to Steven Erikson. Erikson himself has stated that he’s not competing with Martin with his fantasy, I have no idea how this became a meme in the first place. I’m talking about this picture:



Now that I’m talking about this, I might as well say this once and for all, I heavily disagree with this meme. Don’t get me wrong, Malazan Book of the Fallen is one of my top favorite series of all time. However, the main strength of the series by far doesn’t lie in its character’s death. By book 5 of Malazan BotF, for spoiler reasons I can’t say, character’s deaths in BotF started to extremely decrease in impact for me. Erikson can kill anyone he wanted and I still wouldn’t bat an eye. Heck, sometimes I even eye-rolled when he killed off a character because I knew he had an obsession with this ‘plot device’ and I was proven right over and over again. I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say that Martin is a brutal author, he simply has no mercy towards any of his character and ANY of the character he decided to kill usually resulted in a massive and jaw-dropping impact that influence character’s decision and the progression of the storyline.

“What is honor compared to a woman's love? What is duty against the feel of a newborn son in your arms . . . or the memory of a brother's smile? Wind and words. Wind and words. We are only human, and the gods have fashioned us for love. That is our great glory, and our great tragedy.”

What exactly then that separates this book from the first season of the TV show? If you’ve watched the first season, is it still a requirement to read the first installment of A Song of Ice and Fire? I wouldn’t say that you’re required to do it, but you’re most likely going to enjoy it and get more out of it as I did. I’ve said it at the beginning of this review, I’m a very critical person when it comes to experiencing the original material of an adaptation I truly loved, but I was simply too immersed in this read and I thoroughly enjoyed every moment of reading it.

“Once you’ve accepted your flaws, no one can use them against you.”

Character’s thoughts and world-building were two factors which I think the TV show won’t be able to capture perfectly; they haven’t managed it, and I doubt they will be able to with only one season left. Every character in the book was truly well-developed and although each new chapter always follows a different character than its previous one, all of them were very compelling and important to read. I found reading the book brought a much better understanding of the characterizations than what the TV series did. It can’t be helped, this is one of the main benefits of reading a novel; we can read character’s thoughts, personalities, and motivations in much more detail than what TV show/movies can do. This is proven as Martin dived deep into the main character’s POV with amazing efficiency and effectiveness; fleshing out their personalities so damn well that every single dialogue feels like a dance of inspiring and memorable words. The world-building was also more intricate and easy to understand. A Song of Ice and Fire is a complex epic fantasy with multi-layered world-building; history upon history, character’s connections that sprawled everywhere. I mean it, if you’re not a fan of a massive fantasy world with a lot of histories, politics, and characters, you might want to prepare yourself before getting into this book.

“Never forget what you are, for surely the world will not. Make it your strength. Then it can never be your weakness. Armour yourself in it, and it will never be used to hurt you.”

Finishing the book, you’ll come to realize that the main story and chaos has only just begun. A Game of Thrones is an absolutely stunning prelude to an incomplete legendary series. I could’ve written two thousand extra words—I’m seriously holding myself back here, there’s still so much more I wanted to talk about—on this novel's strenghts and what makes this book that special and important for modern fantasy genre, but I doubt I need to; practically everyone these days knows the existence of A Game of Thrones. That kind of world-wide fame speaks for itself already. I'll conclude by saying that this was a totally magnificent start to an epic fantasy series and I recommend this book with all my heart to every epic fantasy reader. For the fan of the TV show, although it’s true that you can skip this installment if you’ve watched the first season, I still feel like it would be so much more beneficial for you to read this too. The intricacies in the characterizations and world-building can only be achieved by reading the book and nowhere else. I feel like I’ve gotten to know the characters and world more after reading this, and I’m incredibly excited to continue reading the series even when it’s still in an incomplete and most likely won’t ever be finished state. That’s how much I loved it.

Sidenote regarding the 20th anniversary illustrated edition:
The Illustrated edition is freaking gorgeous and its production value is really high, no doubt about that. However, I strongly recommend you to read this edition only if you have watched the first season of the TV series or you’re on your reread. If you’re a newcomer to the story, I suggest reading the text-only edition instead. This edition is gorgeous, each chapter begins with a black and white illustration done by highly praised artists in the industry; each art could’ve worked as a cover art due to its beauty and quality. But this is also where the main problem at. Most of the art appeared at the start of the chapter, which has a strong tendency of giving spoiler or at least hints of what’s to come in the particular chapter. Not to mention that a lot of the colored artworks are placed at the wrong page. An event happened in a chapter, the colored artwork of that scene could appear in the next or previous chapter, which doesn’t make any sense. Because of all these, I think it would be best if a complete newcomer to the series read the text-only edition.

Pictures: Two examples of Magali Villeneuve Illustrations for A Game of Thrones: 20th Anniversary The Illustrated Edition. Pictures are taken from her Twitter account and official website.





You can order the book from: Book Depository (Free shipping)

You can find this and the rest of my reviews at Novel Notions ...more
5

Jan 30, 2014

So glad I reread this! I loved it even more this time and it just reaffirmed that this is my favorite series
5

Apr 03, 2015

“When the snows fall and the white winds blow, the lone wolf dies but the pack survives.”

This took me quite a while. First, because I already knew what happened from the show, second because I guess you just cannot rush through this book that fast, and third because I dreaded all the horrible things and painful deaths that were going to happen.
Sometimes I wish I could forget everything I knew about a book/show and just start anew. Maybe I would have read this novel faster if I hadn't known “When the snows fall and the white winds blow, the lone wolf dies but the pack survives.”

This took me quite a while. First, because I already knew what happened from the show, second because I guess you just cannot rush through this book that fast, and third because I dreaded all the horrible things and painful deaths that were going to happen.
Sometimes I wish I could forget everything I knew about a book/show and just start anew. Maybe I would have read this novel faster if I hadn't known everything already? Because A Game of Thrones is very close to the first season of the show, only with more detail.
So GRRM is a great storyteller, but also a cruel one. You just never know what is going to happen next and you really fear for all the characters you love. This whole series is just so big. And awesome. And I really don't know where this is all going to go and how it will end but well...Hoping for many dead Lannisters.

POVs from most to least liked:
Daenerys Targaryen
Ned Stark
Tyrion Lannister
Arya Stark
Jon Snow
Catelyn Stark
Bran Stark
Sansa Stark

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5

Mar 04, 2015

How is one supposed to review a book like this?! HOW. I ASK THAT.

THE ONLY THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT A GAME OF THRONES:
a) It's truly incredible.
b) It's really really big.
c) The story is no where NEAR completed, dangit, I need book 2 asap.
d) There are truckloads of winning adorable characters.
e) But even the villains are human (sometimes) and have sorrowful backstories.
f) Although ^^ that saying ^^ there are several people I would like TO DIE. Of course, they survived.
g) It made me angry and How is one supposed to review a book like this?! HOW. I ASK THAT.

THE ONLY THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT A GAME OF THRONES:
a) It's truly incredible.
b) It's really really big.
c) The story is no where NEAR completed, dangit, I need book 2 asap.
d) There are truckloads of winning adorable characters.
e) But even the villains are human (sometimes) and have sorrowful backstories.
f) Although ^^ that saying ^^ there are several people I would like TO DIE. Of course, they survived.
g) It made me angry and sad and happy and excited and horrified and disgusted and terrified.
h) Basically I felt ALL OF THE THINGS.
i) GO READ IT.
j) Why are you still here?
k) It's really really worth reading, okay?
l) but the audio is the best way to attempt it if, like me, you're terrified if big thick heavy fantasy books.
m) I possibly have a small crush on Jon Snow. I'm sure it'll pass. WHEN HE DIES. (HAHAHA. no. But he's so awesome I guess he'll die soon.)
n) Yes it's violent and there's sex but neither is as graphic as I expected from its infamous reputation.
o) The Starks have favourites amongst their children and it sucks.
p) Does anyone even care about Arya Stark and where she is?
q) Everyone is like "Oh yeah there's another sister, but idek what happened to her. Maybe she'll show up?"
r) Which is unfair. I like Arya.
s) And, honestly, Cersei is awful, but I kind of don't hate her yet. She's driven. She has psycho children. She's seriously messed up. But she's very smart and cunning.
t) Lots of people died.
u) Sometimes it made me sad. Sometimes happy. I'm psychotic like that, but seriously, this book is more psychotic.
v) Eddard Stark is an idiot.
w) I kind of like Tyrion.
x) Everyone's names are awful but hard to pronounce.
y) I LIKE DRAGONS.
z) I've run out of letters, so this is all I'm going to say, but seriously, I enjoyed it a LOT, but I'm probably giving it 5-stars because I spent 2+ months listening to the audio and that is an EFFORT and deserves commending. Or cake. Just give me cake. Also comfort because I'm not a happy poppet right now. THE ENDING HURT.

I totally get why people love these books and hate the author. It's ALL RATHER INCREDIBLE AND MARVELLOUS. ...more

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