Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Review: A Game Of Thrones – George R.R. Martin

A Game Of Thrones – George R.R. Martin

In a land where summers can last decades and winters a lifetime, trouble is brewing. The cold is returning, and in the frozen wastes of the north of Winterfell, sinister and supernatural forces are massing beyond the kingdom's protective Wall. At the center of the conflict lie the Starks of Winterfell, a family as harsh and unyielding as the land they were born to. Sweeping from a land of brutal cold to a distant summertime kingdom of epicurean plenty, here is a tale of lords and ladies, soldiers and sorcerers, assassins and bastards, who come together in a time of grim omens. Amid plots and counterplots, tragedy and betrayal, victory and terror, the fate of the Starks, their allies, and their enemies hangs perilously in the balance, as each endeavors to win that deadliest of conflicts: the game of thrones.

Review: I’m a massive fan of the Game of Thrones TV show, and I’ve wanted to read the series for years, but I put it off for three reasons:

Reason 1: I have zero faith that the author will actually finish writing the series. It’s really frustrating to start a series and never know how it ends. 
Reason 2: George R.R. Martin’s writing style is very average. There’s nothing wrong with it, but there’s nothing about it that makes me go, “OMG, I can’t wait to read 837 pages of this!” 
Reason 3: 837 pages. The other books in the series are even longer than the first one. I didn’t know if I could handle it without getting bored.

After years of putting off the series, I finally gave in and read the first book. And . . . I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

The first season of the TV show follows the first book pretty much exactly. The book has all the same death, destruction, and decapitations as the show. The story mostly centers on Eddard Stark and his children. Eddard accepts a job as Hand of the King, but when the king suddenly dies, Eddard is arrested for treason, and a power vacuum ensues. Several people promptly declare themselves the new king. Eddard’s children set out to rescue their father from jail, but their lives are threatened by all the wannabe-royals.

“The things we love destroy us every time, lad. Remember that.” – A Game of Thrones

I had so much fun reading this book, which is weird because I already knew the plot. None of the deaths were shocking. Still, I loved being back in Westeros and seeing all my favorite characters again. If you like the TV show and can handle reading 837 pages, you’ll probably like the book.

I was shocked by how young the kids are in the novel. Jon and Robb are 14. Danerys is 13. I can understand why the show decided to go with older actors because reading about a 14-year-old fighting a war, and a 13-year-old being raped is icky. The older actors cut down on the ick factor a little.

Since I liked this book, what I’m about to say will sound weird, but here it goes. If I wasn’t already a fan of the show, I probably wouldn’t have finished the book. I’m not a patient reader. I don’t like books that have big learning curves. A Game of Thrones is massive. The world is complex; there are tons of characters and plotlines. Since I was familiar with the show, I got to skip the learning curve. If I hadn’t already known about the characters and their relationships, I don’t think I would’ve had the patience to learn. There are so many characters! I can't remember all those names.

“And I have a tender spot in my heart for cripples and bastards and broken things.” – A Game of Thrones

If you can keep all the characters straight, this is a twisted and action-packed story. Like I said, George R.R. Martin isn’t a great writer, but he’s a wonderful storyteller. The world in this series is immense and creative. I love that the story is told with short chapters and multiple perspectives. For such a big book, the plot moves surprisingly fast. I never got bored. It also doesn’t have those massive info-dumps that make me dislike fantasy novels. I liked this book a lot more than I thought I would.

I’m glad I finally read this one. I will happily move on to the next book in the series.

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

TL;DR: If you like the TV show, give the books a shot. 


  1. I read this series and really enjoyed the books. The stories are extremely detailed and interesting. BUT I am definitely one of the sour fans that just wishes that Martin would get off his duff and finish the damned series already! LOL I think at this point he's putting finishing off to be contrary to all of the pressure that he has from fans. I will one day reread them all when he finally decides to finish off the series. I have probably forgotten half of what's happened because there is so much time between releases!

  2. I've read all the books so far and have loved basically all of them. The most recent one (well, 2012) wasn't the greatest, I thought - but it's still an impressive series. Martin's world-building is incredible!

  3. I read the first book so many years ago, but I haven't been able to get into the sequels (because time) yet. They are certainly worth the read.

  4. Yayyy!! I'm glad you enjoyed this!! I also keep putting off reading this series because I don't want to read a series that many not ever be finished. I also have only seen the first season of the TV show. Your review had inspired me to get on it! Tori @ In Tori Lex

  5. The longest book I've read was 400-something pages. I don't know how people can handle 837.

  6. As a long-time reader of the series, I've been grateful to the show for making me feel ( least up until the Red Wedding) that I wouldn't need to reread all those thousands of pages when Winds of Winter finally comes out ;) The show has diverged quite a bit now though, so I'm considering starting a slow reread this year to remind myself of the detail in the books.

    That said - the books do get slower as you get through the series; the first three are brilliant, but I found books 4 and 5 spent a long time not going very far because there's so many characters being followed (and I think the show does a much better job with the Ironborn and with Brienne of Tarth). I guess it's all set-up, but it felt like there was little pay-off. I kind of get that with the show too though, but they're really good at ending with a bang - the first half of a season is quite slow as they put the pieces in place, and then all the consequences hit at once at the end ;)

  7. I liked that the changing POVs and short chapters too as it cut out the need for all the padding over description that you can get in fantasy books. I found it hard to get used to how young the Stark kids were and how brutal a life they had-I'm glad they made them older for the TV series! I agree with you that in the later books things got slow in places. Too much on the side stories in Dorne, too much focus on that mind-numbing journey of Brienne and Pod, too many Iron born characters (I wanted Asha and Euron POVS, not the other two) and too much Quentyn and Aegon!

  8. 837 pages are absolutely not for me so applause to you for completing such a biiig book!
    I didn't like the first tv series of Game Of Thrones but OH did so we kept watching. Now we're on, I think, season 6 and I am hooked! We have even visited a couple of the filming locations here in Spain - long after filming finished though.

    Stephanie Jane @ Literary Flits

  9. Before the series started, some kid left the first book in my room. I picked it up wondering what it was about, and the prologue pulled me right in, got me invested in what I assumed was the main character, and then killed him off. Wow! I've only read the first two, because yes, they are a slog. Fun though.

  10. I never actually got round to reading the book s even tough I love the TVseries. Need to change that...

  11. I have this series but haven't really pushed it to the top of my tbr pile. I am not sure if I want to watch the show or read the books first. Plus 837 pages makes me want to put it off. I am glad you ended up enjoying it.

  12. I absolutely loved this - I need to jump back into the series at book three. :)

  13. HA your reason #1 is my ENTIRE reason for not reading them. I am curious for sure, but I do not trust him! And look, if it were a couple 400 page books, I could live with the disappointment, but a slew of 1k pagers just to have NO ENDING EVER? Nope cannot, will not. I have the first two already, but I just can't. Yet, anyway. I mean, I hope he finishes them! I just have no actual faith ha.

    I also want to watch the show, but I don;t have HBO so alas. That will have to wait too. Maybe it's better that way, since it doesn't come back for years, I won't have a painful wait like everyone else :D

  14. I loved this book. I purposefully haven't watched beyond season one of The Game of Thrones because I hadn't read further in the books than this one. I probably shouldn't let that stop me, but it has.

  15. I also like the shorter chapters and the various POV's. In the early books it keeps the story fresh, I think, coming from different angles. And the lack of info dumps is nice too. I had to laugh at the "too many names" though- yeah Dany needs to maybe scale back a bit.

    Glad you liked it! I personally think A Clash of Kings is even better and Storm of Swords is amazing. Hope you like 'em too.


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