Friday, 2 September 2011

A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin is the start of an epic fantasy series in five parts. In general, I liked it since I’m fond of fantasy and specifically epic fantasy, but some of the book seemed slow to me. My main reason for reading it was the hype around it, and I hadn’t read epic fantasy for a time.

Though the start definitely drew me in with the mystery surrounding it, I overall felt that the description at the start put me off merely because the breaks from it were short, uninteresting or confusing. The things mentioned became clear, but I was lost a bit at first. The first time I really started to get glued into the book was when King Robert arrived since I found him so interesting.

As always with epic fantasy, the amount of characters is overwhelming at the start and you feel the strain of trying to remember them all my copy of the book actually had a helpful family list thing in the back, but I preferred to just figure it out as went along since flicking perpetually to the end of the book wasn’t how I wanted to spend my time. Mostly though, it got better quickly. The characters in this book were many in number, but they were each unique and interesting to read about with conflicting motives and eventful pasts. The voice was fine too: it sounded primarily like a narrator, but I think each character section had a particular feel to the way of writing which also made them distinctive.

One thing that did annoy was the way some things were said, and even said repeatedly. I understand that it is meant to be set, perhaps, in some ancient land, but needn’t keep saying “break the fact”, “man grown” or “as it please the Gods”. As a bit of pedant and grammar orientated person, this just grated on my nerves and distracted from what was going on. I doubt critics would have minded him saying “breakfast” instead.

I was pleasantly surprised with how much was in this book: I think it could easily have been made into a trilogy (the one book) and I couldn’t just how many events could be concluded only to be quickly replaced then concluded in the same book. It shocked me but, at one point, the so-called intrigue began to betray its namesake (I’m even sounding like them now…) and dragged just a teeny-weeny bit.

Even though it was the first book, the lack of sorcery or any sort of real mythic quality annoyed me. There were no dragons, sorcery, elves, Divine intervention or anything until towards the end of the book so I felt annoyed that I had had to wait so long for it, then I lose it all too quickly. It’s good marketing I guess, but I’d rather it was a satisfying read. The ending though… I loved the ending like you can’t imagine!

There are a lot of stories, told mainly from the view points of the Starks, who are Lords of Winterfell, Tyrion Lannister, a witty, mouthy dwarf, and Daenerys, the last of the old line of Kings who had dragons to do their will. Tyrion is the first viewpoint to get interesting, merely because he is an amusing character to be around, and his comments and insight make the read all the more engrossing. The Starks hold their own but have few chapters when it felt like an info dump and I probably glazed over a bit. That, and the name Bran made me think Bran Flakes every times. But my heart lies with Daenerys.

Admittedly, I found her story unreadable to start because of its brutality, but my heart went out to her (if a bit dubiously). She never fought back, which annoyed me, but she tried to explain why. Eventually though, as the story went on and she seemed to fall in love, it became much more intriguing and more like the fantasy I was hoping for. As it happens, I can thank her for that wonderful ending I mentioned. But those eggs, damn it. The expectation of them annoyed me.

I think that the book did lag a bit towards the end, but I ultimately enjoyed the book because rather than maintaining the boredom, it picked up again. So except for maybe 100 pages, this 805 page book is well worth a read and I hope that the sequels are too, though I won’t be getting them just yet.


  1. So you finally bit the bullet and started your own review blog! Bravo, young person, bravo.

    I loved A Game of Thrones, but that's partly because I had read about 5 truly awful high fantasy books before it. My expectations were unfathomably low.

    The magic picks up in later books. This book is more like a history, and the later ones really deliver on the fantasy premise.

  2. I know. *Continues shaking in boots* I'm being rather tardy at the moment though. I really, realy hope this picks up. I chose a bad time to read a classic.

    Thank God the magic picks up. I cannot abide an epic fantasy without a good magic system. I appreciate why it's history (I think a lot of them are, with the first books) but it still annoys me a bit.