Book 6: A Game of Thrones – George R.R. Martin

A Game of Thrones is the first book in George R. R. Martin’s Epic fantasy cycle A Song of Ice and Fire. Projected at seven novels, the fifth novel was published in 2012.  I guess you could say I jumped on the bandwagon with this one, but I don’t feel at all guilty about it as I grew up reading Star Wars and Dragon based fiction, so I like to think I’m returning home after a long break.  I’m also very excited to check out the HBO adaptation of the novel having finally read it.

I honestly didn’t think Martin would be able to draw me in as fast as he did, but what can I say, I’m a sucker for pre-modern technology worlds with knights and royalty and assassinations and intrigue.  There was not a lack of action or adventure in this novel and it made it a quick read even though it clocks in at just around 675 pages.  And as such a tome, it is the first novel I’ve read in the 2012 Tea & Books Challenge. It will also be tacked to my 2012 Mount TBR Challenge list  as I purchased it in the last week of 2011 with birthday money, but I’m still hoping to read the other 25 novels on that list. Now on to my reaction (I’ve realized I rarely actually post reviews).

Although it took a while to fully sort out who was who and related to whom (don’t judge me if those are wrong – I just like the sound of the sentence) and to figure out what was where, the novel survives without necessarily having to know. If you’re like me and read it on a Kindle, you might want to look at a nicer map here.

There were two lines in the novel which summed up the novel very well (and happen to include the title of the novel:

When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die.

…why is it always the innocents who suffer most, when you high lords play your game of thrones?

And everything within the novel falls under these quotes.  That is incredibly simplifying of the novel and does no justice to the hundreds of characters we meet, but it does aptly describe most novels based in these type of kingdoms.

I won’t go into the details of the various assassinations and battles, but suffice to say there are plenty.  What I was most wary about, and ended up enjoying the most, was that each chapter was told from a different perspective (mostly through the eyes of the Starks of Winterfell, but a large portion through the eyes of Tyrion Lannister).  What I suspected throughout the novel often times came through well before I thought it would be revealed keeping the novel moving at a fast-pace and constantly surprising me at how much happened.  Many of the characters I assumed would play roles throughout the series wound up dead and sometimes a character would drop out of the novel for hundreds of pages to appear again just as you were wondering what happened to them. The last 75-100 pages were fascinating and set up a great scenario for the second novel in the cycle, A Clash of Kings.

I will limit myself to one rant.  As with Christopher Paolini’s Inheritance Cycle, there are those that love A Song of Ice and Fire and those that hate it—especially on Goodreads.com.  I find that any fantasy novel that becomes a sensation is always divisive, especially in the reviews and yet however, they all have the staples of lasting stories and fantasy.  I can’t say for certain but I honestly feel that those who rant and rave against these novels have 1) never been fans of fantasy/science fiction; 2) only read the ‘best sellers’ in the genre; 3) have very specific views on what constitutes good literature; or 4) are rejecting the novel based on its popularity and have found arguments that they will stick to and could be argued either way.

Bottom line, as a longtime (if not recently) fantasy reader, I enjoyed the novel and I hope I enjoy the rest of the cycle and am already dreading finishing A Dance with Dragons (Book 5) and having to wait for books 6 and 7).

Recommendation: If you have the time and the patience read it. If you’ve no desire or interest in kingdoms and epic fantasy you should pass.

Opening Line: “‘We should start back,’ Gared urged as the woods began to grow dark around them.”

Closing Line: “The other two pulled away from her breasts and addded their voices to the call, translucent wings unfolding, and stirring the air, and for the first time in hundreds of years, the night came alive with the music of dragons.” (Whited out.)

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18 thoughts on “Book 6: A Game of Thrones – George R.R. Martin

    • Yeah – it drives me nuts. Don’t trash the book because it’s not your thing. Just say ‘eh’ and move on!

      You won’t regret it! I couldn’t help it I had to go right into Clash of Kings and I’m already 40 pages in. Damn you working hours, or I’d be even further!

  1. Great book. Really great. The HBO series is insanely well done, and I think you will enjoy it.

    That being said, prepare for the other novels to fall a little short. Don’t get me wrong, books 2 and 3 are also great, but book 4 was only so-so. In fact, I was so disappointed with it, that I have put off buying book 5 until it comes out in mass market paperback.

    However, Martin does something new and exciting with these novels, and I find it interesting to read the polarizing views on this and other fantasy novels. I just hope Martin gets around to finishing the series.

    If you are a fan of fantasy, I recommend picking up anything by Brandon Sanderson. Amazing writer who does things that have never been seen in the genre before.

    • That’s sad about the rest not living up to the first, but somewhat expected. I’m about 15% into the second and I’m already like “really – you’ve added that much more already!?” but I guess with the splitting it’s to be expected.

      I’ll definitely have to check out Brandon Sanderson – it’s been a long time since I’ve read anything other than young adult fantasy. I’ve got a series by Greg Keyes that I want to read, I’ve had a signed copy of the first book since I was in high school and never read it.

  2. Read the first one and did enjoy it, though motivated by the fact that my Aunt is the Production Designer on the TV series, soI wanted to read what she read to see how she imagined what that world was going to look like, a fantasy medieval world. I haven’t watched the series yet, but can’t wait to see it visually. They will make the third series this year, so in the meantime I hope to keep reading the books in anticipation.

    • That is awesome! I’m hoping to watch it later this year once I’ve finished the entire written set in case there are references to later happenings.

  3. Love this series. Finished the fourth book last fall and raring up for the fifth. Similar to the above comment, I did find the fourth to be lacking somewhat, but I still really enjoyed it. And I think my favourite of the series so far was the third book, so it’s not all downhill from here!

    The HBO series is fantastic, and I think probably better if you’ve read the book.

    • Your review was one of the reasons I pushed the series higher up on my list. Well that and a decent gift card to Amazon that bought the entire set for my Kindle.

      It’s definitely good to know about Book 3. A Clash of Kings started to wear on my last night and I’m only about 1/3 of the way through.

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  5. I read all 5 of the series but thought it all very anti-climatic in that the story seems deemed to never ending. Had all the series been in print by now I might have found the whole epieriance exciting. But this start/stop atmosphere leaves me numb, when I now see the end not available! I know a lot of this is simply to keep the reader coming back for more, but an eight or maybe nine book series is a little bit over the top. Not to mention pricey.

    • I could definitely see it being anti-climactic and also never ending, but I’ve read series that are 12-14 books long and only about three main characters and those were that much harder to read because, it was like yeah we get it nothing too bad happens. I think where Martin is redefining things is that he’s writing about an era and not necessarily a character.

      I’m lucky I’m reading them when five are already out, but I’m definitely not looking forward to the wait for six and seven. The wait doesn’t bother me as much because most series you have to wait for the continuation, I mean this series is now going on almost 16 years now so yeah that’s a bit excessive, but looking at the world he’s created not too excessive.

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