Saturday, May 21, 2011

Girl on Book Action: A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin

A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin
ISBN: 978-0-553-57340-4


In a land where summers can last decades and winters a lifetime, trouble is brewing.  The cold is returning, and in the frozen wastes to 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 endeavours to win that deadliest of conflicts: the game of thrones.


Aside:  I know what you’re thinking: Doomwench is jumping on the Game of Thrones bandwagon because of the new TV show and the announcement that the next book is finally done.  I suppose that in a way I am, but mostly what I'm doing is cheating. You see, Game of Thrones was the reading selection for the book club I recently joined and now it’s doing double duty as fodder for a review. Double dipping aside, I still have many things to say about this novel (which is why you're here, is it not?).

My Thoughts:

I’m not sure how I missed reading these books all these years, given my unabating love for long fantasy series.  I suppose I was so busy reading Robin Hobb’s Farseer books and Katharine Kerr’s fifteen part Deverry series that dear old George passed under my radar.  I’ve had a copy of Game of Thrones sitting in my to-be-read pile for at least a year, perhaps longer, I just kept putting it off, and the book club finally gave me the push I needed to start reading.

While my overall feeling on it is that I really loved the novel, I do have some issues with it.  The main one is that there are so many different character's points of view.  I think too many points of view is going right up there under “whiny narrators” on my list of pet peeves.  Why do I hate this device?  Well, I find it jarring – just as I’m settling into a character and its story I’m wrenched out to start the process anew with a different character.  It becomes especially problematic when there are a number of silly people running around that I wish I could slap upside the head.  Having to deal with their idiocy instead of enjoying the broody outcastness of Jon Snow or the strong-willed determination of Arya really got my hackles up.  There were times when I began to wish that the whole story was told from the point of view of the Lannister clan, because they seemed like they would be less frustratingly stupid.  Yes, I said it, the Starks (with the exception of Arya and I suppose Robb - also Jon, though he's a bastard, so I like to think of him as separate from this mess) are stupid (especially, you, Eddard *glares*).

Spoiler Warning!!!

What kind of idiot tells his arch nemesis that he knows her very important secret, one that she’s already proven she will kill to keep?  Eddard Stark does.  Seriously, when he told Cersei that he was going to expose her and warned her to flee I wanted to strangle the man.  It was as if he was inviting a viper to bite him.  Honour is all fine and good, but sometimes you have to use your brain, Ned.  You deserved what you got, my man.

I suppose I’m done spoiling things now.

Going hand-in-hand with the too-many-points-of-view complaint is the pacing.  It took a while for the book to really pick up speed since we had to sit through all the different character introductions.  Fortunately, once it got going it really got going and I read the last half of the book in a mad rush to find out what happens.  Of course, I had to fight the urge to skip reading the chapters about characters I didn’t like (Sansa, Catelyn, Bran, Eddard), but at least the end had a few Daenarys chapters to make up for it (even if my most favourite suffered a terrible fate. *sigh* It’s like Lord Tezdal all over again).

When I wasn’t being jarred out of my emotional connection with the characters or cursing them for being hysterical women (Catelyn) or idiots (Eddard), I really enjoyed the book.  And really, my reaction to some of the characters speaks to the skill Martin has in pushing a reader’s buttons.  Even though I didn’t like a lot of them, they were still well written.  I loved the court intrigue and I adored the idea of the Night’s Watch.  I’m thoroughly sick of people telling me that “winter is coming."  Direwolves are pretty damn cool.  Am I telling you anything you don’t already know?  Probably not.

If you’re like me and you’ve somehow missed these novels, or have avoided them because you, like me, fear that the series will never be completed, I do suggest that you give it a go.  I finished A Game of Thrones and immediately wanted to start A Clash of Kings, I’m refraining only because that would not lead to good blogging, but that should tell you how good the book truly is, all of my griping aside.


  1. i really want to put this series on my to be read list...

  2. You should! It's so worth it! (Says she who has only read the first part, but the first part is good!)

  3. i have so many books lined up......