Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Review: A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin


Title: A Game of Thrones (Song of Fire and Ice, #1)

Author: George R. R. Martin

Rating: 4 Stars

I finished this book with a crick in my neck. For about the last two hours of reading, I couldn't even move from the uncomfortable position I had curled into on my giant green reading chair; I was just too absorbed in the book.

I've been meaning to read A Game of Thrones ever since the HBO TV Series began to gain critical acclaim, which means I've had this collecting dust on my shelves for the past two years. I'm not quite sure why I waited so long. I've read high fantasy before, but Martin's series is notably different from anything I've read before. For one, its plot isn't centered around a quest or even a particular goal of overthrowing a dark lord. Instead, it's a novel of power, politics, and intrigue. Exceedingly well-written, Martin crafts a story with as many characters as there are words, taking risks most authors would shy away from, but having them pay off by the end.

Although I understand why many readers are wary of these books - after all, their size could scare even a Gryffindor away, not to mention the multiple perspectives Martin packs into a couple hundred pages - but their main appeal, for me at any rate, is the truth of humanity found within the complexity of world-building, plot, and characters. While these characters may be preparing for literal wars, they are also fighting inner battles. Moreover, the people Martin writes of are not ordinary heroes - bastards, dwarfs, children - and nor are they black-and-white. For a fantasy novel to focus on these elements of characterization in a make-believe world opposed to a cut-and-dry quest with a common goal to achieve, the ambiguity of both the plot direction and character motives truly made this novel stand out for me.

Ultimately, despite the initial hesitations readers may have in picking up this novel, I would recommend it whole-heartedly. Although I typically shy away from books with multiple perspectives, the third-person narration throughout this novel made the point of view changes with each chapters accessible. And, what's more, I have already nagged my parents enough to get them to speed their way over the library so I can grab a copy of A Clash of Kings. In fact, it's sitting at the foot of my bed as I type this. (Sadly, A Storm of Swords is going to be harder to find...grr!) Excuse me now, I am off to read just how this game of thrones is about to play out.

18 comments:

  1. So glad you finally had a chance to read this Keertana! I'm huge fan of the show, but even with the TV version I struggle sometimes with the sheer number of characters and separate storylines, so I feel like that might be an issue for me with the book as well. I'm happy to hear the multiple perspectives weren't a problem for you though! Hope you love Clash of Kings:)

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  2. You are very brave, Keertana! I've been wanting to read this for ages, but there are only so many hours in a day and my review schedule is pretty overwhelming right now. On the other hand, it's pretty embarassing that I didn't yet! People keep asking me about it.
    Lovely review, hon. I'm glad it didn't disappoint.

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  3. I've been curious about this book since HBO started it. I only get to see it when HBO is free and I so want to see how different the books are. I have a feeling I will enjoy the books more than the show. Oh I so need to read these... one day. :)

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  4. Melissa, I've just started watching the show but I find it to be very closely matched to the book. Obviously, the novel has many conversations and subtle undertones that film just cannot capture, but the show does a remarkable job of adding in additional scenes to fill in those empty spaces. I've found that the newer episodes veer off from the books a little more, but I've really enjoyed both mediums of this tale, albeit in different ways. I certainly hope you give them a try! :)

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  5. I started the series before watching the show, and then sort of ended up following both simultaneously. I love seeing it on screen, but there's something very addictive about the books too, even though they are all monstrously long. I'm so glad you enjoyed the first one, Keertana! I hope you continue to like the series. :)

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  6. Yay for a Book Crick-in-the-Neck!! The only kind of crick that I can handle. LOVED GoT. It's just such a strange confluence of elements that come together to work beautifully. The multiple POV only gets frustrating when you want to spend more time with one particular character versus another.

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  7. I've read that Martin doesn't consider his stories as fantasies per se, nor as himself as a fantasy author. Instead, he strives to create works of historical fiction - but in a fantasy/made up realm. And having read all of his books in A Song of Ice and Fire thus far, I have to agree.
    I read this first in high school and then again after watching the first season of HBO's show, and I really am impressed by this series overall. (I think it starts going downhill after book 3, but that's definitely a personal opinion.) I hope you enjoy reading A Clash of Kings and that the wait for A Storm of Swords isn't too tortuous for you, Keertana!

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  8. And you took the plunge! I'm afraid of those books for soo many reasons...glad you're enjoying it!

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  9. @Sam: I started with the books too and as I neared the end of GoT I started watching the show, so like you I've wound up reading them and watching them simultaneously. And you're absolutely right - these books are ADDICTIVE. Neither my friends nor my family can understand why I'm so excited to get my hands on 1100+ page books! ;)

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  10. @Mary: I agree, Mary. I've found that Bran's perspective can be quite stifling, mostly because nothing much happens and the focus shifts suddenly from action to...nothing. But, for the most part the multiple PoV's are such a clever method of story-telling that really just click for the formatting of these books.

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  11. @Amanda: Yes, I saw that in an interview too! I can definitely see that with these books - though the magical elements are hard to explain in context of the novel being "historical" fiction - but I enjoy them immensely, regardless of what genre they fall under. I just finished Book 3, actually, so I'm not sure the sequels will ever match up to the excellence of this installment, but I hope they're still rather good. *fingers crossed* that I'll enjoy them, at least as much as I enjoyed GoT and CoK!

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  12. I never got around reading this book. I have seen the first two seasons of the show and kinda of ruined the whole experience. I'm so glad you enjoyed this one so much. Great review, Keertana :)

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  13. Oh my God, I admire you!! I've been meaning to start the GOT books for ages now, because I really like the TV series, but I can't bring myself to read so many pages in between my YA books. Glad you liked the first one!:)

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  14. I really need to suck it up and read this one. I really enjoyed the show and my husband has been asking me to read it for a really long time. I heard the writing is simply amazing.

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  15. Normally multiple perspectives are a big turnoff for me, but for some reason I don't mind them in fantasy novels as much, and particularly in novels with such a rich cast of characters as GoT. I'm doing a re-read (or re-listen) of these on audio and really enjoying the narrator get into all the different voices. I'm glad you enjoyed the first book, can't wait to see what you think of the next one!

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  16. We've already had a few fanboy/fangirl conversations over this series, but I forget if I've already asked you this: are you planning to watch the TV series?

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  17. My blogger friend Fake Steph convinced me to try this. I'm not a big fan of high fantasy at all. I tried the audiobook -- all 50 hours of it or whatever it was -- and I was hooked. He's an amazing writer. Every character is distinct, all those tangled plotlines somehow make sense. My only complaint is that it's all pretty grim -- really horrible things seem to happen to every single character. I tried a few episodes of the show but I really prefer the book.

    Thanks so much for stopping by! Jen @ YA Romantics

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  18. *waves hello* I saw you via bloglovin

    I tried to read this one and maybe book 2 ages ago, but gave up cos I hate Daeny and that whole thing was just too icky

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