(Cover picture courtesy of Barnes and Noble.)
Of the five contenders for power, one is dead, another in disfavor, and still the wars rage, as alliances are made and broken. Joffrey sits on the Iron Throne, the uneasy ruler of the Seven Kingdoms. His most bitter rival, Lord Stannis, stands defeated and disgraced, victim of the sorceress who holds him in her thrall. Young Robb still rules the North from the fortress of Riverrun. Meanwhile, making her way across a blood-drenched continent is the exiled queen, Daenerys, mistress of the only three dragons left in the world. And as opposing forces maneuver for the final showdown, an army of barbaric wildlings arrives from the outermost limits of civilization, accompanied by a horde of mythical Others—a supernatural army of the living dead whose animated corpses are unstoppable. As the future of the land hangs in the balance, no one will rest until the Seven Kingdoms have exploded in a veritable storm of swords….
A Song of Ice and Fire series just gets better and better as I go along. Not only was the plot full of unexpected twists this time around, but the characters took some pretty surprising turns. Characters who were once insignificant now play much more interesting roles and betrayals are around every corner. Plenty of the betrayals blindsided me and some of the changes in characters’ personalities made sense, but were definitely unexpected.
Part of the reason why I liked A Storm of Swords so much is that George R. R. Martin did so much more world development. We got to see things from the perspective of wildlings, but also other peoples across the Narrow Sea as well as in the Free Cities. Not only that, but we got to learn more about the history of Westeros and the surrounding countries in a more natural way rather than having all of the backstory dumped on us. Martin’s world isn’t the typical fantasy world I thought it was in the first book, in part because Martin actually understands politics. It’s not a simple good versus evil fight and the characters are completely good or completely evil; there’s ambiguity all throughout the novel.
And of course, where would this series be without its awesome characters? Daenerys Targaryen, Sansa Stark, Tyrion Lannister and Jon Snow all get pretty good page time like in A Clash of Kings, but characters like Jaime Lannister and Samwell Tarly also get their say. I admit that I like some characters a lot more than others and sometimes the points of view of my least favourite characters were annoying, but that’s just personal preference. Pretty much all of the points of view Martin uses are necessary to move the story along.
I don’t want to spoil anything, but when of my favourite things about George R. R. Martin is that he’s not afraid to kill off important characters. Some authors hesitate about killing off their personal favourites or even fan favourites, but not him! He actually makes his characters suffer to the point where you wonder if it’s too much. Still, it makes for an excellent novel filled with all kinds of drama set against a brilliant fantasy world. It’s a thousand pages of pure awesome, to put it bluntly. Seriously, if you haven’t read this series yet, you should start.
I give this book 5/5 stars.
(Cover picture courtesy of Eat, Run, Read.)
In A Game of Thrones, George R. R. Martin has created a genuine masterpiece, bringing together the best the genre has to offer. Mystery, intrigue, romance, and adventure fill the pages of the first volume in an epic series sure to delight fantasy fans everywhere.
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 endeavors to win that deadliest of conflicts: the game of thrones.
So, here we are again: I’m about to tackle another incredibly famous book. Only this time there’s now an even more popular television series based on it. And I’ve already watched up to the most current episode of the show while reading A Game of Thrones. This will be interesting, won’t it? As always, one must ask if the book is as good as its hype.
In a way it is, and in a way it isn’t.
I say that in a way A Game of Thrones doesn’t live up to its hype is because for an avid fantasy reader like me there is no way it could ever live up to such ridiculous hype. Not even Harry Potter could live up to all of that hype. And that’s perfectly okay. It’s still a good book and I’ll try to look at it objectively, disregarding the fact that I’ve watched the television series as well.
George R. R. Martin jumps between quite a few points of view during the course of his epic novel, but I wouldn’t say that it got confusing at any point. Mostly the characters don’t retell the same thing another character covered and it does move events along quite quickly for a fantasy novel. The tales of the Starks and the Lannisters are fascinating and I love how we get to see both sides of the story, as well as the great subplot with Daenerys Targaryen, one of two remaining descendants of the last king. Daenerys is a personal favourite, but Tyrion Lannister and Sansa Stark are close runners up.
The thing I love about A Game of Thrones is that we get to see what drives pretty much every character. Not all characters are sympathetic in the traditional sense (Joffrey), but some of them like Cersei are oddly sympathetic. It might just be me but I feel sorry for her being forced into a marriage with a man who would always love a dead girl even though she loved him in the beginning. Robert never even gave her a chance. Characters like Sansa who seem annoying in the beginning actually acquire depth throughout the story and even minor characters are well fleshed out. There are the sort of girl power characters like Arya, but I like Sansa more because she’s a product of the culture she was raised in. In short, she was raised to be the definition of a ‘lady’ and that’s who she is in the beginning.
Westeros isn’t exactly the most unique fantasy world I’ve ever encountered because it’s based on Britain yet again. You can easily draw comparisons between Hadrian’s Wall and the Wall, the barbaric tribes, the brutal ruling classes, etc. However, I wouldn’t say it’s completely cliché partly because the concept of ever changing seasons like summers or winters that last for years is intriguing. The different lands in Westeros are interesting as well as the lands across the Narrow Sea.
So would I recommend A Game of Thrones? Absolutely! Would I call it the greatest fantasy novel I’ve ever read or ever will read? No.
I give this book 4.5/5 stars.