A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

Cover via goodreads.com.

Cover via goodreads.com.

Rating: 5/5 stars.

I literally gave myself a pep talk to prepare for this book. I looked at myself in the mirror and and whispered “Okay, Thomas. As someone who gets extremely and unnecessarily attached to fictional characters, all you have to do is turn off your empathy. Everyone knows that everyone dies in this series. Just force yourself not to care.” This dialogue took place after a shower, so I even wrote “no more caring” on the fogged-up glass.

And, yes, I still shed a tear at the end. Only one tear, though, because I was too busy screaming HOW COULD YOU DO THAT WHY MARTIN WHY WHY DID YOU KILL (view spoiler)

The characters won me over. Even with such a large ensemble, George Martin manages to develop most of the characters in ways that make them both likeable and unlikeable. While I despise (view spoiler), even Lysa and Tyrion receive enough attention and back story to compensate for their less than admirable actions. The protagonists we cheer for possess faults too – Ned with his blind devotion to honor, Jon and his conflicting feelings toward his family, Catelyn and her prejudice, Sansa and her short-sightedness, etc.

I would still recommend A Game of Thrones to non-fantasy fans despite its size. While it does drag at times due to its position as the first book – and the first book’s role in establishing setting, major characters, etc. – Martin does a great job with dividing the overall story into smaller bits from the perspectives of different characters. While I feel that he incorporates more magical elements later on in the series, the political intrigue and the sometimes beautiful imagery kept me drawn into his world. And, of course, the plot builds to a boiling point that will leave you reeling and steaming. Unless you’ve somehow succeeded in turning off your emotions, something I cannot do…

Also, Daenerys kicks butt and for now is my favorite. Off to read A Clash of Kings! What do you guys think of this series? Please avoid spoilers in the comments – I feel like I’ve come to this party a little late, but better late than never, I suppose.

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39 Comments

Filed under 5 stars, Book Reviews, Books

39 responses to “A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

  1. Zach Lee

    Yep it’s pretty amazing. Would you ever consider watching the show?

    • I’d consider it, but I doubt I’d go through with it – I’m too sensitive to violence and gore. :( But, maybe I’ll brave a few episodes. Thank you for reading and commenting!

  2. Thanks for the notes about this book, my blogging brother! I’ll need to check it out! Best wishes for all of 2014 and beyond! Much love and naked hugs! :)

  3. Clarice

    Yay! Nice to see your thoughts on this. The series just keeps getting better and better. You just never see the plot twists coming, and every new character that steps in the scene – and some old ones that didn’t have a POV at first – just makes you love them, even if they’re supposed to be antagonists (though really, by the fourth book it’ll be really difficult to pick who exactly are supposed to be the good guys). It might also start to get a tad grating since the many, many characters caused the fourth book to be split in half, so the fifth book actually happens at the same time with the characters that we didn’t manage to see; but that’s only annoying because you’ll want to know what happens next. Keep reading; all the heartbreak is worth it. :)

    • I agree, the multifaceted quality of these characters keeps me wanting more and more. I’ve heard that even the supposed bad guys get perspectives in later books and become more fleshed out and three-dimensional – if Martin manages that even with his antagonists, you know it’s a worthwhile series. Thank you for reading and commenting and for making me even more excited to continue reading these books!

  4. The Ice and Fire series is wonderful. I’m about halfway through Dance with Dragons and I’m still constantly saying, “You did not, Mr. Martin, you did not.” And yet, he does. Loving (and loving to hate) the characters is what drew me in initially. One recommendation: Read the appendices and study the maps of each book before diving headlong into the Prologue because the characters and the maps change.

    • Ah yes, we all appreciate books in which we can love and hate their characters. Thank you for the tip, the scope of these novels are quite large so I will heed your advice. Hope you enjoy the rest of Dance with Dragons if you haven’t already finished!

  5. Good review! Dense and spotted on with all those little hints effused from the first installment of the series. I bought the first 4 books after I got so hooked with the show, but it has been like 2 years, I am still trying to finish GoT. Even though, I am quite scared of books that are as thick as my algebra, I recently picked it up again, and it was not so hard to catch up. As you said, GG Martin did a great job to establish those characters so indeed lively and memorable.

    • Good luck with getting through the books! I agree that at times you have to force yourself to pull through but once you hit a point I feel like the characters captivate you and motivate you to keep reading on their own. Thank you for reading and commenting.

      • Totally agreed. But more to it is that I start to get bored easily when reading chapters focusing on characters that I am not so attached, such as Catelyn. Something about her vide annoys me all the time. Probably, because she is such a loving mother, overly protective but still vulnerable. Good suspense when reading her chapters, but I could not care less about what will happen to her. :P I am still struggling with the chapter on she secretly visiting King’s Landing.

  6. Yep, the series is definitely wonderful! The only book I felt a little melancholy about was A Dance with Dragons but I think Martin will pull himself together for the last two books in the series.

    Personally, I think you’ll like A Clash of Kings better than A Game of Thrones. There’s just so much more added to the world and it doesn’t have the enormous character bloat of the later books. It still has the awesome energy of Martin’s early writing. That’s not to say the rest of the series isn’t good (because it is). It’s just that the first books are better in some ways.

    • I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy A Dance with Dragons as much as the other books, but I’m looking forward to all of them just because I know so many people who have different opinions on which one is their favorite installment thus far. I guess we’ll see which one captivates me the most. Thank you for reading and commenting!

  7. I started the series this summer and am also in love with these books. I think the third book in the series is the best, so far.

  8. Khaleesi is my favourite too. Look forward to see what you think of the rest.

  9. Glad to see you are enjoying this series. A coworker recommended the first book to me this summer and I am a little obsessed with the series now. I keep pushing it on all my friends. I love Martin’s ability to humanize even the seemingly vilest characters – I don’t think there is a single character I haven’t sympathized with at some point. I’m only on the third book now because I’m trying to take it slow (I dread waiting for the 6th and 7th books), but it is definitely a favorite series already.

    • I know what you mean, I think I’ll take my time reading the fourth and fifth books because the wait for the sixth and seventh installments might just slay me. It’s interesting because I feel like this series hasn’t received too much attention from non-fantasy fans, but when the TV show came out it exploded in popularity. Thank you for reading and commenting!

  10. Glad you enjoyed the book. I’ve heard so many good things about it, but I still haven’t read it! Maybe I’ll manage to in 2014 :)

  11. This truly is a special book, and a special series. Probably the best fantasy to come along since Tolkien. Long live GRRM! I wasn’t upset by the death of (ahem) that particular character at the end of Book One, if only because I recognized even as it was happening that that death launched the rest of the story, and I was so energized at imagining what that story would be. And, many many pages later, I still am.

    • I agree, that character’s death served as a catalyst for much more. With a comparison to Tolkien you know this series must be great – thank you for reading and commenting!

  12. You know it’s a good book when you cry despite trying really hard not to! However, I think I’ll have to pass on this one because of the size. It would actually take me a lifetime and a day to finish this. But, I will start watching the series. Have you seen it? I’ve heard that it’s really good as well!

    • Who knows, maybe if you really enjoy the series you’ll be motivated to pick up the book. (: But I guess we’ll take divergent routes because I don’t think I could stomach watching the TV show – even though I’ve heard fabulous reviews of it it’s difficult for me to watch violence. Thanks for reading and commenting as always!

  13. I haven’t even joined the party yet – I’m too afraid that the books will spoil my love of the television adaption (which I adore!). :-) Well done for being brave and taking a leap!

    • It’s interesting that you think the books might spoil your love for the television show. I feel like for many it’s the other way around, or maybe that’s just with movies. Thank you for reading and commenting!

  14. I’ve lost count of the amount of times people have said to me “You need to watch/read Game of Thrones!”. I haven’t yet tackled either of the series yet, but it’s definitely on my to-do list… But it’s interesting to see you’ve given it a 5 star rating! I’m glad you enjoyed reading it :)

  15. I started watching the show and got hooked. As I don’t have cable and had already watched the first 3 seasons of the show (the 4th hasn’t come out on DVD yet) and I was dying to know what happened next, I started reading the books in Oct. I was hooked from book 1 and the books are even better than the show, although it is nice to a visual representation of the books in the show. If you like Dani in the first book, wait till you see her in the 2nd! She’s one of my favorite characters too, along with Tyrion and Jon Snow. I’m reading book 3 now and absolutely devouring it.

    • I love how people access this series through two mediums: the books and the television show. I’m starting the third book now – let’s hope Martin continues to impress! Thank you for reading and commenting.

  16. This review leaves me very conflicted because I have a difficult relationship with fantasy and books that are insanely long, and yet here you are saying it’s okay for someone like me to read it! Hmm. I love getting my feelings stomped on, though (I laughed at your “turn off your empathy” admonishment, because I know that wouldn’t work for either one of us), so I keep thinking about giving this series a try sometime. Just to see. Especially with those glorious 5 stars on your review staring me in the face.

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

    • Hm Wendy, I feel like reading A Game of Thrones has its advantages, one of which is that you can at least say you tried when people recommend it to you in the future. I don’t have a great relationship with long fantasy books either but this series is an exception – if you do read it, I hope you enjoy it! Thank you for reading and commenting.

  17. I gobbled this brick up so fast (but steady enough for things to make sense) my head was spinning and my emotions were churning. Ha! turn off your empathy? I had a chuckle at that too. I like the complexity of the characters, their good bits and their bad bits, that precious balance that makes them believable and … identifiable I suppose. The imagery is just fabulous, I can almost literally hear snow crunch, or a horse’s snicker. And the … uh fire things (almost blew a spoiler)!

    I have this in paperback and I absolutely refuse to read an e-book of the others and that’s placed me in a dilemma. It’s difficult to find a physical copy at the moment and I’m too stubborn I can’t help it. Also I am liking that Sansa and Sandor fictional friendship, there’s quite a lot that could be said about it.

    • Devina, I’m so glad you’re a fellow fan of A Game of Thrones! It’s such a sensational story, filled with beautiful images and crazily complex characters. Good job avoiding revealing any of the plot twists – the more people who enjoy the book untainted, the better. (;

      I’m sorry it’s difficult for you to find a physical copy of the books, but with time I’m confident they will become more prevalent. Thank you for reading and commenting!

  18. I laughed at your pep talk. “Everyone knows that everyone dies in this series.” That doesn’t stop it from hurting when your favourite characters die! :’(

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