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.