Thursday, September 15, 2011

A Game of Thrones by George RR Martin

This posting is longgg overdue, and for that I apologize. I finished this book around a month and a half ago, or something like that, and for reasons unbeknownst to me, just never got around to writing a review for it. Or maybe I didn't want to. Who knows? Anyway, if you have to pick just one new series to start for the fall, I highly recommend George R.R. Martin's 'A Song of Ice and Fire' series, which begins with Game of Thrones. I was recommended this book by several people, but it took the HBO series (based off the first book in the series) to give me the motivation to pick up this immense epic fantasy novel.

There is a lot of action in this novel, which makes it fairly fast paced and easy to be immersed in the story. Even when there is a lengthy description about a particular setting or past event (as in, when Robb Stark is marching toward King's Landing and passing through towns and country alike), Martin makes the description relevant to the plot at hand. Nothing in this book is simply a description, it is a description in the midst of plot.

It is clear from the get go that Martin doesn't fool around. Most authors put their main characters on a pedestal, and they are seemingly infallible (Lee Child, I'm looking at you and your Jack Reacher novels). Martin is more than willing to throw people off towers, and kill off his main characters before the first book is even finished. No, I'm not giving away names, but I'm sure the spoilers were posted all over the internet because of the shock all the TV viewers received from the show. What's nice about the whole 'no character is safe' thing is that it makes the book that much more realistic. Let's face it, in the Middle Ages, and in any kind of historical account of medieval times, peasants died, knights died, kings died, pretty much anybody died. You weren't important unless people were trying to kill you (this pretty much holds true in modern society, too). What's realistic about the entire kingdom accepting one person's claim to the throne? Or, of people being safe from harm because of their socioeconomic status? It's not, and that's the point.

If you ask someone if a book or a movie version of the book is better, chances are that more likely than not they will say the book is better. Harry Potter fans are a prime example of this; there's just too much in the books to get across through the silver screen. While I truly believe that HBO did a fantastic job adapting Game of Thrones for television, I still hold true to my beliefs on the literary world. Characters should be as complex and multi-dimensional as real people are, and TV and film just can't do this as well as books. So many of the characters in Game of Thrones are going through intense internal struggles, and while they may appear calm and confident, they are feeling torn apart on the inside. Just look at Catelyn, having to watch her son grow up on the spot as he leads an army into battle. There's no way she's comfortable with that, and the show does not do her inner demons justice. The same can be said of Tyrion, the show's 'audience favorite character' for reasons I'll never know (I just don't like him, he just annoys me so much). The books can convey all of the inner workings of the characters, from the true motives of their behavior to their emotions and feelings toward everything around them. It's nice to see this complexity in nearly all of the characters, and makes you feel that much more involved in the book's story.

WHEW I hadn't planned on writing so much, but there's just so much to say about this book (and it's probably better to get a lot out now than throughout each of the book reviews for the subsequent books in the series). Anyhoo, I did have a couple of problems with a Game of Thrones, but they can be listed with one hand:
1. Stream of consciousness. I have never been a fan, ever since reading Faulkner's "As I Lay Dying", and this book is no exception. It is difficult enough to keep track of so many characters, and so many overlapping plotlines, that it detracts from my enjoyment of the book. If you can handle it, and even enjoy stream of consciousness, more power to you.
2. Danaerys and the Dothraki. Dany is one of my favorite characters, by far. Not only is she one of the stronger female characters in the books I've read recently, but she gets to hatch dragons. Bad. Ass. I hate that her role is relatively small in this book, and I sincerely anticipate seeing her grow into a more major role in the books, as I'm sure she will by the flow of her plotline.
3. Dany's plot line. Dany and her brother Viserys seem to have had a trouble life, and I don't think Martin has given this justice yet. Hopefully, there will be more 'Daenarys' chapters in the next few books, because I am very interested in Dany's past, present, and future, and the role she will play in the war in the Seven Kingdoms. Oh, and her dragons. I love them, and can't wait for them to grow up and destroy things. :)

Look at her, she's awesome! ---->>

Hopefully, I'll have posts up sometime before the end of September on the following books, that I finished reading within the past few months and just haven't gotten around to reviewing:
- a Clash of Kings (second book in this series)
- Three Seconds, a Swedish crime novel similar to the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
- the Dark Tower V: Wolves of the Calla (I'm still amazed by this series by Stephen King)

By the time these are all up and posted, I hope to be finished with the books I'm currently reading as well: The Count of Monte Cristo, and Beat the Reaper. Wish me luck!!

- Justin

1 comment:

  1. My favorite part of the Game of Thrones was the fight against Kareem Abdul Jabbar.