Game of Thrones Book Review

Winter is coming.

-All the pages. 

Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

Guys. It’s been so long. I’ve forgotten how to type. What are words? What is this place?

Seriously. It’s been like, a lot of days. I am sorry. But now we must make up for lost time. So basically, this is an awesome book. It’s truly one of those reads where you go through it and by the end you’re just tingling from all the awesome you just experienced. There are so many things I want to say about this book, about the show, about the series. But I’m gonna keep it as small as possible.

(I’m sitting here lying to you and trying to keep a straight face. We all know I’m about to ramble.)

The plot is probably one of the most complex I’ve ever read, but in many ways, it’s one of the simplest to describe. Why? Because it’s basically a political drama. So there are many parties and they are all doing whatever it takes to win the throne…or stay on it as the case may be. We’ve got the Starks from the North, whose leading man is Ned. Ned has five kids and one bastard son, and they are all major characters. Ned is close friends with the current king of the realm whose name is Robert Baratheon. Robert is basically Santa Clause if Santa Clause drank a lot of beer and got it on all the time with people other than his beautiful wife. Robert has got a few kids of his own and a bundle of bastards. Some of these are main, some of them are not. Robert is married to Cersei who is from the Lannister clan and her family has its eyes fixed on the throne. Beyond this, there are oodles of side characters and parallel story lines, the most prominent of which is Danny whose family was the one that Robert pushed off the throne. She is currently living in exile, but not without a plan.

Okay. Confused? You won’t be for much longer. I was surprised that Martin sort of bombards you with all these very important characters with all these names all at once, but keep track of them is perfectly simple. Martin organized this book on the only way that would ever make sense: He writes in third person limited (meaning you only hear the ideas and thoughts of one character, like in Harry Potter) but each chapter focuses in on one character.

So, if you had a “Ned” chapter, it would be all about Ned and what’s going on in his life, ect. The brilliance of this is that it not only allows Martin to handle an enormous cast that spans continents, but it gives the reader a chance to really get into he heads of the people rather than just sort of floating near by them. Also, you get to see things from multiple points of view.

No, the events aren’t ever retold through different character’s eyes, but they do span days and chapters. So, for example, say someone has been captured and someone is out to rescue him. Then you get the story from both the captured man’s point of view, as well as the rescuers. It allows from some great suspense because often times you (the reader) know what delicious secrets are going on behind closed doors while the characters struggle to figure it out. It’s dramatic irony at its finest.

And suspense? Dear God, suspense. Martin has a nasty habit of building things up for  character A and then switching to the next character and all you want to do is fling the book across the room but the character B is so interesting that you get involved with him, only be hauled back over to A again. It’s like a rollercoaster. In a book.

Over time, I developed favorite characters. Sansa, one of Ned’s daughters; Arya, another child of Ned; Danny, the exiled princess; Tyrion, the witty dwarf Lannister; I could read these characters for days. And I will admit that there were some that were not always the joy of my life to read (ahem, Bran). It’s not that these sections were poorly done, or less exciting (even Bran had his moments). It’s just that there are some characters that you like so much more. I’m just trying to warn you, I guess. That you’ll have favorites, and they will make the other chapters seem like less, but all the chapters are important. And well done.

Simply put, the organization of this book was perfect. With such a large cast, I was still able to get all up in their business and it was fantastic.

Both the storyline and the writing were great. I loved that there were so many things going on. Martin, he makes his world real. It’s fantasy, but the magic is woven in so seamlessly that you don’t really notice it. It’s such a natural part of his world and because of that, everything seems utterly believable. And he got these unique aspects. It’s not just faeries and dragons (although there are some dragons). It’s things that are completely his own, and wonderfully new to me. For example, his world has seasons that can span years. It’s a delicate touch of magic to an otherwise realistic plot.

How did I end up talking about setting? Clearly, I have an issue with focus. Which in and of itself explains my College English grade. (I try really hard in that class, for what it’s worth.)

But yes, the writing was great. Easy to read, but not childish at all. Sometimes, and I think I’ve said this before, fantasy authors write a certain way to get that cliché fantasy feel, but Martin doesn’t. Not even a little bit, not at all. He writes like it’s a political drama that takes place in a fantastical world. He writes like it’s all true and he writes well.

I would, weirdly enough, say that his weakest points are actually his battle scenes. I read the one in Game of Thrones, and in the following books, I skimmed them. They just weren’t…it. I don’t know what “it” means exactly, which should portray accurately how I simply can’t put my finger on what was off about them besides the fact that they were kinda dull. I know. 999 pages of drama and 1 page of battle and I thought the latter was the least interesting. But I guess that should give you a good idea of how tightly plotted and gripping this is.

The characters came alive. They are so real to me. Let me explain how real they are. So, basically I went through my entire life thinking I could never kill a child. Then I met Joffery Baratheon. And I wished he was dead.

That is how real these characters are to me. I am angry at them and in love with them and it’s just too much sometimes. Especially because Martin has this habit of killing people off– main or not– which, besides making the story realistic, can break your heart. Sometimes the bad guys live, and the good guys die. Being able to do that is a sign of a writer that believes in the power of his story, rather than the author who relies on gimmicks (like love triangles; next review, I am going to smite love triangles, ohmygod).

For so many people and so many places, that fact that I feel like I know and understand them all is amazing. I read books and comes to review them and sometimes, I can’t remember half the people’s names. Here, not an issue. I even remember spelling.

Since we’re on the topic of names, I would like to commend Martin on not using dumb names to make it seem like fantasy. You know the type. Their pronounced like John and spelt like Chawyalisasdor. I hate those. So much. So. Much. Having the names simple but with dashes of exotic spellings made the characters memorable, unique, and easy to talk about. Because there is nothing worse than wanting to discuss fantasy and sound like your hacking up a hairball every time you mention the main character’s name.

Um, so where are we? Writing– excellent. Plot– incredible. Gripping. Emotional. Characters– they’re here. With me. Right now. What else is there? The ending? Well, I’ve read only a few books out of the series so far. I’ve definitely been entertained, but I had the good sense to read them with some time apart. I feel like you can’t go one right after the other with these simply because they are so long. Otherwise you’ll risk getting sick of it.

So, going back to the ending, I don’t know what it is yet; the series isn’t over yet. This particular book, the ending definitely left me wanting more, as did the second, and as I’m sure the third will. My fear is that Martin will drag the serious out to some twenty books and I’ll lose interest. But I trust him to not let that happen. Whatever end game he has in mind, I’d love for it to come sometime before I’m thirty. Just sayin’.

What I’ve said here stands for all the books. There are many in this series; I’m reading them all and I get the feeling they’re all of the same quality. So I won’t be reviewing them all. It doesn’t seem necessary. Maybe I’ll do that last one. But the point is, if you read Game of Thrones and are questioning whether it’s worth your time to keep going, I’d say do it. Just do it.

I’d also like to say that the TV show is as high quality as the books. Certainly not for children (and neither are the books! Definitely PG-15 to R!) but still very intense and well acted. I read the book, then watched all the episodes. And it was beautiful. Not boring. Just great to see all my favorite people come to life. And the soundtrack is amazing.

George R. R. Martin has done something here that few people have since Tolkien. He has mastered the art of creating a world, and then inviting you to live in it, and actually making you want to go. If I was his parent, I’d just be so darned proud of my kid. But I’m not so the most I can do is say cheers to you, Martin. You’ve done an excellent job.

Ri’s Rating:

4.5/QQQQQ
4.5/5


0. Couldn’t get past chapter one for fear of wanting to kill myself. Book induced suicide…

1: Yuck. Ew. Below Average. Probably didn’t even read the middle and skipped to the end.

2. Ok. Would’ve been better if I’d written the ending and everything else.

3. Not bad at all. Very enjoyable. Quite nice. Recommendable.

4. My kind of book. Near ideal, but something was a little off (annoying names, bad ending, that sort of thing).

5. WOW. Makes me wonder why people watch T.V when this is out there. Really liked it. Don’t expect to see this often.

6 and above. What I want my book to be.

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9 Comments

  1. Sounds like a 5 or 6! Why 4.5?

    George R. R. Martin is a name that’s been floating around in my authors-I-keep-hearing-referenced-and-plan-to-eventually-check-out section of my brain. Why have you rated it “PG-15-R”? Violence? Language? References to sex? Actual sex? Non-sexual-but-mature-for-other-reasons themes? I’m assuming it’s a combination of two or more of these. Which ones?

    Reply
    • Ri

       /  October 24, 2011

      in order of most prominent, first being the most: profanity, violence, sex, disturbing images.
      to answer your other question, i don’t hand out high scores often. only those books in that very top category on the ‘by cover’ page have scored above a 3.5. the only 5 i’ve ever given out was for lord of the rings. i don’t hand the big boys out like candy because a) that particular scale is seperate from my own personal enjoyment and based purely on the lit quality of the book, so it really has to be good and b) if i handed them out all the time, then what would i do if i found something that was even better?

      Reply
      • I think I’ll pass, then. But if you ever come across a clean Martin book (which, if he’s writing as obscenely as that, I unfortunately must not expect), do tell me.

        Yes, but as you only ever gave 5 once and are very reluctant to come close to it, the scale may as well be from 1-5 instead of 1-6. And if you’re too scared of finding something better, you’ll never end up giving top scores. And of course all the threes and all the three point fives and all the twos aren’t on the same level. So even if you really think something deserves a 6 and then find something even better . . . it’s okay. You can have two sixes.

      • Ri

         /  January 4, 2012

        Actually, the reading scale is out of 5, if you notice on the reviews. The 6 is for kicks, just in case I find something so excellent I want to die. Like my book. That’s 6 worthy :).

      • Oh, right! Now that you mention it, I always wondered why you wrote “/5” when the scale below goes through six.

        :D about your book.

  2. Allie

     /  October 25, 2011

    Hello! I remember you mentioning the series a while ago, and I saw the first book in the airport. So I picked it up and I’m nearly finished. It is really good, but It might take a while to finish the series if all the books are the same length as the first ones!

    Reply
  3. Call me Ems

     /  November 2, 2012

    Really? A 4.5? That must be the highest score I’ve ever seen you give! I really got to look into this book. What was the book you gave a 5 to? I need to check that one out too :)

    Reply
    • Ri

       /  November 2, 2012

      Haha I feel like I’m going to dissapoint you with this answer, but it was The Return of the King from the Lord of the Rings Trilogy. Honestly, though, sometimes I feel like I need to go back and give books like Game of Thrones and The Book Theif 5’s too because they’re so great, you know? But I never seem to get around to it.

      Reply
  1. TV Series Review: GAME OF THRONES – Season 1 – 2011 « Blank Page Beatdown

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