I know no one reading this knows me much (well some of you may) but I DON'T reread books. I usually read a book once and its quite well locked into my...moreI know no one reading this knows me much (well some of you may) but I DON'T reread books. I usually read a book once and its quite well locked into my brain. As much as I've enjoyed many books I've read, they just don't require a second read for me. I read them, now its time to move on. "A Game of Thrones" is different. I loved this book and its characters so much, and crave the world and narrative so much that I couldn't wait for Martin to get the newest installment out. So I started rereading the first book I've ever reread.
Let me just say that I didn't find ANY of the characters boring. Even the characters that I would find an anoying personality type, are deeply engrosing in this tale. And those types of characters number just 2 for me in this book. There are so many characters, with such a broad range of personalities that there is someone to match everyones likes. Yet even the characters I initially found myself repulsed by, grow and change and are just as fascinating as those that I admire and empathize with.
Normally I dislike when an author has too many characters and jumps from character to character from one chapter to the next, not so in this book. Martin's ability to tell a story and hook you on it, is so great that I started to look forward to these jumps to different characters. With this many characters you really are provided with a great narrow and broad picture of the currents of this world and narrative. Its like watching individual storms all over the globe, all adding up to the global weather system.
Which leads me to my next point, his pacing. I've read my share of epic fantasy series. In particular Martin's two major contemporaries/rivals for the top spot of the epic fantasy genre: Terry Goodkind and Robert Jordan. Both these authors have good parts, and bad parts to their books. There are momments in their books where I stop and think, "That was the coolest thing (event) I've ever read". Yet there are way more parts in both author's works where I was thinking "when are we going to get to the next awsome and exciting event? Why are we still walking/riding/working/...etc(you get my drift)". I came to expect this in any book, particularly epic fantasy. I just thought that when a book/series gets as long as these tomes, you end up having to spread some borring filler in there because one imagination can only do so much exciting work. Martin broke that mold for me. I kept waiting for a momment where part of my mind would start, metaphorically, tapping its foot in bordom thinking, "are we there yet?". It never happened. Each chapter would grab me, and by the time the chapter ended I was groaning at having to leave behind this story thread because I was wrapped up in its narrative path. Then I'm instantly swept up by the events of the next chapters story thread.
Finally there is the commitment by the author to this narrative. Many stories have jeopardy but you kind of know that in the end, the main character can't die, there are more books to come. Don't ever count on that in "A Game of Thrones". Everyone of the characters is fair game, and people/characters will die in horrible and tragic ways. In this book and in subsequent ones in the series, I literally threw down the book and got up in shock. Sometimes even shouting out to no one at all, "Oh my GODS!, he killed !". It gives me confidence in Martin and his own level of commitment to telling me the best and most real story possible, complete with unfair and tragic events happening to good AND bad people (though in the case of the bad people I suppose it would be "fair and happy" when negative things happen to them..lol). Ok, thats it, I can't believe how much I wrote here. Hope this gets some folks to read this book. Cause once you read the first, you'll be hooked.
03/22/2009: I just finished re-reading this book, and have to say it was even better the second time around. I caught subtleties to the plot that I never caught before, particularly about Jon Snow, Lyanna Stark, and Eddard Stark. I also found it interesting how much more the tension in the book was increased for me because I knew certain great momments were coming in the book, and the tension that created for me was most enjoyable. This is quite possibly THE best first book in a fantasy series I've ever read. I can't wait to re-read book #2 now, if only I had more time to read!(less)
I'm going to try not to gush in this review but I am very happy to end 2007 with this book. This book on many occassions brought tears to my eyes as I...moreI'm going to try not to gush in this review but I am very happy to end 2007 with this book. This book on many occassions brought tears to my eyes as I read momments of great sadness and momments that touch the heart. All of this is interlaced with a brilliant narative, characters that are painfully real feeling, and a world also rendered equally real.
I've savored this book over the last 3-4 months, partly to prolong the experience but also for fear of running out of great fantasy to read. I started the series out of lack of anything else to read, and then continued it as something to hold me over until George R.R. Martin could finish the 5th book in his "Song of Ice and Fire" series. This is probably the best compliment I can pay to Robin Hobb, that I find her fantasy on par with that of George R.R. Martin (quite possibly the greatest writer of epic fantasy I've ever read). This series has much of the qualities of Martin's series, but with a bit softer edges.
I can't really say anything about this final installment I haven't already said about the previous 2 books in the trilogy. Its fantastic. The use of magical elements in it are subtle and precise, not hamfisted and blunt as in much of epic fantasy today. Too often epic fantasy is more about magical powers than about people, this book and Hobb's others are a welcome change of pace. They are more works of literature than much else I've read in the fantasy genre. I am just not sure what else to say. Read this series, it will astound you. If you are a veteran of the fantasy genre and know it well, you can start with this trilogy for Hobb is very good at exposition about previous happenings (yet the exposition feels natural and infered not tacked on and extenporanious(sp?)). If you are new to fantasy and want a truly great read, start with the "Farseer Trilogy" and then move onto the "Liveship Traders Trilogy" and finally onto this trilogy the "The Tawny Man". I found it interesting to start a trilogy about someone with a past. It was nice to start an epic fantasy with someone who already had experiences and a past. Too often all stories start and end in such an ordered and, sometimes, mundane fashioned way. So check this out. I give it my stamp of approval.(less)
This is only the second Robin Hobb book I've read, and I already thing higher of her than most other authors of "fantasy". He first book in this trilo...moreThis is only the second Robin Hobb book I've read, and I already thing higher of her than most other authors of "fantasy". He first book in this trilogy was very good. I started out thinking it was going to be another "magic" driven fantasy novel. Where the magic is more important than well thought out plot and characters. Not so at all! Being as I was and still am waiting on the next installment of the Song of Ice and Fire series, I was happy to find a fantasy series with similarly toned narrative and of a comparable caliber to boot.
The second book, this book, blew me away. If the first one was great book, this is a truly AMAZING book. Fitz is such a great and deep character. He is truly noble and holds himself to a high stander, yet very flawed and knows this of himself. The end result is someone who is a kind of every day man forced into the role of cut-throat white-knight. I say white knight purely to indicate his boyscout-esque qualities. I'm actually glad I came to the character as an adult with a past(him, not me. I have no past, or at least known that it is safe for you to know...lol..:P), rather than reading about him as a child that turns into the person I read about now.
But you know what really does it for me in this book. The non-traditional relationships. My heart when Fitz confronts the fool about their relationship and how the fool mite want more from it. The fool is an amazing character, so multifaceted that he is less gold, and more diamond. I can't say too much about this part with out giving away much that will be better to discover on a readers own.
The plots and intriques. They are great, every level of this story is well crafted to perfection. I'm having to hold myself back from reading the 3rd and final installment because I don't want it to be over any sooner than it has to be. (less)