I couldn't finish this book. The story wasily engaging and in parts humorous or ironic.
The writing style is intensely irritating. The author feels thI couldn't finish this book. The story wasily engaging and in parts humorous or ironic.
The writing style is intensely irritating. The author feels the need to constantly define words in the text. I get that the book is aimed at children, but if he didn't feel the word was appropriate for the target audience he shod have used a different word. If he felt it was appropriate he should have not defined it, but trusted to his readers to either know the word or look it up.
As a child I came across a lot of words I didn't understand. I asked my mother what they meant. She told me to look them up. I did. And now I am confident in reading and in finding out information.
Because of this terrible habit of the author's, which is frequent, and almost never ironic, I will not be reading the rest of the series. It's a shame because I was otherwise prepared to stick with it. ...more
I love a book that starts with maps. You just know you're going to be thrown into a rich, detailed world and showered with more information than you sI love a book that starts with maps. You just know you're going to be thrown into a rich, detailed world and showered with more information than you strictly need.
And "A Game of Thrones" doesn't disappoint. The story is slow-burning and rich in detail, containing a rare mix: the right amount of well-paced plot with the right amount of background, history and legend. You're in for the long haul when you start it: as none of the plot points are resolved by the end of the novel you are committed to following the army of characters through the series, waiting for the plot lines of Targaryen, King's Landing and The Wall to collide.
The plot twists and turns with various surprises along the way. This book is never predictable, and when a character dies it's not in a meaningless background-character-snuffing-it-but-publicised-beyond-all-reason (*cough* Cedric Diggory) but it's a main character. And it's more than once, and it has a profound impact on the story. Nothing is irrelevant to the story as Martin creates political intrigue, wars, grudges and revenge.
"A Game of Thrones" has a huge cast of characters, with the supporting characters being largely indistinguishable from each other. Jon Snow's black brothers are all rather generic, as are Khal Drogo's bloodriders and the array of knights at King's Landing. Trying to sort out who was who became a little frustrating as I worked through the novel: many of the characters were not memorable and this is a long book, when they came round agan I had forgotten who they were.
The older generation of main characters, Tywin Lannister; Robert Baratheon; Old Bear Mormont; Khal Drogo and Eddard Stark are well drawn and rich with their own conflicting values and ideas. They fight amongst themselves whilst a growing conflict with the younger generation materialises. Joffrey Baratheon; Daenerys Targeryan; Robb Stark and Jon Snow maneouvre themselves to front of stage, highlighting the theme of conflict between old and new, and the recurring theme of conflict between fathers and sons.
Tyrion Lannister, The Imp, is a triumphant creation. He's witty, sarcastic and vulgar by turns and his sections are lively, ironic and vivid as he grows from risible "bastard" towards the respect of his inferiors and family.
I have heard this book described as masochistic and sexist. There is no doubt that it depicts a man's world, and the women of the lower class are either hideous, or whores, or both; but the female main characters, Cersei Lannister; Catelyn Stark and Daenerys Targaryen grow in strength throughout the book and have a huge amount of influence over events in their own story threads. The struggles between the two girls, Sansa and Arya Stark reflect the difficulties of a woman trying to find her place and make her mark. Their differing choices set them on diverse paths, and differing destinies.
"A Game of Thrones" is book one in the series "A Song of Ice and Fire" and it is grand in scope, rich in detail, and filled with surprises. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and look forward to treating myself to the remainder of the series.
**spoiler alert** I was disposed to dislike "Alone in Berlin" and when I read the early chapters I was irritated by the constantly shifting tenses and**spoiler alert** I was disposed to dislike "Alone in Berlin" and when I read the early chapters I was irritated by the constantly shifting tenses and fast introduction to a large array of characters, some of whom never make it beyond the outskirts of the story.
The main selling point behind the book is that it comes from a German point of view: written by a man who had first hand experience of living in Nazi Germany (and himself had some rather disturbing personal threats from Goebbels) and published shortly after the war, this is an unflinching tale of ordinary Germans trying to cope with Nazi rule.
As a protagonist Otto Quangel displays steadfast resolve and astounding courage, but he is emotionally distant and isolated. These traits help him in his self-imposed mission, but mean the reader's sympathy is not always with him. This rings true of many characters. These aren't cardboard cut-out heroes and villains: they are real, flawed, clever, stupid, frightening and humorous characters, civilians and Gestapo alike.
We know the outcome of the novel before we read it: We know that Germany was defeated by outside armies in 1945, and that Otto Quangel dropping his postcards in 1940 will have limited success, and even more limited luck. In the first third of the book Fallada presents us with varying pictures of resistance: Otto writes his postcards and although his wife Anna initially scorns the idea as being "too small", she does eventually concede that a person's resistance should be given according to his own strength and abilities, and supports her husband. Judge Fromm takes in the Jewish lady Frau Rosenthal and pledges to keep her hidden from her unscrupulous neighbours. Trudel Baumann joins a resistance "cell" and is sworn to secrecy. But already Fallada shows us that resistance is a difficult thing: Judge Fromm can't protect Frau Rosenthal from herself, Trudel's resistance cell collapses, and Otto's plan is fraught with the risk of discovery.
Offset against this are the characters who try to live with Nazi rule, and profit by it: Baldur Persicke of the Hitler Youth; Emil Borkhausen, small time crook, and Enno Kluge, who lives off sicknotes and the work of his many women. As each embark upon their own path it is clear that falling into step with the Nazis isn't a guarantee of safety and prosperity: Borkhausen and Kluge are set up by the treacherous Persicke, and Borkhausen is consistently double crossed by the Gestapo.
The mid-book Gestapo chapters highlight the precarious existence of human beings under Nazi rule, even the decorated Inspector Escherisch falls foul of his Gestapo colleagues. This section of the book also exposes the failure of our heroes' resistance attempts, and forces the reader to conclude that the effort of the Quangels is likely to end badly, and to have had little effect on the ruling regime.
The final third pulls everything together and for me it emerged that although the book is ostensibly about resistance and collaboration, crime and punishment the overall message is this: That living in the shadow of evil forces humans to make choices about how they are going to live their lives, and making easy choices does not guarantee one a peaceful life or a happy ending. It is more important to maintain integrity and dignity, and to steadfastly resist, according to one's strength and ability.
The fate of many characters is death (and don't accuse me of spoilers, it's a book about Nazis after all) but the important point is not that they died, but how they lived their lives prior to their death. This is the real resistance of Otto.
I enjoyed reading "Alone in Berlin" and strongly recommend it. If you get the Penguin Modern Classics version you turn the final page of the novel to read a potted history of the author himself, which in many ways is even more extraordinary than his work of fiction....more