I am generally not a reader of fantasy books. I read this, in part, because my boyfriend already read the entire series and the book was already on ou...moreI am generally not a reader of fantasy books. I read this, in part, because my boyfriend already read the entire series and the book was already on our shared nook, and in part because I absolutely adore the HBO series and I just wanted to know more than what they were able to show (you know, get a better feel for characters, minor character's names, etc.)
That being said, I enjoyed the book. The HBO series follows it quite faithfully. In fact, A Game of Thrones seems to have almost been written for the purpose of being eventually filmed. What I mean is the format Martin chose--each chapter named after the character it follows--oftentimes perfectly translates to a scene. Pretty awesome.
On the other hand, George R.R. Martin is not a terribly talented writer. I forgive him that because he is an excellent story weaver (the two are quite different) and I find myself entranced by the story rather than his prose. That's OK. Literary fiction can get tiresome sometimes. Sometimes you just want a book to read hungrily.
Don't spoil the later books for me! I promised myself I would only read them after the corresponding Game of Thrones season aired. It always thrills me when a film/series adaptation is better than the source material. (I am sometimes the sort of reader who is upset when books are adapted for the silver screen, but I am definitely not the sort of reader who is always upset by the mere fact of the adaptation's existence. Those people have obviously not watched Jane Eyre.) For example, the scene where Khal Drogo declares that he will get the Iron Throne for his unborn son is simply incredible on HBO's show. In the book? Kind of confusing and definitely anti-climactic.
So uhhh, yeah. The show gets 5 stars. Without the show? I would have given this book 3 stars, probably.(less)
I'm wavering between 3 stars and 4 stars because frankly, the bulk of the middle of the book feels like the plot isn't moving forward at all--even tho...moreI'm wavering between 3 stars and 4 stars because frankly, the bulk of the middle of the book feels like the plot isn't moving forward at all--even though it is. The protagonist is in a sort of asylum and the narrative feels trapped there too.
But I gave it four stars, ultimately, because that lackluster narrative thread is bookended by some really compelling stuff. Everything that ISN'T Julia's time in Europe is pretty great. I feel wistful for the book that this could have been. I still enjoyed it, but I know that I would have enjoyed it much more if only it were something slightly different.(less)
The world in A Natural History of Dragons is reminiscent of the exploratory heyday of the late 19th/early 20th century, the difference being, you know...moreThe world in A Natural History of Dragons is reminiscent of the exploratory heyday of the late 19th/early 20th century, the difference being, you know, dragons. I never liked old-timey memoirs or travelogues or scientific exploration or mystery, but I do like sassy-women-doin'-it-for-themselves and dragons (when done well, which doesn't happen all that often I think) so I thought I'd give it a try. All in all, I'd say that Marie Brennan redeemed all of those qualities that I thought I detested. I mean, an old-timey no apologies memoir about traveling to a far off land (clearly modeled on Russia) to explore dragons scientifically? With illustrations? "Written by" an older woman who has liiiiiiived and doesn't care for your cultural mores, young sirs and ladies?!? GAH! Perfect!
It's just a lot of fun, really. It's a fun fast read without feeling dumbed down (fantasy books often disappoint me here). It's set up in such a way as to leave room for countless sequels and you know what? I'd read them all.(less)