StoryTellerShannon's Reviews > A Game of Thrones

A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
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Mar 17, 14

bookshelves: my-very-best-reads, reading-it-again, owned, fantasy-scifi, books-reviewed, the-sweeping-epic
Recommended for: Tim Janke
Read in May, 2001 — I own a copy, read count: 5

First off, I'm a heavy duty fan of GRRM. I've read over a 100 different fantasy authors in my time. Took about 5 years off from the genre b/c I felt it was all getting too formulaic and cliched. So, when I came back to fantasy I read the usual: Goodkind, Jordan, etc. and then someone told me about GRRM and man, that was the kicker!



Here are the reasons to choose GRRM. I've also listed the reasons not to choose him to make it fair b/c I know their are certain personalities who won't like this series:

WHY TO READ GRRM

(1) YOU ARE TIRED OF FORMULAIC FANTASY: good lad beats the dark lord against impossible odds; boy is the epitome of good; he and all his friends never die even though they go through great dangers . . . the good and noble king; the beautiful princess who falls in love with the commoner boy even though their stations are drastically different . . . you get the idea. After reading this over and over, it gets old.









(2) YOU ARE TIRED OF ALL THE HEROES STAYING ALIVE EVEN THOUGH THEY ARE UNDER CONSTANT DANGER: this gets even worse where the author kills a main hero off but that person comes back later in the story. Or, a hero does die but magic brings him back.







This sometimes carries to minor characters where even they may not die, but most fantasy authors like to kill them off to show that some risked the adventure and perished.

(3) YOU ARE A MEDIEVAL HISTORY BUFF: this story was influenced by the WARS OF THE ROSES and THE HUNDRED YEARS WAR.



(4) YOU LOVE SERIOUS INTRIGUE WITHOUT STUPID OPPONENTS: lots of layering; lots of intrigue; lots of clever players in the game of thrones. Unlike other fantasy novels, one side, usually the villain, is stupid or not too bright.



(5) YOU ARE INTERESTED IN BIASED OPINIONS AND DIFFERENT TRUTHS: GRRM has set this up where each chapter has the title of one character and the whole chapter is through their viewpoint. Interesting tidbit is that you get their perception of events or truths. But, if you pay attention, someone else will mention a different angle of truth in the story that we rarely see in other novels. Lastly and most importantly, GRRM doesn't try to tell us which person is right in their perception. He purposelly leaves it vague so that we are kept guessing.



(6) LEGENDS: some of the most interesting characters are those who are long gone or dead. We never get the entire story but only bits and pieces; something that other fantasy authors could learn from to heighten suspense. Additionally, b/c the points of views are not congruent, we sometimes get different opinions.



(7) WORDPLAY: if you're big on metaphors and description, GRRM is your guy. Almost flawless flow.

“What is honor compared to a woman's love? What is duty against the feel of a newborn son in your arms . . . or the memory of a brother's smile? Wind and words. Wind and words. We are only human, and the gods have fashioned us for love. That is our great glory, and our great tragedy.”

“Why is it that when one man builds a wall, the next man immediately needs to know what's on the other side?”

“You are your mother's trueborn son of Lannister."

"Am I?" the dwarf replied, sardonic. "Do tell my lord father. My mother died birthing me, and he's never been sure."

"I don't even know who my mother was," Jon said.

"Some woman, no doubt. Most of them are." He favored Jon with a rueful grin. "Remember this, boy. All dwarfs may be bastards, yet not all bastards need be dwarfs."

And with that he turned and sauntered back into the feast, whistling a tune.

When he opened the door, the light from within threw his shadow clear across the yard, and for just a moment Tyrion Lannister stood tall as a king.”

“Oh, my sweet summer child," Old Nan said quietly, "what do you know of fear? Fear is for the winter, my little lord, when the snows fall a hundred feet deep and the ice wind comes howling out of the north. Fear is for the long night, when the sun hides its face for years at a time, and little children are born and live and die all in darkness while the direwolves grow gaunt and hungry, and the white walkers move through the woods”


(8) LOTS OF CONFLICT: all types, too; not just fighting but between characters through threats and intrigue.

(9) MULTILAYERED PLOTTING; SUB PLOTS GALORE: each character has their own separate storyline; especially as the story continues and everyone gets scattered. This is one of the reasons why each novel is between 700-900 pages.

(10) SUPERLATIVE VARIED CHARACTERS: not the typical archetypes that we are used to in most fantasy; some are gritty; few are totally evil or good; GRRM does a great job of changing our opinions of characters as the series progress. This is especially true of Jaime in book three.







(11) REALISTIC MEDIEVAL DIALOGUE: not to the point that we can't understand it but well done.

(12) HEAPS OF SYMBOLISM AND PROPHECY: if you're big on that.



(13) EXCELLENT MYSTERIES: very hard to figure out the culprits; GRRM must have read a lot of mystery novels.

(14) RICHLY TEXTURED FEMALE CHARACTERS: best male author on female characters I have read; realistic on how women think, too.




(15) LOW MAGIC WORLD: magic is low key; not over the top so heroes can't get out of jams with it.



REASONS TO NOT READ GRRM

(1) YOU LIKE YOUR MAIN CHARACTERS: GRRM does a good job of creating more likable characters after a few die. But, if that isn't your style, you shouldn't be reading it. He kills off several, not just one, so be warned.







(2) DO NOT CARE FOR GRITTY GRAY CHARACTERS: if you like more white and gray characters, this may unsettle you. I suggest Feist or Goodkind or Dragonlance if you want a more straight forward story with strong archetypes.



(3) MULTIPLE POINTS OF VIEWS TURN YOU OFF: if you prefer that the POVS only go to a few characters, this might be confusing for you.



(4) SWEARING, SEX: there's a lot of it in this book just as there is in real life.



(5) YOU DEMAND CLOSURE AT THE END OF EVERY BOOK: this isn't the case for all stories in the series. Some are still going on; some have been resolved; others have been created and are moving on.



(6) IF YOU WANT A TARGET OR SOMEONE TO BLAME: this can be done to some extent but not as much. This is b/c he doesn't try to make anyone necessarily good or evil.





(7) ARCHETYPES: some readers like archetypal characters because it's comfortable; we like the good young hero (sort of like Pug in Feist's THE RIFTWAR SAGA); it's familiar and we sometimes like to pretend we're this upcoming, great hero. You wont' get much of this in GRRM with the exception of one or two characters.








(8) LENGTH: you don't want to get into a long fantasy epic series. In that case, look for shorters works as this is biiig.



(9) PATRIARCHY: men are most of the main characters with lots of power (one female exception).



STORY/PLOTTING: A minus; CHARACTER/DIALOGUE: A minus to A; LEGENDS/WORLD BUILDING: A plus; FANTASY FOCUSES: A; OVERALL GRADE: A; WHEN READ LAST: 2009 (5 readings) (revised review April 2012; more pics added August 2013)





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Quotes StoryTellerShannon Liked

George R.R. Martin
“What is honor compared to a woman's love? What is duty against the feel of a newborn son in your arms . . . or the memory of a brother's smile? Wind and words. Wind and words. We are only human, and the gods have fashioned us for love. That is our great glory, and our great tragedy.”
George R.R. Martin, A Game of Thrones

George R.R. Martin
“A mind needs books as a sword needs a whetstone, if it is to keep its edge.”
George R.R. Martin, A Game of Thrones

George R.R. Martin
“And I have a tender spot in my heart for cripples and bastards and broken things.”
George R.R. Martin, A Game of Thrones

George R.R. Martin
“Oh, my sweet summer child," Old Nan said quietly, "what do you know of fear?
Fear is for the winter, my little lord, when the snows fall a hundred feet
deep and the ice wind comes howling out of the north. Fear is for the long
night, when the sun hides its face for years at a time, and little children
are born and live and die all in darkness while the direwolves grow gaunt and
hungry, and the white walkers move through the woods”
George R.R. Martin, A Game of Thrones

George R.R. Martin
“Death is so terribly final, while life is full of possibilities.”
George R.R. Martin, A Game of Thrones

George R.R. Martin
“...How would you like to die, Tyrion son of Tywin?"
"In my own bed, with a belly full of wine and a maiden's mouth around my cock, at the age of eighty," he replied.”
George R.R. Martin, A Game of Thrones

George R.R. Martin
“You are your mother's trueborn son of Lannister."

"Am I?" the dwarf replied, sardonic. "Do tell my lord father. My mother died birthing me, and he's never been sure."

"I don't even know who my mother was," Jon said.

"Some woman, no doubt. Most of them are." He favored Jon with a rueful grin. "Remember this, boy. All dwarfs may be bastards, yet not all bastards need be dwarfs."

And with that he turned and sauntered back into the feast, whistling a tune.

When he opened the door, the light from within threw his shadow clear across the yard, and for just a moment Tyrion Lannister stood tall as a king.”
George R.R. Martin, A Game of Thrones

George R.R. Martin
“We were talking about the prince,' Sansa said, her voice soft as a kiss.
Arya knew which prince she meant: Joffrey, of course. The tall, handsome one. Sansa got to sit with him at the feast. Arya had to sit with the little fat one. Naturally.”
George R.R. Martin, A Game of Thrones

George R.R. Martin
“Why is it that when one man builds a wall, the next man immediately needs to know what's on the other side?”
George R.R. Martin, A Game of Thrones


Reading Progress


Comments (showing 1-50 of 73) (73 new)


mark monday sad to say, your images are gone...


Cynthia Its interesting to hear that you found fantasy had become formulaic and cliched after a while. That was me with a lot of genres I read excessively and i thought that some genres become so because theyre specific and the readers expect it of them. I guess the feeling applies more widely than I thought. Thanks for your insight!


message 3: by [deleted user] (new)

Great review - gives a good idea of what I'm facing if I decide to read this series (which I may yet do!). And it also made its point while making me laugh aloud. Well done, sir!


StoryTellerShannon (Mark): they seem to be showing now. Part of the problem is that the bandwith is based on every single time somebody looks at it. The only solution is to have multiple email accounts so that the pictures are spread out. Or you can pay I suppose which is what they want.

(Diana): thanks.

(Cynthia): you're welcome.

Goodreads doesn't always give me notifications of commentary. This is one of those times. I just happened over here.


Mark Have not begun this yet cos it appears such a mammoth undertaking but I very much enjoyed your take on it. Your comments spoke to many of the things that I find annoying about other fantasy writing so I have edged a little closer to straining my back by picking this one up. thanks


StoryTellerShannon Glad to hear it, Mark.


StoryTellerShannon Images are from photobucket so they will sometimes come and go depending on their strange rules.


message 8: by Mary JL (new)

Mary JL Nice review! I really liked that you gave reasons both to read and not to read the book. Readers will have a clear picture of the pros and cons and whether this book is what they are looking for.


StoryTellerShannon Thanks, Mary.


message 10: by Lance (new) - added it

Lance Greenfield Great review. I really must make the effort to bubble this one up my to-read list. It is hard to promote thick volumes though. That requires courage. But, by the soound of it, once I start, I'll be hooked for the whole series!


StoryTellerShannon Thanks, Lance. They can be addictive. The good news is that once you catch up GRRM is a slow author. :_)


message 12: by Sam (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sam Awesome review of one of the best series ever made! I would only add two things: The extensive genealogies and past histories may be tedious to some AND it is an open series more books SHOULD be coming to finish it.


StoryTellerShannon Thanks, Sam. Yeah, those are good points. I love the references but some may be turned off.

GRRRM seems to average a book every 3-5 years on average.


Jocelyn I love that picture in the end. TBH I could never imagine Daenerys laughing her head off like that. And Cersei's all like "haha aren't I so awesome?"


StoryTellerShannon And Dinklage is like, "I don't know these nerds." :)


Suhail Mulla Nice review. I'm a relatively new reader, and this will be my first book series of a scale this big!
Now I know what I'm gearing up for.

PS: love the last picture too! I wonder what's going on in the Kingslayer's mind!


message 17: by Ash (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ash The photobucket image describing the characters was really good.
"YOU ARE TIRED OF FORMULAIC FANTASY" - this was exactly why I liked this series. Nice review.


StoryTellerShannon Thanks, all.


message 19: by Tina (new) - rated it 3 stars

Tina Solomon I got interested in this series because of Tor, but your review made me want to continue it. thanks.


StoryTellerShannon You're welcome.


message 21: by Kira (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kira Ah, I couldn't agree more. I had a similar experience (well, maybe, not) where I found myself tired of fantasy as a whole. This series brought my love of fantasy back to me and then some.

My favorite aspect of ASOIAF has to be how he writes his characters. The biggest had to be wishing some terrible fate on a particularly nasty character only to find that when it actually happened, the character had grown on me or I discovered they weren't quite as evil as I thought. The fact that it feels like no character is safe has me terribly invested.

I wonderful review on all counts, though.


StoryTellerShannon Jaime being one of the better examples.

Thanks for the reply!


Markus Great review! For myself, i took break from fantasy genre in early 90s, just read too much Dragonlance, Eddings and basic rpg tie-in fantasy. Got back in game after my friend said good things about Game of Thrones, and he was not your usual fantasy reader. So i read it 2009, and since then i have about 40 or so fantasy-genre books. There seems to be still hundred or so genre books to catch up, but i don't mind.


StoryTellerShannon Thanks, Markus.

There isn't anyone that close to GRRM's style unlike other authors so there are these long waits in between books.


David "proud member of Branwen's adventuring party" WOW! Amazing review, Shannon! If you're tired of cookie-cutter fantasies, you may also give "Villains By Necessity" a try, while it's not nearly as complex as GRRM's series, it still features a brilliant twist on the concept of good vs. evil... Villains by Necessity


StoryTellerShannon Thanks.

I read that one and I think I have a review on it:

http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/...


message 27: by Babs (last edited Apr 30, 2013 06:47PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Babs ((Spoiler))I'm taking the first 2 books with me on vacation. Can't wait to read them. I love the show. Its just the best thing ever..I watched the first 2 seasons back to back in 2 days. I loved GRRM. This is my favorite period in time.

I hated when Khal Drago died!! And Ned Stark!! Oh, that was horrible.

Thanks for the great review!! I look forward to reading these books.


StoryTellerShannon You may want to put spoilers in that post in case "noobs" are reading the comments, Babs. Heh.

Glad you're enjoying them. This HBO series is one of those rare birds that does an awesome job of imitating the novels yet having its own style and presentation.


message 29: by Babs (new) - rated it 5 stars

Babs Oh, my mistake!!! I should have known better. Hope I didn't spoil anything for anyone.

If I did, my sincere apologies.Thanks for the heads up.


message 30: by Kyle (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kyle I love your passion!


StoryTellerShannon Thanks, Kyle!


message 32: by Latesha (new)

Latesha Adolphus Great review and perspective!! I had been contemplating starting this series!


Shanna3113 Awesome review!


StoryTellerShannon Thanks, Shanna and Latesha!


StoryTellerShannon Looks like GR edited my pics b/c of Photobucket overload. Time to use IMGUR and redo it.


message 36: by Bob (new) - added it

Bob Beach Great review. Couldn't agree more.


StoryTellerShannon Thanks, Bob.


Amanda Book 1-3 are definitely great! I agree!


message 39: by Gyung-Min (new) - added it

Gyung-Min Great review. I've always thought about reading this book. But a bit hesitant. Maybe because it's not complete as a series. I need to read this series before TV series though I already watched the season 1. :(


The Lit Bitch Fantastic review!!!! You captured the essence perfectly of the ASOIAF series!!!! Bravo!!!!


StoryTellerShannon Thanks, Lit. Now I just need to transfer the pics from Photobucket to Imgur as the former has some stupid bandwith viewing.

The novels are better than the series, Gyong-Min.


message 42: by [deleted user] (new)

I'm in the middle of A Game of Thrones and I LOVE it so far!!


message 43: by [deleted user] (last edited Aug 18, 2013 10:36AM) (new)

The best review of this book (y)


StoryTellerShannon Okay then. I transferred the pics from laaaaame Photobucket to Imgur so now I don't have to concern myself with exceeding bandwidth.

I also added some new pics and removed a few.


StoryTellerShannon Good practice as I'll be working on a LONG review for "A Dance With Dragons".


message 47: by [deleted user] (new)

I, too, am in love with George RR Martin. He is my first mythic/fantasy, and I will never be the same.


message 49: by Suad (new) - rated it 5 stars

Suad Ali The first 800 pages book to read and the first Fantasy Novel I read, enjoyed, told my friends about and the only book I re-read 3 times. George is just a genius and whose five books of "song of ice and fire" are my favorites EVER!!!


message 50: by Kali (new) - added it

Kali Srikanth I don't know about the book but I thoroughly enjoyed your review. Seems it's a nice intro for me to pick this epic novella.


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