♥Xeni♥'s Reviews > A Game of Thrones

A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
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's review
Sep 11, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: fiction, adventure, romance, mystery, epic
Read from February 16 to June 30, 2011

While reading this book (read at a supposed 5 chapters per week, but in reality was a lot more erratic than that) I was annoyed with it most of the time. The fact that I could still rate it four stars at the end was a surprise to me too!

I really loathe the prevailing darkness, despair and death that hang over this novel. I often pointed out in discussions that someone (I threatened to do it myself) should read the novel and make a list of all the people that are killed, slaughtered, tortured, and just plain die (although I can't remember anyone dying from natural causes...). Aside from the actual loss of human life, there is just a deep sense of wrongness in the mentality of just about everyone in the kingdoms. Everyone always thinks the worst of those that surround them (and the few who don't, under the false pretense of HONOR, tend to see the worst in themselves continuously) and then they act and react accordingly. Sadly, this seems to already be acceptable in children (one boy ruler loves "making people fly" i.e. dropping them from his mountain fortress; sisters are allowed to get away with lying, royal children with absolute perversion of the truth) which is probably the reason why there are so many corrupt adults. There are really no mature characters where I can say "wow, now that is a role model!", except for one: Dany. She is the only character that really grows into her own; she forges a new path from almost the beginning of the book, where all the other characers remained fixed in their roles (due to fear, honor, duty, name your excuse, it's there) and that's really the second thing that I really loathe about this book. There was so much character potential, and it seems Martin only really used that for Dany. (Perhaps subsequent novels in the series are more developed in this regard, but as the first-of-a-series this shouldn't have been suh a huge problem here.)

There are a lot of characters that are easy to hate and those that are easy to love. For instance, just about every reader will love Arya, but I felt there could have been more to her. Cersei is an evil witch queen, but as mother's go I really think that Catelyn took the award for worst-mother (and yes, I think she's worse than her sister). Ned annoyed me because all he could focus on was his idea of "honor", but could not even honor his bastard son enough to tell him of his mother. I can continue on in this vein, but it's boring me.

The plot was little better, I thought. It was pretty predictable in it's armaggedon-style, doomsday-approach. Civil war was inevitable from page one, but I feel it was rather interesting to see how it came about. My most favorite character line was the Dothraki happenings, and less the Seven Kingdoms, and defnitely not the Wall.

Martin's writing style was interesting. I think it was seven to ten main characters who took turns telling the story from their points of view. It didn't bother me at all, in fact, I quite enjoyed the shifting perspectives (although sometimes I was enjoying a section quite a lot and then it ended!) Otherwise, I think he did a good job bringing out the different personalities and making the reader believe in them.

I'm not quite so sure that I can believe in his world build-up, though. It's supposed to be fantasy, but other than a few hints and ancient stories there really isn't much that I would call 'magic'. Martin did a much better job of taking feudal Europe and super imposing that on his world. On that note, I think the part that bothered me most (the blood thirstiness of just about everyone; it's somewhat surprising that there were even any people left to kill at the beginning of the story) is probably the aspect that is most in sync with how history actually went down. If you consider that British knights travelled all the freakin way to Jerusalem on a religioius pretense to slaughter people, I guess that time period in history was just rife with savages dressed up as civilians.

Perhaps if I had realized the "true history" aspect while reading this book I could have accepted it more readily, but generally I loathe the bloody-mindedneas of that time period anyway, so maybe not. The thing that redemed this book for me was the very end. I won't spoil it here, but I will say that it boosted the book from two to four stars. A very excellent ending with just enough cliffhanger to want to read the next in the series, but not enough to be annoying.

Other than that, I can't say that I learned much from the book. Perhaps to "stick [my enemies] with the pointy end", but nothing really concrete!
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Reading Progress

2.0% "It's a good beginning so far. Interesting roles and players. I just need to stick with the bad font choice. xD"
3.0% "So... the chapters are all rather complex and I feel like I need to draw a family tree. xD"
4.0% "Okay, Dany I already feel sorry for... A brother like that, and traditions like that... Also, we're focusing on royalty quite a lot here. I suppose that's normal since it's a "game of thrones" and what do commoners have to do with that, and yet I feel it could get boring ("same old, same old") rather fast."
7.0% "Okay, I'm sort of drawn in. Once I can draw all the parallels between the characters it will be easier (tough because it keeps switching pov)"
14.0% "I am more into the story now! Not totally immersed yet, but I think I might be getting there. I hate the character POV changes... they happen whenever something interesting finally occurs! Otherwise, it's great. (And freaky with all the incest mentions!)"
16.0% "Okay, so Bran is almost killed, Catelyn bugs me, Jon is still interesting and the king is a fool. That's about it right now."
18.0% "Okay, so Sansa was the most disturbing of all the chapters so far. She is an idiot, first off. But the nobles are even worse!! Making them kill Lady was just dumb. And then ending the section with a senseless killing of the butchers boy just left me feeling helpless and angry."
30.0% "Still don't like Robert. Ned is good as a father, bad as a ruler/friend. I like Arya a lot. And Dany has become my favorite, I think."
42.0% "wow, I love that there are these wild savages! It's not all about the lords after all!!"
45.0% "All caught up again!"
51.0% "Catching up, catching up... always catching up. These characters are annoying me a great deal. Like, wtf are you doing, you idiot, annoying me level."
53.0% "Lysa and her son are just odious. Honestly, how can no one else see that? Like UGH!"
53.0% "Jon seemed to have gotten some of his father's brains without the idiocracy to back it up. It's so refreshing to have a smart character. Sort of like Tyrion but without the sharp tongue!"
58.0% "I had suspected it for a while, but I didn't expect Ned to discover the fact that the royal children aren't for a while yet! And this quote: "when you play the game of thrones, you win or you die. There is no middle ground." is just great."
60.0% "Crazy stuff going down! Wow, i can't wait to see this in the tv show!"
63.0% "Now we finally see Littlefingers trechery. Not to mention Cersei's. Also, what's up with little boys in power wanting to see bloodshed so much?"
65.0% "Go Arya!! I really really hope you manage to escape!!"
71.0% "Ah... so Drogo is to go after the 7 Kingdoms now. I certainly hope he gives Cersei what she deserves!"
78.0% "And so it is to be war. Lots and lots of war. Shame."
84.0% "Here's to finishing the book soon. I think I've grown really tired of all the bloodshed and battles and backstabbing and grime and so on. It certainly isn't glamerous, and there are just way too many people dying everywhere."
92.0% "And so this is the end. All of our main characters have lost all they've had, up to and including thier lives. What remains? More bloodshed and pain and ruin? I hope for a happy ending. Just a tiny one, please."
97.0% "One thing that has puzzled me a lot ever since starting this book are numbers. A host has thousands of tens of thousands of men in it, and yet they are still individualized. We still read about how a lord is fretting for his son, yet the day before at least 5000 knights, plenty of sons, were slaughtered. The numbers just don't add up in my mind."
100.0% "That was definitely one of the most awesomest endings EVER! Now I want to read the next book. Before I was annoyed, but now I want to KNOW!"
05/26/2016 marked as: read
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Comments (showing 1-5 of 5) (5 new)

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Loretta Catelyn continues to bug, Jon is always interest. What do you think of Tyrion? I find him fascinating, and love his wit.

♥Xeni♥ He is a very different-from-the-norm character! I think I appreciate the effort that the author made to insert someone who is a bit different, not just because he is a dwarf, but mainly because he can act and do things outside of his social level (even if that is due to him being a dwarf). I was really interested to learn that he loved to read! It didn't really fit with my first impression of him, but now it just makes sense!

Otherwise, I hope to read a lot more about Tyrion. I feel that there is a lot of potential there.

Kara Nice review. I agree with a lot of what you said concerning the constant wrongness in the mentality and actions of many of the characters, and the constant killing ...and also wondered about how true to "history" this could have actually been.

Brad I loved your review, Xeni, but I must say that I don't think those in power today, those who would match our protagonists in Game of Thrones, are any less bloody minded than those bloody minded killers we read about in Martin's book.

♥Xeni♥ Kara:
I posted a reply to your comment a few days ago, but somehow it wasn't saved. :S
Anyway, thanks for taking the time to read and comment! I think it's pretty accurate of how the feudal times and 'middle ages' were in Europe. Down to the last tournament, war and kidnapping. My boyfriend was watching The Clash of the Titans the other night, and I was reading while he was doing that, but it really struck me how poor and shabby and un-glamorous the fighting and such really is. While reading it in a book, the authors tend to up the glam a bit, even if they're talking about how NOT shiny war is. I tend to view the whole thing with rose colored glasses anyway. But, so, it really stuck me in this book how squalid and bloody everything was, and how I could feel that. I suppose in that regard Martin did a stupendous job.

True, but somehow I feel a lot less personal about those in power today. For me they are just figureheads, doing what their bosses tells them to do. In the book, it seems more like we're actually there, seeing how evil and craven they all are in their minds and deeds. It just touches me a lot closer than anything today, sadly.

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