Christopher Rush's Reviews > A Game of Thrones

A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
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liked it

I'll go with 2.5 stars rounded up, how's that. I'm not really sure I "liked it," since there is very little content in here (including characters) we are really supposed to "like" in any traditional sense. As the high-school toddlers who recommended (and leant) it to me warned me at the outset, "all the characters take turns playing the badguys." And by jingo, they were right. Sure, you may say this is more "realistic" for a medieval-fantasy-type story, when life is hard and morals are subsumed under survival. That's fine. This is a "grown-up" fantasy.
My two main issues, apart from the gratuitous stuff (which is likely the main reason why it is popular on television), are 1) there's no overt point - the characters are just doing their thing, living their lives, reacting to what has been decided around them. That may add to the "realism" of the world, but I can't help but contrasting it with The Wheel of Time. That series is much different, and I like it better for those differences: there is a goal, the story is heading somewhere intentionally (even if at a languorously snail's-crawl pace) - there is a clear "bad side." The "good side" of AWoT is not so straightforward, so I'm not necessarily faulting GoT for not having "pristine, angelic-like John Wayneish heroes." AWoT has flawed, "shades of gray" heroes all over the place, possibly just as "Biblically unmoral" as GoT (though much less explicit about it).
Perhaps you'll say "oh, there's definitely a point to GoT: Danny is going to reconquer the Seven Kingdoms, marry Jon Snow, destroy the Lannisters, raise Tyrion as Ruler of Everything Else" and all sorts of other stuff only you know about having seen/read beyond book 1. Well, maybe. But I don't get any of that sense from the book itself. Things just happen. Which leads us to my 2nd issue.
#2: most of the book is reaction, not action. Yes, a few key things happen "on screen" (still talking about narrative focus in the novel), but so much of the book is just "apparently some time has passed, and here's what they are thinking about now." The passage of time is horribly haphazard, it seems to me (perhaps Mr. Martin has everything calendarred out, which would be swell). We get hundreds of pages setting up to Ned Stark's climax ... and it barely is mentioned indirectly when Arya is sort of not looking. Out of seemingly nowhere, armies have started terrorizing the countryside ... why, because Catelyn snatched up Tyrion? Is that why? A bit unclear, really. (Maybe I'm just a bad reader.) I understand this can be a fine way to move the story along without going over every single detail (in stark, so to speak, contrast with AWoT), but so much of the "action" in this novel was "reaction," reaction to things we haven't really experienced. Maybe you real fans like that; I found it a bit niggling. That's me. I'm probably wrong.
I'll keep reading the series, though, mainly to see how it ends, I guess (I hear some unspeakably grotesque things will happen soon, so we'll talk about that when I get there).
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Reading Progress

March 14, 2016 – Started Reading
March 14, 2016 – Shelved
May 2, 2016 – Finished Reading

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