A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, #1) A Game of Thrones discussion

Does anyone else feel this series has too many characters?

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Scott Kinkade I read the first book and, while I enjoyed it, it felt like Mr. Martin was firing characters out of a machine gun. Many of them were faceless people to me and they just sort of blurred together after a while. On the other hand, he did include the character list at the end of the book, and I am glad for that.

Rosa I agree this continues for the other books and I am never quite sure what the point of naming all this people is. However I will say that while I found the books to be a little slow at first they do get better and better as you go

Richard i read book one and two and then laid off it - now i am thinking about reading book 3 i have recall of maybe 25% of the characters. i have no will to re read Clash of Kings so i'm guessing i'll give up on the series

Rosa Lol...the thing is the 25% you remember is probably all you need to read. The name overload seems to be more artistic than logistic I am up to book 4 and when he gets into the name rants i usually just quickly scan it and it hasn't messed me up so far...I will say that book 3 is my favorite so far, so I do recommend it. Or you could just watch the series, its a great adaptation so you don't miss out on too much by not reading

message 5: by [deleted user] (new)

This is embarrassing, but it had to be done.

Me and my friend had to study a goddamn family tree for the TV show, just to get our heads around it. I am aware of pretty much all the characters now and know who they are and which family they belong to, but it is still hard to remember names and if it weren't for that family tree, i'd be lost.

message 6: by Scott (last edited Nov 17, 2013 08:12PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Scott Kinkade LOL it's like the Bible. Still, it's hard not to appreciate all the thought he put into this series.

Nicholas Got lost in Book One, watched the three TV series and went back with faces to put to the names and fared much better :)

'Winter is coming.'

Chris Ward Personally I think he could cut the whole Iron Islands lot and the entire Martel southern clan with absolutely zero negative effect on the plot. It was the introduction of so many randoms in Feast that kind of put me off a bit.

Shamaun Jiwanmall I do and sometimes I have a hard time remembering who was who!

Gianluca That's just how Epic Fantasy is. What's the point of creating a fictional world if you're not going to fill it with distinct characters and historical figures?
The many different characters, nations and religions help bring the world to life. A lot of them might not have a direct impact on the story, but they still serve a purpose. It's all part of the world-building.

If you think ASoIaF has too many named characters, then what about The Wheel of Time which contains almost 3000? It is arguably one of the best developed fictional worlds in Fantasy.

Scott Kinkade I've never read The Wheel of Time but WOW--3000 named characters??

message 12: by Ciara (new) - added it

Ciara Ballintyne As compared to The Wheel of Time? No.

But then I found the characters in WoT better distinguished, and I can actually name more than 100 just off the top of my head. Of course, I've also read WoT more, but that's because I like it more. I never found WoT confusing. Game of Thrones, though, hasn't held my interest nearly as well.

message 13: by Nik (last edited Nov 19, 2013 05:27AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Nik Chris wrote: 'Personally I think he could cut the whole Iron Islands lot and the entire Martel southern clan with absolutely zero negative effect on the plot.'

I think you're overlooking the vast sweep of the series … the Martels are absolutely fundamental to the concept of the long game, the entire series is about the Targaryens.

Robert's Kingdom lasts how long? 15 years is it? 20 at the most?

Doran Martel is the master player of the Game of Thrones, it's about patience - all the others have been annihilated in a blaze of passion, delusion and lust, their lives have been a flash in the pan.

If and when the next book comes out, there'll also be a religious conflict between the Iron islanders / R'hllor and the Seven.

message 14: by Gianluca (last edited Nov 19, 2013 01:01AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Gianluca Scott wrote: "I've never read The Wheel of Time but WOW--3000 named characters??"

Something like 2800 named characters, yes. A lot of them are seen only once or twice, but that's pretty much the point; you can't expect a Fantasy author to create a believable fictional world developing only a handful of pertinent characters.

Ciara wrote: "As compared to The Wheel of Time? No."

I'm only comparing them in terms of world-building and dept, the two series are nothing alike otherwise. Having problems remembering names is always an issue while reading Epic Fantasy, but, if you stick with it long enough, you eventually learn them. I can name over 100 characters off the top of my head too, The Wheel of Time is one of my favorite book series and I'm currently re-reading it. Then again, ASoIaF is one of my favorites as well, and there was a time when I could name most of the characters in those books too.

message 15: by John (new) - rated it 5 stars

John Tobias I think that more importantly, the rate at which people (especially people named) in this series die, he had to create a lot of characters or by the last book there would be no one left to write about... ;)

Rebecca I know he has to create a whole world and a whole world is full of people and characters. But really if I wanted that many people couldn't I just look at history? That is much more believable and a much better story ... it has dragons too :) I do love the books but they seemed to get a bit boring after a while. With addition of extra characters I end up losing connection with the ones I love. ..... I don't know really

Robin One good thing about it is that when we finally reach the chapters with the characters we love we treasure it more. FINALLY ARYA. *Goes to make coffee*.

Rebecca Robin wrote: "One good thing about it is that when we finally reach the chapters with the characters we love we treasure it more. FINALLY ARYA. *Goes to make coffee*."
Or you cheat a little and read their chapters first. Then go back and fill the story in with everyone else. (Don't make coffee make tea)

Robin Rebecca wrote:" Or you cheat a little and rea..."

Don't know, feels untrue in so many ways. Guess you like to eat all the good candies before the nasty ones.

But coffee makes me so happy! Red tea is delicious though, hard to find around these parts..

message 20: by M.D. (new) - rated it 5 stars

M.D. Lachlan True. But we could have left Theon alone for much of it. Cutting him alone would have moved things along. However, these are small points. The first book is undoubtedly a classic and the others are pretty good too!

Julia I enjoy getting lost in books like this. With easier-to-read series (like Harry Potter) I reread them and everything makes more sense. There's no way I'm reading any SOIF books though. When (if) the 6th book comes out I'll read with a laptop nearby so I can go on wikipedia and refresh my memory every time I forget who somebody is.

All these people will have a role to play in the end.

Jacob Em wrote: "This is embarrassing, but it had to be done.

Me and my friend had to study a goddamn family tree for the TV show, just to get our heads around it. I am aware of pretty much all the characters now ..."

I did something similar: watched an animated comic on YouTube, that someone took from the DVD; had the entire history of the realm with guides to all the families. Did help me though.

Nathaly I thought I was the only one. I only remember the main characters everyone else is a blur.

message 24: by Kori (new) - rated it 1 star

Kori Brus Every time I try to get into these books or the show, all I can think about is this:


I'm out in the wilderness on my own here, but I cannot understand the appeal. He's a dry, cumbersome author who seems to make up for his lack of narrative ability with convolutions and and excessive details - enough to keep readers distracted and chasing satisfaction forever into the future in the same way a soap opera does.

message 25: by [deleted user] (new)

No. The moment you decide to read an epic, the concept of "too many characters" doesn't exist. That's one of the main points of epics. And the first book didn't have that many. I think it might have been between 7 and 9 POVs. That's about average. I firmly believe that no one gets to complain about the number of characters in a book. Ever. Especially when it's something on this large of a scale.

message 26: by [deleted user] (new)

Gianluca wrote: "That's just how Epic Fantasy is. What's the point of creating a fictional world if you're not going to fill it with distinct characters and historical figures?
The many different characters, nation..."

Yeah, but only 129 of them are POVs. lol, "Only".

message 27: by [deleted user] (new)

Em wrote: "This is embarrassing, but it had to be done.

Me and my friend had to study a goddamn family tree for the TV show, just to get our heads around it. I am aware of pretty much all the characters now ..."

I just reread the books. But hey, do what you've gotta do. Don't be embarrassed. The fact that you went through all of that just means you're as dedicated as the rest of us. Hell, that probably makes you a bigger fan than the rest of us. I can remember most of them, but that just sort of happens naturally. YOU studied. You win.

message 28: by [deleted user] (new)

Oh but... Yeah okay I win!

I haven't even finished the first book tho, but I am a huge fan of the series and I truly love it :) anyways, what's not to love?

Mitali No, I don't think there are too many characters. Sure, there are a lot of characters. There are plenty of times when I lost track of who some of the minor characters were supposed to be, and had to look them up in the index at the back or in the Wiki.

But too many is a subjective concept - and I personally don't feel there were too many. The huge number of characters is what makes the series come alive, what makes it feel like a real world, populated with thousands of people, all with their own views and agendas.

In other words - it's a feature, not a bug.

Jacob Martin has said he wants the series to feel realistic, and in a real war there are more than just a few people involved - there are hundreds.

Melinda Brasher I liked the book a lot, but a 26-page character list? Seriously? Yeah, it's realistic to have so many people in a war situation, but you do risk losing the reader's ability to really connect with the characters.

message 32: by Iris (new) - rated it 4 stars

Iris Life has too many characters man. I think that that is part of what makes the book so revolutionary--there are hundreds of characters with their own agendas. And you follow each of them, learn their back-story and root for their future (whether it be happily ever after or dead in a ditch) I don't think that there are too many characters, but I do think that some point of views are boring, very boring. (Davos and Eddard are prime examples)

message 33: by Feliks (new)

Feliks Really, it has too many pages.

Nathan At times I do feel like this series has a lot of fluff characters when the author lists twenty full names to tell a back story (none of which will ever be mentioned again) but I do feel like the hundred or so main and secondary characters aren't too hard to remember as long as you remember which groups of characters go with which POVs. I think that whether or not the chapters seem overwhelming is largely due to if it is a boring area, as Iris mentioned Davos and Eddard. It was really intense when (view spoiler) and very sad for his family but I hope I wasn't the only one who was happy that there were no more POVs by him as a result.

message 35: by Ken (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ken There's not too many characters in A Song of Ice and Fire. Hell, if anything so many of them end up getting killed off that the remaining cast is scant considering the size of the world they inhabit.

It is just that kind of book, like Lord of the Rings with the many names of elves and dwarf kings and so and so and so and so.

If you're coming to this series from a Dan Brown kind of readership where there's perhaps 5 characters tops, then yeah it can be jarring. But it's not "too many".

Not so far anyway.

message 36: by Gary (new) - rated it 5 stars

Gary "My dear young man, don't take it too hard. Your work is ingenious. It's quality work. And there are simply too many notes, that's all."

Emilie I've had a hard time remembering the names aswell, I think that the fact that many of them are soo similar kinda throws you off.

Jacob Gary wrote: ""My dear young man, don't take it too hard. Your work is ingenious. It's quality work. And there are simply too many notes, that's all.""


Tracy Exactly. Loved the first 3 books. Got bogged down in the 4th with the introduction on the Iron Islands and Martels. Too many characters to keep track of. Most importantly, it takes forever to get back to the characters you actually care about. Bran, Danearys, John Snow, etc.

Tiredstars I think the large number of characters is an important part of making the books seem more realistic. My understanding of medieval history is that rulers had to keep track of an overwhelming number of powerful individuals all with their own interests. Failing to pay attention to just one of them could prove disastrous at a key time.
(That lord who held that key pass, who you knew was loyal so never paid much attention to? Well he just died and his son took over... How well do you his son...?)

Dustin Ogan One thing I usually enjoy about this is the future ability to spin off side stories and tales based on minor characters and settings. A lot of people are so hungry for more Tolkien and accounts of middle earth that they're digging through troves of unpublished works to find things to build on. I think he's doing the right thing for a fantasy series. Especially one that's already so licensed and profitable.

message 42: by Jack (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jack Conner I'm never bothered by the NUMBER of the characters. What bothers me more is that as the series goes Martin is less able to devote TIME to the new characters, time that would be helpful in fleshing them out more. The pirates, Connington, Martell, etc. are never given quite enough screen time for me to bond with them and therefore are kind of annoying: I don't care about them, so why spend time reading about them? I'd rather either lose them or else (yes) make the novels longer to accommodate more time with them.

Christie Maurer Hey, this is epic fantasy--cast of thousands. I don't expect to remember every detail about every character, but most of the time characters are named because the POV character would know them by name. Also it behooved powerful lords to remember their allies' close family members. That was one way to keep their allegience. Just because they do, doesn't mean I have to. The important ones sort themselves out in time.

message 44: by Sophie (new)

Sophie Yes, on my mind, definetly yes. While reading i was just like, *see name* * ask myself: Do i read this name before or not?* *turn pages back* *re-read*. That´s why i just read the first book and can´t convince myself to buy/borrow the second. The list at the end, helped a lot, but it wasn´t enough...
I agree with Jack, that the characters hadn´t enough time to acquaint with oneself.
(sorry for grammar etc. english isn´t my mothertounge, you can correct me if you want ^^)

Martyn Halm I have no trouble distinguishing between the characters, but A) I saw the HBO series first, so I don't need to rely on Martin's descriptions, and B) I didn't have to concentrate too much on the story line, since the HBO series doesn't deviate from the books too much.

One thing I didn't like is that the viewpoints of many characters is simply uninteresting. Especially Sansa Stark, the simpering simpleton. Catelyn Stark is also not very interesting and Eddard is simply too straight-laced. I like the Tyrion chapters best. In my view the Lannisters are simply more interesting, devious and scheming, and the Stark's righteous honorable viewpoints are just boring.

But then, I write suspense fiction from a freelance assassin's perspective, so I'm probably biased.

message 46: by Juliet (new) - added it

Juliet Evans I agree WAY too many characters,not enough faces to match the names up to.

message 47: by Selena (last edited Apr 25, 2014 01:38PM) (new) - added it

Selena Yes it does, and it really didn't help that in the last (two?) books, most of the characters weren't named so I had no idea who was narrating and no clue what was going on. Not to mention, having it geographical instead of chronological really didn't help either.

And it really, really didn't help that most of the characters' voices now sound the same and everyone seems to be doing a 180.

message 48: by Ken (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ken It's not so bad. Most of them get killed anyway.

Try reading a book where the narrator is killed by another character and replaced by him, the new narrator assuming the previous' identity all without a word. Oh, and both narrators lie straight to you, the reader. Often.

I think we often take for granted that the narrator/protagonists will be a small subset of important, infallable characters and you can trust what they say, so far as they believe it. Some authors have broken that taboo and have created real people, with real agenda. I name Gene Wolfe as one.

message 49: by [deleted user] (last edited Apr 26, 2014 04:41AM) (new)

This series is one of my all time favourites, I think although the number of characters is quite high, I do agree on the fact that they all play a part in the story, it is like putting pieces of a puzzle together in some sorts. I think that what makes this intriguing is that each chapter is from another characters perspective. Although it can get a tad confusing at times, I think with what he has done with these characters whether they are minor ones or the main characters bring the story together very well.

Shaun Pearce There are a lot of names, so many that it's tiring to take it all in when he starts rattling them off (especially the yunkai (I think) with 'zo' in the middle. However, given the scale of the series and the world he has created I can see why it's necessary.

One major problem I had was having to use wikipedia/AWOIAF to remind myself who people were and connect the dots. This lead to me accidentally finding out certain character's fates which was very annoying.

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