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A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, #1)
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Buddy Reads > A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire Book 1) (September/October 2019)

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Susan | 9815 comments Mod
Welcome to our Sept/Oct Buddy Read - the first volume in A Game of Thrones.

Summers span decades. Winter can last a lifetime. And the struggle for the Iron Throne has begun.

As Warden of the north, Lord Eddard Stark counts it a curse when King Robert bestows on him the office of the Hand. His honour weighs him down at court where a true man does what he will, not what he must … and a dead enemy is a thing of beauty.

The old gods have no power in the south, Stark’s family is split and there is treachery at court. Worse, the vengeance-mad heir of the deposed Dragon King has grown to maturity in exile in the Free Cities. He claims the Iron Throne.

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Nigeyb | 9336 comments Mod
This discussion is now open.

Roman Clodia | 4865 comments Mod
I'm very interested to see what people make of this one. Mr RC is utterly obsessed with all things GoT and after losing a bet, my forfeit was to read this!

I liked the story but found Martin a long-winded and sometimes laborious writer - not all the PoV characters are of equal weight and I found myself starting to skip (Bran, Arya).

Susan | 9815 comments Mod
I have NEARLY finished this, but it has been a bit of a slog. I haven't seen the TV version, so the book is my introduction to it. I can't say I liked the Starks much - they all seemed a bit dim and, from the moment they ventured from their Northern home, it was pretty obvious it was all going to go disastrously wrong.

Also, characters more than a little stereotypical. Tomboy daughter, girly daughter, brave son who is illegitimate, the 'wild man,' who terrifies his young wife, but ends up being tender, etc. I liked Tyrion...

Pages | 112 comments I’m nearly at the end.... but as the book doesn’t have chapters- I can’t quite tell 😃
Yes - it has been a bit of a slog which is unfortunate as I was really looking forward to it.
Will post my thoughts when I finish the book in next few days 😬

Pages | 112 comments The book doesn’t have chapter numbers I meant and I’m finding that really disorienting

Susan | 9815 comments Mod
I am listening to it on Audible and it has 73 'chapters,' but they are just linked to the narrator.

Although fantasy is out of my comfort zone, I have enjoyed books in this genre before. I read one set in the Middle East and I really loved it (wish I could remember what it was, as I think it had a sequel!) and I adored LOTR's.

I just don't really care about the Stark's at all. If they all got killed off, I might be more interested. I am slightly intrigued about what happens to Tyrion.

Susan | 9815 comments Mod
I finally remembered the fantasy book I liked, set in the Middle East: Alif the Unseen Alif the Unseen by G. Willow Wilson

I also came across two others, while searching, which looked good:
The Golem and the Djinni and The City of Brass

I feel that, as GOT's is such a popular series, I have missed something. I really just thought the writing/characters were very pedestrian and one dimensional...

Roman Clodia | 4865 comments Mod
I agree about the schematic characters and also commented on them a bit groaningly in my review (here: but I did find it hugely ambitious in creating this vast world with its own history.

I even started vol 2 but it was so slow and so much filler that I abandoned it about halfway through:

If the books weren't so bloated and self-indulgent I might have got on better. And I agree about the pedestrian writing, Susan.

Susan | 9815 comments Mod
Interesting we both gave it three stars, RC. I utterly agree about the pedestrian writing. I have a horrible feeling he attended a creative writing workshop and felt the need to throw in every adjective he could think of...

Tolkien, in my opinion, did a much better job of creating a realistic world, with depth and, even culture. The one, creative aspect, in this world was weather which lasted for years and some dead people who seemed to sometimes wander around and who caused consternation before being forgotten.

LIked your review of Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland by the way - on my TBR list.

Roman Clodia | 4865 comments Mod
Yes, I love LOTR too - so we both have the capacity to enjoy fantasy if it's done 'right' for us.

Say Nothing is a must-read - I'm having a bit of a non-fiction moment which is unusual for me: Unbelievable is probably next from NetGalley.

Pages | 112 comments Finally! I finished. I’m the one who requested this as a Buddy Read so I’m sorry I did not finish it in time for when the thread opened.
I’m just glad I finished it. It’s been a real slog. I’m disappointed that I did not enjoy reading it. I can’t tell if watching the tv series ruined the book for me…

GRR Martin has written five books in the series so far and the tv show used the books as a base for five seasons but the last three seasons they asked him for broad strokes but mostly finished the tv series themselves. I think GRR Martin has got distracted and who knows when he will publish the last two books. He has written several prequels/side stories and a whole history of the Targaryen’s and still not finished book six.
He is off consulting on the new TV shows that will use his history and backstories to the Song of Ice and Fire.
I’m giving Game of Thrones 3/5.
The third star is for world building. I really admire writers when they create worlds with so much history and depth and maps. I love that.
He has created a believable world and I think his best descriptions in the book were of the Eyrie. I thought that was fascinating.

Other than that- I found the book ‘’too much’’. I read the first few chapters easily but really struggled to get to the middle and the last half has been very difficult to want to read.

It’s not written badly but I can see why I don’t read much fantasy or even medieval historical novels. but because I was such a fan of the show, I really wanted to give the books a try.
It’s too slow. It picked up in the last few chapters. I think it was a shame not to show Eddard’s POV before he was beheaded. That really packed up a punch in the tv show and got lost for me in the book.
The TV show also aged up the characters which was good.
The Dany chapters were probably the most interesting to read. I thought the Arya and Sansa relationship was good. They both are so young and you get annoyed at Sansa but she is 12/13? Too young for what is going on.

The book didn’t have chapter numbers which I found really disorientating.
The book had too many characters and too much detail for me.
I liked the world building yes, but he didn’t have to mention every single name…
I think he was already a published writer and known in the industry when he wrote this so perhaps that’s why the editor let him keep the size of the book.
I might one day listen to the abridged versions of all the books when he finishes them.
I don’t think I will be picking up the second one any time soon- but maybe one day.

Susan | 9815 comments Mod
Interesting that three of us having given it three stars. I didn't really feel the world created was that believable, or detailed enough. The detail, when given, was then given again, and again. However, the world never really came alive for me.

My major issue, though, was that the characters were just too stereotypical. Sansa, Arya and Dany were all young, but it all just seemed too pat.

I'm glad I read it though - I've heard so much about it, so at least now I know what people are talking about!

Susan | 9815 comments Mod
For such a long book, this has not caused much discussion, has it? Is anyone still reading?

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Jan C (woeisme) | 1177 comments I never started. I wasn't interested in the series either.

Susan | 9815 comments Mod
Obviously many people are. I can't help feeling somewhat disappointed in this. I expected more from such a popular series!

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Nigeyb | 9336 comments Mod
I didn't know the book was popular and assumed any popularity stemmed from the TV series (which I've never watched). Looks like a load of old tosh to me but I'm sure it must have some merits.

message 19: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb | 9336 comments Mod
Then again, I'm not a fan of fantasy and didn't even like Lord of the Rings much - so pay no heed to my ill informed (and slighty tired and grumpy) comments!

Roman Clodia | 4865 comments Mod
I'm also not a fantasy fan though love LOTR and the Temeraire series (talking dragons in the Napoleonic wars!). I think the thing about GoT is that it's all so long-drawn out and slow. This first volume is like just a prologue and chapter 1 to a much bigger story - but at 800-900 pages, it's very self-indulgent.

I agree with Susan, GRRM is no prose stylist and his characterization can be paper-thin, relying on established stereotypes.

Where I think he does well is in world-building, though it's a bit limited in this first book. I read 60% of book 2 before abandoning it and wrote this in my review: "I like the way GRRM has synthesized so much history/historical cultures: the Anglo-Saxon warrior North, the Viking-alike Iron Islands, the high medieval King's Landing with its veneer of chivalry, the Dothraki taking their cues from Genghis Khan and the Mongols, even the quasi-Amazon warrior-maid Brienne akin to Britomart and others in Renaissance chivalric romance ... But there's SO MUCH filler!"

Book 2 for example portrays a religious clash between two theocratic systems of old and new gods that is akin to that between Christianity and paganism. Interesting story and loaded with potential but it all gets lost in the endless switching between characters who wander aimlessly for hundreds of pages.

So I can see why people obsess about these books, and he's not afraid to kill off main characters to keep readers on their toes - but fewer unnecessary pages and a bit more sophistication might have sold it better to me.

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Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 4523 comments Mod
I don't tend to like fantasy either and wasn't a fan of the TV series (I watched the first season, urged on by my son) so I wasn't desperately keen to try this one.

Pages | 112 comments Yes too much and too slow. I know he introduces more points of view in later books and that could work if it was shorter.
I’m not against different points of view but in this book it was too heavy to want to read- personally.

The book series has a tonne fans. Clearly I’m not going to be one of them.
It was easy to read and yes I liked the world building but it didn’t make me want to read on but again I can’t tell if a part of that is because I’ve seen the tv show.

The book also will introduce other main characters that didn’t make it into the tv series but as I said previously - the show runners made good decisions on who to include or keep out. They also merged some story lines which also makes sense.

After having read the first book I think the show runners didn’t get enough credit. They did a good job adapting it for tv.

message 23: by Jan C (new)

Jan C (woeisme) | 1177 comments Also not a fantasy fan.

Susan | 9815 comments Mod
I couldn't get through half of the first episode of GOT's, I thought it was dreadful rubbish, to be honest. The book, frankly, was no better, but there you are. At least I can say I've read it and so can say why I thought so!

I like the sound of RC's dragons :)

message 25: by Pam (last edited Sep 23, 2019 09:46PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Pam (bluegrasspam) | 97 comments I read the whole series several years ago. I think that was all I read that year! I enjoyed the series but thought Martin tried to do too much with too many characters. My favorite character was Tyrion, even though he was a real jerk in the beginning. Unfortunately, Martin is pulling a Stephen King (recalling the Dark Tower series) and taking way too long to finish the series. I’ve already lost interest!

Susan | 9815 comments Mod
Interesting, Pam. I would agree that Tyrion was my favourite (the only character I found in any way interesting, to be honest).

message 27: by Pam (new) - rated it 5 stars

Pam (bluegrasspam) | 97 comments Susan wrote: "Interesting, Pam. I would agree that Tyrion was my favourite (the only character I found in any way interesting, to be honest)."

Susan - Tyrion was absolutely the most interesting character! I read the books seven years ago, before I was on GR so I didn't write reviews. I can't remember the storylines from each of the books. Most of what I remember is from watching the TV series! I am disappointed that Martin is too busy with other projects to finish the series. 7+ years is just too long to have to wait for the next book. I think I am done with long fantasy series!

My point about the number of characters has more to do with future books. From my recollection, the first one was easy to follow. After that, he kept adding more families and so many minor characters (and the history of the families) that they were hard to keep track of.

Susan | 9815 comments Mod
I don' think I will be reading on, Pam. I loved LOTR's but I was surprised this is so popular. I didn't think either the book, or TV show, was good. I loathed the Starks - I would have happily dumped them all in a dungeon and imprisoned the whole, boring, annoying family!

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

Pam (bluegrasspam) | 97 comments Susan wrote: "I don' think I will be reading on, Pam. I loved LOTR's but I was surprised this is so popular. I didn't think either the book, or TV show, was good. I loathed the Starks - I would have happily dump..."

That's funny! The other character I remember liking was Jon Snow. Definitely don't finish it then. They are so long to start with. I think what kept me going was the political intrigue and the idea of the dragons and how they would fit into the story. And, finding out which major character would be killed off in the next book!

I am planning on reading LOTR soon. I finally read the Hobbit last year. I have also been meaning to read The Gormenghast Trilogy for years now. I'm not really a big fantasy reader but these are two series I have always wanted to read.

Susan | 9815 comments Mod
I tried Gormenghast and couldn't keep going, but it is a series I would like to read... So tempted to suggest a buddy read!

message 31: by Val (last edited Sep 24, 2019 02:31AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Val | 1710 comments I agree with much of what has been said so far about it being over-long and self-indulgent, and about the stereotypical characters. We got more detail about people's armour and sigils than we did about their character and, if the author was going to repeat the family mottos so often, he could have come up with some more meaningful ones.
There is plenty going on in the book and I could imagine the world all the intrigues and battles were taking place in (apart from spending a long time wondering how G.R.R. Martin defines or measures a year), so I can see why it might be popular.
I have not seen any of the television series.

Susan | 9815 comments Mod
I couldn't work out why, if the first book was meant to be set in summer, why there was so much snow? What is winter like, in that case? Not that I care, to be honest...

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