I don’t know how long ago it was that I actually bought this book. It wasn’t even for me – I gave it to my sister for her birthday, but she really enjoyed it, and then caught up on the rest of the series. It’s one of very few book series that she’s read that I haven’t. I have a tendency to read everything she owns, so it’s rare that she’d have such a massive series (and one with so many theories! So many plot intrigues!) that I had never even touched. For years it was on my to-do list, but the idea of starting A Song of Ice and Fire was somewhat intimidating. Not because they were chunky books – I have no issues with chunky books, after all – but because I was afraid I might not like them as much as Sinéad did. Or they might be deathly boring, and I hate to leave things unfinished, and undertaking the entire series is quite a feat. And then there was my biggest fear – that GRRM will die before he finishes the series and we’ll forever be left wondering how it would have ended.
For all of these reasons A Game of Thrones was a book which intimidated me, so I put it off for a long time. I know that I gave it to Sinéad for a birthday, but I don’t know which – her nineteenth, possibly, so it was probably four years ago. Either way, it was a while ago, and A Song of Ice and Fire has been looming at the top of my TBR for that entire time, but I kept putting it off.
The only thing which made me decide to read it now is that I needed to fulfil one of the criteria for my Modern Mrs Darcy challenge. So that’s what this is. A book which intimidates me.
In other news, the version of this that I bought for my sister was the television tie-in cover, a fact which has irritated her for years. It means that she doesn’t have a matched set, and I can totally understand and agree with her frustration over that fact.
But I don’t actually know what the usual UK cover for this book is. The default on GoodReads isn’t one that I recognise (the orange one), obviously it’s not meant to be the tv cover (with Sean Bean), and both the blue sword and the gold dragon head (??) look familiar to me. I’m confused by this. Someone please help me out. I think it’s the sand-c0loured cover that’s part of the real set?
NOW THE ACCLAIMED HBO SERIES GAME OF THRONES
From a master of contemporary fantasy comes the first novel of a landmark series unlike any you’ve ever read before. With A Game of Thrones, George R. R. Martin has launched a genuine masterpiece, bringing together the best the genre has to offer. Mystery, intrigue, romance, and adventure fill the pages of this magnificent saga, the first volume in an epic series sure to delight fantasy fans everywhere.
A GAME OF THRONES
A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE: BOOK ONE
Long ago, in a time forgotten, a preternatural event threw the seasons out of balance. In a land where summers can last decades and winters a lifetime, trouble is brewing. The cold is returning, and in the frozen wastes to the north of Winterfell, sinister forces are massing beyond the kingdom’s protective Wall. To the south, the king’s powers are failing—his most trusted adviser dead under mysterious circumstances and his enemies emerging from the shadows of the throne. At the center of the conflict lie the Starks of Winterfell, a family as harsh and unyielding as the frozen land they were born to. Now Lord Eddard Stark is reluctantly summoned to serve as the king’s new Hand, an appointment that threatens to sunder not only his family but the kingdom itself.
Sweeping from a harsh land of cold to a summertime kingdom of epicurean plenty, A Game of Thrones tells a tale of lords and ladies, soldiers and sorcerers, assassins and bastards, who come together in a time of grim omens. Here an enigmatic band of warriors bear swords of no human metal; a tribe of fierce wildlings carry men off into madness; a cruel young dragon prince barters his sister to win back his throne; a child is lost in the twilight between life and death; and a determined woman undertakes a treacherous journey to protect all she holds dear. Amid plots and counter-plots, tragedy and betrayal, victory and terror, allies and enemies, the fate of the Starks hangs perilously in the balance, as each side endeavors to win that deadliest of conflicts: the game of thrones.
Unparalleled in scope and execution, A Game of Thrones is one of those rare reading experiences that catch you up from the opening pages, won’t let you go until the end, and leave you yearning for more.
So the blurb for this book is really warm and full of praise for Martin and his sweeping epic tale of kings and knights, Lords and Ladies, and seasons that last for years. It was also, I think, the most-rated book on my GoodReads, almost all of which were extremely high. It all came together for me to have very high expectations of this book.
They weren’t really fulfilled. A Game of Thrones was alright. It was even pretty good. It just wasn’t the amazingness that I had built it up to be in my head.
Eight separate perspective characters made for a lot of chopping and changing between stories, and with a cast as huge as there is in this book, it took me a very long time to get my head around who was who. Lots of the characters I downright just didn’t like (Sansa, ugh) and was almost skipping their chapters to get back to the people I did like. Plus, I know that my sister hates Dany, so I was reading her chapters with an almost anticipatory hatred, even though she did nothing to deserve that.
This book was long. And even, dare I say it, somewhat overblown. There was a lot of description in it, and while most of it was enjoyable, sometimes it seemed to be going on for far too long.
I had a lot of issues with the sexualisation of children in this book, the casual sexism, the weird obsession with Dany’s breasts – but not huge ones. Not enough to make me actively dislike the book, I just didn’t love it.
In general, I like fantasy books. I like quests and adventures and darkness and gritty realism, and there were lots of things I did like in A Game of Thrones. I’m not sure, however, that this will rocket its way up to become one of my all-time favourites.
I will, however, work my way through the rest of the series. But I’m not in any rush. I’m not slavering for more of ASoIaF, and I think that, really, is the most clear indication of my attitude towards it. It was good, but I just didn’t love it.