Wednesday 13 November 2013

A Game of Thrones - George R. R Martin (A Song of Ice and Fire #1)

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.
(Source: Goodreads)
I will admit I am slow on the uptake for this series but better late than never, right? The hype around the TV certainly made me very curious about the series and so I decided to read it before actually watching it.
A Game of Thrones is definitely a long read. It took me probably a month or two from the day I bought it to finish. It's not that it was boring or anything, just that I needed time to actually sit down and focus. For a novel that big there were a lot of complexities that does require some thinking. Initially I was pretty confused with all the similar names of previous Kings and the structure of the kingdom but that didn't affect my reading, much. In fact afterwards it really didn't matter whose name was who, so long as you understood the main plot line.
The novel is written through the point of view of different characters. Each chapter is titled by the name of the character telling the story. The Stark family plays a central role but there are also appearances of Daenrys, the last living heir of the previous regime and Tyrion Lannister who's sister is Queen of the Kingdom. There's never a moment missed though, so I'm not too bothered by the constant voice changes. Although I do feel like there were some minor voices that weren't necessary.
The character themselves could probably be split into two categories - those that I like and those that I don't. I don't even think there's a middle ground. They all certainly left an impression good or bad but I found some of them pretty cliche. For example, the two sisters being total opposites, one a "girly" girl and the other a tomboy. The characters that I probably like the most are Daenerys and Jon for reasons that would probably spoil the novel so moving on.
What I enjoyed was that the novel delivered a typical story of a fight for the throne in a more intriguing and dark way. There's a lot more controversy surrounding the throne and who is the rightful heir. Things that aren't morally right but happen anyways. Furthermore Martin's creativeness is to be applauded for producing a unique setting and the different tribes and families that contribute to the story. Daenerys becomes part of a tribe - the Dothraki, house warriors. Their culture is both fascinating and repulsive. I know a lot of people think Martin probably went too far but there are cultures that exist, with practices that are beyond what we think is morally right. I could see their humanity through Khal Drogo though.
The repulsive in their practices along with a lot of nudity and sexual intimacies are some things I would've liked to be reduced. I'm not a prude and I have heard things are worse in the TV show, but at the same I felt like the story could've done without some of those things. Amongst those are also reoccurrence of misogyny, which I did overlook because the world is pretty much a patriarchy. Still, Martin does try to embody power in most of the major female characters - Ayra, Daenerys, Catelyn and Cersei - which I appreciate.
The ending definitely grabbed my interest and has spurred me on to read the next book. If you have an interest in fantasy, history and adventure do give A Game of Thrones a try. It's different from what I have read and gripping enough to continue on with the rest of the series. I do hope that with the length and amount of books following this, there are a lot more character developments. Just a warning, this isn't really suitable for younger readers considering the content it contains.
Rating: 3.5/5

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