Book Review: A Game of Thrones

AGameofThrones

No massive spoilers ahead, though there are some indications to things that happen  but overall, it’s a very unorganized post of thoughts. Enjoy!

There’s no way in hell I would skip a review of A Game of Thrones but even when I say it, I’m pretty terrified to do so: with numerous point-of-view characters and countless of supporting characters, I still think I haven’t been able comprehend it all. And yet, A Game of Thrones is just the beginning of George R. R. Martin’s story and what a splendid read it truly is.

With A Game of Thrones being a vast pit of story lines emerging from every character and intertwining with other important characters, I’m 100% certain I won’t be able to provide a full-on content description. I’m even hesitant to mention all the characters that had point-of-view chapters, though all are important, I just found myself being more excited about Arya, Eddard, Tyrion and surprisingly, Jon. One thing I’m definitely going to discuss later is the show and how it helped me to read the book. It sounds weird and the wrong way around but man, it was a lot easier to keep track of the characters when I was able to think back to the actors. Probably because I’m a very imaginative person and like to visualize things, having the opportunity to picture Sean Bean or Richard Madden just made the book more exciting.

SUMMARY

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.

GoodReads

gotcharacters

PLOT/CHARACTERS

Before I go further, I feel like I should mention that at this moment I’m half way through the second book and I’ve been watching the third season as well; in other words, a lot of the things are really scrambled in my head so I apologize upfront if I get things wrong! I’m only human. Now, the summary of the book in GoodReads is quite awesome, to be honest, because as it puts Eddard Stark in the midst of everything, as it should, it also describes the whole book perfectly! The Stark family has indeed been split up and the troubles seem to be follow them everywhere… or should I say the Lannister’s? Most of you have probably seen the series, a lot of you hopefully have also read the book(s), so I see no reason to write about the plot per say. But what I do want to ramble about a bit, is how well the book was translated from page to screen.

In my opinion, the first season was way more by the book than I expected and since I had just re-watched it, it took me like forever to finish the book. I’m not saying the book was boring, definitely not, it’s just that the HBO series had followed the events so precisely that there weren’t many new things I could have experienced while reading A Game of Thrones. That being said, the plot still followed nicely and the absence of Eddard’s chapters in the end really translated well to the suspense (even though I knew what was coming). The other great thing was that the characters felt very similar to the actors portraying them, except, a lot of the times it was clear that the series had made the characters a lot prettier than they were described in the book. That being said, I’m happy to imagine Peter Dinklage as Tyrion instead of the hideous version George R. R. Martin had created.

As far as my poor brain can recall, Jon’s storyline was a bit different as I remembered it to be. In other words, it was much more interesting in the books than on the screen – but that could be also the fact that Jon Snow in the books felt more emotive than in the series. He was unhappy, yes, but he seemed more emotional during his chapters and therefore I actually liked his book-chapters more than his screen-time. Which overall makes me like Jon a bit more. The same effect but the other way around happened with Sansa, though I’m not a fan of hers, her chapters made me even more frustrated – she’s so naive and especially weak in the first book! But I’ve already seen some growth in the second book as well as in the series, so I’m hoping she’ll mature to somebody less annoying.

winter is coming

Arya’s chapters were by far my favorite (next to Tyrion’s) and I kept reading late at night in order to finish with her instead of Catelyn for instance. Even though I remember well everything that was going on with her in the first season, the book was still delightful with the way it presented Arya. She’s strong and has a lot of courage, but when she kept reciting Syrio’s  words it the book,  it reminded me that Arya’s still a kid – though she’s comes off more mature than Sansa. Another character that was strong despite his short comings was Tyrion, probably the most beloved one of all the characters in the A Songs of Ice and Fire series. His chapters had wit and humor, and though he was described ugly and awful to look at, his personality is most likely the best one in the whole realm. It’s his juxtaposition, as a Lannister, he’s a lord, but as a dwarf, he also understands the outcasts – plus, as he has armed himself with books, there’s quite a lot of truth in the fact that even small men can cast big shadows.

Eddard is the center of it all as he tries to understand the situation in King’s Landing. In a way, it was difficult to read his chapters because of the thing that happens in the end but I got over it. Something I’m still not over is the winter is coming thing – but I assume it’s just the frustration of the fact that it keeps coming, and we know it’s coming, but it hasn’t really arrived yet. What happens when it actually comes? (I don’t want spoilers though, I assume it has to arrive at some point and maybe it already has…). The second thing I’m still not over is Khal Drogo and his story in Daenerys’ chapters – he might be the second reason I kept putting the book aside, I just didn’t want to experience that sadness all over again. There were some changes in Khaleesi’s (I like to call Daenerys Khaleesi because Jorah does it….) chapters as well, especially the sex stuff which was really held back in the show compared to the books (oh, George) but it didn’t really bother me.

FINAL THOUGHTS

It’s hard to describe A Game of Thrones without going into detail and once you go into detail, it’s basically Wikipidia level of stuff that needs to be said. That said, as I’ve already started reading the second book, and have a lot of extra information from the third season of the TV-show, I can pretty much say that A Song of Ice and Fire gets better! It gets a lot better but I didn’t want to rate A Game of Thrones any lower than amazing because if one would pick up the book without any previous indication of what was going to happen (if that’s even possible), then they’d be amazed. Of course there are those who dislike this book/series but as I haven’t really been a fan of high fantasy novels, I can’t compare it to anything – so I love it!

PS: The writing itself flows well, I’m reading the books in English and though I’m used to it (I read most books in English), it’s better than I expected. I was surprised about this because I had picked up the Estonian version of the book and never finished it, I guess the translation felt very stiff and I couldn’t be happier that I started reading this series in its original language. Also, I’m not surprised that there is a lot of foul language but I’m now in a point (book 1 + a bit of 2) where the word c*ck is constantly ringing in my ears.

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7 thoughts on “Book Review: A Game of Thrones”

  1. Even I started the books after watching the series but I started right after the first season and now I am reading the fourth one. I agree that 1st season stays very close to the book but as you’ll read further, you will realize there is a lot that changes afterwards. Some changes for the good, some not so much. Based on whatever I have see/read by now, I can definitely say that the series is really good but personally, I like the books better.

    I just hope Martin can keep up with it. There are far too many characters introduced afterwards and it gets difficult to keep track of them, especially later in the series as all the timelines start to overlap.

    1. Indeed, the second already has some major changes and introduces characters sooner than the series has, including showing some things that the book never really reveals per say. So far I’ve been left and right with the changes.. Arya’s chapters were made a bit more interesting with Tywin.. while Bran’s was made more boring by pushing some of his story line further into the future.

      Still.. the show does a decent job! And the books are a great read!

  2. Awesome that you liked it, just wait till you get to book 3 it is mind blowing. Brienne and Jaime and Beric and The Hound’s duels were handled well in the show, but the way Martin wrote them was just breathtaking.
    Tyrion’s chapters are some of my favorites, he is so funny. Arya’s chapters are so dark, especially in the second book because of Harrenhal and all the awful stories she hears.

    And yes…Winter comes. Eventually 🙂

    1. I can’t wait to get to the third one.. I might today actually! 😉

      And Tyrion is indeed the funniest.. but I laughed when Gendry confronted Arya about her being a girl.. so there’s some light in Arya’s chapters at times but indeed, her story is so dark.

      Yay, I like winter.. but probably not the kind Martin has created. 😀

  3. I read the first three or four books (they kind of blur together after a point) before the TV series debuted, and I thought they were very well written and entertaining. I also thought they were very long, though, and taking a long time to come out. So I decided that I’d wait until Martin finishes the whole shebang before reading any more.

    1. I couldn’t wait longer.. But it takes indeed a long time, but I’ll finish the second book soon which means it took me less than a week. I can’t finish the third one though… I’m going away and I couldn’t imagine dragging that heavy book with me. 😀

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