Book Review: Game of Thrones

I finally got around to reading George R. R. Martin’s “Game of Thrones.” It’s a classic fantasy book with battles, intrigue, and fantastical creatures. When I first heard of the series, my original impression was that it was just a simple medieval setting without any fantasy creatures. I don’t know why I had that impression, but I did. As it turns out, I was completely wrong: It’s got the medieval armies and the fantasy creatures. Specifically, just in book one, it has direwolves, wights, and dragons. It also mentions a few other critters that may rear their heads in later books.

The story is complex and convoluted. There are quite a large number of point-of-view characters: Eddard, Catelyn, Tyrion, Danerys, Sansa, Arya, Jon, and Bran (I think that’s all). Things start out simply enough with most of the action taking place in the northern citadel of Winterfell. Soon enough, however, the storyline fractures. Eddard Stark is appointed the King’s Hand. As a result, one group of people goes south to King’s Landing, another group stays at Winterfell, and Jon Snow (Eddard’s bastard son) heads even further north to the Wall. There is also the building side storyline involving Danerys who, I think, is on an entirely different continent not shown on the book maps. I assume she’ll be crossing the water soon enough, but on the whole, it makes it difficult to follow the plot … not the major thrust: the assassination attempt on Bran and Catelyn’s investigation into such and Eddard’s intrigues at court. That went well enough, but the problem was the whole horde of characters in this book. There’s probably five or six or more characters for each point-of-view character, so very soon, the sheer numbers of such become unmanageable.

Also, this book should come with an adult warning. There’s incest, teen sex, and a six-year-old boy who still breastfeeds just to name a few eyebrow raisers. I also read somewhere that things go very poorly for the Starks in later books, which is a shame, because those are the characters I liked the most … particularly Jon Snow. Because of that, I probably will not read any further in the series. I read the first book and overall I’d say my reaction was lukewarm. It wasn’t bad; it was decent, but the eyebrow raisers listed above and the fact I was forewarned about a number of Starks dying does not inspire me to read more.

Strengths: I liked the direwolves and dragons, and the Night’s Watch. The writing was decent and the main characters were likeable enough. Weaknesses: there were too many characters, too many things done simply for shock-value, and for some reason or other, I never fully sank into the book. Sometimes, it was almost a chore to read.

Ultimately, I’ll give “Game of Thrones” by George R. R. Martin three stars out of five.

This review was originally published on Goodreads on 6/27/13.

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About atoasttodragons

The author, Matthew D. Ryan, lives in northern New York on the shores of Lake Champlain, one of the largest lakes in the continental United States, famous for the Battle of Plattsburgh and the ever-elusive Lake Champlain Monster, a beastie more commonly referred to as Champy. Matthew has studied philosophy, mathematics, and computer science in the academic world. He has earned a black belt in martial arts.

4 responses to “Book Review: Game of Thrones”

  1. Sam says :

    I can’t say I was terribly impressed, either. I liked Jon Snow (who does all right in the later books, I believe? I only read through the second one.), and Arya wasn’t bad, but the writing didn’t thrill me and the story was just too convoluted for my tastes. Too many threads, too much fluff, and too many carbon copy characters who differed only in name.

    So glad I’m not the only one who couldn’t sink into the book. I heard so many good things about it… guess it just wasn’t for me.

    Out of curiosity: what did you think of Tyrion and Dany?

  2. Megan says :

    I was wondering if you ever read the books or watch the HBO series because of your blog title. I haven’t read the books, and don’t intend to because I have other books to read. Besides, I find the show gripping and entertaining enough to enjoy Martin’s creation. But it is true that there are a lot of likable characters who die, and it is devastating. But there are the deaths of the unlikable ones that are enough to look forward to, plus to see who finally wins the game and gets the Iron Throne.

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