Book One of the ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ Series
Written By: George R. R. Martin
Published By: Bantam Books
Page Count: 835
Release Date: August 1st, 1996
Fucking hell. Where do I even start with this one?
The Game of Thrones TV show is currently under a lot of fire. The fans hate it, the critics hate it, and even the original writer of the series hates it! The final season of the show is completely sick of it. Not even the people making the show seem to care anymore! How could a show this popular fall so far?
Simple. They ran out of book to adapt. And the keeper of the flame had abandoned them ages ago.
By modern standards, I’m an odd Game of Thrones fan. Honestly, I’m not much a fan of the show. I never was. But I adore the book series! They basically consumed my life in my final year of high school.
Or at least what little part of my life that was left in between school, work, social needs and Persona 5.
Plot: All the Characters Do All the Things
Jesus Christ, summarizing the plot of this book feels like climbing Super Mount Everest. Did you think normal Everest was bad? Well, Super Everest is like normal Everest squared. And also multiplied by infinity.
Game of Thrones takes place in the fantastical land of Westeros. Many years ago, the former king was usurped and slain, and now the land is ruled by Robert Baratheon. Years after the war, Robert decides to appoint a new Hand to assist him as the king: his oldest friend, Eddard Stark. However, Eddard quickly finds himself over his head, as he’s wrapped up in a political game of chess between several opposing forces, some even within the King’s court.
Meanwhile, all his family go on their own adventures. His bastard son Jon joins the Blackwatch up to the north, protecting the land from the forces beyond the great wall. His son Rob is forced to come to age and take over rule of the North in his father’s place. His two daughters struggle to adjust to life in the city with their father. His youngest son Bran struggles with his failing health after being tossed out of a tower. And his wife must deal with the emotional struggle of it all without her sons or husband.
During this mess, Tyrion Lanister, brother to the Queen, gets caught up in his own mess. He is unable to prove himself physically, like his brother Jamie, but his wits more than make up for it. And across the sea, the young Daenerys Targaryen, daughter of the former king, struggles to come into her own in an unknown land with an abusive older brother.
All of these characters go on their own journeys, and all of them weave together in a single pursuit: the Iron Throne. But who will ultimately sit upon it and rule the Seven Kingdoms? Or will the Game of Thrones only tear the land apart?
Jesus. Fucking. Christ. There is just so fucking much to talk about here! If I tried to synopsis it in any further detail, we’d be here for another two hundred pages! These books are fucking dense!
This is both a blessing and a curse. On one hand, the slow pacing allows the story to fully explore and develop each character beautifully, as well as flesh out the world they live in. On the other, it can make reading the story a slog at times, as the story can tend to drag for prolonged periods of time without anything truly interesting happening.
But oh man, if those interesting events aren’t damn good! They are incredibly interesting and emotionally engaging! I actually teared up during some of these during my first time through it!
Which was only mildly embarrassing, considering I was listening to the audio book version. And I was in public. At work. But hey, at least it wasn’t at school.
Voice: Great Detail… Perhaps Too Much Detail
George R. R. Martin cannot, in any possible way, be described as a bad writer. He is widely considered an expert in the craft. And for damn good reason! But there are times where everything that makes his work so great also prove to be its greatest downfall.
The story has an unparalleled ability to paint a clear picture. His description of each character, from how they look to how they feel, is nigh flawless. Each and every setting comes to life! Every page, even in the lower moments of the story, is absolutely immersive. Good fantasy should suck you into the world. And this book does so masterfully!
Especially so during the… let’s call them less than appropriate scenes. Oh hell, let’s cut the crap, it’s erotica. There are several points in the plot in which it turns into straight up pornography. Now, this isn’t necessarily a problem. Write what you want! If the story itself is good, I don’t care that there is an occasional bit of sex here and there!
But when said erotica is focused on a thirty-something year old warlord fingering a girl in her early teens? No. I want no part of that. Please get that out of my life and never bring it back.
AND I DON’T FUCKING CARE IF IT’S ‘APPROPRIATE FOR THE TIME PERIOD’!! IT’S FUCKED UP AND UNCOMFORTABLE AS HELL!! END OF STORY!!
Physical Quality: Thick With Four Cs
This book is much like a fist-sized block of osmium. In other words: this is the most dense fucking book I have reviewed on this blog thus far. “Well, of course it is Jonah!” I hear you saying. “It’s over eight hundred pages!” No. If it were just that, it would be a thick book. This is a dense book.
How? Simple. The font size of the text is very small. Every page has enough text to fill 1/3-1/2 of one of these essays. Maybe even a full essay, considering the difference in text size.
I think you’ll be able to forgive me for not sitting there and counting each word to get an exact number.
Production wise, this book is pretty solid. The pages are thin, but solid. Each change in chapter is marked by a nice graphic that is quite visually appealing. While the text is very small, it isn’t ever physically straining to read the thing.
All in all? A very solid package.
Do I have problems with this book? Yes. It certainly can be a drag at times, and incredibly uncomfortable at others. But when the highs do come, they are some of the greatest in any fantasy story.
Still, recommending this book is challenging. If you’re a fan of the TV show, I’d certainly recommend giving it a shot. If you don’t mind some uncomfortable adult fantasy, this is a great pick for you. But if you have a weak stomach and can’t handle that kind of thing, then I’d advise you simply give it a pass.
Especially if you’re only here for the dragons. Because you won’t get them for a while.