Author: George R.R. Martin
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
With all the hype surrounding the Game of Thrones series thanks to the HBO television show, I decided to take a look into it myself. I have seen none of the televised version and quite honestly knew only that it was of the sci-fi/fantasy genre as far as the books were concerned.
I started this series with a blank slate on the author and the subject matter. Truly my favorite way to begin any book is as if it were a secret written for your eyes only. Although surprised by the shear length of each volume, I enjoyed this series whole-heartedly. It’s not often that I come across a fantasy set that piques my attention for so long. If the author has me thinking about the characters even when I’m not reading the book, they’ve done a fantastic job.
Speaking of characters, there are many and more throughout the Game of Thrones epic. Martin tells each chapter from a different character’s perspective, giving you an insight to many plots and ploys and often revealing the truth of the person that lies within. There are so many characters that I love and others that I love to hate and then there are just a few that I find vexing beyond comprehension.
One particular thing I appreciate is how each of the characters in this series has evolved. They have grown into actual people, developing depth and nature. I believe it is a beautiful process when an author can paint a character so vividly in the mind’s eye that they become simply human. There is something elementary to how the reader then relates to characters that could be themselves.
Aside from the writing side of it, the logistics of keeping up with a handful of characters like this is mind-blowing to me. Just to think of all of the backstory, the house standards, the histories, the timing of the events, the placement of the people, the customs, and on and on….how did (and does) he keep up with it? There are several vines of plots that twist throughout yet he is able to keep them just intertwined but not to the point where they completely cut one another off. I think I would have to take a whole wall in my house and map everything out to do something of this magnitude, and even then I don’t think I could succeed. I find the ability to keep such a log correct and straight admirable.
Another aspect I want to hit on for these books is the level of detail. Now I’m not a huge fan of giving away too much; I like it when authors give hints of the outlining of the character and let the reader fill in the rest. Martin gives no room for such imagining by the reader. Everything down to the eye color is pinpointed. Every inn, every alley, every meal (oh, so many meals!), every clothing piece, etc. was described in depth. Some great visualizations, some too much in terms of unnecessary description. For this series I feel like an exception could be made for the extreme level of detail as his descriptions make up a lot of the book. The descriptions help to give the contrasts between the peoples, countries, and customs which are very important for this particular series due to the complexities of the plots.
The only major complaint I have is on the amount of sexual content that can be found in the text. I understand the need to have some scenes of that nature within a book to develop relationships and characters; but, I think Martin has a little excess in the series. For me, some sections were to the point where I felt like the exhibit was there just for the shock factor. The same kind of writing would be used in some of the violent sections as well. Shocking a reader to keep them engaged is a little on the deceitful side. To me it’s like: “Hey, I don’t have anything to put here, so let’s put in a shocking sex scene to prove character A’s aggression instead of finding an alternative scenario and get me from point A to B without the reader noticing.” Perhaps it’s just me and I’m a little old fashioned on those thoughts, but many a good books have been written without a shock factor.
Overall, I found this series to be exciting, intriguing, and complex. I’m am certainly looking forward to the next one (or two), so get writing George! If you’re a fan of the fantasy/adventure genre with a good amount of revenge and tactic, you’ll enjoy this one, too.