Book Reviews: A Game of Thrones and A Clash of Kings

A Game of Thrones (Song of Ice & Fire, #1)A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Mar­tin
My rat­ing: 5 of 5 stars

I final­ly got around to read­ing A Game of Thrones, despite the fact that the series still wasn’t fin­ished when I start­ed, because the tele­vi­sion series was start­ing. Sam real­ly want­ed to watch it, and I didn’t want to see it with­out hav­ing read the book, so I gave in and start­ed read­ing.

Sam had repeat­ed­ly warned me that it was real­ly dark, and indeed it is. I think he said that there are no whol­ly good char­ac­ters. So far, at least, that isn’t quite true. It may be some­thing that becomes more accu­rate as the oth­er vol­umes unfold. There are cer­tain­ly no sim­ple char­ac­ters, or plots—but then, I remem­ber enough of Martin’s ear­li­er work (on the Wild Cards series and such) that I wouldn’t expect any­thing else. Peo­ple aren’t sim­ple, or pure­ly black and white, so why would char­ac­ters in good fic­tion be that way?

The best way I’ve found to maybe tell pro­tag­o­nists from antag­o­nists so far is to use the chap­ter names as guides: the peo­ple whose names are used as chap­ter names are either pro­tag­o­nists or sur­vivors. I’m not sure which. Cate­lyn and Tyri­on are the only peo­ple from the “old­er” gen­er­a­tion who have chap­ter names. No, wait—I just thought of some­one who kills my the­o­ry. I can’t say because that would be a spoil­er.

I did find sev­er­al inci­dents in this first book dis­turb­ing. I don’t like it when bad things hap­pen to chil­dren or ani­mals. Cer­sei would be a fun char­ac­ter to play, although I sup­pose she’ll get her come­up­pance at some point (or I hope she will). I’ve tried think­ing of her as a woman pro­tect­ing her chil­dren, but that’s not help­ing.

If you’re eas­i­ly dis­turbed, don’t read the book (or watch the tele­vi­sion series, appar­ent­ly). Just — don’t. You won’t be hap­py with the open­ing scene, and it sets the tone for the rest of the book. But if vio­lent war and polit­i­cal schem­ing, incest as a dynas­tic strat­e­gy, and very occa­sion­al creepy super­nat­ur­al hap­pen­ings are okay with you, it’s a very well-writ­ten book.

A Clash of Kings (A Song of Ice and Fire, #2)A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Mar­tin
My rat­ing: 5 of 5 stars

The end of A Clash of Kings snuck up on me. That’s some­thing I hadn’t real­ly thought about before, espe­cial­ly with an 874 page mon­ster like this, but it can hap­pen with an ebook. I’m read­ing along, eager to know what hap­pens next. The chap­ter ends, I go to the next page, and — Appen­dix? What do you mean, Appen­dix! That’s non­sense, there’s got to be more sto­ry here than that! I want to know what comes next, dammit! GIVE ME THE STORY!

As it hap­pens, I can start read­ing A Storm of Swords when­ev­er I like, unlike all those poor folk who read this book when it was first released. I think I might need to stop and read a few oth­er books first, though. I did read yesterday’s big announce­ment regard­ing A Dance with Drag­ons, but there’s no way I can stretch the next two vol­umes out to last through more than two months until book five actu­al­ly comes out. I’m sure the delay will be worth it, though!

One thing Sam and I have dis­cussed is Martin’s mar­velous sub­tle­ty with mag­ic. It’s only bare­ly there at all through­out A Game of Thrones, and can eas­i­ly be dis­missed by any­one who doesn’t have direct expe­ri­ence of it. It grows stronger in A Clash of Kings, but it is still some­thing that just about any­one in the Sev­en King­doms would say belongs in tales for chil­dren. Not rely­ing on mag­ic for plot takes more dis­ci­pline as an author, and hold­ing back as he is says a great deal about Martin’s care­ful pace.

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Cat & Dolphins!


This is just too cute for words.

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