Even Stevens’s #CBR4 review #9: Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
I feel like I might be the last person on Earth to read these books. I hadn’t even heard of the series prior to the television series being developed (I know, bad nerd!). After that, I resisted getting into it because it didn’t seem like my cup of tea and I didn’t want to be the one person who did not get the appeal of the hugely popular book and TV trend (::cough:: Girl With the Dragon Tattoo ::cough::). Thankfully, I found this book very satisfying and am excited to get into the rest of the books.
Now, I’ll admit that I cheated a bit here and watched the TV show first. Normally I don’t do that, but I was aware that that were approximately 800 characters in play and I do a lot better remembering names when I can put a face to them. So I read this book after watching the first season of the show, and I was impressed at how faithful the show was to the source material. In fact, that might be my only complaint here – the show was so detailed, it made it hard to get through the book because not much was left out. That’s my own fault, of course, and a very small complaint.
For those who are not familiar with this series, it is set in the fictional land of Westeros. Several years prior to the first book, there had been an uprising againt the “Mad King” and Robert Baratheon, with the aid of Ned Stark and many others, took over as King. There is much discontent throughout the land and many individuals and families conspire to further their own agendas, some even plotting to take the crown. I know that’s a very general description, but this book is dense and packed with characters and plots that would take pages just to describe.
What I love most about this book is the characterization. Fantasy is not always my genre, but this is a very grounded fantasy story and the characters shine more than anything. Martin develops clear and distinct voices for each of his characters, alternating voices each chapter, and really when you think about how many characters there are, that is quite a remarkable thing. He’s also good at getting to the core of human behavior – greed, lust, ambition, honor, naivete, innocence, it’s all there. He’s very deft at weaving these things naturally into the story, and it only strengthens a very interesting and compelling narrative.
Martin wraps up a few storylines while setting up several more for future books. This was a lengthy book (clocking in at 675 pages), but totally engrossing and one of the best stories with the strongest characters I’ve read in quite a long time. I will be diving into the next volumes very soon.