It’s official! I’m caught up with A Song of Ice and Fire – aka, the Game of Thrones series.
Regardless of how good a Game of Thrones book is, when I get to the end I can’t help but give a huge sigh of relief and say, “Thank the Seven that’s over.”
But first, let me back up. I bought the first book in this series in an airport bookstore because I thoughtlessly hadn’t charged my NOOK and I was desperate. I had heard everyone gushing over the HBO series but hadn’t heard any details so I thought it would be a good time to get started on the book. I think I was right. I managed to jump on the bandwagon before any of the secrets were revealed to me either through word of mouth or the show – and I’m glad. This book has a LOT of plot twists. Martin is a master at doing the unexpected. In this first book I even got used to expecting the unexpected and he STILL surprised me.
Let’s face it – just read Martin’s Good Reads bio and you’ll get an idea of the man. From what I can tell he lives and breathes fantasy and it shows. He’s got the whole universe in his head and is able to move character to character flawlessly. You definitely don’t feel like you’re missing out on any part of the story – and it’s a good story at that. Martin melds together realistic middle-earth situations with the supernatural to make a very unique epic.
That being said, I still think it has its flaws. Maybe it’s just because it’s still new and doesn’t have the long backing like LOTR has but I find the majority of Martin’s characters one-dimensional. Maybe that’s not fair – how about just predictable? I think that’s the downfall of having so many perspectives, it’s impossible to make ALL of them dynamic. It’s also long-winded – while I can’t say I ever lost interest in the story I did sometimes feel like I wasn’t getting anywhere. I think that really goes back to Martin’s thoroughness of the world – sometimes you can’t separate out what is essential and what is just cool.
Reading the first book in this series makes you want to jump into the second book head first.
Be careful, though. The second book is where you start to realize how “epic” this series will become. Book two is just like book one – a lot of exposition intermingled with some adventure. It’s as though you unwittingly made a blood oath with Martin. By cracking open book two you told him, “Yes, Sir, I want to know everything and more about this world you have created. Lay it on me.”
And, let me tell you, Martin is not a shy man on the page. Not about his stories and definitely not about his eagle-eye focus on any and all private parts waggling or bowels fouling or what-have-you. Seriously. If it’s not a whore baring her nether regions then it’s someone messing their pants in fright. Or anger. Or self-loathing. Or just because they have to go, I don’t know, Martin obviously gets his jollies from exposing people in the name of “reality” (in a fake universe, of course.)
If you make it through book two, then book three is well worth the effort. Book three is where the magic happens. That’s where all the painstaking exposition of book two that you scraped through comes to light (unfortunately, due to the length of the books you might not remember half that exposition, but never you mind that little piece). Book three brings to light Martin’s showmanship and his ability to make all the ladies gasp, “No!”
If you’re weak of heart and stomach, and/or if you’re really enjoying the HBO series, it might behoove you to just stop at book three. Seriously. If there is a weak link in the series for me, it’s book four. For me, it’s obvious that when writing this book Martin had already had his fan base. His editors are either terrified of him or they’re lazy. Either way, they don’t even try to cut down the mumbo-jumbo that is book four. Add in the fact that Martin changes the pace and only gives us half a story (but still as much, if not more, length) and you can probably understand why I’m so ornery about book four.
This is my almost immediate reaction of book four when I finished it –
Man, what is it about these books? When I’m reading them, I’m usually enjoying the plot-line but straight up loathing GRR Martin. If I ever meet the guy I’ll probably say something to the extent of, “Hey! I enjoyed your books, but I had a real problem reading them because the whole time all I could think about is how I’m certain you’re a raging d*-canoe.”
Seriously. His descriptions of everything lewd are just so exhausting. How many times over in this series have we seen breasts/nipples ripped off/mangled/slices/clawed/whatever? We get it G, you’re creepily obsessed with describing lady-parts at really random times. Stop.
What’s with the sudden focus on women’s power? Boorrrring. It’s like out of nowhere we have all these heroines who, sorry Georgie, have a lot in common. Beautiful, young, and lusty for power (Seriously – Cersei, Asha, Alanna, Margaery, and Dany) so you get this slew of ladies whose internal thoughts are all something along the lines of “Woe is me, if I weren’t this super busty lady with perky nipples I could have all the power I wanted, blah blah blah”
Still I pressed on and I can say, I overall enjoyed the 5th book more than I did the 4th. Things just seemed to move faster. The characters perspectives didn’t get as stale and there were fewer swinging breasts and heaving beasts and squeezed breasts in this one than in the others (though that’s likely due to a great lack of women narrators in this book compared to others – but I’ll still take it.)
After five books Martin’s unpredictability is getting a little predictable and I kind of wish he would just end it already. All the same, I can’t argue with the fact that he’s created an immense world and landscape. When he’s not being gross, his writing can be so engaging and, sometimes, downright beautiful. I can’t quite recommend anyone subject themselves to reading the series, but if you’ve already begun, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed working your way through this one.
So where does that leave me? Muttering and complaining and, yes, still reading on. Martin, you’re a man I love to hate.