I finished Games of Thrones today, and it was amazing. So, here is my promised review (there isn't too many spoilers) of the first in George R.R. Martin’s fantastic fantasy series. I won't go too much into plot, because Martin's plot is far too complex to really explain without giving a comprehensive overview. Besides, I wouldn't want to spoil it all for potential readers. So if you like what you hear, go read it yourself!
Firstly, I want to say how much I loved the way Martin structured the novel. For those who are unfamiliar with Game of Thrones, the story is told from various characters points of view. This includes members of the House of Stark (Lord Eddard, Lady Catelyn, and their children Sansa, Arya, Bran and Eddard’s bastard Jon), the House of Lannister (Tyrion) and the House of Targaryen (Daenerys). It’s great because you get completely different aspects of the plot, as well as alternate plot lines which are currently going on, seen most noticeably with Daenerys, who Martin also calls Dany.
I know in the TV series a lot of people have said it’s mostly violence and sex (this is what I hear anyway). To be honest, the book doesn’t feature these aspects in great excess. There is a war, yes, so there will be violence, and considering it’s a fantasy novel, this was to be expected. I don’t think the sex scenes are too graphic really. The Time Traveller’s Wife is far more graphic a novel in regards to sex than Game of Thrones. So neither of these were real issues for me.
Another point I want to make is how well Martin handles disability. Two characters in the novel, Bran and Tyrion, are disadvantaged compared to the other characters. Bran – only a seven year old child – discovers a secret and is pushed off a building, the fall of which renders him ‘a cripple’. Bran is angry. He is frustrated. But he finds ways to deal with it; he may not like his disability, but he comes to accept it and try to get on with life. I think Martin’s portrayal of this was very real, and it was refreshing to see in a way. Sometimes in novels it becomes too easy to construct people as perfect, or as we would like to be. This can be in small ways, such as none of your characters needing glasses – guilty as charged! – or in a larger way, in there being no real disability.
The same is seen with Tyrion. Many characters in the book call him ‘the Imp’; he is a dwarf. Like Bran, Tyrion – an adult – deals with this. He is quick witted, and what he lacks in strength and height he makes up for in cunning and speech. Although he is part of the House of Lannister, probably typically known as the baddies, he is somewhat separate from this. His own family have outcast him, and as we get into his perspective it makes it very hard to hate Tyrion. I quite like him in fact. He seems very real to me.
I think my favourite character is perhaps Dany. I really liked her arc, and I think she shows the greatest progression in the storyline. She starts off in the novel as a scared, bewildered young teenage girl, and at the end she strikes me as a confident women, totally in control of herself and ready to face the world. I love how Martin developed her storyline, and considering my love of strong female characters, Martin made it very easy for me to adore her character.
The story itself was riveting and engaging. There were many times where I was surprised by what happened next. Although there were a couple of small things which I guessed at, I think this was done on purpose. Martin clearly has enough skill to hide the plot from the readers, and I think if he wanted us to keep guessing with these small details, he would have constructed the novel this way.
Game of Thrones kept me reading, which is great considering its an eight hundred page novel. Length doesn’t usually bother me, but if I’m not liking a book I won’t hesitate to put it down. I didn’t have a single moment during reading Game of Thrones where putting it down entered my mind. The main reasons I put it down was because I had to, not because I really wanted to.
I think Martin set up really well for the next book. I’ve already bought it, so you will be hearing more about this series in the future! I really loved Game of Thrones. I think it was well constructed, fantastically written, included great characters and had a really amazing storyline. At the end of the day, what more could you ask for from a book?