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“The Wheel of Time” Review: Amazon’s Attempt at a “Game of Thrones” Doesn’t Channel the Magic
Rating : 5/10
I tend to like Rosamund Pike in all shapes and forms. The Londoner played the beautiful and above all warm and innocent sister Jane Bennet in Joe Wright’s version of Pride & Prejudice (2005); she showed the world she was a woman with two very different faces in David Fincher’s Gone Girl (2014); and she simply terrified me as the unscrupulous legal-appointed guardian Marla Grayson in I Care a Lot (2020).
Being a complete novice when it comes to Robert Jordan’s series of bestselling fantasy novels published in the 1990s and early 2000s, I approached The Wheel of Time as another way of enjoying Pike’s inability to typecast herself. In the eight-episode first season of this Prime Video adaptation, which debuts November 19 with the first three episodes and weekly releases after that, the actress plays Moiraine. She’s a member of an all-women organization called Aes Sedai. Its powerful members can channel the One Power (a.k.a. magic).
As with most fantasy, there’s a lot of world-building that needs to be done for the viewer to understand what’s going on. The Wheel of Time actually starts with exposition from the first frame of the show. Moiraine’s voice explains how some children are just coming of age and one of them is prophesied to become the next Dragon. They must find them before the Dark does. The last Dragon broke the world, but the next one could build it. All that while her character is getting dressed on screen and readying herself for the long journey.
What I failed to understand when I first started watching the show is that The Wheel of Time — at least when it comes to the majority of the running time for the six episodes available for review — is a road movie the same way The Lord of the Rings is. Moiraine gets on the road and goes on an adventure to find and bring to safety five possible contenders for being the next Dragon: Egwene (Madeleine Madden), Nynaeve (Zoë Robins), Rand (Josha Stradowski), Perrin (Marcus Rutherford) and Mat (Barney Harris).
Moraine is not alone in her search. Her faithful Warder — a man with whom she shares a very special bond and whose main goal is to protect her — is always with her. Most Aes Sedais have at least one Warder. Moiraine’s is called Lan and is played by Daniel Henney.
The show does a lot of teasing — and not that much showing — at the maybe sexual nature of the relationship between some Aes Sedais and their Warders. Moiraine and Lan like sharing long silences and, when they talk, it normally shows how intimate the nature of their bond is. “I shouldn’t have had a drink. You always get emotional when I drink,” Lan tells Moiraine one night. What one feels, the other senses too.
“The Wheel of Time” Is Attempting to Be “Game of Thrones” Light
Ever since Game of Thrones went off the air in 2019 (and probably even before that), streamers and cable networks have scrambled to produce the next fantasy adaptation that would capture millions of viewers around the world. And even with the many flaws that GoT had , the task has proven difficult. HBO tried it with His Dark Materials , Apple TV+ has See and Prime Video is betting not only on The Wheel of Time — next year it will premiere a prequel series to The Lord of the Rings . So far the only streaming service to have managed to capture some of GoT ‘s popularity and acclaim seems to be Netflix though, both with The Witcher and Shadow and Bone .
Even though I see all the markings of a GoT -light show in The Wheel of Time — the political machinations, the fight for the survival of the world, the magical elements, the coming-of-age stories — I don’t think this will become the next must-watch show.
Pike and Henney are the two main reasons I kept watching The Wheel of Time . They manage to give a bit of gravitas to the mainly young and inexperienced main cast. At times I didn’t know if some of those younger characters were underwritten or simply too immature for me to care about their stubbornness and lack of ability to follow simple commands. Then I remembered my favorite characters in Game of Thrones were actually the bad/ambiguous ones. But here evil is characterized for the most part by a dark force and its orc-like followers, so I didn’t find many Cersei, Tyrion or Littlefinger equivalents.
What this show gets right though is diversity. It boasts an incredibly diverse cast in every one of the worlds it represents. It makes every little town, crowded city, nomadic camp and even the home tower of the Aes Sedais inhabited by people of as many races as possible. It contrasts with the Game of Thrones approach of having a mainly white cast and choosing to cast people of color only in the representation of exotic faraway lands.
Diversity is also represented in the inclusion of LGBTQ+ characters in The Wheel of Time . But at risk of spoiling a revealing moment in the show, I won’t tell you more.
Building the World of the Aes Sedais
As much as The Wheel of Time left me basically indifferent, I very much warmed to the universe of the Aes Sedais. Your introduction to them is Moiraine, and it’s difficult not to be intrigued by her order. She’s the type of woman who doesn’t hear “no” often. She can cure others through the Power, but not herself. She can’t tell lies. She dresses in blue because Aes Sedais who choose that color are in charge of gathering secrets.
Pike portrays Moiraine with absolute stoicism while uttering life lessons like “Dreams have power, more than you know” and “Women hold the great power but men still control much of the world and they’re rarely kind to little girls who show a spark at being greater than they are.” She plays sort of a mentor figure to Egwene and Nynaeve, who both have an untapped amount of power but haven’t learned to guide it yet.
I’m not sure if the show is attempting to comment on gender. It would be a missed opportunity not to. The power is supposed to be meant only for women. Men who touch it make it filthy, we learn. There’s a whole order of Aes Sedai — they dress in red — in charge of chasing down men who channel. Yet, for all we know, the next Dragon could be a man. Plus we’re told several times about the many political games the Aes Sedai like playing. They may not make for the most reliable of organizations.
Some of the show’s premise centering the Aes Sedais and their magical abilities reminded me of Naomie Alderman’s novel The Power (2016) . And while I wait for the TV adaptation of that book, I just wish this show would have focused more on the fascinating Aes Sedais and their ploys and rules and less on whomever the next savior of the world is. But I guess that probably defeats the series’ purpose.
The Wheel of Time has already been greenlit for a second season.
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A Song of Ice and Fire #1
A game of thrones, george r.r. martin.
835 pages, Mass Market Paperback
First published August 6, 1996
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"... she wore faded sandsilk pants and woven grass sandals. Her small breasts moved freely beneath a painted Dothraki vest . . ."
"I killed Ned because everybody thinks he’s the hero ... sure, he’s going to get into trouble, but then he’ll somehow get out of it. The next predictable thing [someone] is going to rise up and avenge his [death] ... So immediately [killing Robb ] became the next thing I had to do.
“... a mind needs books as a sword needs a whetstone, if it is to keep its edge.”
“Bran thought about it. 'Can a man still be brave if he's afraid?' 'That is the only time a man can be brave,' his father told him.”
“Why is it always the innocents who suffer most, when you high lords play your game of thrones?”
“When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die. There is no middle ground.”
“What is honor compared to a woman's love? What is duty against the feel of a newborn son in your arms . . . or the memory of a brother's smile? Wind and words. Wind and words. We are only human, and the gods have fashioned us for love. That is our great glory, and our great tragedy.”
“Never forget what you are, for surely the world will not. Make it your strength. Then it can never be your weakness. Armour yourself in it, and it will never be used to hurt you.”
“A lord must learn that sometimes words can accomplish what swords cannot.”
“The things I do for love.”
Winter is coming.
When the snows fall and the white winds blow, the lone wolf dies but the pack survives.
Nothing burns like the cold.
Fear cuts deeper than swords.
"When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die. There is no middle ground."
“What is honor compared to a woman's love? What is duty against the feel of a newborn son in your arms . . . or the memory of a brother's smile? Wind and words. Wind and words. We are only human, and the gods have fashioned us for love. That is our great glory, and our great tragedy.” “Why is it that when one man builds a wall, the next man immediately needs to know what's on the other side?” “You are your mother's trueborn son of Lannister." "Am I?" the dwarf replied, sardonic. "Do tell my lord father. My mother died birthing me, and he's never been sure." "I don't even know who my mother was," Jon said. "Some woman, no doubt. Most of them are." He favored Jon with a rueful grin. "Remember this, boy. All dwarfs may be bastards, yet not all bastards need be dwarfs." And with that he turned and sauntered back into the feast, whistling a tune. When he opened the door, the light from within threw his shadow clear across the yard, and for just a moment Tyrion Lannister stood tall as a king.” “Oh, my sweet summer child," Old Nan said quietly, "what do you know of fear? Fear is for the winter, my little lord, when the snows fall a hundred feet deep and the ice wind comes howling out of the north. Fear is for the long night, when the sun hides its face for years at a time, and little children are born and live and die all in darkness while the direwolves grow gaunt and hungry, and the white walkers move through the woods”
To be honest,I never thought I would read this,not because it is something I don't like(it is something I most like),but it is so huge.But now I thank the gods and the kings for making me read this.I can't explain how much I admire this book.It has been a part of my geeky life and I am proud for that.I am a fan,an ultimate true fan!
Okay so now I'll talk about the perfection of them all Daenerys Targaryen.She is not only my favorite character of all,but after I started watching the show,and she had a face,and boy what a face,I am truly deeply in love(and I got to see her naked).God bless the show.Daenerys is the mother of dragons and you will know what I am talking about in the end of the book,which for me was one of the best endings I have ever read.
This world is so complex and there are so many characters,yet it is so thrilling and fun to read.And I love the idea of not having safe characters.In every page you turn,your favorite character can die.
I highly recommend this book,this is clearly one of the best works I have read of the last century.And this goes to Mr.Martin
Please kill Joffrey:)
عندما تلعب صراع العروش..فأنت إما تكسب، وإما تموت
“الكاهن اﻷعلي قال لي ذات مرة أنه كما نخطئ ، نعاني. إذا كان هذا حقيقي ، لورد إيدارد، قل لي ..لماذا دائما اﻷبرياء هم أكثر من يعاني عندما تلعبوا أنتم إيها السادة الكبار لعبة العروش خاصتكم؟ The High Septon once told me that as we sin, so do we suffer. If that’s true, Lord Eddard, tell me…why is it always the innocents who suffer most, when you high lords play your game of thrones?"
قالت داني " مهما يكن, مازالت عامة الشعب ينتظرونه. الماجيستر إيليروس يقول أنهم يحيكون رايات التنين ويصلّون لفيساري أن يعود من البحر الضيق ليحررهم" "عامة الشعب يصلّون للمطر, أطفال أصحاء, وصيف لاينتهي," قال لها سير جوراه . "بالنسبة لهم لا يهتمون عندما يلعب السادة الكبار صراع عروشهم, طالما يتركونهم في سلام , هم لايهتمون أبدا" Dany rode close beside him. “Still,” she said, “the common people are waiting for him. Magister Illyrio says they are sewing dragon banners and praying for Viserys to return from across the narrow sea to free them.” “The common people pray for rain, healthy children, and a summer that never ends,” Ser Jorah told her. “It is no matter to them if the high lords play their game of thrones, so long as they are left in peace.” He gave a shrug. “They never are.”
"عندما تلعب لعبة العروش, أنت إما تكسب وإما تموت. لايوجد حل وسط" Cersei insisted. “When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die. There is no middle ground.”
"He must have crawled away away from the others," Jon said. "Or been driven away," their father said, looking at the sixth pup. His fur was white, where the rest of the litter was grey. His eyes were as red as the blood of the ragged man who had died that morning. Bran thought it curious that this pup alone would have opened his eyes while the others were still blind. "An albino," Theon Greyjoy said with wry amusement. "This one will die faster than the others." Jon Snow gave his father's ward a long chilling look. "I think not, Greyjoy," he said. "This one belongs to me."
"Boy," a voice called out to him. Jon turned. Tyrion Lannister was sitting on the ledge above the door to the Great Hall, looking for all the world like a gargoyle. The dwarf grinned down at him. "Is that a wolf?" "A direwolf," Jon said. "His name is Ghost." He stared up at the little man, his disappointment suddenly forgotten. "What are you doing up there? Why aren't you at the feast?" "Too hot, too noisy, and I drunk too much wine," the dwarf told him. "I learned long ago that it is considered rude to vomit on your brother. Might I have a closer look at your wolf?" Jon hesitated, then nodded slowly. "Can you climb down, or shall I bring a ladder?" "Oh, bleed that," the little man said. He pushed himself off the ledge into empty air. Jon gasped, then watched with awe as Tyrion Lannister spun around in a tight ball, landed lightly on his hands, then vaulted backward onto his legs,
"One word," Tyrion said, "and I will hit you again." "I'm going to tell Mother!" Joffery exclaimed. Tyrion hit him again. Now both cheeks flamed
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A Game Of Thrones by George RR Martin (A Song of Ice and Fire: Book 1)
As warden of the north, Lord Eddard Stark counts it a curse when King Robert bestows on him the office of the Hand. His honour weighs him down at court where a true man does what he will, not what he must ... and a dead enemy is a thing of beauty. The old gods have no power in the south, Stark's family is split and there is treachery at court. Worse, a vengeance mad boy has grown to maturity in exile in the Free Cities beyong the sea. Heir of the mad Dragon King deposed by Robert, he claims the Iron Throne.
Ever since my entry into the heady and wonderful peaks of fantasy literature following the release of the Fellowship of the Ring movie in 2001, I have been hard pressed to find an author greater than the inimitable J.R.R. Tolkien. Robin Hobb’s ‘Realm of the Elderlings’ story tops it in terms of pure enjoyment for me, and Terry Pratchett writes with such skill he too edges out Tolkien. But both authors have fallen short of the sheer scope that Tolkien envisioned and, successfully, created.
Since then, I have only come across two authors who have come close to envisioning and successfully carrying out their literary creations to match Tolkien; Steven Erikson and George R. R. Martin.
Martin’s epic fantasy series, ‘A Song of Ice and Fire,’ has managed to – in both scope and creativity, not to mention simple writing ability – capture and recreate the story that started in Martin’s head. Some authors try, and fail miserably. Some capture and recreate perfectly, but the author’s scope is minimal.
For Martin though, in scope, creativity, and writing ability, A Song of Ice and Fire is everything you want in an epic fantasy tale.
The first book, ‘A Game of Thrones,’ was first released in 1996, and since then another three books have been released, with the fifth hopefully to be released this year (2009). Set in a world very akin to our own medieval history, specifically the English War of the Roses, A Game of Thrones introduces us to one of the greatest (and largest) character lists around.
The story is told from eight perspectives. Each perspective is held within a chapter which, when the characters move away from each other, allows the author to continually leave minor cliff-hangers at the end of each chapter.
While six of the characters from this first book are from the same family, the perspective is shifted around in preceding books. Death is commonplace, almost to the point of horror, but conducted in such a way that it, sadly, reminds us of our own bloody histories. Martin does not shy away from the death, rape and plunder that would have been norm for the setting and in doing so provides a much more complete story.
Mindless destruction is often the cause for character splits and confrontations, and by the end of the book characters you assumed you would be attached too for some time are left headless, gutless or simply gone.
Throughout the entire series Martin focuses almost primarily upon one continent. However there is one character, Daenerys Targaryen, who has been forced to flee to a separate continent as a young girl. At first I remember feeling disorientated and a little slighted at seemingly being provided this perspective which seemed nothing short of pointless. However as I have continued to read, she has become one of my favourite characters.
‘A Game of Thrones’ is without a doubt one of the most involved and simultaneously enjoyable books I have ever read. Dense to the point of labour, but captivating well past my bed time, Martin knows exactly where to draw the line between lots of information and tedious boredom.
If you like Tolkien, or if you like the idea of an epic fantasy series, then you must pick up ‘A Game of Thrones’ as soon as possible. Martin’s ability to create a world both entertaining and disastrously realistic is nothing short of mind numbingly brilliant. Joshua S Hill
The novel, A Game of Thrones, begins with an encounter with supernatural beings; this may give a false impression as to what will come. As the story begins to unfold, the theme moves strongly into the area of political intrigue and this forthcoming war that will happen as a result. The fantasy element, while always there plays only a minor role in the majority of the rest of the book.
A Game of Thrones in not your usual fare, it is hard-hitting and bad things do happen to the good people. Two families take centre stage in a battle for the Throne; the Starks and the Lannisters. The Stark family live in the cold hard North, Winterfell is the seat of their domain. We are, using chapters headlined with the family names, introduced to the Stark family. Once we have familiarised ourselves with the Stark’s, King Robert and his family visit them at Winterfell. King Robert is married to a Lannister, Queen Cersei. The King’s main reason for visiting is to offer Eddard Stark the honour of becoming his Hand (most trusted advisor). Eddard unhappily accepts and he must move to King’s Landing in the South.
Eddard Stark’s young son Bran is injured during the King’s visit, whilst this is originally thought to be an accident that occurred when he was climbing it becomes apparent that the Lannisters played a part in this tragedy.
In an interesting sub-plot Jon Snow, Eddard’s bastard son, joins the “Black” or the “Night’s Watch”, a company of men who’s role is to guard a huge wall of ice in the far North. He is accompanied there by Tyrion Lannister, a dwarf. Although they do not become friends they end up with a grudging respect for each other. Once Jon has pledged himself to the “Black” he must forsake friends, family, marriage and children and his whole life will be spent in the protection of Land.
With Eddard now in place as the King’s Hand, tensions rise between himself and the Lannisters. Then, suddenly one day, the King is killed hunting wild boar and Eddard and the Lannister are drawn into a battle for the throne.
Finally, at the end, the fantasy element once again returns and we are left looking forward to the second instalment.
This is a very good novel, full of twists and turns. It leaves you wanting more and move on to A Clash of Kings. Floresiensis
"Colossal, staggering ... one of the greats" SFX
"Fantasy literature has never shied away from grandeur, but the sheer mind-boggling scope of this epic has sent other fantasy writers away shaking their heads ... It's ambition: to construct the Twelve Caesars of fantasy fiction, with characters so venemous they could eat the Borgais." Guardian
10/10 An epic, action packed starter from George R. R. Martin.
- Buy on Amazon
Reviews by Floresiensis and Joshua S Hill
101 positive reader review(s) for A Game Of Thrones
243 positive reader review(s) in total for the A Song of Ice and Fire series
Natkrit from UK
This movie is very interesting in it's setting and story line. Character development are so smooth they make you attached to the story. I recommend this series to everyone but keep in mind that it is quite dark.
Game of thrones from Kazakhstan
This is the best book I've ever read. It's gripping. It feels like you are in another world. I recommend it.
Eric from America
This is a great book. I enjoy the brutal realism of the characters and the world that Martin has built.
McIntosh from USA
How are they considering Game of Thrones high fantasy? It seems like the perfect example for low fantasy to me. Most of the show revolves around politics and wars, and magic isn't a normal part of everyday life.
Brecken from USA
There are no books I love more than the A Song of Ice and Fire. Honestly, it deserves so much better than a 9.5 (based on books I've seen with higher ratings that don't measure up nearly as high as ASOIAF). I almost exclusively read fantasy and these books are as good as lord of the rings, in a different way (a very different way). The best thing is they are all about character. In fantasy, characterization is often put to the side so that cool battles and fun magic can be explored more. There are only two characters in the entire series that I know are the bad guys, and the author even has me feeling bad for them at some points. Every character feels real, and there are moments where I have hated every one of them, and moments where I have loved them. They all develop over time in ways that you can barely notice until it hits you that, wow, that character isn't evil anymore. There are a million plot lines, and each one is very real. No one cheats, no one can "just do the magic thing" to get out of a situation. Actions have consequences. Our favorite characters die, and the bad ones get to live. It is extremely well written, fast paced in some places and slow in others. The books have a depth that make you want to read the series over and over again so you can find out just what is going on with the characters, and catch all of the hints and symbolism the author puts in there. I will never look at fantasy the same again, this series has changed my world view.
Kath from England
Takes a while to read and some parts are slow but the storyline is amazing and I highly recommend.
I loved AGOT. An absolute masterpiece. I could not put it down even if I had wanted to.
Sundar from Lal
This book, and the other books published of the series, are as impressive and amazing piece of literature. The characters in the story are superb. I read these book and absolutely had to recommend them to every book buddy.
Rebekah from New Zealand
This thick, material crammed book is written so brilliantly that it is impossible for one to get bored whilst reading. I enjoy the fact that everyone is somehow connected in the story, no matter how far away they all seem from each other. What additionally made this novel awesome was that at each end of chapters, GRRM would leave a cliff-hangar, forcing you to read on till it's 3:34 on a school morning. I would rate this book 11/10 is I could.
Ewan from Scotland
This book was the first book I finished on my own and not being forced (English in school). This book is so good that it made me, someone who would never even try a book. Get into reading, you know it's good.
Alice from England
I will give it just over half stars, purely because I think that the concept is brilliant, and the series begins very strongly, with the first book in particular being excellent. However, sadly, what could have been an explosive series slowly dissolved into an anti climax with absolutely nothing happening. Book one, and most of book two are very good, book three has some interesting parts, although admittantly it begins to loose structure, book four however, I struggled with despite flying through the preceding books and I gave up on book five. It seems that the interesting characters that Martin established in the first book have either been killed off or their storylines have dried out and have subsequently been replaced with much less interesting characters and storylines. All in all, the disappointment factor when reflecting upon what this story could have been is perhaps the worst thing about it. It could have been great, and it has its moments, but when you look at the potential that Martin had to begin with, which slowly dissolves into nothing, it's just such a shame that he couldn't carry it out and that's the worst thing about the series, the dreadful waste of potential. Still, I wouldn't say avoid it completely, just be aware that this story will probably not play out the way you had hoped and you may well find yourself as disappointed as I was.
Alex from Greece
I absolutely loved it, the whole idea, the writting style... but damn I have to admit that the fourth book was bloody boring. I do not get why everyone disses that "Dance with Dragons" (fifth) book though. I found it quite interesting.
Maria from US
"Six" as a rating is deceptive. I gave 10 to the first three books, and single stars to the last two books, and 6-7 is what I got. Sadly, the last two books take all the momentum of the first three, and flush it down the toilet. I wish they didn't. I'm waiting for book six, and hoping that Martin gets his act together, but at this point the story is so bloated that it's unlikely to happen. If anyone wants an excellent series that moves like a well-oiled machine from start to finish, try Joe Abercrombie's First Law trilogy.
Wayne from US
Awesome book, enticing read. Love the series and people complaining how it's poorly written... Seriously?This is really a great series, not a single one of you could even come close to matching Martin's writing.
Jayne from United States
For a while, I've been trying to figure out how I feel about these books (I've read all 5). They're a deviation from the traditional fantasy storyline (hero that overcomes all vs. true evil) and I can appreciate and respect Mr. Martin's boldness. I do think he does it well, the story is well written and always keeps you guessing. I didn't have a problem with the multiple characters and their separate chapters (I made it through the Wheel of Time series and loved it), but I did have a problem with caring what happens. I like that Mr. Martin has no qualms about killing off whatever character needed to die and the revolving complexity of the plot is really interesting. But honestly, what I think he lost between the multiple characters and their impermanence was making me care about the character. I think he shows their negative sides much more than any goodness in them and in not knowing how long they're going to be around, I found myself avoiding getting too emotionally involved in their stories to the point that I just don't really care what happens to them anymore. I also agree with another reviewer here in that somewhere the overall plot gets lost. Also I'm just confused about the role of the whole "winter is coming" idea - I would like to see that come to more prominence because I could see that forcing everyone to set aside their differences and their petty politics to fight a common foe - and it's seemed like that since the very first chapter. Overall, I say kudos to Mr. Martin for daring to break the traditional fantasy conventions and hopefully opening a whole new realm of possibilities for other writers but I hope that after this series, he learns from his mistakes and writes a much better one. I give it 6 stars for boldness, creativity, interesting characters and good writing.
Felix from America
An absoloutely brilliant novel. In my opinion, A Game of Thrones is one of the greatest fantasy novels ever written by one of the best authors ever. George RR Martin is able to capture emotions and build suspense and leaves you wanting more. A truly great novel.
Jake from Australia
To all the haters, you're entitled to your opinion. I like to recall the story of how the producers of the TV show read a part of the first book and were immediately overwhelmed, impressed, taken by the imagery, the ambience, the sense of place and the characters. So, at least 2 people in the world were touched by the book. Now that's 2 more than a lot of other writers.
Anthony from UK
To those who say the writing isn't good, I challenge you to write at Martin's level. You'd fail. The different pespectives add depth to the story but I understand that some people might have trouble understanding.
d'Argantel from Japan
Since so far I read but Game of Thrones, the first book to the series. I wish to note that in no mean I judge the series alltogether. G.R.R. Martin have created an interesting world with lots of likeable charachters, epic story and unique in a sense playing with reader... The problem I have is that it's boring. No, not the story, however overdone and simple, but the narrative. Never have I reade such flat descriptions and emotionless dialouge, not to mention forced expositions... Honestly , the idea of charachter perspective told story with each chapter being presented from pov of different one involved in an event is nice, the execution is less than impressive. If not for the HBO show I would have hard time getting into the presented world. Another thing are all the Deus Ex Machina literaly forcing the plot to continue the intended way. [spoiler] Honestly no one thought that it is odd that before Joffrey there was no other Baratheon of blond hair?[/spoiler] To be honest I am almost sure the whole book series was written from the very first page to be made into a movie or, as it came to be, tv series. HBO patches some holes, adds here, takes away there and makes the story overall better and of course... Puts life into the charachters and dialogue! I hope the other books of the series are better because so far my jaw hurts from yawning.
Gordon from Oklahoma, USA
A Game of Thrones, and the rest of the Fire and Ice series, are the finest stories I have read in many years, and I am a prolific reader who enjoys many different categories of literature. After having read Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy as well as the Hobbit a few years ago while the Peter Jackson movies were being progressively released, I am of the opinion that "A Game of Thrones" and the entire Fire and Ice series to this point are several steps above anything Tolkien ever wrote. An added bonus is the result of HBO is doing a great job of bringing the Fire and Ice books to the homes of people who would never consider picking up a 1000 page novel. Anybody who bothers to read each of the books from both writers can count themselves lucky to be able to enjoy such well written literature. For those who have seen the HBO series and enjoyed it so far, you should read A Game of Thrones and decide for yourself if the written material is superior to the theatrical release. I would also put this series above the Harry Potter books and movies.
Emily from England
Read it because of the series on television and am not ashamed. It does include adult scenes, which I thought fitted the atmosphere of the novel and I am a teenager, so it is understandable I would find them more awkward... I didn't. You can't complain about not understanding the novel if you don't read all of it, including the 'boring' parts. All the Tolkien lovers need to broaden their horizons. GRRM isn't trying to be Tolkien, he's an epic writer on his own with his own style.
Kah from Brazil
This is modernity, I guess. The way of narrating a story has certainly changed. Things are about discourse and action, now. "Less plot" and "more character". This is a great epic which is providing nice adaptations. Of course, the plot is very long and, because of this, its quality oscilates sometimes. I myself didn't like the fourth book (the first three books were an amazing experience) and the fifth has been little playful. But this is not about comparing G.R.R.M to Tolkien or Lewis. This is about accepting what this generation is producing and understand it withouth making anacronisms.
Thomas from England
I would like to point out that the book being reviewed is Game Of Thrones, not the whole series, A Song Of Ice And Fire, which many people seem to be forgetting...
Eric Showatt from Australia
People seem to think the reason why the opinion about this series is so divided because the way the author kills off the character and the amount of angst, miseries this series content. While this may seem like a plausible reason, the real reason is actually far more simple. Game of Thrones sucks. Period. Now I'm not here to troll or bash the author - I'm here to review this series honestly. There is no doubt in my mind that GRRM is one of the most prolific writer of our time. His world building ability is on par with Tolkien, and the character he has created are very realistic and interesting. One can almost read Game of throne like an alternative history if we forget all the magical element within the story. The political motivation of each character are very well defined and the consequences for failure in this series are heavy - you are lucky if you managed to die a clean death, as is the case with Ned Stark. He died, sure, but there are many character who ended up wishing they were dead but couldn't quite manage it because their tormentors prevent them from doing so. There is beauty in this book. Beauty in the finality of death and the cruelty of living. However... I would like to ask every reviewer and every reader of Game of Thrones, what is the actual plot of this series? Lots of things happen, sure. You get loads and loads of characters. Each of them have their own arc. Some gets killed off, some don't, but are any of them truly relevant? Just consider this for a second and you will see what an appalling story the series is - it's not actually a story. It's many story woven into one book, like a game that contains several character sheet and no main plot whatsoever. Things unfold, but it's just things that happens. If I were to describe what this story is about, I would simply say "It's a book about a bunch of things that happened in a land called Westeros", and that's pretty much what the series has become by the end of the third book. Now I will go on to say that the first book is simply breath taking. There is actually a plot, and the characters pov are consistent and - most importantly - relevant. You get the honorable idiot Ned Stark who is trying to figure out why Jon Arryn was killed, while his wife and kids are trying to figure out who pushed Bran off the balcony. The two conspiracies tied together, because what Bran witnessed was the key to Ned Stark's hunt for the reason why Jon Arryn is killed and why he is becoming involved in the first place. The subplot with Dany? That's just the icing on the cake, like something that you can either read or ignore completely. The tradition continues on to the second book, after Ned stark's tragedy, the land is divided and the war happens. We see the brutal aftermath, we see the people fighting for the Iron Throne. While the plot began to dwindle after the first book, the characters are presented with one goal - that is to fight for the Iron Throne, with a subplot of getting their loved ones back to safety. However, after the third book everything went downhill. The war is more or less resolved. The winner and losers are already evident. Major character are killed off, new ones are introduced but none of them are coherent anymore. Everything literally becomes "just shit that happens", and the entire series has become a wait for "something to happen". And that's why the series has become such a disappointment in so many eyes. If anyone has to ball to say GRRM can't write for a damn, they have no business in writing or creative industry in general. However, if anyone says reading A Song of Ice and Fire is becoming increasingly pointless, then you have my sympathy. I've no doubt that things are going to change now that Dany and Tyrion is coming back to the mainland to reclaim their home, but as it stands today, Game of Thrones is a massive disappointment that has a strong beginning but poorly executed plot throughout the middle.
Manpreet from India
This book is full of all the emotions and elements; this book is a journey full of violence, treachery, loyalty honesty, love, families, romance, conspiracies, back stabbing and much more. Read the complete review of the book - GAME OF THRONES on my blog - http://manpreetkaur93.blogspot.in/2013/03/book-review-game-of-thrones.html
Maja from Croatia
I studied literature and know that some of the best books ever written did not develop stories, characters and endings the way the audience wants or deserves. It's not a matter of a compromise. However, these days, for the fact of globalisation we as readers want to think that the book, the author and the reader are one big factory. I prefer waiting for each book sequence in suspense, even if it does not satisfy my expectations. JRRM's Song of Ice and Fire in my opinion is simply amazing, and it's definitively not easy to read. It's like an expanding storm that swirls the characters and plots in concentric circles. Consumes time for sure, and if you think it's too long - you should read shorter books. If you think it's overly descriptive - you're missing the beauty of visualisation of every spot and object and character, when you should be grateful to JRRM for letting you see what he is seeing. It's not a one-read-book and will show you something new every time you reread.
Hans from Belgium
I enjoyed reading it. And i will finish it. This is mainly because i believe the story has enormous potential to end , and i quote the great academic J Clarkson , on ' a bombshell'. But i do have to critisize a bit. The book is frustratingly long. To long. 5 books would have sufficed. At this point i'm acctually just hoping jrrm doesnt screw up the ending his readerers/fans deserve.
Jonathan from United States
This is a great and wonderful read, from start to finish it keeps you guessing and gets you involved with each and every character, so much so that you find yourself falling in love with each one of them, even the not so nice ones, and if you see a bad rating it's simply because that person did not get it or understand the plot.
Anon from Sydney, Australia
It's not that the author is trying to say that good people die, it's just that a lot of people really don't get what goes on. It's the most cunning and luckiest that survive. The characters do tend to change quickly from time to time, which would level my rating down a bit, and some of the characters I love to hate. It is unpredictable and the last two books have been a droll, again lowering my rating. Overall, it's a great fantasy book, and better in quality than a lot of other fantasy novels. The lore is immersive and detailed, though some parts unecessary. The book may have started out as Lancaster vs York (as in War of the Roses, which is what the books are based on) but now it's turned into a massive fight for dominance over land and power, with no one exactly safe and leaving a lot of hype. Do hope Martin picks up in the next book and hurries it up a bit. And I don't get why people say the good guys always lose... most of the characters are grey and do what they believe is right. The good guys occasionally triumph. For the people saying that they want to argue why it's not good, wish there was a comment section.
Jon from UK
Captain Frogbert, you a clearly a moron who is obsessed with LOTR. I really don't even know where to start with how wrong you are on every point you made in your review of this book. If you are really that upset with this book you should just go read LOTR another eleventy twelve times and leave the rest of us alone.
Anon from Anon
OMG I have just finished the blooming lot of them and I have to exactly the same confusion, I am utterly exasperated that barely a plot line has been concluded... The whole thing after the quite good Clash of Kings has become an utter nonsense, time I will never get back.
Sean from Australia
It's ok. He's not a particularly good writer, in terms of characterisation (some of the pov writing of the younger characters is execrable) and the book is pointlessly long. I have severe difficulty in accepting that any reader who gave this book 10 stars has seriously thought at all about the possibility that a 15 year old could successfully lead a hardened army into battle without a viceroy pulling he tactical strings or that a 4 year old would be capable of being the master of a a wild wolf... Ok it's fantasy, but that doesn't mean it has to be total b.s. If it wasn't for Tyrion the book would stink quite badly. Convolution is no substitute for good writing, by the way. Good for fantasy writing but it ain't great... Watch the series instead, still contains a teeth- gratingnumber of 'yes, my liege' type conversations, but again, Tyrion saves the day.
Guy from England
I am outraged at the position of this series on the top 100 list. This should be at least second (the Malazan Book Of The Fallen is also AWSOME). Out of the many, many books that I have read these are my favourite: the many interwoven storylines are well thoughtout and presented. The books set a new level of fantasy, portraying a brutal, gritty and mature story with many hundreds of realistic characters. There are no good vs evil here, no super powered imortal heroes. Martin is a master writer, he leaves you laughing and weeping and it is extremly easy to loose yourselve in his world. Once I got the first book (purchased on a whim) I was hooked and had read the whole series on the inside of a month. READ!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
John from John
Incredible. Simply incredible. Best high fantasy series I have ever read.
Andy from uk
the most engrossing read i just couldnt put it down. the first and third books are by far the best in the series up to this point in fact i read the third book in a fortnight. it does however contain an enourmous amount of characters and book four and five do meander somwhat however they are worth reading if not just for the character of ramsey bolton who is perhaps the most despicable creation ever to polute prose. overall a satisfying read and i just hope GRRM finishes the series before time catches up with him
John from Australia
Possibly one of the best series I've read in a while, every chapter is a cliff hanger.
Fateh from Canada
"Words are wind" go read the book to see for yourself how amazing it is!
Uday from Canada
I think most of the readers giving negative remarks just either can't take the complexity of the story or are the kind of people that have to have everybody live and have a corny happy ending. I mean one of the great things that GRRM has done with this series is how he makes you really love the characters-yes even Cersei- and how he isn't afraid of actually killing off those characters. That alone makes the story so much more interesting and suspenseful, because you never know when any character might die. Also, as for those of you saying that you don't see the importance of characters like Jon, Dany and Sansa you just haven't read far enough into the series. They're chapters become very interesting and you can really relate to them. The first three books have to be the best. The characters are rich, writing style superb, more of the fantasy and magic further on in the series and way the chapters are split really make you see things on a much larger scale and make you appreciate the effort of all that detail even more. Another thing, it takes lots of superb writing and imagination to not just use the "magic" part of fantasy to solve all of the conflicts, and than you can appreciate characters like Tyrion who use their intellect a lot more. If you liked the Wheel of Time I feel you will like the Song of Ice and Fire series just as much or more.
Jake from United States
Personally, I find people who really criticize this series only look at things on the surface (it's too long, too many characters, too graphic, poor characters, etc.). They don't look at things deeper, try and see why things are the way they are, and just think of this great series as a pointless kill fest. In reality, a lot of the space is meant to build tension and expand on things, the characters are much deeper than people give them credit for, and if you can't follow along then there is nothing I can do for you. Also, why would anyone say Martin's writing is bad? I think his prose is excellent and really develops emotion, atmosphere, and setting.
Wes from Australia
First off - this series isn't for everyone. It introduces a lot of characters, so if you struggle with that you won't like it. Second, no one is safe. For this, I love the series. But for many people who need to have their heroes survive - you will hate this. Third, the writing is long - but beautifully written, and I think some people will miss a lot of the intricacies and don't quite get the writing style. This series breaks a lot of convention, but if you can handle that and have the patience you will love it! If you struggle with multiple characters, need a safe happy warm ending and like a more traditional style this series isn't for you, and frankly that is where a lot of these negative comments are coming from. Also many of the negative reviews abandoned the series early on, and in my opinion the second volume of Storm of Swords is where it gets amazing. One reviewer felt characters got killed off and the story arcs ended there - to that, I say they aren't getting the bigger picture, but I won't say specifics as not to reveal any spoilers. Bear in mind it will be years before the next book, so if you don't want to wait that long (and possibly many years after that for the final book) then you might want to avoid the series. Otherwise, great read.
Jon from England
Overall, a very good series. The first three books are excellent (the third truly brilliant, 10/10 if considered in it's own right, in my opinion). The last two not so good, but still a reasonable read (I'm hoping that Martin will pick up his game again for the next books). It's been levelled here that he's not the best writer in the world and that's probably fair, but then neither was Tolkien (and he was an Oxford don) and I'm unlikely to read Erikson or Jordan for their literary value either, if it comes to it. He tells a good story and, whilst they're not as atypical as some reviews might like to suggest, he creates characters that you actually care about. This is evidenced here by the number of peole moaning about how he's killed off their favourite characters - it wouldn't upset you if you didn't like them. One thing that I particularly like about the series is the sparing use of magic. It's always been an annoyance in fantasy that when faced with a difficult situation, the writer could (quite literally) wave a magic wand at it. It also increases the impact on the reader when there actually is magic. As a result, this isn't a series for fans of more overtly magical fantasy. There aren't wizards, elves, goblins and orcs pouring out of the woodwork here. I think that due to the size of the series, there are now a lot of plot strands for Martin to hold together. This means that, firstly, it's tough to follow some times and secondly, it's tough for Martin to write. As a result, it takes him a while to get each installment written, so you need patience and a good memory. Finally, there's a lot of sex and violence. Really, who cares? Get over it.
Bob from England
This is a fantastic book but too little action and its quite slow to start.
Ivan from Canada
Wow, these books are incredible. Best books I've ever read. Do not listen to the trolls calling it poorly written. The number of different story lines and character incentives is incredible.. Probably too much for some readers to understand and they get lost with the amount of characters. Do yourself a favour and get these books!!!!!
Brett from Canada
Not sure if half the people are elitest or the other half are fanboys but I found the book very engrossing, funny and angering at times although I hate that he killed off my 3 favorite characters.
Maurice from Cayman Islands
Anyone not loving this series must be seriously dull or retarded. I have an IQ of 147, making me a genius and have read just about all the great fantasy series. This series yields to none.
Alex from Italy
The best book I ever read, just finished the third book and I can't get enough of it!
Andy from Ottawa, Canada
When I read these books (and I did read 1-5) there was not one moment where I was not totally into it. Once you get to know the characters, the books get better and better all the time... never mind the sex and the battles (for all you action thrillers who need "Actions" all the time). After book 1-3 there are no requirements for big battles scenes at least until the characters are deemed ready to do so. Its fantasy, its action, its drama, its horror, its all I need all at once. George R.R. Martin did a great achievement so far writing this most excellent story and I'm sure the next two books will be as good as the first five. - Cersei is sooooo cunning!
Veronique from Canada
The best book I have ever read!
Plato from Timbuktu
Nice writing style, excellent plot, amazing world. I love how Martin weaves together seemingly unconnected plotlines and shows us so many perspectives, giving us a much more sophisticated understanding of the story. The world Martin created is awesomely huge and complicated, although the endless introductions of new characters can be hard to get into. Also, the not-deaths get pretty annoying after a while. Other than this, I have no criticism for the series, and am eagerly awaiting the release of the 6th book.
JW from Canada
The best series of books ever written, IMHO. Martin is the Shakespeare of our time.
Nat from India
Well I had heard a lot about this book online and saw that it had got great reviews from everyone, moreover the HBO series of AGOT was also there so I finally decided to read this one.The book is um something very unique and good in its own way. It's gritty and mature more to the extent than I had anticipated, the plot is laid out brilliantly. The storyline and characters are good though it seems that Martin according to me didn't satisfactorily end it. The tortures through which the characters are put through and it seems that Martin's focus on keeping things like this makes me wonder that there won't be a great ending to this thing and things would cross to such an extent that it wouldn't matter at all. One more thing is that it's surprising a bit that there is absolutely next to no magic though there are some fantasy elements but for most of the times it seems like maybe a non fantasy novel. The book was with all things still great. Full of twists and surprises. Definitely a good read though maybe not for everyone.
Jani from Finland
I can't really understand many of the reviews posted here. The sex scenes I don't have a problem with. It's not like they are great, but I don't get ticked off about them either. The only complaint I agree with is the occasionally dull storyline (Arya's chapters mostly) but there are just more good chapters than bad. But the thing I really don't get is the overwhelming complaining of G.R.R. Martin killing the likeable characters. I mean come on people! SPOILERS!: The only important and likeable characters he has killed have been 1) Ned, who's from the old storyline like Robert with most of his grand deeds already done, 2) Robb, who was NOT a POV, and clearly not invested in storywise as much as his bastard brother, 3) Khal Drogo, again not a POV, 4) Oberyn Martell, appears only in like 4 chapters, not a POV, 5) Renly, not POV, his death making great room for Stannis character arc, 6) Tywin, who also was not a POV, and his death granted a great boost for Tyrion's character arc. I might be forgetting someone but not anyone special. Remember, Catelyn DOES NOT die, Bran and Rickon don't die either, not Davos, not Tyrion, not Jaime, not Daenerys, not Brienne, not Arya and it also seems that the Hound is still alive, working with his sins as are gravedigger. I am pretty sure that Jon doesn't die in book 5 either, just another Martin cliffhanger. A lot of the unlikeable characters have died. Joffrey, The Mountain, Balon Greyjoy and Theon is a spacecase. SPOILERS END. I myself found the books great, but a rating of 9 is accurate because George is occasionly stretching the storyline through cliffhangers and dull chapters.
Frank from Cork
The best fantasy series of all time in my opinion. It's a complex plot that makes you work and even re-read the books to pick up the clues, but if you do then you will be rewarded. It's not for everyone and if you want instant gratification, black and white good guys and bad guys, clean-cut dragon-slaying heroes, evil wizards, etc., or if you need to have the plot spoonfed to you, then ASoIaF is not for you. If you're the type of idiot who skips whole chapters and still expects to get something from the book, then ASoIaF is most certainly not for you. GRRM is a genius and this series is a brilliantly woven masterpiece. That said, I'm not surprised by some of the negative comments, there will always be people who prefer the likes of 50Cent to Beethoven.
Matt Cole from Vancouver BC
If writers are Gods - and they are - then George R.R. Martin is Zeus, King of Gods. Martin flawlessly weaves a tale of epic fantasy to launch, which is arguably the best fantasy series ever ( I know The Lord of The Rings and The Malazan Empire have their fans). Game of Thorns achieves not only because of a great plot, which does not stagnate, but because of the intriguing characters, both male and female, that are brought to life through Martin's skill. Tyrion, Sandor Clegane (the Hound), Cersei, Arya, and Daenerys are particularly memorable. This first installment is not heavily loaded with magic and the supernatural. Other than the appearance of a supernatural race in the opening pages and again briefly later on, and the emergence of other mythological creatures in the closing pages, Game of Thrones is devoid of magic and the supernatural. The conflict is among men and women, noble houses positioning themselves for the throne of a Kingdom. The book is laden with political intrigue, conspiracy, ambition, and hidden family secrets. Still, while the great houses maneuver for control of the throne, the reader is ever aware of a long dormant evil, that may rise to threaten the populace of the seven kingdoms. I am looking forward to getting into Clash of Kings & Storm of Swords and beyond. As per the suggestion from other reviewers that this book is too explicit, I can say I have no idea where this is coming from. I would not consider either the sex or violence in this book too explicit. Certainly Steven Erikson and R. Scott Bakker have gone farther in their series.
John from Ljubljana
I have read the first three books and they are all fantastic to read; they involve everything a great fantasy book needs. The series has an absurd amount of astonishingly realistic characters who couldn't be more different and yet at the same time they are all still the characters inhabiting this amazing fantasy world. I fell in love with the Game of Thrones almost immediately, mainly because of unexpected turns and twists, that are not so common in this genre. I highly recommend it to all fantasy fans out there.
Cat Fitzpatrick from London, UK
I think a main reason why there is such a difference in opinion regarding this series is that the fantasy element is very small compared to the huge volume of story. The main strength of A Song of Ice and Fire lies in the politics of a kingdom embroiled in a civil war where there isn't just two armies battling for the throne, there are up to seven various forces struggling to lay claim to either part or the whole of Westeros. There are very good characters that come through - Tyrion Lannister for one is really interesting, and I really like the deviousness of Petyr Baelish - but as you go through the books the volume of characters increases, which can swamp the story in parts, and characters can vanish for quite a long time whilst the others are worked through. The story can be quite slow and repetitive, and not enough time is spent to really build all of the main characters as well as they could be. Sex is also overused with everybody at it like rabbits or raping their way up and down the length of Westeros. However, some great set pieces are developed such as the use of wildfire in a river battle, and if you like epic stories this is richly detailed if maybe too over ambitious as to the amount of stuff crammed in. It's worth a read, but takes a lot of investment of time to get to the good bits.
James from Philadelphia
This is one of my favorite series of all time. Being able to understand so many different characters' perspectives on the books' events makes the series an extremely interesting read. Books 1-3 are absolutely brilliant. 4 and 5 are a little less so, but I partly chalk that up to the fact that you only see half the POV characters in each. I am eagerly awaiting the final two installments and I hope they can live up to the promise that the series has shown up till now.
J�rn from Hagalid
Amzing is an understatement.
Erik from Ohio
The first three books are great. They held my attention throughout with lots of different things happening in the same time period due to the variety of characters. I like the setup of writing chapters about certain characters, and it's even more exciting when one character's fate brings them alongside another main character in the same chapter. I wish GRRM would have kept the Starks intact with their direwolves completing the immensely strong family, but it's not all happy endings in life either.
Modesto from New York
This is a great adult fantasy series. This story is not for everyone. Especially for people who like sexy elves and tough dwarfs... Not for those who seek instant gratification. This is fantasy, a whole new fantasy, an adult fantasy. I love how people are mad that certain characters are killed off but yet they bash the book, if you were not hooked and attached to the character you wouldn't care someone got knocked off. So that is what GRRM does, he hooks you right in, (**SPOILER**) I see a lot of complaints over Ned's death, Ned is in the book maybe a handful of chapters, HAHA. (**End of Spoiler**) Sure there is a lot of fill in but that makes the world he created bigger, brighter, darker, dangerous, sexier and more alive than most reads out there today. This story is fantasy, thriller, exotic and poetic, you can argue it's real, if Westeros existed and Dothraki... That is how people would have lived, killed and ventured. It would be A Song of Ice and Fire!
George from Toronto
This story is the best ever written in any genre, period. The first book is a wonder, the second is as good, and the third is best in the series. I agree, the fourth and fifth aren't my favourites. But they're still above-average. I can't wait to see how the story concludes -- Martin is planning a total of 7 books. I read some of the negative reviews. The ones who are negative put right in their review that they skipped chapters. What? Martin is a genius story teller, he didn't write 1,000 pages for his health. It was for a purpose. If you skip a chapter, how on earth can you complain if the rest of the story stops making sense? The man is a God. I read Erikson, Tolkien, Rothfuss, Hemmingway, and also crap like the Hunger Games. Martin's story is #1 by a significant margin.
Claire from Cardiff
Finished reading 'Game of Thrones' last night. Now I am just falling out of bed to get to my nearest bookshop for 'A Clash of Kings'. Yup. It's that GOOD! Haven't been able to put it down...
Kaleb from Colorado
After having just finished reading the first book in the series. Anyone who says it is boring or not well written has odd to questionable taste. This book is easy to read and I found my self engrossed in the plot and totally lost in the world the author created. Martin leaves it no secret that characters make the story. I don't see how people can be so quick to criticize. I have only read the 1st book, but I would say Martin is the equivalent of Hemmingway when it comes to the Fantasy genre. I was lost at times due to the amount of characters, but between watching the show and reading the novel, it wasn't that bad. The book definitely is better than the series. The HBO writers tried to make it adaptable to their style shows. There are gay references, an over emphasis on sex, and it strays from the dialogue of the book where I thought it would be better to just be faithful to the book. Overall an amazing read and I'm looking forward to the 2nd book.
Alex from Alaska
This is a different kind of fantasy book. This is my favorite of the 5 books out so far in the series. I like it because it lays such a powerful groundwork. (Spoiler alert). I thought the prologue with the Others was an introduction to a world of magic and wizardry. Much the opposite. Eddard Stark goes south, I thought to right the wrongs of the kingdom. No, he dies. I felt like Sansa in the book - I grew up reading 'fantasy' novels where good wins and good and evil are clear and heroes did great more than human things. But Martin is not interested in that kind of story - he is telling history the way it happens - to individuals involved in the muck. I was drawn to the book for its fantasy roots, but in truth this is a book for anyone interested in political thrillers or history buffs. It's like reading the diaries of many historical figures, and putting the history together that way, as a historian does it. I don't think it's accurate to refer to Martin as the American Tolkien. Few characters in Tolkien's world are interested in being human. They are superbly good or superbly bad. I prefer to compare him to Victor Hugo, specifically to Les Miserables, which goes into great detail in order to explain a moment in a characters life. The book doesn't tell you the moment is important, because it has BECOME important. Such is the ability of Martin to cause us to care about his characters. Must-read.
John from New York
Do not listen to the low rated reviews. Anyone who claims that "nothing is happening" or that the characters "lack depth" are probably not capable of picking up on how much is actually happening in the book.
Ben from California
I can't see why people are so divisive in their reviews of this book... I almost listened to the negative comments, and I'm glad I didn't! It is extremely entertaining for those who like to actually read, and I suggest any fan of the fantasy genre to pick it up immediately. You'll find yourself rooting for characters you wouldn't think to -Tyrion Lannister is perhaps the best anti-hero I've ever read. READ IT!
Michael Patrick from Niceville, Florida
Great series. I'm on the second book and like them so far. Many of these reviews have said that as you progress the writing gets weaker, but so far I see no cause or effect of that. Bottom line great series similar to Tolkien but easier to understand and not so boring.
Joel from Australia
These comments seem to be either at the bottom or the top of the scale. It's quite confusing, really. I'm currently on the second book and loving it, the main flaw I have is that I find Bran's character and his chapters are boring, but that's subjective. Aside from that, I recommend these books if you aren't afraid of some adult themes.
Simao from Vila Nova de Cacela
Excellent book, a must read, Tyrion lannister is simply incredible, lots of twists. Incredibly written.
Anders from Norway
An excellent book! If you like action fantasy you should deffinitly read this book.
Chris from Middlesbrough
Excellent book, loved the structure of it. the series was a little dissapointing (only minor things such as Tyrion's war efforts not being the same as in the book, and possibly a general low 'first series' budget). I'm just instantly thrown into the fictional world that GRRM created and wish that I'd lived in times like that myself!.. Brilliant
Jessica from Belgium
Nearly finishing book 2 - A Clash of Kings - of the ICE & FIRE Series, this is indeed an incredible way of writing , capturing times that we will never know. Because of the multiple character roles, you get different perspectives of the storyline and the plots combined. Reads a lot more fluent then Lord of the rings ever did. Highly recommendable author. This is what fantasy really needs to be .. I won't be surprised if these were filmed by James Cameron or Steven Spielberg one day.
Mike from Pittsburgh
I just don't understand how some reviewers are giving this series less than nine stars and are calling the writing middle school level. Martin's prose is leagues above any modern fantasy writer and is better then Tolkien in my opinion. I have read some good modern fantasy, namely Erikson and Sanderson, and none of them even come close to matching the character depth and plot development that Martin weaves. Hands down, this is the greatest fantasy series of all time.
Gary from Vancouver, BC
This book will always have a special place in my heart for it's heavily inspiring story-line. George R.R. Martin has the vigorous spirit to lift this tale of the altered Europe (via medieval period), with plenty of appealing characters which seem astute as they are tantalizing. The fact that it doesn't follow a typical mono myth had me interested, because many high fantasy that I have read, had done so. Overall this book had a few faults (What book doesn't?) though it was an enriching tale.
Kyle from Kentucky
HMMMMMM.... lets imagine for a second, you're stuck in a time period where there are no cell phones, security cameras or even police around to keep the naughty kids from coming out to play. What do you think would happen? Probably wouldn't be pretty, but we now chose to forget that our morals of today weren't the morales of ancestors. They didn't have welfare or the Salvation Army, if you were hungry or freezing you would probably have to do some pretty bad things to better your situation. And if you've bashed a man's head in for a chunk of bread some of the other things that GRRM writes about probably wouldn't seem to bad. I think he does an excellent job capturing the morale dilemmas of the time period. If you think murder, rape and incest weren't common in that time period then you're extremely naive! Great book though, do read.
Connor from America
I find it funny how the shallow reader claims this book is all about good versus evil when it's really about how people are neither good or evil but GRRM is a great writer and one I will gladly keep following.
Zuzurlo from Italy
Stunning! That's what this serie is! I couldn't even sleep because I had to read more and more. It's the best around for whoever is not afraid of a little adult content. The only downside is that it's 2 books and many years short of the end.
Tony from UK
My god how is this series not in the top ten! George RR Martin is the American Tolkien. A Song of Ice and Fire is top notch adult fantasy and there is a good reason why these books are best sellers. The current rating here is not a good advertisement for the website. I voted 10/10 to try and bump it up a bit.
Aaron from Australia
An engaging and thrilling start to a fanastic series, Game of Thrones is fantasy filled with political intrigue, double crosses, betrayals and shocking reversals. The characters of Game of Thrones are the stand out feature, with deep personailites, it's difficult to identify who the real heroes and villains are (and after five books I still don't know). Oddly these reader reviewers have been hijacked by puritans who feel compelled to descibe the books as dull AND obscene. Allow me to retort: what a load of bollocks. While sex and violence are elements of the book, they're never used gratuitously. Anyone who claims the books are pruile or offensive, or that they felt ill reading them, obviously hasn't read many novels above a Harry Potter reading level. There's more explicit content in the 117 bible verses that make Song of Songs of Solomon.
Rod from West Country
I saw the HBO mini series, and thought that the book is usually better, I will read it. I am so pleased I did! Absorbing, Super Epic, no one is safe, not the heroes, not the villains. There is magic but malevolant........ Downside only five books...
William from London
I think that this is a good read, however, having read four of the books now, I am struggling to carry on. Firstly Martin seems to take an age to write his books, and secondly, it just to seems to me to be unbelievable how many of the main protagonists and characters are all killed off or changed dramatically in such a short period of time. So, a good read, but don't get too close to any of the characters, as by the end of a novel, it is likely something you don't want to happen to them... has.
Rob from UK
Epic is an understatement.
Kyle from Indiana
I've only just started this series and I plan to finish it. It's the best thing my eyes have ever seen, hands down!
Paul from Glasgow
Steep learning curve at the start as Martin introduces a plethora of new characters in rapid succession; still found myself sucked in completely and ended up reading the whole series.
Shell from Winchester
Brilliant series - can't wait for film series.
Ryan from Wisconsin
A Game of Thrones definitely deserves to be rated up with Lord of the Rings. Has some of the most interesting and in-depth characters of any fantasy book.
JP from Finland
I have read first three books of this series so far and enjoyed it very much. GRRM is not a superb writer in all meanings of that but he definitely knows how to write hard as rock fantasy series.
John from Leeds
A Song of Ice and Fire is pretty much the last word in medieval fantasy. Martin's work is in a league of its own, head and shoulders above the next comparable work in terms of plotting, characterisation, world building and quality of writing. Other authors may as well abandon the medieval milieu and explore new avenues in fantasy, as there is little left to say on the matter that this series does not say better.
Mathias from Gothenburg
Simply the best fantasy epic ever written. Nuff said.
Tim from Perth-Andover
Someone said Eragon was better than this. .. .. .. ...after I stopped laughing, I decided to write this review. Martin's books are some of the best fantasy being written today. The time it takes for them to come out should not judged as part of their quality. Are they simple commercial fare? No. Emphatically no. These are books for intelligent people who like to read. They deserve to be higher on the list.
PP from The Hague
One of the best fantasy series so far... however I understand why it is not on the top of the list: the series is not complete and me and probably many others will wonder whether or not the series will ever be complete. The story lines are becoming more and more complex and interwoven in every next book GRR writes. But still, like a Leonardo's David without the head...
Anthony from Cardiff
I had to correct my review. Just finished the 4 books and I am totally ashamed of my last comments. Its simply that the more you read the rewards will come. I am 37 and have been listening to audio books for a year now, since I have lost my sight. Talented writers like this keep blind people in the world sane. I am gutted I have to wait for the next book - Mr Martin please hurry up!
Eric from Quebec
In my opinion, one of the best series, probably my favorite. In most series, it is easy to expect what will come next. This is one series where everyone has an opinion, and a different one (if you debate with other readers). Not everyone agrees who they think will be the "main" character in the end, if any. I really love to see how, from every character's perspective, their perception of Right and Wrong changes. It makes you think about what we do in our lives, that we consider "right", that from another perspective would be viewed as "wrong". Overall, this story makes me think, surprises me and captivates me, which are the foremost reasons I use what time I have to read =)
William from California
First off George R. R. Martin has got to be the SLOWEST author in history. With only 4 of the 7 planned books released, don't plan on finishing this series for at least a decade. The book itself is not bad. The prose is good and the plot is fairly intricate. However what I find the drawback of this series is the, I guess you would call it realism, or pessimism maybe. The good guys don't always win in this, in fact, they usually lose. I am going to finish the series because it is fairly well written and I am curious about the ending. But I doubt I will ever want to reread it like I have with many other series. Just my 2cents.
Dustin from Washington
Amazing piece of literature, the character development and the story telling is superb. I read these book and absolutely had to recommend them to everybody I knew. Several of my co-workers started reading the books and they all love them as well. There IS a reason for all the hype behind this series.
Tom from Qc
Really, GRRM is not a writer, he is a god! A Song of Ice and Fire is way better than the Lord of the Rings! I have almost finished the last published book so far. A Song for Lya is very good too, GRRM is not only good for fantasy, he is a great SF writer too!PS - sorry for my bad English, I'm a French Canadian.
Lester from Manchester
This is amazing. The entire series is amazing. Buy these amazing books!
Darren from Wilkinson
This book is much better than Lord of the Rings. It really is that simple. LOTR was overly descriptive and had far too many silly songs and dances. Tyrion Lannister is one of the best characters in fiction. Buy the whole series - you won't be disappointed.
Chris from Netherlands
This book, and all of the series, got me reading till 3.00am. Martin uses Point of View characters to reveal bits of his plot in such a maner that you're always hoping to find out more. I for one couldn't wait to read the next chapter of my favorite characters. Beware, as the review says, bad things will happen to the characters you like most. Hate it or love it, every page you turn could mean the end, it's thrilling and exciting in every way...
Steve from Burton
This book, and the other books published of the series, are as absorbing and intriging as any I've read. Could replace Tolkien at the top of your bookshelf.
Russell from Cardiff
I think you've rated this book to low, it at least deserves to be on a par with Ursula Le Guin's books. Don't get me wrong, the Earthsea books are great and among my favourites but this is quality fantasy and needs to be seen as such.
9.2 /10 from 102 reviews
All George RR Martin Reviews
- A Song of Ice and Fire (A Song of Ice and Fire)
- Fire and Blood (A Song of Ice and Fire Companion)
- A Game Of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire: Book 1)
- A Clash Of Kings (A Song of Ice and Fire: Book 2)
- A Storm of Swords 1: Steel and Snow (A Song of Ice and Fire: Book 3)
- A Storm of Swords 2: Blood and Gold (A Song of Ice and Fire: Book 3)
- A Feast for Crows (A Song of Ice and Fire: Book 4)
- A Dance With Dragons (A Song of Ice and Fire: Book 5)
- The Armageddon Rag
- Tuf Voyaging
- A Game of Thrones: Graphic Novel Volume 3
- Dangerous Women
- The Ice Dragon
- Inside Straight (Wild Cards)
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Book Review: A Game of Thrones
“A Game of Thrones” by George R.R. Martin tells the tale of various clashing households and their quest to conquer control over the seven kingdoms. Set in a distant, but vaguely familiar medieval-Europe, the story bears parallels to England’s “War of the Roses,” while also introducing its share of unique fantasy elements. As the reader progresses through the book, they follow the politics of the Iron Throne- a metaphor representing the complete and utter control a King possesses in a feudal government system. Furthermore, the reader tracks 8 character perspectives, which are alternated through passing chapters.
As the King rides north to Winterfell to meet with his trusted vassal, and friend, Eddard "Ned" Stark, he strikes up an agreement to anoint Eddard as the hand of the king. Reluctant, Ned follows the King back to the South, but as the plot continues to unfold, Eddard learns of a secret unbeknownst to the King and some of his most trusted advisers. With the death of the King and the ruin of Eddard’s house, war rages in Westeros- as several characters attempt to strike their claims on the Iron Throne.
I initially picked this book up after finishing J.R.R Tolkien’s, “Lord of the Rings” series and have been pleasantly surprised with it. Many fantasy readers have speculated that the literary masterpiece of Tolkien’s novels could not be out done, but I am now inclined to disagree. I thought the book was well-crafted and engaging as an intermediate to advanced reader. However, I would file the complaint that the book moves a bit slow for my taste. Some may lose interest in its plot, especially considering the sheer volume of the book series. The old-language also adds to this effect, as it may cause some readers to struggle following along.
Overall, I would say that this book is certainly worth a try for someone who enjoys medieval-fantasy novels. Admittedly, it will take a while to read and is certainly no small undertaking, but by sticking with it, I found myself enjoying every page more than the last!
A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin book review
I reviewed A Game of Thrones back in 2021 quite early on after I started this blog – since then I’ve done a reread and decided I want to give it another crack. I wrote my review based on memories of about two years after I’d read the book. This updated review is based on a reread I finished literally days ago.
Please note that this article contains affiliate links. This means if you choose to purchase any of the products linked below, I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. These links do not affect my opinion of the products.
A Game of Thrones is the first book in the epic A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R.R. Martin – if you’ve not heard of it then I imagine you’ve been living under a rock. The book series has been turned into arguably the biggest television series ever made – pioneering the way of not only fantasy TV series but large-budget fantasy TV series.
A Game of Thrones introduces us to the land of Westeros and its families, cultures and political goings-on. It introduces us to the Lannisters, the Starks and the Targaryens and other families throughout Westeros.
Plot – 4.5/5
You can’t really describe what happens in A Game of Thrones as it’s so long that many things happen. Essentially everything starts off quite calm, controlled and peaceful, however, a large secret comes to light and things start to spiral out of control. Old friends become enemies and the peace is eventually broken, causing the land of Westeros to become as unbalanced as it has been for decades.
On top of this, there are whisperings of dark creatures and beings not seen for hundreds of years being seen by travellers, suggesting other things are at unrest beyond “the wall” too. it’s all very interesting and exciting to read. It’s a storyline with lots of twists and turns where Martin isn’t afraid to kill of the characters you like or keep those you dislike alive.
George R.R. Martin does an incredible job of throwing us around to different characters involved in different plot points but making us feel at the same time that they’re all connected. Despite being a book that focuses on different points of view, you feel like you’re following one continent move at the same time.
Characters – 5/5
When I first read A Game of Thrones , I had no perspective as to what makes well-written characters or not. George R.R. Martin has carved some truly fantastic characters in this book. He could have taken the easy fantasy option of having “a chosen one” and the main villain but instead, he’s developed families, genuine relationships, flawed heroes and detestable characters. There’ll be characters in this book who you can’t help but have respect for and others for who you spend your time hoping to meet an unfortunate end.
Tyrion is probably my favourite character – as he is many. He’s smart, witty, and sometimes rude but has a very strict moral compass. Tyrion is a dwarf and his life has seen his lack of height make him feel that he must make up for it with a sharp mind. There’s an argument here that because he’s the smartest, this makes him make some of the best and wisest decisions.
What I love about many of the characters is that nearly all of their actions are steeped in reason. Joffrey for example makes cruel and awful decisions because he is young, naive and has no idea how to rule. He believes ruling by force is the best way as it seems the easiest way to get people to obey you. However, I can see in the future how this might fail him.
There are copious amounts of other characters I’m looking forward to seeing the rise and fall of too. Yes, I’ve watched a couple of series of the TV series, but I’m still excited to read about them all as I imagine the books portray them differently. In fact, I know this to be even more true in the latter books.
Summary – 5/5
A Game of Thrones is the best opening book to a fantasy series you’ll find. It has become a sensation for a reason – the TV series is brilliant, yes. But the first book is probably better. You get such a great feeling of grandeur but also a really personal feeling from some of the characters. One moment you’re learning of great wars, deep histories and long legacies and the next you’re sitting by a campfire as Tyrion Lannister tells Jon Snow why he reads so many books. It’s an epic in every sense of the word and is, without a doubt, an absolute must for any fantasy fan and even those who don’t think fantasy is their bag.
One thought on “ A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin book review ”
I found the first 3 books in a “little neighborhood library” on the sidewalk yesterday, so I figured “why not” and grabbed them. So far I have read the prologue from the first book, in which there are 3 characters: Gared (in his 50s, 40 years of which serving in the Night’s Watch), Will (caught poaching and drafted 4 years prior to the Night’s Watch), and Ser Waymar Royce, 18 years old lordling heir and commander of this latest ranging in pursuit of some wildlings who are leading them further and further north. Will had just returned from tracking the wildlings 2 miles from their present location, seen they were all dead, and returned to the group. Gared figured they had died from the cold (he himself lost both ears and some fingers and toes from some previous exposure), but Royce asks Will about the Wall; Will says it had been “weeping” meaning it wasn’t possibly cold enough to kill the wildlings. So Royce demands they go to see, remarks that Gared had been “unmanned” by fear of the dark for his insistence on building a fire, and Gared barely holds himself back from murdering Royce then and there. Then Royce and Will go to see the dead wildlings, only now there are none left, just one weapon (a valuable war ax) and Royce instructs Will to climb up a tree to see what he can. Meanwhile some ghostly foe comes and approaches Royce with some kind of magic sword. Will sees more ghosts coming but fears to shout a warning since he is sure to die. Royce and the ghost have a duel, Royce gets hit by the ghostly sword and it cuts him through his mail armor, he charges and hits the ghost sword with all his might, but his own steel sword shatters into a zillion pieces. All the ghosts advance and chop him up and then they all disappear somewhere. Will eventually climbs down and recovers Royce’s broken hilt for evidence, but before he can leave Royce rises up and is towering over him, and strangles him dead, too.
I have a few issues with this first scene, which are: why is Royce ignoring his more experienced companion’s better advice, and why are his companions daft enough to let Royce out-reason them about the cold, and how can Will climb up a tree and none of the ghosts can see him up there, and how can Royce shatter a steel broadsword at all, he must have superhuman strength to possibly do that, and why does he come back to life and strangle Will out?
I’m reading this story and already I’m appalled at how sloppily it is written and how uninteresting it is. I think I’m like Gared, I have half a mind to throw these books out and find something better.
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The Original Reviews of George R.R. Martin's A Game of Thrones
Long before its tv adaptation became a global phenomenon, here's what the critics thought of the first volume in martin's a song of ice and fire series.
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When you play a game of thrones you win or you die.
“George R.R. Martin’s new novel, A Game of Thrones , is the first in an epic series about a land in which the seasons shift between periods of seemingly endless summer and seemingly endless winter. The story begins with the kingdom of Winterfell facing both external and internal dangers. Beyond her borders, the cold is returning, a dragon prince is scheming to win back his lost kingdom, and the eggs of supposedly long extinct dragons are beginning to hatch. Within Winterfell itself, war soon erupts when the king is murdered by a family grasping for unlawful power.
Many fans of sword-and-sorcery will enjoy the epic scope of this book, something of a change of pace for Martin, who has spent the last decade working for television and who has long been honored for his award-winning stories (e.g., ‘Sandkings’). Still, to my mind, this opening installment suffers from one-dimensional characters and less than memorable imagery.”
– John H. Riskind, The Washington Post , June 28, 1996
“George R.R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones— a 694-page novel that begins a series — is in many ways a tale fit for a king. Its tapestry is satisfyingly rich and complex, weaving together dozens of characters, major and minor, in a wide spectrum of shades of hero and villain, all vivid and memorable. The settings are equally diverse and evocative. Martin writes as convincingly of tart juices oozing from an apple as of sleet on the side of a mountain, and his book is as much an adventure of the senses as it is of the mind. On the other hand, the thimble-full of living dead and the soupcon of dragons we’re served here add little to the story. Or, they may indeed be setting the groundwork for sequels—which seems clear at the end—but their presence in A Game of Thrones seems little more than frost and steam on the window.
“…this is an old story, but A Game of Thrones is so well played that, like a vibrant re-make of an old hit record, you can enjoy almost every beat of it. Indeed, Arthurian/Shakespearean clashes among great and lesser lineages, with all the opportunities they afford for exploration of such perennial themes as honor, loyalty, ambition, love in all its forms, are always welcome subjects for science fiction and fantasy. Such political and personal strìngs served as superb accompaniment to the science fiction in Dune, and they’re often heart-rending, always provocative and appealing, to behold here—though as a center-stage performance, not as background or foreground for fantasy which is barely there.
But the dragon thread has other problems. Published as a stand-alone novella in the July 2006 Asimov’s Magazine (‘Blood of the Dragon’), it follows the trials and exploits of the overthrown King’s two lineal descendants—a brother who is a claimant to the throne with no army, and his sister, whom the brother gives as a bride to a Ghenghis Khan-type character reigning with a vast army in this England’s version of Europe and Asia, in hopes of getting that army to cross the ‘narrow sea’ and reclaim the pretender`s throne. The descriptive passages are marvelous—you can smell the spice, and taste it in every cup of wine Martin renders—but the story as a whole is not special.
“These other threads show us two different daughters, a romantic and a tomboy, and how they fare in these less-and-more than chivalrous times; a bastard and a ‘true-born’ hero and another son whose legs are paralyzed but whose mind soars; another family where one son is handsome and vicious and evil yet brave, and his brother—a dwarf, my favorite character in the novel—is conniving, yet so honorable that he pays his debt of gold to a cruel, stupid jailor whom the dwarf has talked into taking a message that will free him. Yes, I liked this dwarf so much that I truly felt glad when, after months of travail, he finally finds comfort in a prostitute’s arms. The book is so good at this, so real and effective in its complex characterizations, that I would vote it an award just for that, and the dragons be damned.”
– Paul Levinson, Tangent Magazine , Fall 1996
“In a world where the approaching winter will last four decades, kings and queens, knights and renegades struggle for control of a throne. Some fight with sword and mace, others with magic and poison. Beyond the Wall to the north, meanwhile, the Others are preparing their army of the dead to march south as the warmth of summer drains from the land. After more than a decade devoted primarily to TV and screen work, Martin makes a triumphant return to high fantasy with this extraordinarily rich new novel, the first of a trilogy. Although conventional in form, the book stands out from similar work by Eddings, Brooks and others by virtue of its superbly developed characters, accomplished prose and sheer bloody-mindedness. Although the romance of chivalry is central to the culture of the Seven Kingdoms, and tournaments, derring-do and handsome knights abound, these trappings merely give cover to dangerous men and women who will stop at nothing to achieve their goals. When Lord Stark of Winterfell, an honest man, comes south to act as the King’s chief councilor, no amount of heroism or good intentions can keep the realm under control. It is fascinating to watch Martin’s characters mature and grow, particularly Stark’s children, who stand at the center of the book. Martin’s trophy case is already stuffed with major prizes, including Hugos, Nebulas, Locus Awards and a Bram Stoker. He’s probably going to have to add another shelf, at least.”
– Publishers Weekly , July 29, 1996
“After a long silence, the author of the cult The Armageddon Rag (1983) returns with the first of a fantasy series entitled, insipidly enough, A Song of Ice and Fire . In the Seven Kingdoms, where the unpredictable seasons may last decades, three powerful families allied themselves in order to smash the ruling Targaryens and depose their Mad King, Aerys II. Robert Baratheon claimed the throne and took to wife Tywin Lannister’s daughter, Cersei; Ned Stark returned north to gloomy Winterfell with its massive, ancient Wall farther to the north that keeps wildings and unspeakable creatures from invading. Some years later, Robert, now drunk and grossly fat, asks Ned to come south and help him govern; reluctantly, since he mistrusts the treacherous Lannisters, Ned complies. Honorable Ned soon finds himself caught up in a whirl of plots, espionage, whispers, and double-dealing and learns to his horror that the royal heir, Joffrey, isn’t Robert’s son at all but, rather, the product of an incestuous union between the Queen and her brother Jaime—who murdered the Mad King and earned the infamous nickname Kingslayer. Ned attempts to bargain with Cersei and steels himself to tell Robert—but too late. Swiftly the Lannisters murder the King, consign Ned to a dungeon, and prepare to seize the throne, opposed only by the remaining Starks and Baratheons. On the mainland, meanwhile, the brutal and stupid Viserys Targaryen sells his sister Dany to a barbarian horse-warrior in return for a promise of armies to help him reconquer the Seven Kingdoms. A vast, rich saga, with splendid characters and an intricate plot flawlessly articulated against a backdrop of real depth and texture. Still, after 672 dense pages, were you expecting a satisfying resolution? You won’t get it: Be prepared for a lengthy series with an indefinitely deferred conclusion.”
– Kirkus , July 1, 1996
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A Game of Thrones: Book 1 of A Song of Ice and Fire › Customer reviews
A Game of Thrones: Book 1 of A Song of Ice and Fire
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A song of fire and ice (a game of thrones) series, common sense media reviewers.
Dark, violent epic upends the usual fantasy clichés.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
George R.R. Martin creates a medieval fantasy worl
Tradition is important, and promises should be kep
In A Game of Thrones and its sequels, author Georg
From its first scene to its last, A Game of Throne
Although not as prevalent as violence, sex plays a
Think of a swear word, and it's probably used
Adults and teens drink alcohol at court and in pub
Parents need to know that A Song of Fire and Ice -- adapted for the popular and very mature TV series Game of Thrones -- is a seven-volume fantasy saga by George R.R. Martin, of which only the first five volumes have been published as of April 2016. Set in a magical version of the Middle Ages, it…
George R.R. Martin creates a medieval fantasy world that is nearly overwhelmingly rich in detail. He aims to provide a more "realistic" kind of saga, upending clichés and providing viewpoints of unusual characters.
Tradition is important, and promises should be kept. It's better to face a problem head-on than to deny that you're in trouble.
Positive Role Models
In A Game of Thrones and its sequels, author George R. R. Martin rarely shows only one side of his characters' personalities. Few of them are all good or all bad. He clearly sympathizes with the members of the Stark family, but each of them is also capable of accessing a dark side.
Violence & Scariness
From its first scene to its last, A Game of Thrones contains violence, which often strikes without warning to the guilty and the innocent alike. There are beheadings, sword fights, wolf attacks, rapes, and death by molten gold. A young boy is thrown out a window. No character is ever safe, and the graphic details of their injuries or deaths are usually provided.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.
Sex, Romance & Nudity
Although not as prevalent as violence, sex plays a large part in A Game of Thrones and its sequels. Cersei and Jaime Lannister engage in an incestuous relationship. Tyrion falls in love with a courtesan. Barely in her teens, Daenerys Targaryen enters into a sexual relationship with an older man before marrying him and becoming pregnant with his child. Sometimes such encounters are described in graphic detail.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Sex, Romance & Nudity in your kid's entertainment guide.
Think of a swear word, and it's probably used in A Song of Fire and Ice at some point, from "damn" and "bastard" to "c--t" and "f--k."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that A Song of Fire and Ice -- adapted for the popular and very mature TV series Game of Thrones -- is a seven-volume fantasy saga by George R.R. Martin , of which only the first five volumes have been published as of April 2016. Set in a magical version of the Middle Ages, it chronicles the exploits of the Stark, Baratheon, Lannister, and Targaryen families as they struggle for power in a deadly civil war. Violence percolates through nearly every scene, including sword fights, beheadings, rapes, wolf attacks, death by molten gold, and more. Sexual content includes an incestuous relationship between a brother and a sister, the marriage of an older man to a teen girl, and a prince's love affair with a courtesan. The language is predictably rough, ranging from "hell" and "damn" to "f--k" and "c--t." If the books were rated as movies are, they would receive a "hard R."
Where to Read
- Parents say (19)
- Kids say (58)
Based on 19 parent reviews
A good read, but be cautious
Amazing dark fantasy with great rich story., what's the story.
After his predecessor is murdered, Eddard Stark reluctantly agrees to serve as "the Hand" to his good friend, King Robert Baratheon. His honorable decision has far-reaching consequences for his family. After King Robert dies, the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros are plunged into civil war, thanks to the plotting of the Lannisters, and the Stark children and their mother are scattered in all directions. Each must find a new way to survive in a rapidly changing world, even as magic grows stronger, a new peril approaches the Wall that protects the kingdoms, and the threat of the ultimate weapon -- tame dragons -- grows in the East.
Is It Any Good?
There have been many fantasy sagas published in the last half century, but few can boast the scope, depth, and attention to detail of A SONG OF FIRE AND ICE. George R. R. Martin is a master plotter, moving his huge cast of characters from one harrowing situation to the next and keeping readers anxious and surprised again and again. Some of the first five volumes work better than others ( A Feast for Crows leaves many readers disappointed), but all add new elements that only increase the complex richness of the narrative.
This book series is certainly not for sensitive readers. The language is rough, the violence is brutal, and the sexual content sometimes veers into the perverse (including brother-sister incest). But readers with the maturity to handle adult material will be amply rewarded. Martin is a serious storyteller of the first order, and A Song of Fire and Ice is his masterwork.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about why fantasy sagas have become so popular in books, in movies, and on TV. What aspects of them appeal most to readers and viewers?
Why do some writers choose to include profanity in their dialogue and descriptions? Does it add a sense of realism to emotionally charged situations?
What role does violence play in the story? Would some of the characters be better off if they had not resorted to violence so quickly?
- Author : George R.R. Martin
- Genre : Fantasy
- Topics : Magic and Fantasy , Adventures , Brothers and Sisters , Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- Book type : Fiction
- Publisher : Bantam Books
- Publication date : March 30, 1996
- Publisher's recommended age(s) : 15 - 18
- Number of pages : 835
- Available on : Paperback, Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated : September 19, 2021
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REVIEW: A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
- Book Reviews
- July 6, 2022
- 1,710 views
- By John Mauro
Life is full of insignificant events, small perturbations that are rarely of any consequence. But occasionally the conditions are right for a small perturbation to escalate into something that alters the entire world, leaving a permanent mark on history. Whether it’s the start of a World War or the beginning of a global pandemic, the impact of a single, seemingly insignificant event can grow to outsize proportions, pushing the world out of its delicate balance.
The impact of A Game of Thrones on the world of fantasy cannot be overstated. Its publication in 1996 brought about an irreversible step change in fantasy literature, which for decades had been following the blueprint laid out by J.R.R. Tolkien in The Lord of the Rings .
Since its release in the 1950s, The Lord of the Rings had become the single most influential work of fantasy ever written, spawning countless imitations, none of which could reach the same level of impact achieved by Tolkien. Tolkien’s cultural influence stretched far beyond the world of literature, encompassing cinema (Peter Jackson), music (Led Zeppelin), and any number of role-playing games, including both tabletop games like Dungeons and Dragons and video games such as the Final Fantasy series.
Tolkien combined expansive, detailed worldbuilding with an epic good-vs-evil struggle of biblical proportions. Although Frodo struggles mightily against the corrupting power of the One Ring, there is never any doubt that he is on the side of good, a Christ figure who is willing to sacrifice himself to save others. Only two notable characters in The Lord of the Rings exhibit discernable gray morality. The most obvious of these is Gollum/Sméagol, but his gray morality is just a superposition of two dichotomous personas, one of which is good (Sméagol) and the other evil (Gollum). The other character, of course, is Boromir, who is fundamentally good but ultimately seduced by the Ring, becoming the Judas Iscariot figure of the Fellowship.
In A Game of Thrones , George R.R. Martin embraced Tolkienesque worldbuilding while taking an antithetical approach to character morality. Both Middle-earth and Westeros feel authentic because they are so fully realized, complete with their own history and culture, giving the reader a fully immersive experience where they can suspend their own reality while diving into a richly detailed new world.
The main difference comes in the gritty approach that Martin has taken toward character morality, making A Game of Thrones one of the first true grimdark fantasies. Whereas Middle-earth is a world of black and white, Martin uses a full palette of gray to paint his cast of characters. If Tolkien has written an allegory for the epic battle of Christ vs Satan, then George R.R. Martin is more interested in the sneering Pontius Pilate, questioning the meaning of truth itself.
In presenting a grittier, more realistic approach to fantasy, A Game of Thrones became part of a larger cultural movement that emerged in the 1990s. For example, at around the same time, grunge bands such as Soundgarden and Alice in Chains came to prominence, bringing an unapologetic rawness and honesty to a music scene that, in the preceding decade, had been hiding behind a façade of synthetic sounds, big hair, and heavy makeup.
More than a quarter century later, A Game of Thrones has rightfully become one of the most respected and influential works of fantasy. A Song of Ice and Fire has sold close to 100 million books worldwide, becoming one of the best-selling series of all time.
Rereading A Game of Thrones , it’s easy to see why. George R.R. Martin is an outstanding writer. Given the complexity of the world and the plot, this book could have easily become unreadable in less capable hands. But Martin does a wonderful job introducing us to the characters and worldbuilding in a natural and accessible fashion. A Game of Thrones is never a chore, and the pacing is remarkably consistent throughout the book.
Although A Game of Thrones is fantasy, the magical elements are of secondary importance, at least in this first volume of A Song of Ice and Fire. Instead, A Game of Thrones is driven by its wonderful cast of characters. George R.R. Martin has crafted some of the finest characters in all of fantasy, including the inimitable Tyrion Lannister, whose astute political skills are coupled with a keen wit and a genuine kindness toward the less fortunate.
One of the interesting choices made by George R.R. Martin is that, out of the eight point-of-view characters in A Game of Thrones , five are children. Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen are both 14 years old at the beginning of A Song of Ice and Fire. Among the Stark children, Sansa is 11, Arya is 9, and Bran is 7. Beyond these point-of-view characters, Robb Stark is 14 and Joffrey Baratheon is 12. This may be surprising for fans of the HBO series , since all the actors portraying these characters were significantly older than the characters themselves. Considering their young age, the terrible situations experienced by these children in A Game of Thrones become all the more harrowing. I particularly admire the way Daenerys overcomes unspeakably terrible abuse to grow into the strong, self-assured leader that she becomes.
We are living the legacy of A Game of Thrones now, with its indelible impact on both grimdark fantasy and epic fantasy in general. One prominent example is The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson, which is clearly influenced by the narrative structure, expansive worldbuilding, and character-driven plot of A Game of Thrones . Both are full of political intrigue and focus on sparring factions of a fractured society who are fighting each other when they should be focused on a more sinister enemy posing an existential threat to their civilization.
Does this remind you of anyplace else? Although A Game of Thrones emerged in the 1990s, I would argue that it is even more relevant today in our own time wracked by political extremism and a breakdown of global order, where irrational nationalism trumps our ability to confront the serious existential threats facing our society.
A Game of Thrones is one of the finest and most influential books ever published, and its impact only continues to grow. If you have somehow put off reading A Game of Thrones , please put aside whatever reservations you may have and just dive in. You won’t be disappointed.
Read A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
John Mauro lives in a world of glass amongst the hills of central Pennsylvania. When not indulging in his passion for literature or enjoying time with family, John is training the next generation of materials scientists at Penn State University, where he teaches glass science and materials kinetics. John also loves cooking international cuisine and kayaking the beautiful Finger Lakes region of upstate New York.
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Getting hooked on George RR Martin
Back in the summer, I wrote a blog about the interesting new David Gemmell Legend Award for fantasy and asked why fantasy novels are viewed so negatively by those that don't actually read them. Hundreds of people came on to comment and as the debate proceeded it became clear that I myself actually knew next to nothing about contemporary fantasy novels. I was soon challenged to address my ignorance – and given a host of recommendations as to where I should start.
I accepted the challenge and began my re-education pretty quickly, believe it or not, even though a full six months have passed since then. It's taken me all this time to write a follow-up partly because of other commitments, but mainly because I decided to read George RR Martin 's A Game Of Thrones. Which is a mighty 800 pages long. A pretty terrifying figure if you consider that this is one of the shorter entries in a projected seven-part series. Seven books that are each almost as fat as the Lord Of The Rings …
… Not that this has put people off. I was convinced that I should embark on the Ice and Fire books, thanks to the many enthusiastic posts on the Gemmell blog, alongside the novels' fearsome reputation as "dragon-crack". The series' fanbase literally can't get enough of the stuff. George RR Martin hasn't finished the fifth book yet (long after original projected publication dates) and the delay is causing so much angst among readers that Martin himself has been moved to ask them to stop haranguing him , and Neil Gaiman has had to explain (to someone intent on pressing Martin for more) the important principle that " George RR Martin is not your bitch ".
At first I couldn't understand this enthusiasm. The UK Voyager edition has a hideous cover with embossed letters and a horsey-looking dragon on the front. Open it up and there's the perennial fantasy cliché of a pen and ink map with funny little pictures of trees, improbable coastlines and towns with names like "Maidenpool".
Within the story proper there is plenty more of that kind of thing. By the second page of the story proper, a sword is given a name (Ice, unexcitingly). There's an intensely irritating wandering minstrel (although Martin has at least given his the hilarious name Marillion ). There's a silly castle called the Eyrie high up "steps carved into a mountain" and a path "too steep even for mules" - but presumably not too steep to transport food supplies and the tonnes of lumber needed to build the place. After sex, women are left with "aching loins". There are also plenty of other frequent and heinous archaisms: "Would that I were a pumpkin" and "Lord Tywin is greatly wroth."
There are other less cosmetic problems, too. Martin has a great talent when it comes to placing his reader inside the heads of his characters, and his character-per-chapter format gives an intimate and interesting perspective on his world. But the people he describes are too often one-dimensional and dull, and they exist on a simplistic George W Bush-style moral plane of black and white, good and evil. The good guys are generally insufferably good: their nobility comes attached to pomposity, preachiness and predictability. The bad guys are camp pantomine villains given over to deviant sex, the slaughter of innocents and laughing at others' pain. There's a dumb princess who thinks only of handsome princes and good manners and pink fluffy cliché. There's a court surrounding a declining king made up of consummate liars, sycophants and poisoners. There's a brattish heir to the kingdom with severe entitlement issues. It's daft. It's unsophisticated. It's cartoonish.
And yet, I couldn't stop reading. And it wasn't with the kind of self-loathing desperation for closure that took me to the end of The Da Vinci Code. I read A Game Of Thrones with genuine pleasure. It may be a cartoon, but it's one that is brilliantly drawn. Archaic absurdity aside, Martin's writing is excellent. His dialogue is snappy and frequently funny. His descriptive prose is immediate and atmospheric, especially when it comes to building a sense of deliciously dark foreboding relating to a long winter that is about to engulf his fictional land.
Indeed, darkness is something Martin excels in. He indulges in plenty of the pulse-quickening battlefield heroics in Tolkien's gory glory mould, but he also never fails to show the grimy reality of the slaughter. In these wars, children are killed at their mothers' breasts, the old are tortured and humiliated, women are raped, suffering is everywhere and Martin doesn't flinch in the face of it. Meanwhile, there are unsettling passages of bracingly weird sex, inventively unpleasant killing (a pot of semi-molten gold worn as a hat being a memorable example) and a strain of political intrigue (supposedly based on the Wars Of The Roses, interestingly enough) that would make Machiavelli blush.
Finally, there's the simple fact of Martin's storytelling ability. Each chapter ends on an effective cliff-hanger, each one of the numerous story strands contains dozens of others and they all contribute to further pressing questions about the fate of each of his hundreds of characters … Although I cared for few of them, I had to know what happened to each. I have to know what's going to happen too. Especially since so many reviews have suggested that the simplistic morality I complain of here gets fascinatingly muddled later on. I know why they call it dragon-crack. I have no choice but to read the next novel.
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Home » All Posts » The Game of Thrones Books Ranked
The Game of Thrones Books Ranked
The Game of Thrones Books Ranked – Spoiler Free
A Song of Ice and Fire might not be completed yet, but that won’t stop me from ranking the books! George R. R. Martin ’s epic fantasy series is one of the best that has ever been written, and its influence is even greater.
This list is only the 5 books in the main A Song of Ice and Fire series, and does not include the Targaryen history or other additional books that have been released.
Why You Should Read ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’
#5 – A Feast For Crows
I made it clear in my review for A Feast For Crows that I didn’t hate this book, but it’s the weakest of the lot. However, we do see some fantastic character work with Cersi, who is an amazing character to follow.
There was a part of me that missed all the other characters, who’s stories we follow in the next book, A Dance With Dragons . Maybe I would have preferred it if the two books were combined into one, but they are big enough as it is, so I understand why the decision was made.
#4 – A Dance With Dragons
Pretend the last few seasons of Game of Thrones never happened and read this book instead! A Dance With Dragons follows closely behind A Feast For Crows in this ranking of the Game of Thrones books, but it’s still better.
Again, this is a personal preference with the character we get to follow, such as Daenerys and Tyrion. Also, the side plots that were removed for the TV series are incredible. We get a new character who could be someone very important (no spoilers, I promise!) and it was such a shame not to see this in the show.
Or, perhaps the TV series leaving out some great things from this book is a good thing – it means we don’t have any negative feelings towards the story line!
#3 – A Storm of Swords
The top three books in ‘The Game of Thrones books ranked’ were so close! But A Storm of Swords had to come third. This is the last book we received that was properly epic, with battles, politics, mysteries and more.
The ending of book 2, A Clash of Kings sets up a powerful story with losses on all sides. This makes A Storm of Swords a huge book but fast-paced read.
# 2 – A Game of Thrones
A Game of Thrones – the book that started it all! I’m sure a lot of people would have put this first on the list, but for me, while it’s an incredible book that I have reread so many times, it’s not quite the best.
We are introduced to so many characters, a sprawling world of complex politics and fraying alliances. This is a quiet book, for the most part, with a lot of the action taking place in the shadows. It’s a fantastic, political fantasy and no one has done it better.
Joe Abercrombie came close with The Blade Itself , though – you can feel the huge influence A Game of Thrones had on that book.
#1 – A Clash of Kings
That leaves book 2 in the A Song of Ice and Fire series, A Clash of Kings as the victor. This book is in my top 10, maybe even top 5 epic fantasy series (depending on the day!).
This book is where all the sneaking around, backstabbing and careful planning that occurs in A Game of Thrones comes to a head. We have so many men naming themselves ‘King’ – it’s just an exciting read!
When reading A Clash of King , I get the feeling that this is the story George R. R. Martin had in mind when he started A Game of Thrones (and even if it’s not – that’s how it feels). This is easily one of the best fantasy books ever written and it’s my favourite of every book in the A Song of Ice and Fire series.
Final Thoughts on the ‘Game of Thrones’ Books Ranked
There is my ranking for the ‘Game of Thrones’ books! Do you agree with my list, or would you have done the complete opposite? Let me know down in the comments or join us on Discord for a discussion.
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View all posts by Tommye
Owner and Editor of The Fantasy Review. Loves all fantasy and science fiction books, graphic novels, TV and Films. Having completed a BA and MA in English Literature and Creative writing, they would like to go on to do a PhD. Favourite authors are Trudi Canavan, Steven Erikson, George R. R. Martin and Brandon Sanderson.