Review: ‘A Game of Thrones’

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A Game of Thrones

by George R.R. Martin

  • Date Finished: Dec. 19, 2013
  • Genre: Fiction, Fantasy
  • Year: 1996
  • Project: Big Books Project
  • Reading List: Winter 2013-14, NPR’s Top 100 Science Fiction Novels
  • Grade: A
  • Thoughts upon reading: 

Truth be told, I was a little anxious before reading A Game of Thrones. Would I hate it? Would it be a huge waste of my time? Would it take forever? What if I’m not like 99.9 percent of everyone in the world who’s obsessed with #GoT? I don’t make it a habit to read uber popular books the MOMENT they’re hot, finding that these experiences tend to disappoint rather than satisfy.

Well, it’s a good thing I was anxious for no reason because like every other geek out there, I loved A Game of Thrones. OK, maybe I don’t love-love it … at least not yet. But I did like it, a lot. And even though I know I can be jaded about commercially popular titles – especially once they’re made into a television series – I’m glad A Game of Thrones wasn’t just another disappointment, because this book reminded me of the joy that is discovering and getting lost in a new, strange and fascinating world. Science fiction and fantasy are made for these kinds of stories, and it’s refreshing to find one that actually works for me.

Because everyone seems to know some part of the plot of A  Game of Thrones – including myself, and I’ve never seen one episode of the HBO series – here’s some of my thoughts upon finishing this book in what has to be record time:

  • First of all, those who say that the book is confusing because each chapter is told from the perspective of a different character – they’re idiots. This book is not difficult to follow, and contains no more characters than, well, one of those television dramas everyone is apparently obsessed with. If you can keep track of everyone on The Walking Dead or Homeland, you can keep up with the characters in A Game of Thrones. Plus, it’s not like George R.R. Martin drops you into the chapters with no hint as to what’s going on; there’s plenty of clues there to help the reader. Plus, there’s an appendix with the family tree in the back – pay attention, people, and you won’t be so confused.
  • I was pleasantly surprised at the level  A Game of Thrones is written at. Martin does not talk down to his readers, nor does he assume they’re idiots, and his writing reflects that. I appreciate that in a commercially popular book (even if the book only became popular after the TV show aired, but whatever). I also appreciate that in a fantasy novel, which has the potential to slide into the ridiculous if it caters only to the diehard fans of the genre. A Game of Thrones is written for anyone who enjoys a good book and appreciates fine writing, and I like that.
  • That being said, I was also happy how quickly the book moves along. The chapters are relatively short, and typically cover one scene or bring you up to date with what’s happening in one corner of the world, so you can cram in a few at at time and feel like you accomplished something. Plus, the book is entirely plot driven, which means the prose moves along at a good pace and keeps you reading even after you’ve read 10, 20, 30…50 pages in one sitting. Those 700+ pages go fast, and I finished in just over a week. A week, folks!
  • I was a little surprised and slightly disappointed at the lack of magic so far in the series. I mean, there’s magic in this world and a few examples of its power, but most of A Game of Thrones is about political intrigue set in a medieval, fantasy world. Which is OK, because that drama is addictive, but when I think of high fantasy, I think of magic and strange creatures. However, there’s plenty of hints of more magic to come in A Game of Thrones – dragons and white walkers, and such – so I’m not worried.

Now, I don’t plan on reading all five…six?…books in one sitting. There’s a lot of other books I want to read this winter, but I might make a point to finish all five within the upcoming year, just in time for the newest addition to the series.

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4 thoughts on “Review: ‘A Game of Thrones’

  1. Pingback: Review: ‘Clash of Kings’ | Paperback Fool

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  4. Pingback: Review: ‘A Dance With Dragons’ | Paperback Fool

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