(This is probably the most intimidating book to do my first review on. I can see now, I may have made a huge mistake. It’s probably a bit of a cheek calling it a review because I mostly talk about my feel for the whole book rather than comment on any major plot points. But what the hell, the only way is up from here!)
Yes, I began my reading year by jumping on the Game of Thrones bandwagon. As a side note – I had watched the first two series of the show and then, for some reason, just stopped. I think this was a point in my life (fyi i’m still at this point), where I was watching far too many tv series and I guess there were just others I wanted to continue with more. However, after reading the first book in what is already widely thought of as a phenomenal series, I will definitely be picking up the show again.
Had I not seen the first couple episodes of the show, I might have found this book harder to get into. There is almost an endless list of characters, different houses and their individual hierarchies and loyalties, and the world itself is just so rich and well detailed (which is by NO means a bad thing), I felt that having some faces to put to some of the characters (although I’m sure actor choices are often disputed), really helped me get involved. That being said, the reference pages at the back of the book, which state the main houses and subsequent key people and their relations, were very helpful to occasionally flip back to as I was reading. So I probably would have been fine.
I am not going to go into the premise of the series here, as I’m not sure there is anyone on the internet who hasn’t already read them, seen some of the show, or is familiar with the universe otherwise. And to be frank, there’s so much going on, I’d probably do a less than adequate job.
This is by no means what I would call an ‘easy’ read. It’s highly enjoyable, and it’s fascinating to think that a single mind has created such greatness, but you have to concentrate and read thoroughly if you expect to keep track of the many intertwining plots. Personally, I don’t think I have ever read a book containing this many pages, so this was daunting to start. I would not recommend this to anyone looking for some light reading. My attention span is usually mediocre, at best, so I doubted my own capabilities of staying power with this one.
But boy am I glad I gave this a chance. This book is fantastic. George’s writing is so raw, so immersive, and really manages to feed across this ambitious tale in a way that is constantly engaging. I found it very difficult to put this book down and it took me less than 3 weeks to finish. Upon turning over the last page I can’t help but think of this book in the same vein as a Shakespearean Tragedy. The experiences and obstacles thrown at these characters are at times, devastating, but I got this sense of their journeys being fated, a foregone conclusion, and I find myself beginning to understand this world. After getting quite heavily attached to some of the characters already, this novel is pretty heartbreaking, almost overwhelmingly emotional in parts and supersedes being well written. I thoroughly enjoyed it being written in several different points of view from a bunch of the main characters, and couldn’t see how this story would work any other way. It helps keep it fresh and interesting all the way through, gave me the opportunity to really bond with the characters, and adds even more grit to this profound, multifaceted adventure.
It would be very difficult for me to declare a favourite character at this early stage in the saga, but I will say there are currently special places in my heart for Daenerys and Arya. Tyrion’s quick wit and acceptance (or light hearted self-deprecation) of who he is makes for some very entertaining moments, thus making me feel for him and end up rather fond of him too. On the other hand there are two things I can be sure of – neither Joffrey or Viserys would make my Christmas list.
I purchased the entire boxset of A Song of Ice and Fire (mainly for the gorgeous new covers, don’t judge), and can’t wait to get into the next one. This is definitely going to be a series where I will have to read each installment close to the last, as there is a lot to keep track off that will need to be fresh in my mind for me to truly appreciate the development. It will by no means be a chore though, as despite the fact these books are long, this book has further enhanced my love for the fantasy genre and I can easily see myself falling quickly in love with George’s mind and wonderful writing.
Thanks for reading!