When you play the Game of Thrones you win or you DIE
I admit it, I read The Lord of the Rings— all 1000+ Orc filled pages of it– but only out of love (it is the Hubby’s all time favourite book!). It took me over a year but, yes, I did finish it! The A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R. R. Martin is considered to be the “new” LOTR. A Game of Thrones is the first of the series, the set up to the epic saga of the fight for power in The Seven Kingdoms of the medieval fantasy land of Westeros. I also have to admit that LOTR was one of the rare cases where I enjoyed the movies much more than I did the books and I wonder if the same will be true with this (once I do finally watch the HBO series).
There is soooooooo much going on in this book that it would be pointless to write up a summary without boring everyone. So, I will just say that it is the same old story– there is a king, there are several others who wish to be king (or think they deserve to be king) and plots are formed against the king and loyalties will be tested. There are noble characters (Eddard “Ned” Stark, Ser Jorah Mormont), misunderstood/outcast characters (Tyrion Lannister, Jon Snow), naive characters (Sansa Stark, Daenerys Targaryen), wise characters (Jeor Mormont, Maester Luwin) and downright evil characters (Cersei Lannister, Littlefinger). And there are dragons, barbarians and zombies (yes, zombies). There will be war and eventually a new king (or queen???) will be crowned.
Things I enjoyed the most:
- The story of the direwolf pups found by the Stark children at the beginning of the book– each pup embodies the character of his/her master. (A “direwolf” seems to be an extra-large wolf with exceptional instincts). Ghost is my favourite.
- The stories of the younger Stark children– Arya and her tom-boy ways and Bran who deserved so much more than he got! (I just wanted to hug Bran– I pictured him looking just like my son Theo!!)
- How Prince Viserys finally gets his much wanted crown.
- All of the tales from The Wall (LOVE Samwell Tarly).
- Daenerys’ eventual empowerment and the rebirth of the dragons.
Things I did not like:
- The REPETITION of certain phrases and concepts (milk of the poppy, winter is coming, blood of the dragon, and yes, WE GET IT– Jon Snow is a bastard, Tyrian is an imp and Jamie is the King-slayer! PLEASE STOP MENTIONING IT!!!)
- The way Daenerys is basically SOLD to Khal Drogo and raped into thinking she loved him. That part was awfully disturbing considering she was only 13– I know, I know! In medieval times being married off at 13 was normal but still disturbing.
- The sex scenes were always either super cheesy or down and dirty (incest, rape).
- Anything to do with Catelyn (YAWN bor-ring!) or Sansa (can you say SHALLOW??).
- The fact that Ned Stark was so self-righteous that he almost seemed stupid– he could have been such a great character!!
Fantasy is not my usual genre but since there has been so much hype about the HBO series (which is not yet available on the Canadian cable station that we subscribe to) I thought that I would try the audiobook to see what the hype was all about. Yes, the story was riveting, the characters and character development AWESOME but it was LONG! About 800 pages and a whopping 33 hours to listen too!!! There are 4 more books to follow that are EVEN LONGER and 2 more promised after that. So, if I do decide to continue following the path into Westeros it won’t be any time soon– not because I did not enjoy, but because of time constraints. 3 stars for this one from me (if I was more into fantasy novels I can see it easily being a 4).
Note on narration: The narrator for this audiobook was Roy Dotrice who a lot of people have praised but, for me, I thought he tried SO HARD to make different voices for the dialogue that some times it was hard to understand what was being even said. Too many high-pitched, fake-girl-like, granny, tongue-to-big-for-your-mouth-type voices– ug! Like nails on a chalk board in some places (Varys, the Raven and the little Lord Arryn were the WORST!!!)! When he spoke in his regular voice– top-notch job! Hint: there are WAY too many characters in this series to give them each a unique voice so please stop trying!! Or, why not try multiple narrators? (just my opinion of course!!)