A Game of Thrones: Book 1 Mass Market Paperback – 1 October 1997
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- Publisher : Voyager GB; edition (1 October 1997)
- Language: : English
- Mass Market Paperback : 864 pages
- ISBN-10 : 000647988X
- ISBN-13 : 978-0006479888
- Dimensions : 11.4 x 4.7 x 17.8 cm
- Best Sellers Rank: 4,486 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
‘Of those who work in the grand epic fantasy tradition, Martin is by far the best’
‘Colossal, staggering… Martin captures all the intoxicating complexity of the Wars of the Roses or Imperial Rome’
‘The sheer-mind-boggling scope of this epic has sent other fantasy writers away shaking their heads … Its ambition: to construct the Twelve Caesars of fantasy fiction, with characters so venomous they could eat the Borgias’
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Top reviews from Australia
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But a good writer must also make you connect with the characters, care for them, love them. Martin (in my opinion) didn't do as well in this, by building Game of Thrones to have a reputation where everyone dies. This stops people connecting with the characters, and it also scares people off reading it in the first place.
I found the way he describes fights rather annoying, and the History of Westros is VERY unclear. But overall, a good read, although I'm not sure if I'll read it again. I am currently watching the TV series and it's quite good, and seems to stick to the book quite well *cough* *cough* Peter Jackson.
Also, I think he's a bit out of whack with the ages of the Stark children.
The writing itself is amateurish, but does effectively build a world. I honestly don’t see what the big deal is about this book.
Top reviews from other countries
For me there wasn't much character development at all. I get there's A LOT of characters, but if I hadn't seen the series, then I would feel literally nothing for these people. Same goes for description of characters. There was too many names and important people to keep track off. I didn't feel any emotion from the characters. Especially when Drogo and Ned died. It was just like... Okay it's over now. Next chapter bye. There were times where I couldn't wait to read it, and times where I wasn't 100 percent sure I was going to finish it.
I made a promise to myself that if I was to write a book review id be honest. But I'm not denouncing this series. I'm actually going on to read the second book in the hopes that I do find I love it and hope that fans of the show (and people looking for an interesting read set in an incredible world) pick this up and give it a go. But it took me 3 attempts to finish this one. I
I gave it a three as for me, while I love the story and the world he had created, I couldn't get rid of the feeling that without the tv show, I wouldn't be able to put a face to a name or feel how the characters felt, which is something I've never had trouble with before.
I started this, then put it down and just didn't pick it back up. It remained like that for, what?, six-seven months before I picked it up again… and finished it in a week.
I loved this book so much. I think the reason it took me so long the first time 'round was because it was so freaking like the TV series (Gods, do I miss those days) but I pushed on and so glad I did, because there's just little things in the book that they didn't include in the show.
The characters in this series are just so… amazing. I love how well they are fleshed out, how pure their emotions come through the page until you're feeling it with them. I love that whilst reading a Stark chapter, you hate the Lannisters and everyone that sides with them, but then you read a Lannister chapter and you're like… wow, those Starks aren't exactly the best, are they?
You route for whoever you are reading. Sure, you attach yourselves to certain ones because it's still a piece of fiction and that's what you do with fiction - you mark your favourites. But there's no-one in here that's truly hate worthy… except Joffrey. He's just a little s***.
The magical elements are unlike most fantasy books I've read in the sense they're hidden deep down and haven't started stirring yet. I've already read the 2nd book and know that as the series goes on, the more magic comes out. And it's amazing that way.
There's not just one plot going on, there's a million different little ones, that somehow all steer towards the End Goal which I have no idea what it'll be because GRRM hasn't finished. But still! You can see plainly that whilst these little plots seem interesting in their own right, you reach a point in the book where you realise that because of that little plot, the entire story is blown open.
It's incredible. Simple incredible.
Although this is indeed a gripping story, it took a long time for me to gain momentum. In fact, twice I left the book alone for a couple of months and then started again, or backtracked through a few chapters. It was probably just past the halfway point in the book that I felt the pace developed and I was hooked.
The book's chapters are named after each of the key characters in the story, which I find adds an unusual sense of anticipation when you see which character's story is about to unfold. The curse of me coming to this book so long after it was written (would you believe the book is 20 years old already?!) is that all of the key plot-lines have been spilled through the TV show. I love the TV show, but I can't help but feel a sense of lost excitement, as I see the name of a character at the beginning of a chapter and think "I wonder if this is the part where he dies". Grrrr! Regardless of the self-inflicted spoilers, I've enjoyed this so much, I've already bought the rest of the books and look forward to ploughing through them as time allows.
The enhanced features in this version of the book are a pleasant addition but I wouldn't say they have been essential. There are audio narration clips scattered throughout the book, but after a while the novelty wore off, and I skipped many of them. The most useful feature, was the ability to click on a character name and to be taken to a summary in the book's appendix. This is particularly useful for this book, as it hosts a huge number of characters that are hard to keep track of. However, a more advanced version of this feature appears to be built into the Kindle's X-Ray feature, making the book's hyperlinks less essential.
After 30 minutes reading I wondered if some 1 star reviewers had been reading the same book as myself as it was galloping along at a great pace. To be fair I wasn’t put off by strange names (I’ve used enough in my own writing) or ‘nasty goings-on’ (again mea culpa). Furthermore, I’m very experienced in the study of Medieval History so well at home with the period. Indeed, the Lannisters are clearly based on the family of Elizabeth Woodville (c. 1440-92), the queen of Edward IV (1461-83); in King Robert (‘..Six and a half feet tall, he towered over lesser men..... ) the reader has Edward IV (as in the last 5 years of his life); surely in Joffrey (‘pouty lips... disdainful walk...’) there is Thomas Grey, Elizabeth’s son, who shocked the Court by marrying the dowager Duchess of Dorset (old enough to be his grandmother) in 1478. Perhaps I stray too far in linking the ‘mad king’ (killed by Jaime Lannister) with Henry VI (1422-61 – died 1471) or Ned Stark and family with that of Richard Neville, Earl of York. As for identifying Tyrion Lannester ‘The Imp’ with the SHAKESPEARIAN image of Richard III (1483-5) I’m at a loss.
For the critics of the ‘seamier’ episodes, may I point out History records murders on the battlefield, rushed beheadings, witchcraft and wholesale cruelty and spite as making up much of life in 15th century ‘Merry England’. The major HISTORICAL criticism I’d make is the absence of organised religion in the events: I’d excuse direwolves, Others and other supernatural features as but the imagination of a good writer at work.
There is no doubt R.R. Martin is a gifted writer. He’s far less elaborate than Tolkein but then he’s far less ambitious – no aim of providing a multiplicity of languages in a world of differently formed creatures (including talking tees) just aiming to produce a dramatic tale of human ambitions, rivalries and treacheries with an added spice of ‘wyrd’ (as the Anglo-Saxons would have understood it) and ‘weird’ as enjoyed by lovers of Gothic novels and ‘colourful’ films. The writing canters along through speech, thoughts, pen-portraits and dramatic encounters. It’s not so ‘down to earth’ as that of Terry Pratchett and yet surprisingly simpler than that of J.K. Rowling. Martin matches the pleasure given me by the other three authors over decades.
As always I’d read a selection of both 5 star & 1 star reviews. Here are some of the latter with my comments. ‘I don't think it helped that it jumps about from person to person/scene to scene.’- a standard way by thriller writers of maintaining tension. ‘So many pointless characters with so many stupid names’ – such may add atmosphere and also remove the reader into a different world; those that count will be repeated as so become familiar. ‘Why no resolution?’ - because it’s part of a SERIES; I must confess I dislike villains ‘surviving’ to reappear in an entirely separate work for another dose, but such is not true here. ‘A story that doesn't make sense and characters about whom I couldn't care less’ – I recommend reading a DETAILD history of English history 1455-85 (or even 1399-1499) to get the same effect.
In the book there are several engaging episodes such as the journey by Catelyn up to the Eyrie, the escape of Arya from the Lannister coup, the battle featuring Tyrion and the struggle of Jon with the ‘undead’ . Such are frequently described from the viewpoint of participants with some success.
My favourite character in the book is Tyrion Lannester (‘The Imp’) – much smarter than any of the other characters and with a macabre, self-deprecating sense of humour (perhaps based on the Shakespearian Richard III) - Petyr Baelish is a similar, if paler, character. Arya Stark, Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen are close behind, possibly because they make more of themselves than either the reader or the other characters expect. A couple of characters I found almost ‘nauseating’ - Joffrey Baratheon and Robyn Arryn, both spoilt and given power when grossly unfitted. Enigmatic characters, such as Sandor Clegane (‘The Hound’) and POTENTIALLY Sansa Stark intrigue me. Disappointing for me, because of plot potential, are Jaime Lannester (apart from ‘the things I do for love’ incident). My title is voiced by Queen Cersei to Eddard Stark in a scene when I was wondering if any man could be so stupid – he’s so disappointing that perhaps his termination proves welcome. I should stress here that I know nothing of what happens in the saga in subsequent books so my opinion may drastically change.
Any criticisms? The chapters are simply titled according to the key personality therein. Especially using a Kindle, this makes it more difficult to access the previous scene; adding numbers would help – e.g. Jon1, Jon2, Jon3 & the use of ‘Search’- deal with the confusion felt by some readers. AT THE MOMENT the episodes involving Daenerys Targaryen among the Dothraki are very detached but clearly there for future developments . Even so I must admit the appearance of a pair of dragons doesn’t offer an ‘attractive ‘ story line – direwolves are the limit for me.
Anyway I award the book 5 stars and look forward to reading the sequel.