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`Read Pdf ⚤ A Game of Thrones ò Here Is The First Volume In George R R Martin S Magnificent Cycle Of Novels That Includes A Clash Of Kings And A Storm Of Swords As A Whole, This Series Comprises A Genuine Masterpiece Of Modern Fantasy, Bringing Together The Best The Genre Has To Offer Magic, Mystery, Intrigue, Romance, And Adventure Fill These Pages And Transport Us To A World Unlike Any We Have Ever Experienced Already Hailed As A Classic, George R R Martin S Stunning Series Is Destined To Stand As One Of The Great Achievements Of Imaginative FictionA GAME OF THRONESLong Ago, In A Time Forgotten, A Preternatural Event Threw The Seasons Out Of Balance In A Land Where Summers Can Last Decades And Winters A Lifetime, Trouble Is Brewing The Cold Is Returning, And In The Frozen Wastes To The North Of Winterfell, Sinister And Supernatural Forces Are Massing Beyond The Kingdom S Protective Wall At The Center Of The Conflict Lie The Starks Of Winterfell, A Family As Harsh And Unyielding As The Land They Were Born To Sweeping From A Land Of Brutal Cold To A Distant Summertime Kingdom Of Epicurean Plenty, Here Is A Tale Of Lords And Ladies, Soldiers And Sorcerers, Assassins And Bastards, Who Come Together In A Time Of Grim OmensHere An Enigmatic Band Of Warriors Bear Swords Of No Human Metal A Tribe Of Fierce Wildlings Carry Men Off Into Madness A Cruel Young Dragon Prince Barters His Sister To Win Back His Throne And A Determined Woman Undertakes The Most Treacherous Of Journeys Amid Plots And Counterplots, Tragedy And Betrayal, Victory And Terror, The Fate Of The Starks, Their Allies, And Their Enemies Hangs Perilously In The Balance, As Each Endeavors To Win That Deadliest Of Conflicts The Game Of Thrones Georgerrmartin First off, I m a heavy duty fan of GRRM I ve read over a 100 different fantasy authors in my time Took about 5 years off from the genre b c I felt it was all getting too formulaic and cliched So, when I came back to fantasy I read the usual Goodkind, Jordan, etc and then someone told me about GRRM and man, that was the kicker Here are the reasons to choose GRRM I ve also listed the reasons not to choose him to make it fair b c I know their are certain personalities who won t like this series WHY TO READ GRRM 1 YOU ARE TIRED OF FORMULAIC FANTASY good lad beats the dark lord against impossible odds boy is the epitome of good he and all his friends never die even though they go through great dangersthe good and noble king the beautiful princess who falls in love with the commoner boy even though their stations are drastically differentyou get the idea After reading this over and over, it gets old 2 YOU ARE TIRED OF ALL THE HEROES STAYING ALIVE EVEN THOUGH THEY ARE UNDER CONSTANT DANGER this gets even worse where the author kills a main hero off but that person comes back later in the story Or, a hero does die but magic brings him back This sometimes carries to minor characters where even they may not die, but most fantasy authors like to kill them off to show that some risked the adventure and perished 3 YOU ARE A MEDIEVAL HISTORY BUFF this story was influenced by the WARS OF THE ROSES and THE HUNDRED YEARS WAR 4 YOU LOVE SERIOUS INTRIGUE WITHOUT STUPID OPPONENTS lots of layering lots of intrigue lots of clever players in the game of thrones Unlike other fantasy novels, one side, usually the villain, is stupid or not too bright 5 YOU ARE INTERESTED IN BIASED OPINIONS AND DIFFERENT TRUTHS GRRM has set this up where each chapter has the title of one character and the whole chapter is through their viewpoint Interesting tidbit is that you get their perception of events or truths But, if you pay attention, someone else will mention a different angle of truth in the story that we rarely see in other novels Lastly and most importantly, GRRM doesn t try to tell us which person is right in their perception He purposelly leaves it vague so that we are kept guessing 6 LEGENDS some of the most interesting characters are those who are long gone or dead We never get the entire story but only bits and pieces something that other fantasy authors could learn from to heighten suspense Additionally, b c the points of views are not congruent, we sometimes get different opinions 7 WORDPLAY if you re big on metaphors and description, GRRM is your guy Almost flawless flow What is honor compared to a woman s love What is duty against the feel of a newborn son in your armsor 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 8 LOTS OF CONFLICT all types, too not just fighting but between characters through threats and intrigue 9 MULTILAYERED PLOTTING SUB PLOTS GALORE each character has their own separate storyline especially as the story continues and everyone gets scattered This is one of the reasons why each novel is between 700 900 pages 10 SUPERLATIVE VARIED CHARACTERS not the typical archetypes that we are used to in most fantasy some are gritty few are totally evil or good GRRM does a great job of changing our opinions of characters as the series progress This is especially true of Jaime in book three 11 REALISTIC MEDIEVAL DIALOGUE not to the point that we can t understand it but well done 12 HEAPS OF SYMBOLISM AND PROPHECY if you re big on that 13 EXCELLENT MYSTERIES very hard to figure out the culprits GRRM must have read a lot of mystery novels 14 RICHLY TEXTURED FEMALE CHARACTERS best male author on female characters I have read realistic on how women think, too 15 LOW MAGIC WORLD magic is low key not over the top so heroes can t get out of jams with it REASONS TO NOT READ GRRM 1 YOU LIKE YOUR MAIN CHARACTERS GRRM does a good job of creatinglikable characters after a few die But, if that isn t your style, you shouldn t be reading it He kills off several, not just one, so be warned 2 DO NOT CARE FOR GRITTY GRAY CHARACTERS if you likewhite and gray characters, this may unsettle you I suggest Feist or Goodkind or Dragonlance if you want astraight forward story with strong archetypes 3 MULTIPLE POINTS OF VIEWS TURN YOU OFF if you prefer that the POVS only go to a few characters, this might be confusing for you 4 SWEARING, SEX there s a lot of it in this book just as there is in real life 5 YOU DEMAND CLOSURE AT THE END OF EVERY BOOK this isn t the case for all stories in the series Some are still going on some have been resolved others have been created and are moving on 6 IF YOU WANT A TARGET OR SOMEONE TO BLAME this can be done to some extent but not as much This is b c he doesn t try to make anyone necessarily good or evil 7 ARCHETYPES some readers like archetypal characters because it s comfortable we like the good young hero sort of like Pug in Feist s THE RIFTWAR SAGA it s familiar and we sometimes like to pretend we re this upcoming, great hero You wont get much of this in GRRM with the exception of one or two characters 8 LENGTH you don t want to get into a long fantasy epic series In that case, look for shorters works as this is biiig 9 PATRIARCHY men are most of the main characters with lots of power one female exception STORY PLOTTING A minus CHARACTER DIALOGUE A minus to A LEGENDS WORLD BUILDING A plus FANTASY FOCUSES A OVERALL GRADE A WHEN READ LAST 2009 5 readings revised review April 2012pics added August 2013 Ten years and five hundred comments later and men still think I care if they disagree with me.WARNING If you enjoyed this book, even a little bit, you may not want to read this review It will probably make you angry Heaven knows that the book made me furious, and I intend to turn every bit of that wrath back on it.Instead, I suggest you read karen s review, Brigid s review, Joyzi s review, or any other of the gushing four and five star reviews here If video reviews areyour style, I suggest Melina Pendulum s vlog about this book.Realistically, I know a lot of you are not going to listen, which is why the edit is here At least it will slow you down a little.EDIT adding onething because, despite the warning and the redirect links I kindly provided, I have indeed gotten the kind of sexist bullshit comments I anticipated Before you launch into the usual defense, therefore, I give you thisAlternatively, some fans may find it tempting to argue Well this media is a realistic portrayal of societies like X, Y, Z But when you say that sexism and racism and heterosexism and cissexism have to be in the narrative or the story won t be realistic, what you are saying is that we humans literally cannot recognise ourselves without systemic prejudice, nor can we connect to characters who are not unrepentant bigots Um, yikes YIKES, you guys.And even if you think that s true which scares the hell out of me , I don t see you arguing for an accurate portrayal of everything in your fiction all the time For example, most people seem fine without accurate portrayal of what personal hygiene was really like in 1300 CE in their medieval fantasy media Newsflash realistically, Robb Stark and Jon Snow rarely bathed or brushed their teeth or hair In real life, people have to go to the bathroom In movies and books, they don t show that very much, because it s boring and gross Well, guess what bigotry is also boring and gross But everyone is just dying to keep that in the script Source.Here s the scoop on this review For a book that I hate, I usually write a lot After suffering for several hundred pages, I have pleeeenty of things to say I ve never hated a book that was quite as long as this one quite as much as I do, so I ve had to alter my review so that I can say everything I want to without going over the character limit.The first part is an unorganized rant I marked pages with particularly annoying quotes on them for these rants, I broke the book into segments of 100 pages and wrote up quotes and responses for each segment into separate blog posts These are all linked below.The second part will be aorganized rant masquerading as a review MAKE NO MISTAKE THIS IS A HATER REVIEW IF ANYTHING WAS GOING TO CAUSE ME TO SPONTANEOUSLY DEVELOP THE ABILITY TO BREATHE FIRE, IT WOULD HAVE BEEN THIS BOOK.Part 1 Pages 1 100Pages 101 200Pages 201 300Pages 301 400Pages 401 500Pages 501 600Pages 601 700Pages 701 807Part 2 There are books I don t like.There are books I loathe.And thenthere s this book, which did its level best to drive me to drinking.and I don t even like alcohol.I wanted to like this I wanted it to be as excellent as so many people insist it is There are some books that I went into expecting them to be horrible, but this isn t one of them Oh, my hopes were high here it was recommended by a plethora of great authors, including the guys of Writing Excuses, who I absolutely love Reviewers who I greatly respect rated it four and five stars and wrote at length about how awesome it was Other people praised the book as the greatest achievement of the fantasy genre so far and Martin as the greatest fantasy writer of all time.It s those last two that are most important, I think, because I love the fantasy genre always have, and hopefully always will Fantasy is what got me into reading well, Harry Potter, specifically and it s been one of my mainstays for as long as I can remember I bought this book in large part because it was so often touted as, if not always the greatest achievement of the genre, one of the major works of fantasy published in our time Having recently read several works by Brandon Sanderson, all of which were innovative, highly readable, and deeply philosophical, I was excited to see what Martin by all reports an even better writer than Sanderson could do I expected my mind to be blown, repeatedly, and to be faced with the challenge of writing a review for a book so staggeringly brilliant that I could hardly think straight after finishing it.That is far, far, far from what I got.First of all, this book is definitely not what I think of when I hear the word fantasy It s certainly far from my definition of high fantasy Now, I realize that my definition of high fantasy , which includes pervasive magic, unusual creatures, and a setting that is vividly far from the real world, is not the definition you ll find if you look the term up online I also don t care Seeing as the critical definition appears to characterize high fantasy solely by the fact that it doesn t take place on our Earth, and as this definition is written as if high fantasy and sword and sorcery are mutually exclusive, I m inclined to conclude that whoever wrote said definition is pretty damn stupid and carry on with my own outlines of what makes fantasy high, low, urban, epic, or any other subcategory or combination thereof.That said this book High fantasy Not as far as I m concerned It is, to say the least, distinctly lacking in the requisite elements of the fantastic.Is it possible that Martin is going for a the magic comes back subplot over the course of the series Definitely Do I give two shits about the rest of the series NOPE.This book comes off as a pathetic attempt at fantasy by someone who doesn t really care about the genre, or doesn t know much about it It mostly struck meas an alternate universe War of the Roses fanfiction, with some hints of magic thrown in in a halfassed attempt to give it a place on the genre fiction shelves of bookstores You can explain to me over and over how Martin intended to make his world gritty and realistic and I will tell you over and over that that shouldn t matter that it is possible to have a fantasy which is gritty, realistic, and also utterly fantastical It s even possible to do it without losing the particular areas where Martin seemed to be trying for gritty realism since he chose to make all of his characters of the nobility anyhow, he wouldn t have had to worry about overglorifying the lives of the peasantry, as one might with aeconomically diverse cast.Now, I m willing to give Martin the benefit of the doubt a little bit on the possibility of the magic comes back thing, because there did seem to be elements here that could become fantastical if fully explained later The problem, of course, is that they re tossed out without background, let alone proper explanation, and so feel jarring and out of place not a coherent part of the world, but bits tossed in to be linked together later Right now all they managed to do was trip me up, throw me ass over teakettle out of the story, and leave me blinking at the page in confusion and not a little bit of frustration And yeah, maybe part of why I m so sore about this is that, like I said, I started this book not long after reading some Sanderson, and Sanderson is basically the king of seamless, fantastical, elegant worldbuilding, so pretty much anyone looks bad in comparison, but still If I had to assign this book to a genre, I d call it low fantasy , because as far as I m concerned it was running too low on the qualities that make fantasy what it is It s about as much fantasy as fanfiction that translates characters to the modern day is namely, basically mundane with a miniscule twist.The characters of this book also stand out and not in a good way.There are a lot of them eight POVs and plentyon the side and not a single one of them is likeable They all had the potential to be, which makes it worse Bran, the Stark boy who learns too much and is crippled as a result, could have an interesting arc if it weren t so slow and drawn out The hints of genuine pathos inducing story are definitely there They re also present in the chapters focused on Catelyn, who is the closest Martin gets to a truly nuanced character Ned Stark, Catelyn s husband, is supposed to be the noble one too bad his nobility comes off as stupidity instead Jon Snow, Ned s bastard child, is a truly stereotypical fantasy character the super special outcast who is nonetheless generally loved except by those the narration makes a point to show as bigoted and cruel, who never really has to work either for physical skills or personal growth, and who gets gifted by the narrative with an absurd number of SUPER UNIQUE TRAPPINGS, including an albino wolf really, Martin, REALLY Are you secretly a fourteen year old girl writing horrendous anime fanfic or something Answer no, and the comparison is insulting to fourteen year old girls and a bastard sword that was a family heirloom of a noble house not his own Arya is by far the most entertaining of the Starks, but only because she fulfills all sorts of rebellious noble girl learns to fight tropes that I m quite fond of Sansa s chapters made me set the book down for days on end she is beyond a shadow of a doubt the most insipid, annoying, airheaded character I have ever read and she has not a single whisper of a redeeming quality Tyrion Lannister is what Jon Snow could have become without the heapings of Gary Stu in his youth a bitter middle aged man with father issues who turns to sex and crudity as his only defense somewhat akin to Catelyn, he had the potential to be interesting and nuanced if his behavior hadn t been played dead straight.And there s oneDaenerys Targaryen Oh, Dany, Dany, Dany I could write a dissertation on Dany and everything that went wrong with her story but I don t have that kind of time.For those of you not familiar with this most epic of George R.R Martin s characterization and plot failures, here is a summary oh and spoilers, but I honestly can t be bothered to tag it When we first meet her, Dany is thirteen years ond and about to be sold effectively into marriage with Khal Drogo, a warlord of the Dothraki people, by her abusive and not a little bit crazy brother, Viserys Viserys has convinced himself that Drogo will help him take back his kingdom this being the Seven Kingdoms where the rest of the book takes place hence the whole selling his sister to be raped by married to someone he obviously sees as a barbarian thing The marriage occurs, and then the wedding night in truly squicky half detail There then follows a long journey across the plains to a Dothraki city, during which Dany is raped and no, I will not call it anything else by Drogo By her fourteenth birthday she is pregnant When they arrive in the Dothraki city, Viserys makes such an ass of himself that Drogo kills him by pouring molten gold over his head in the middle of a feasting hall Robert, the current king of the Seven Kingdoms who the Targaryens see as a usurper, sends assassins to kill Dany naturally, they fail and Drogo gets so angry at this that he decides to commit all his people to attacking the Seven Kingdoms in retribution They leave the Dothraki city at this point Dany is heavily pregnant and go out to wreak havoc across the countryside on their way to conquest In one such battle Drogo is wounded because he refuses to care for the wound properly, it gets infected When it is clear that he is going to die, Dany appeals to an old woman to perform forbidden magic to save him the rest of Drogo s people do not approve and try to cast Dany out End result Dany loses her child to create a Drogo zombie, which she then smothers When his body is placed on the traditional pyre, she adds in three supposedly dead dragon eggs given to her as wedding gifts and which any fool could see hundreds of pages off were bound to hatch and, surprise surprise, they hatch.To which my primary objections are 1 The blinding obviousness of the ending2 The fact that this single plotline this single POV among eight is so far distant from and so barely related to the others 3 The fact that Dany being raped is never treated as what it is, and that the relationship between her and Drogo is portrayed as love The first two are self explanatory the third, of course, is the big thorny problem Now, I can sort of understand the perspective which argues that Dany is taking control of her sexuality she comes to enjoy sex and even to initiate and control it at times However, SHE IS AT NO POINT OLDER THAN FOURTEEN There s a reason that such a concept as an age of consent exists there is an age at which teenagers are genuinely immature and probably shouldn t be making life changing decisions like, say, things that could get them pregnant Now, I understand that in the medieval times like those that this book is based on, girls were getting married and having children a lot earlier, and that people in general weremature at an early age However, Dany shows none of that maturity until after she s been with Drogo for weeks if not months When she s married to him, she is if anything unusually innocent for her age It s a little hard for me to accept the idea that she s taking control of her sexuality when she s so young and clueless that her first sexual experience is a choice only inasmuch as she chooses not to fight back Not fighting back, by the way, doesn t mean it s not rape, particularly in the situation that Dany is in vastly younger than Drogo, vastly weaker, browbeaten by her abusive brother and told over and over that her obligation is to do whatever her husband wants Nor are her later sexual experiences ones of choice in fact, it is explicitly stated that even when she had horrible saddle sores and could barely walk, she was expected to be available for sex and treated as such If anything, her eventual enjoyment of it seemslike a psychological block put up as a survival tactic than genuine pleasure in the act or love for Drogo.Yet, despite the fact that this situation is obviously, beyond a shadow of a doubt, rape, it s never addressed in text If anything, it s portrayed as a positive experience for Dany, one that makes her stronger and enables her to stand up for herself Stupid me I thought that the cancerous expansion of rape as love was limited to abusive jackass love interests in YA paranormal romances clearly, I was wrong It s everywhere, people We are all completely fucking doomed.Which brings me to one of the other major frustrations I had with this book the sex Ummm what to say I thought reading some of the V lane bits of Darkfever while sitting next to my mother on the plane was uncomfortable to my utter shock, that was nothing compared to reading the sex scenes of this book alone No worry about someone looking over my shoulder and reading about MacKayla Lane getting hot and bothered and yet evenawkward Why Well, as one reviewer put it and I wish I could remember who to give them credit , they re written kind of as if they re these tremendous mythic events I cringe at the very thought of quoting them, but to give you a little idea of what they re like worst romance sex scenes you ve ever read bizarre flowerly euphemisms gratuitous use of the word manhood general strange reverence for penises above and beyond the norm incidences of incest Game of Thrones sex scene.In general AWKWARD Just to be sure you feel my pain This book felt male oriented in a way that is so painfully forced that it made me distinctly uncomfortable I don t mean that women can t enjoy it obviously, as all the reviews I linked back at the top demonstrate, they can and they do I mean that the book itself felt as if it were written for the most stereotypical male audience imaginable As Tatiana described it, it reads like a soap opera for men Because MEN want lots of violence, sex, swearing by female genitalia, and paper thin motivations, right Which is exactly what Martin dishes up.and so is the book he s produced.I thought at around the halfway point that I d finish the book and be able to watch the HBO show to get the rest of the series without suffering throughawkwardly described sex scenes not to mention the rest of it By the time I finished, though, I had developed such a virulent hatred for this book, its author, and everything related to either of the above that I start grinding my teeth just reading praise for it Watching the show would be vastly to my detriment mostly because neither my hand nor my bank account would do well after I put my fist through the screen of my laptop.In conclusion summary Oh, and to the diehard defenders of this series, like those who were plaguing Keely s review, who like to tell people who disagree with them that GRRM is the greatest writer of ALL TIME and that the female characters presented herein are feminist or, to use an exact quote, that GRRM has written some of the most independent, self reliant heroines ever to grace the fantasy genre It sthan half the reason he s so beloved His female characters disdain male attention, are always smarter, faster, deadlier, and braver than any of their male counterparts Kinda like feminists with swords which is complete and utter bullshit , I have only one thing to say THANK YOU AND GOODNIGHT. There are plenty of fantasy authors who claim to be doing something different with the genre Ironically, they often write the most predictable books of all, as evidenced by Goodkind and Paolini Though I m not sure why they protest so much predictability is hardly a death sentence in genre fantasy.The archetypal story of a hero, a villain, a profound love, and a world to be saved never seems to get old it s a great story when it s told well At the best, it s exciting, exotic, and builds to a fulfilling climax At the worst, it s just a bloodless rehash Unfortunately, the worst arecommon by far.Perhaps it was this abundance of cliche romances that drove Martin to aim for something different Unfortunately, you can t just choose to be different, anythan you can choose to be creative Sure, Moorcock s original concept for Elric was to be the anti Conan, but at some point, he had to push his limits and move beyond difference for difference s sake and he did.In similar gesture, Martin rejects the allegorical romance of epic fantasy, which basically means tearing out the guts of the genre the wonder, the ideals, the heroism, and with them, the moral purpose Fine, so he took out the rollicking fun and the social message what did he replace them with Like the post Moore comics of the nineties, fantasy has already borne witness to a backlash against the upright, moral hero and then a backlash against the grim antihero who succeeded him Hell, if all Martin wanted was grim and gritty antiheroes in an amoral world, he didn t have to reject the staples of fantasy, he could have gone to its roots Howard, Leiber, and Anderson.Like many authors aiming for realism, he forgets truth is stranger than fiction The real world is full of unbelievable events, coincidences, and odd characters When authors remove these elements in an attempt to make their world seem real, they make their fiction duller than reality after all, unexpected details are the heart of verisimilitude When Chekhov and Peake eschewed the easy thrill of romance, they replaced it with the odd and absurd moments strange enough to feel true In comparison, Martin s world is dull and gray Instead of innovating new, radical elements, he merely removes familiar staples and any style defined by lack is going to end up feeling thin.Yet, despite trying inject the book with history and realism, he does not reject the melodramatic characterization of his fantasy forefathers, as evidenced by his brooding bastard antihero protagonist with pet albino wolf Apparently to him, grim realism is Draco in Leather Pants This produces a conflicted tone a soap opera cast lost in an existentialist film.There s also lots of sex and misogyny, and wall to wall rape not that books should shy away from sex, or from any uncomfortable, unpleasant reality of life The problem is when people who are not comfortable with their own sexuality start writing about it, which seems to plague every mainstream fantasy author Their pen gets away from them, their own hangups start leaking into the scene, until it s not even about the characters any, it s just the author cybering about his favorite fetish and if I cyber with a fat, bearded stranger, I expect to be paid for it.I know a lot of fans probably get into itthan I do like night elf hunters humping away in WOW , but reading Goodkind, Jordan, and Martin it s like seeing a Playboy at your uncle s where all the pages are wrinkled That s not to say there isn t serviceable pop fantasy sex out there it s just written by women.Though I didn t save any choice examples, I did come across this quote from a later bookshe wore faded sandsilk pants and woven grass sandals Her small breasts moved freely beneath a painted Dothraki vest Imagine the process Martin sits, hands hovering over the keys, trying to get inside his character s headOkay, I m a woman How do I see and feel the world differently My cultural role is defined by childbirth I can be bought and sold in marriage by my own Oh, hey I ve got tits Man, look at those things go whooshing mammary sound effects Okay, time to write Where are the descriptions of variously sized dongs swinging within the confines of absurdly detailed clothing There are a set of manboobs which perhaps Martin has some personal experience with but not until book five Even then, it s not the dude being hyperaware of his own they re just there to gross out a dwarf Not really a balanced depiction.If you re familiar with the show and its parodies on South Park and SNL this lack of dongs may surprise you But as Martin himself explained, when asked why there s no gay sex in his books, despite having gay characters,they re not the viewpoint charactersas if somehow, the viewpoints he chooses to depict are beyond his control Apparently, he plots as well as your average NaNoWriMo author sorry none of my characters chose to be gay, nothing I can do about it.And balance really is the problem here if you only depict the dark, gritty stuff that you re into, that s not realism, it s just a fetish If you depict the grimness of war by having every female character threatened with rape, but the same thing never happens to a male character, despite the fact thatmen get raped in the military than women, then your gritty realism card definitely gets revoked.The books are notorious for the sudden, pointless deaths, which some suggest is another sign of realism but, of course, nothing is pointless in fiction, because everything that shows up on the page is only there because the author put it there Sure, in real life, people suddenly die before finishing their life s work fantasy authors do it all the time , but there s a reason we don t tend to tell stories of people who die unexpectedly in the middle of things they are boring and pointless They build up for a while then eventually, lead nowhere.Novelists often write in isolation, so it s easy to forget the rule to which playwrights adhere your story is always a fiction Any time you treat it as if it were real, you are working against yourself The writing that feels the most natural is never effortless, it is carefully and painstakingly constructed to seem that way.A staple of Creative Writing 101 is to listen to how people really talk , which is terrible advice A transcript of any conversation will be so full of repetition, half thoughts, and non specific words stuff , thing as to be incomprehensible especially without the cues of tone and body language Written communication has its own rules, so making dialogue feel like speech is a trick writers play It s the same with sudden character deaths treat them like a history, and your plot will become choppy and hard to follow.Not that the deaths are truly unpredictable Like in an action film, they are a plot convenience kill off a villain, and you don t have to wrap up his arc You don t have to defeat him psychologically the finality of his death is the great equalizer You skip the hard work of demonstrating that the hero was morally right, because he s the only option left.Likewise, in Martin s book, death ties up loose threads namely, plot threads Often, this is the only ending we get to his plot arcs, which makes them rather predictable any time a character is about to build up enough influence to make things better, orstable, he will die Any character who poses a threat to the continuing chaos which drives the action will first be built up, and then killed off.I found this interview to be a particularly telling example of how Martin thinks of character deathsI killed view spoiler Ned hide spoiler I really feel the necessity of a bit of personal backstory here, before I start the review Back in 1996 when this book first came out, and I was about 14 or 16 years old, I saw the hardcover on a sale table for about 5 and couldn t resist a bargain still can t, though I mcautious these days So I started reading this book with the vague idea that it was a flop, and that may not have helped, but I got through 100 pages of it before feeling so crapped off with it that I shoved it in my cupboard and tried not to think about it Page 108 to be exact More on why later.If you ve heard of this book, or read it, you re probably aware that far from being the flop I assumed it was at the time and I didn t know anyone who was reading it , the series has gone on to be one of the big Cash Cows of the fantasy genre Computer games, role playing games there s even a board game that looks like Risk Sooner or later there ll be a movie or something, no doubt I m moderately surprised one isn t in the works already People love this book and this series So I m well aware I ll probably be lynched for this review, because even the people on Goodreads who didn t like it still had great things to say about it.But reviews are subjective, and here s mine.In the vein of Tolkein, Jordan, Elliott, Goodkind, Hobb, Eddings, Feist et al, A Game of Thrones is set in the classicly boring and overdone medieval England esque setting, and is essentially about a bunch of nobles fighting over a throne Great Very original Praised for its focus on political intrigue, its lack of magic and similar fantasy tropes, and its cast of believable and interesting characters, I found the book tedious The first epic fantasy series I read after Narnia was Jordan s The Wheel of Time series, and it s true that I struggled with the first book, Eye of the World But there were elements to it that I liked, characters who I felt attached to, enough to read the second book and become hooked, and so on I love 1000 page long, fat fantasy books I love huge casts of characters and have no problem keeping up with them I ve read Jennifer Fallon s Wolfblade trilogy and Second Sons Trilogy, both of which are heavy on political intrigue and very low on magic, and they re supurb A Game of Thrones is not It offers nothing new to the genre, and does nothing original with what it has.Narrated in turns by Eddard Ned Stark, Lord of Winterfell his wife Lady Catelyn his bastard son Jon Snow his very young daughters Sansa and Arya his middle son Bran Tyrion Lannister, a dwarf and brother to the Queen and young Daenerys Targaryen, last of the line of dragon kings and exiled to the land beyond the narrow sea, the book is divided into neat chapters headed by the name of one or the other, so you know exactly whose point of view you re going to get and where you are in the plot Thanks for holding my hand Martin, but I don t like this technique The chapter headings, I m referring to It encourages me to start wondering about the character before I ve even started reading CATELYN the chapter title reads is she young or old, a peasant, a farmer, a daughter, a mother, nice, mean I start imagining things and then have to correct it all as the character is revealed during the chapter There s power in names, and withholding them or putting elements of a character s personality first is oftencompelling, and better writing It also made it harder to get through the book, because at the end of one chapter I d see the name of the next, think oh great, him her again, their story s boring and put the book down.Let me be perfectly straight I did not find any of the characters to be particularly interesting though Jaime Lannister had something about him, you hardly ever saw him They all pretty much felt like the same character, just in different situations The differences between them, for example the good girl Sansa and her tomboy sister Arya, felt forced, superficial and clich d Ned is all about honour and duty, but especially honour, with love aminor consideration, but honestly, could the man bestupid Eddard s a moron, and dull, and his only saving grace is that he s nice to his daughters Let s be clear about something else right here this world and its people are so sexist and misogynist it s ludicrous There are many derogatory references to women s tits, metaphors about screwing whores, descriptions of Daenerys getting her nipples pinched by her horrible brother Viserys not to mention her marriage, at twelve, to a horselord whose men rape women like there s no tomorrow incest and so on The first time I tried to read this book, I was offended and disgusted it didn t help that I d read Pillars of the Earth not long before though I did not grow up sexually repressed or prudish or anything like that, I have never found reading descriptions of rape to be all that easy, especially when they re treated so dismissively yet oddly my impressions of the characters were muchfavourable I read it now and I just felt contempt.No one character stands out, though Arya has potential Catelyn is as boring as her husband, and her sister Lysa is, let s face it, mad as a hatter and a sure sign of why women are unfit to rule a clear message in this medieval esque patriarchal world Queen Cercei too Tyrion, the dwarf, seems on the verge of having charisma but fails, and Daenerys I want to like someone, but Martin doesn t give his characters any depth Sure, they re all flawed and a flawed character is a great literary device the anti hero, etc But Martin s characters are walking clich s, even the dwarf The plot is also pretty weak I don t need elves and magic and dragons in fact, I tend to avoid them, especially elves yawn but you ve gotta give me something else A bildungsroman does wonders yes, let me see the characters on a journey of life rather than a quest, quests are tired There s no quest in A Game of Thrones, and that s fine with me But what is there Jon goes to the Wall that separates the wilderness from the Seven Kingdoms why is it called the Seven Kingdoms when there s only one kingdom and is attacked by an Other, a kind of zombie creature Ned goes to the capital to take up the role of King s Hand because the King, Robert, likes to spend his time boozing, whoring and hunting Catelyn follows to tell him someone tried to kill Bran Ned tries to discover why the previous Hand died And swords with names, seriously, what s with that I m so sick of such blatant phallic symbols and their representations, and the whole creed of honour and duty and gallant knightsWhat frustrates me most is that this could have been a really interesting story, if only the author had better talent at writing characters or letting them write themselves The plot is not the problem, though it s largely uneventful, with no climactic moments because even those are written at the same pace as the rest, with no drammatic flourishes come on, we all like those, let s be honest But the characters, sigh , their motivations are simplistic, their actions extremely predictable, and while they don t blur one into another neither do any of them stand out Also, the type of setting seems mostly convenient with the focus on the nobles and their squabbling, you don t learn much about the lower classes, or what kind of food is grown here, or what kind of industry supports the economy, or anything about the cultures using the clich d medieval England setting allows Martin to ignore one of thefascinating aspects of society and leaves his world shallow, like surface water, without support using this old and worn Fantasy setting allows an author to get lazy about world building The history of the land is also riddled with clich s, and sort of thrown in here and there as if to remind the reader it is a real place, look, here s what the First Men did As for the writing, it s easy to read and calm, though very slow and rather lacking in tone or any interesting stylistic quirks flat and bland, in other words There s no atmosphere in this book There re a few bad lines, like A storm of rose petals blew across a blood streaked sky, as blue as the eyes of death p.425 his one concession to drama, it seems, though if you read it again you ll notice it doesn t actually make sense and a few awkward sentences that leave you scrambling, such as Catelyn watched her son Robb Stark mount up Olyvar Frey held his horse for him, Lord Walder s son, two years older than Robb, and ten years younger andanxious p.696 I noticed a similar sentence later, and I guess I know what he means but really, it s terrible writing.On the plus side, there were a few things I liked The direwolves large ferocious animals as constant companions and protectors always a winner with me the intriguing climate, where summer and winter lasts years, decades even, before changing how does that work Seriously, what do they eat Daenerys dragon eggs, and the Dothraki, the horse lords though they were pretty superficial and confined to a rigid list of adjectives I would have liked to understand their culture better In many fantasy books my problem is the whole good vs evil clich , which generally involves the plot Here, my problem is that the characters are so black and white They are described, good, that s settled, now what There s no grey No character development They never once surprised me.I honestly don t know if I ll read the next book The Wheel of Time taught me at the same age as I first tried reading this book, 16 that the first book in a series can be the weakest, because of the amount of extrapolation and background etc that goes on I didn t find that problem here, it was very grounded in the now, which makes me think the next book will beof the same I keep coming back to the reasons why I struggled to finish this book boredom, clich d and empty characters, not enough balance as in, there s no love in this book, and if the characters are so realistic why don t they love , and predictable events You know what it reminds me of Marion Zimmer Bradley s equally famous The Mists of Avalon another book I couldn t finish If you like Arthurian fantasy, and that kind of style, then this would be a good book for you the excessively patriarchal culture, the battles, the hint of magic and something glorious lurking around the edges but never coming to the fore, it s all here, neatly packaged Obviously it works for a lot of people But to all those people who say that Martin has opened up the genre in new ways, that he is the best writer of the epic fantasy crowd and so on, I have to wonder, have they read anything else And then I wonder whether it s a matter of which author you read first and grow attached to, and so compare all the others I don t think I fell into that trap as such, because Jordan s lost the plot, literally, Goodkind s personal politics and propaganda have taken over his story, and the one epic fantasy series that I love above all others to date is Kate Elliott s Crown of Stars series, which I didn t start reading till I was in uni But I really wonder, how this story grabbed other people If it grabbed you, I d love to hear how and why, because sometimes I feel like I m too jaded or something, too snobby maybe.