I’m rather at a loss for how to sum up this book. I finished it in a sleep deprived binge Friday into Saturday morning, and as soon as I have an opportunity to, I’m going to re-read it.
Game of Thrones is a book you don’t simply read. It is a book you experience. From the opening prologue through the stunning conclusion, you get sucked in and dragged along for a ride you aren’t sure you really want to be on, but you can’t manage to get off of. You find yourself seeing things coming, and trying to shout a warning to the characters to JUST FREAKING STOP RIGHT THERE! But they can’t hear you. Or don’t want to listen.
Martin does a brilliant job of creating complex, believable characters with strong motivations who are usually their own worst enemy, as we all are in real life. And, as many of you well know, he isn’t afraid to treat them badly. Very badly. And because you come to see yourself mirrored in them, it hurts when things go wrong for them or when they do stupid, stupid things. Just like life. A happily ever after is not a given.
Because of my stupendous ability to be a spoiler magnet, and HBO’s ability to give me free service at exactly the wrong time, I knew Eddard Stark would meet an untimely end. What I didn’t realize until reading the book was that his demise was a direct result of his own failings, his own ability to completely underestimate Cersi Lannister. And dude, she warned him! Multiple times. I tried to also, but apparently he couldn’t hear me either.
I have a friend who is a major Martin junkie, and she told me that a lot of people who watched the HBO series were outraged when ol’ Ned got done in. Apparently they hadn’t read the books. But I think part of the problem was that they mistook Ned for the protagonist, which he is not. In a story as complex with as many story lines as this one, it’s hard to pull out just one main protag, but at least in this first book, it’s definitely Cersi. The protagonist drives the story, and Cersi is definitely the driving force here.
The other great thing about Martin’s writing , for writers, is that he presents a clinic on story tension with every paragraph of this book. Every word serves to create micro tension, and as much craft as there is in every paragraph, I can see why it takes him so long to write the next damn book. He also does a brilliant job of writing in different POV, and yet giving you enough that you realize what the POV character doesn’t. Example: Sansa. All I’m going to say about her is that her choices led her to where she is and I really can’t feel sorry for her. And plucky little Arya. I’m afraid to get too attached to her, but it’s tough.
Anyway, Game of Thrones is definitely not casual reading, but it’s great reading. Experience it for yourself. But…
I warn you…
Photo courtesy of Better Book Titles.
I will read all the rest of the books, and as long as it takes me I may be caught up by the next time he releases a book, say in five years or so.
* Bummer. Apparently I didn’t get this posted in time for it to count for the Magical March challenge. I didn’t remember seeing a deadline, but oh, well. My bad. So I won’t get my sorceress button. Maybe next year.