Reviews of Game of Thrones, a (1996)
Review by jeelau (2009-02-28)
Wow. Just wow. Masterful story telling. What really kept me turning the pages was the character development, which is rare in a book. While the plot and action and political mind games were top notch, Martin has made every character very personal with the reader. This is also not a kid's book, which is what I wanted to read at the time. Even if you don't like fantasy, give this a read, because it's that good.
Review by brunop (2008-07-22)
There's a lot of people who think this is one of the greatest books ever, but I didn't like it at all. I will try to explain why.
First, people say the characters in this book are great, well written, with a lot of depth. But I can't agree with that. Sure there is no black in white in there, just gray. But that doesn't provide depth to the characters. They are all one dimensional. Lord Eddard for exemple is noble. That's it. Noble to the point of being stupid. And Daenerys is the strong girl who wants to gain her kingdom back. And that's about it. Every character is like that, they have a defining trait, one goal and that's all.
I hear also that it is realistic because the author don't shy away from anything, even killing the "main" characters. From what I understood from the book. Everybody in there is a selfish scheming jerk. Nobody has even one friend. So how is this realistic. I may be a bit naive, but it seems to me that in real life there are nice people too. And it's not that hard to find. And the problem about all the character being jerks is that I don't care about any of them. So I don't care about anything that happens in this book. People are going nuts beacuse the author can kill any of his character any time. But for me, it has no impact, I just feel like yeah! Another bloody jerk got his head handed to him, good riddance!
Next, it seems that the story is supposedly so different from other fantasy, and it draws it's inspiration from the War of the Roses. But I've read some review that says if you now a bit about this war, then you can easily predict what's going to happen in the novel. Well that's not inspiration, that's just stealing from history.
Also there's much rave review about the revolutionary way it is written. No main characters, and a different point of view in each chapter. Great idea but it's just confusing. I mean, you read about this guy, who has children and then just as it gets interesting, the chapter ends a you find yourself reading about another character on the other side of the world. And it's only 5 or 6 chapters later that you return to the first character. Maybe it's just me but each time I can't seem to remember what was going on with this character in the first place.
And the length of the book. I mean, the book is almost as long as the complete story of the lord of the rings, and nothing happens. There is no ending to the book, no resolution. It just ends. There is no reward to reaching the end of this book.
I could keep on complaining, but just like the novel, I'll stop.
(This review refers to the 1996 version titled “A Game of Thrones”)
Review by asoiaf_freak (2007-03-30)
I used to think fantasy was all just magic and elves and dwarves and a humble protagonist going across the world and going up against all odds to survive the journey, blah blah blah. That was until I read this book. It totally blew me away and changed the way I look at literature, especially fantasy. At the time it was the greatest book I've ever read, but that honour was taken by A Clash of Kings, and, subsequently, A Storm of Swords. I love how Martin develops his characters so well, going back and forth between past and present. There were so many well-placed backflashes of the War of the Usurper that I felt it was part of the actual story and setting. My favourite character is Jon, one of the few totally good people, but I felt emotionally attached to many characters. The setting is so beautifully described that I sometimes itch to just be able to go to Westeros for a day and explore. What I love most of all, though, is that it is not a clichéd fantasy story. It isn't black-and-white, but very grey. There is minimal magic (something I was getting tired of) and absolutely no character is safe - ever. Anyone in their mid-teens or older who is looking for a perfect book should get this right away - it doesn't matter if you detest fantasy, you'll still love it. Much better than Lord of the Rings. Highly recommended!
Review by turky (2007-02-01)
This was the greatest start to the greatest series I have ever read. It was very well written. I most enjoyed the backstabbing and deception throughout the book. In the beginning of the story you learn that jon snow is living with the starks and is a bastard. Jon has to be my favorite character of all. He and Edard seemed to have the best stories in the first book. Two thumbs up to GRRM.
I gave it an 8/10
Review by archaic (2006-05-29)
I just finished reading this book and have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed it. The authors style of writing was what I thought made this book differen't from books I've read in the past. The way each chapter revolved around a differen't character and their involvement in the storyline really hooked me. The only chapters that I found at times boring were the ones about Daenerys. George R.R. Martin does a fantastic job of describing every bit of detail in this book. The world he creates I found easy to picture and it seemed very real. Another thing that I really enjoyed was how he described each character whether they were lords, servants, children, or knights they would stick out in my mind. The author did a great job of making these characters seem real. The storyline was what really kept me reading. There were no boundaries as to who could die or what could happen. The storyline has more twists and turns than I ever seen in a book before. At times I found I had to read a paragraph over and over again just to believe that what happened actually happened.
I recommend this to anyone looking for a great fantasy novel.
Review by brathna (2006-05-17)
This book is nothing short of extraordinary. The story holds nothing back and takes you into a fantasy world as nothing seen before it. Tension builds with each section, and you just have to keep reading to find out what happens. But that just leads to a new storyline that seems to end too soon, and you must keep reading to find out what happens with that now.
There are loads of characters, who are all laid out in vivid descriptions. These characters live and they die; since no character is offlimits, tension builds because you don't know who will be next.
The story does jump around and might take getting used to, but I would definitely recommend that you do not skip sections.
Review by human216 (2005-04-06)
Based on the reviews here and it's lofty perch in the ratings I had high expectations for this book. But about half way through I started skipping ahead to just the plots and characters I was interested in and ultimately put the book down with much of the second half either quickly skimmed through or unread entirely.
The varied points of view, while an interesting technique, ultimately betrayed the flow of the book. It made the book choppy and difficult to be drawn into. The author would have been better served to spend more time with less characters which may have destroyed the uniqueness of the style but ultimately would have led to a more satisfying novel.
Martin also has put too much 'cool' into some of the characters. Having a direwolf for each of the children was annoying. As was all the cool swords and dragons and black leather and other fantasy cliches. There was something just a little 'off' about it all. Like when a guy dresses up a little too much for the party and ends up looking like a poser.
Not that everything was bad. Many of the characters were interesting. The basic plot has potential. Elements of the split narrative were good.
Ultimately though I can't give it any better than a 5 and I won't be seeking out the sequels.
Review by lord kallor (2004-12-16)
This book is one of the best, George R. R. Martin is in all right mindedness a genuis. the book is unsurpassed in scope and depth developing complex twisting plotlines which interweave bringing alive a world from so many different points of view. There is no certanty in the books unlike many fantasy novels, major charecter deaths are common throughout the series, as you grow to like a charecter they are suddenly killed off, it realy screws with your emotions. The only bad point is that the plot jumps around so much that some charecters are left hanging for hundreds of pages; reminicent of Harry Turtledove.
Review by dorkov (2004-10-30)
This series is just fantastic. It's not a simple battle between 'the good' and 'the bad', like most other fantasy novels. Instead, your sympathies for certain characters may very well change whilst reading this series. Of course, using different 'point-of-view' characters for telling the story gives you an impartial overview as the story unfolds. Much better than the simplistic 'black-white' fantasy novels, where you never learn/understand the reasons/motives of the 'bad' guys.
Review by jel (2004-08-22)
This book rocks. Haven't read the rest yet, but I've already bought them all, and put them in a queue :)
As others have mentioned, George's use of many complex characters, minimal magic, adult situations (again, minimal), childish fun, etc... all of it makes for a great and surprising different read.
Again, as others have said, the story is woven in threads, like a tapestry. On one level, you can follow individual characters through the book, watch them change, watch them grow, and get very excited when the story switches back to what's happening in their lives. In this sense, it's certainly a character-driven story, with many characters I grew to like for one reason or another.
On the other hand, the story is much larger than individual characters: the tapestry is woven between and around characters and their personal circumstances, rather than through them. Politics are a prime example of this: you can 'feel' war coming, even though none of the characters know of it for a while. Likewise, when a child hopes to become a mage, you can feel the potential greatness in his dream, even though he has very little sense of it, and nothing in his immediate world really speaks of it. Other hints, from other places in the book, tell you that magic is still powerful, even if no one really knows it. The child begins to feel like a hero, before he's even accomplished anything. And yet, it could still all go wrong, because nothing is certain in A Game of Thrones; this is all just a personal feeling -- you daren't take it as fact. Everything is fluid.
Everything is done well -- from childish characters (which, if I recall correctly, George has said he found the most difficult), to old men, to withered and maddened young women. Plot twists range from fast, to slow and subtle, to entirely shocking.
A summary? Read it, if you haven't already.
Review by Corleone (2004-01-15)
Probably my favorite modern fantasy book. The characterizations are amazing, and there are so many to choose a favorite from. The cold world they inhabit is continually fascinating and I love the courtly intrigue and the battles that have real consequences.
Review by LJOL (2003-06-29)
I love to read fantasy and have read good fantasy and bad fantasy alike and I must say that this is the best there series I have ever read. It's actually many times better than The Lord of the Rings. And why is that I wonder? Well, to start with there is no hero, no main character at all, just a large bunch of them. That adds a whole new perspective to the fantasy genre. No character is ever safe. There is no character that you just know will survive through all his/her dificulties. And the characters is portraited masterfully, I like them all in one way or another, even if it is because I hate one of them so much. It is also very realistic that there isn't any characters that is Evil or Goodness personified, all characters are in different scales of gray. Martins language is also very good and the intrigues is pieces of art.
This book is the perfect beginning to a perfect fantasy series. And I came to love the character of Tyrion "the Imp" Lannister but I also enjoy Daenerys Targaryen and Jon Snow.
And I really can't wait to the next and fourth book: A Feast of Crows
Review by bkedryna (2003-06-25)
I usually read science fiction because fantasy is too naive/childish/unrealistic (Harry Potter etc). I enjoyed some fantasy, like Howard's Conan or Weber's Bahzell, even Niven's and Pournelle's fantasy, but nothing beat the realism of science fiction.
Until I read this book.
It is everything other people say and more. Awesome. Definately beats Lord of the Rings.
Review by Cid (2003-03-18)
I gave this book 10 out of 10. It is the start of a great fantasy series, the second best series out there(Sword of Truth being the best.) This book is paced very well, you never get bored with this book, it is one hell of a page turner. Not only that but it has one hell of a twist at the end. Go out and get this book today, you wont regret it.
Review by Mariko (2003-03-16)
Martin is a master of epic fantasy.
Of course, after reading a book of his short stories, I'm tempted to say he's a master of whatever he attempts. But this series is just mind-bogglingly good.
I am constantly amazed at how much information he can fit into every word and onto every page; these are real people he's writing about, not just cardboard cutouts, whose actions force you to revise your opinions of them over and over again. He pulls threads of plot in and out with confidence, forming a complex and beautiful tapestry of a story. Hints of backstory are thrown in expertly, forming a gradual picture of the events leading up to his present day; and yet when the final revelation comes, you're still surprised.
This series will keep you up past your bedtime, both reading it and thinking about it.
There is quite a bit of graphical sex and violence, so anyone who objects to those things should avoid the series; or, even better, learn not to object so that you won't miss out.
Review by nosleep (2003-03-12)
Being the huge nerd that I am, I have read hundreds of fantasy novels from many different authors, and to date I can say honestly that Martin is the best in his genre. (I speak only of the living)
The fact that any character could die at any time makes this series a thousanfold more captivating than any other given fantasy series, where the heroes always win and you never question their safety. Also the fact that there isn't really any heroes to this story, just a collection of characters all thrown into a bad situation.
This book starts the series well, establishing characters and personalities, giving you the opportunity to figure out who you hate and like before throwing in the full plot developements. I personally couldn't read enough about Tyrion the Imp, and spent this entire book (and the subsequent two) trying to place him in the position of good or bad and found that I couldn't either way for the longest time.
The fact that magic is not "in your face" as it is in Jordan or Goodkinds World is also a great touch. It adds mystery and believability.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who likes fantasy. It can be an emotional ride for some, I had one person tell me that they kept throwing the book across the room in anger at bad things that happened, and another said she couldn't stop crying because it was so sad, but it is Fantasy at its best.
Review by alanhunt (2003-03-07)
An excellent start to and excellent series. Although it appeared at first that there were going to be more characters than names in a Russian novel, George Martin clears that up by killing off just about everyone. One of the most interesting aspects of this book is that the conventional rule of "The protagonist will win in the end" doesn't necessarily apply... more often than not the protagonist ends up dead, and a new one jumps in. It is a gripping read, and you will find yourself going back to the bookstore as soon as you finish to buy the next one...
Review by dougthonus (2003-03-07)
Quite frankly, this is the best fantasy series that I have read to date.
No one is safe in Martin's world. When you read about a character in battle, and it doesn't look good, there's probably a better shot that he dies, then he is miraculously saved. This is very refreshing compared to most fantasy out there, and it really makes the book hard to put down. He writes would I would consider a much more realistic fantasy then you'll find with the other major fantasy authors, and his conservative use of magic, creates a very believable world.
I have met anyone who generally enjoys fantasy who did not love this book, and if you enjoy fantasy and haven't checked it out yet, I highly recommend doing so.