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Customer Review

469 of 520 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superlative series; GRRM does it again!!!, April 6, 2001
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This review is from: A Clash of Kings (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 2) (Mass Market Paperback)
First off, I'm a heavy duty fan of GRRM. I've read over a 100 different fantasy authors in my time (started at 12; I'm now 32). Took about 5 years off from the genre b/c I felt it was all getting too formulaic and cliched. Typical archetype character who turns out to be the missing heir or boy wonder who saves the world against the Dark Lord.
So, when I came back to fantasy at the end of 1999, 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:
(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 dangers . . . the good and noble king; the beautiful princess who falls in love with the commoner boy even though their stations are drastically different . . . the dark lord is very evil and almost one sided at times . . . you 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.
(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.
(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 SYMOBLISM 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.
(1) YOU LIKE YOUR MAIN CHARACTERS: GRRM does a good job of creating more likeable 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 like more white and gray characters, this may unsettle you. I suggest Feist or Goodkind or Dragonlance if you want a more straight 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. If you have delicate ears, this book may upset you.
(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. There really aren't any super heroes compared to all the other characters as it's more grittier and no one is shooting fireballs every milisecond or carrying around some super powerful sword.
(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). While this is realistic of the medieval era, some readers may not prefer this if they want more girl power, so to speak.
By the way, if you don't want to commit to a big book until you know the author better, check out his short story, THE HEDGE KNIGHT, in LEGENDS. Overall, this is a great series and I happily purchase the hard cover when it comes out...
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Showing 1-10 of 20 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Feb 2, 2007 1:08:02 PM PST
This is one of the best reviews I've read throughout ALL of Amazon.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 18, 2007 7:53:59 PM PST
Stephi says:
I second that notion except I'm not so keen on the female characters - don't get me wrong they are normal type people but none I can really relate to.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 28, 2007 3:48:45 PM PST
Thank you.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 4, 2007 1:04:19 PM PST
DavidW says:
I disagree because it's reviewing Martin's style as it applies to the entire series, when it should specifically be reviewing A Clash of Kings. It would have been a better review for A Game of Thrones. Also it unfairly ill-represents those critical of Martin. After reading that review one would think "wow those that don't like this novel must be dumbasses!"

A review should be biased, but it shouldn't masquerade as being fair when it's not. Still I like the series for the reasons given. And I also like it because Martin sustains the momentum by making sure that something important happens in each scene, most epic high fantasy writers fail to do that.

Also the review suggests that a gritty, modernistic style is unique in fantasy to Martin, when it's more of an emerging trend shared by many authors.

Still, better job than I would do in reviewing this novel, bravo!

Posted on Mar 19, 2007 6:59:26 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Mar 19, 2007 6:59:48 AM PDT
This really is a very well-written review. It must have been written by Martin himself!

In reply to an earlier post on May 29, 2007 9:11:34 PM PDT
Nope but he was very appreciative of this review. I'm met him a few times during his signings and convention attendances. Son of Hot Pie is an inside joke.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 9, 2009 2:13:28 PM PST
ChrisR says:
Actually, this same review IS out there for the first book, and probably the rest as well! Cut and paste mania!
Want to point out that he forgets to mention the humor - some of the dialogue is hilarious! I laughed out loud at times, especially at some of Tyrion's lines.

Posted on Sep 24, 2009 9:11:19 AM PDT
Kim B-W says:
Excellent, original, thoughtful review---and right on the money, I might add. Thank you so much.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 13, 2010 11:35:08 AM PDT
Steve B says:
I agree Rucktoon. I too like the humor. It's much needed too, since much of the story is true to the dark-age/medieval and almost depressing realism at times. Or more simply put, the tale is "gritty" as many have said previously.

But I found the review to be outstanding. Add the humor portion, and you've got it! But to be fair I've only read the first book. I just stopped by here because I am ordering the second, and wanted to see what others thought about it. Thanks for the review!

In reply to an earlier post on May 7, 2011 6:06:31 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 7, 2011 6:06:51 PM PDT
Super review...thanks for taking the time... you have laid out GRRM's approach to story telling quite well.
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