667 of 711 people found the following review helpful
Possibly the best of Fantasy in the last 20 years,
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This review is from: A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 1) (Mass Market Paperback)
I spent quite a while staring at the blank screen in front of me to come up with a fitting description of A Game of Thrones by George RR Martin. Should I compare it to the classic Lord of the Rings for its impressively epic scope? Would it be best to focus on the honest, often painful humanity of the many characters - so rare in a fantasy novel - that personalizes each point of view? Perhaps I could impress other customers here with the sheer brilliance of a plot that weaves so many seemingly disparate stories together to form a believable alternate universe in which not only politics, intrigue, war, adventure and romance can coexist plausibly, but magic as well. How could I do such a work justice?
I might as well get this part out of the way first. Obligatory Synopsis: in a fantasy continent that bears a familiarity to Middle Ages England, Winter is coming. Winter in this world means a sort of mini ice age that will last for seven years before receding. In the always-frosty Northern area, the races of nonhuman beings are gathering to advance with the snows; there are hints that there is an ancient, evil power behind their forces. At the same time in the South, political infighting for the Throne has begun. Overseas, the daughter of the dispossessed former King is maneuvering forces of her own for a bid for the throne. All this is told through the various stories of both "good guys" and not-so-good guys.
For starters, AGOT can't be accurately compared to any other book or series in the Fantasy genre (not without insulting it). The nearest thing of its type is the laborious Wheel of Time series by Jordan - see what I mean? And yet this first in the Song of Ice and Fire series is fathoms above that aimless, droning style. Martin has perfected what Jordan had arguably introduced; the multiple characters' points of view telling the vast saga on an intimate, up-close scale. Never did I feel that I was being strung along, but rather lead by increments toward an incredible revelation somewhere up ahead. Martin builds the suspense masterfully in each book.
But by far the most striking thing about the Song of Ice and Fire is the "rules" that the author breaks. Martin is not afraid to tell the tale from the point of view of some very unlikable, even immoral characters. He is bold about revealing facts from a character's past that challenge one's impressions and assumptions about their ethics. He does not lay all his cards on the table up front, but rather unexpectedly reveals details that later change the whole picture and twist the plot admirably. And his most unusual move: this author even allows "favorites" to die occasionally (no names here...)! These risks pay off well to serve the story as a whole, bring a sense of true humanity to the people of this world and drive the reader on to the next series installment.
It's just too bad that I can't magically transplant my sense of admiration for AGOT onto this page. Hopefully, you are intrigued enough to give it a try; it would be a shame to miss what IMHO could be the best series of the decade.
-Andrea, aka Merribelle
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Showing 1-10 of 11 posts in this discussion
Initial post: May 8, 2011 6:45:18 PM PDT
Adam Risch says:
God, if I decide to read this I sure hope it's not like "Wheel of Time". That novel was so hackneyed, unoriginal, and just plain awful I had to stop reading after about 100 pages.
In reply to an earlier post on Jul 16, 2011 8:42:36 PM PDT
I think the "Game of Thrones" is the best fantasy novel I have read. I cannot stand Jordan, by the way. I started "Wheel of Time" and became very tired of reading the same thing over and over. I love "The Game of Thrones" but am not too nuts about the other books in the series. In fact, I do not plan to read the newest one. This is an excellent book and an equally excellent tv series. Just be aware that, in my opinion, the quality of the novels diminishes with each one added to the series.
Posted on Apr 30, 2012 10:57:55 PM PDT
J. Howard says:
Compared to Titus Groan not quite as good.
Posted on Jun 6, 2012 6:53:26 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 27, 2012 6:40:57 PM PDT
I found this series to be borderline good. Too wordy, too many characters. I liked many of the characters, but there were just too many. What Martin really needs is a good editor. His editor should have advised him to get book in under 600 pages. His 1000 page monstrosities are the most over-hyped books in years. I could name dozens of books and/or writers that make him look like verbose intermediate writer.
"A Dance with Dragons" became so large that he had to split it up into two books and still couldn't get the story told. Really pathetic George. I quit reading you.
Posted on Sep 27, 2012 4:27:24 PM PDT
[Deleted by Amazon on Sep 27, 2012 4:39:21 PM PDT]
Posted on Nov 13, 2012 11:47:04 AM PST
In reply to an earlier post on Nov 14, 2012 6:13:20 PM PST
Philip K. Dick, Bryce Courtenay, Joe Abercrombie, Gene Wolfe, R.A. Salvatore, Brent Weeks, and Orson Scott Card. Well, you get the point. All of the aforementioned writers are much better writers than GRRM. Exponentially better. Game of Groans. Waste of money, bigger waste of time.
Posted on Jan 14, 2013 12:10:29 AM PST
Isaac Hooke says:
Definitely thought Game of Thrones ranks up there with the best fantasy fiction of the past twenty years. My favorite thing about this series is the unpredictability... you can never tell what's going to happen next. And for me, that's the greatest sign of a good novel. If it can keep me in my seat until the wee hours of the morning, wondering what the hell's coming in the next few pages, it's a winner!
-Isaac Hooke, author of The Forever Gate
Posted on Apr 17, 2013 3:47:13 PM PDT
B Hector says:
Are we reading the same book? Did I miss something? A song of Fire and Ice is nothing more than a soap opera set in a medieval fantasy world. It's literally no different than the garbage produced for bored housewives.
In reply to an earlier post on Apr 17, 2013 4:34:34 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Apr 17, 2013 4:34:48 PM PDT
I agree. I did like some of the characters, but the story just goes on, and on, and on. "Best fiction in years" is laughable. I might torrent the graphic novel version of the series. If they could condense 1000 pages into 40-60 it might be readable.