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A Game of Thrones (Song of Ice and Fire) Hardcover – August 1, 1996
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"Children of Blood and Bone"
Tomi Adeyemi conjures a stunning world of dark magic and danger in her West African-inspired fantasy debut. Learn more
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From Publishers Weekly
In a world where the approaching winter will last four decades, kings and queens, knights and renegades struggle for control of a throne. Some fight with sword and mace, others with magic and poison. Beyond the Wall to the north, meanwhile, the Others are preparing their army of the dead to march south as the warmth of summer drains from the land. After more than a decade devoted primarily to TV and screen work, Martin (The Armageddon Rag, 1983) makes a triumphant return to high fantasy with this extraordinarily rich new novel, the first of a trilogy. Although conventional in form, the book stands out from similar work by Eddings, Brooks and others by virtue of its superbly developed characters, accomplished prose and sheer bloody-mindedness. Although the romance of chivalry is central to the culture of the Seven Kingdoms, and tournaments, derring-do and handsome knights abound, these trappings merely give cover to dangerous men and women who will stop at nothing to achieve their goals. When Lord Stark of Winterfell, an honest man, comes south to act as the King's chief councilor, no amount of heroism or good intentions can keep the realm under control. It is fascinating to watch Martin's characters mature and grow, particularly Stark's children, who stand at the center of the book. Martin's trophy case is already stuffed with major prizes, including Hugos, Nebulas, Locus Awards and a Bram Stoker. He's probably going to have to add another shelf, at least. Major ad/promo.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
The author of such sf classics as The Armageddon Rag (1983) marks the beginning of a new fantasy series about a world where the summer and winter seasons can span generations.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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To begin with, while the author writes well, he must be paid by the word since these novels are absolutely interminable in length. If you plan on being marooned for a few years on an island, or go to prison to do a nickel, just take this series with you. You'll still not finish. Second, the interesting alternating point of view between characters in the first three books metastasizes in the fourth with the addition of scores of new characters and their points of view while the points of view of other interesting characters developed in the first three suddenly disappear. Cases in point - Tyrion, the dwarf brother of the evil Jaime, is one of the most interesting characters in the first three volumes, yet he inexplicably disappears in the fourth. The second most interesting character in the volumes 1 - 3, Jon Snow, the bastard son of Eddard Stark, also makes no appearance in volume 4. Same with the third most interesting character, Danerys. Putting down volume 3, you really want to know what happens to her next. Fuggetaboutit. She's gone from volume 4. Imagine the Lord of Rings, where each volume is 3 times longer and Frodo Baggins makes no appearance in the third volume.
Additionally, Mr. Martin likes to kill off his most important characters, or render them suddenly blind, or convert them from being evil to nice. Again, imagine Lord of the Rings, where Aragorn chokes to death on a mouthful of ale in the Two Towers, or Sauron turns out to be really a nice guy who's just irritated because a turkey buzzard flew into and got stuck in his big red eye.
I guess my advice is to plow through these if you really don't mind being bitch slapped by an author. The writing is excellent and the world created intriguing. However, the story goes nowhere, and gets to nowhere via thousands of pages, all the while inserting and removing and altering characters at will. I gather that many are waiting for the grand finale in volume 6 that Martin has promised. If there is a God in heaven, we shall be spared.
But if after this warning you still proceed on this irritating quest, do what I did. When you finally figure out that you are being punked by the author, ignore the sequence of the chapters. Just start with a character point of view and read each one for that character sequentially. There is a bare semblance of a plot anyway, so Lord knows, you won't spoil anything by reading ahead for a particular character since nothing happens anyway. When you get to volume 4, ignore all the randomly introduced new characters who add nothing to the story developed in the first three. This way, you can impose some small amount of coherence on an otherwise completely incoherent story structure, and trust me, you won't lose anything in the process, mostly because there is nothing to lose in the first place.
Last night, I finished the last 23 pages of A Feast for Crows, book 4 in George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice in Fire series. I said to my roommate Andrea, before going to bed, that I had 23 pages to go and that my friend Todd had mentioned one of the characters who he had hated in the beginning of the series actually becoming interesting later on in the series. I shook the book at Andrea and cried, "WHEN?!" I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that if you can barely remain awake during the last 23 pages of book 4 of a supposedly great series, maybe it's not such a great series. I really, really disliked book 1, A Game of Thrones. But, Andrea had read it and loved it. Todd had read it and loved it. Seemingly everyone in the world read it and loved it. So, I thought there must be something wrong with me. I just wasn't getting what was so great. Perhaps I hadn't really applied myself. I spoke to my friend Scott S., who said that he has tried to read the first book three or four times and could not get through it (HOORAY, I'm not alone!). He said that a coworker of his read the series and loved it, but claimed that book 2, A Clash of Kings, is where things really get going. WRONG. WRONG WRONG WRONG. And while I will agree that book 4 is the weakest of the series, it's just more of the same s***, only with less interesting characters! Books 1-4 focus on eleventy-billion characters. Every chapter you switch characters. So, you spend roughly 20-30 pages with a character and then hundreds of pages later, you return to that character. Sometimes, a minor character is introduced in that one chapter that you read several hundred pages ago. When you return to the main person in that chapter, you're goddamned lucky if you remember who the minor character was who was introduced way back when. You're already juggling so many characters, so many plotlines, you just can't retain anything else. And then, with so many of the characters, instead of any real action happening, you just end up trudging through repeats of the same old boring internal monologue that he or she has been having since FOREVER. And then, as a reward for reading that boring s*** over and over, they get killed, having accomplished jack s***. Thank you, Mr. Martin! I don't even understand how anyone gets attached to characters in this series because you don't get to spend any time with them and then when you do, it's more of the same boring s***.
Last night, when I managed to finish the last 23 pages, I got to George R. R. Martin's cute little p.s. I have replaced character names with "X" because some of you are still trudging through the series and I'd hate to spoil it for you by letting you know someone has not yet been killed. The editor notes are mine.
"`Hey, wait a minute!' some of you may be saying about now. `Wait a minute, wait a minute! Where's X and the X? Where's X? We hardly saw X. That can't be all of it...'
Well, no. There's more to come. Another book as big as this one. [ed. What a shock!]
I did not forget to write about the other characters. Far from it. I wrote lots about them. Pages and pages and pages. Chapters and more chapters. I was still writing when it dawned on me that the book had become too big to publish in a single volume... and I wasn't close to finished yet. To tell all of the story that I wanted to tell, I was going to have to cut the book in two.
The simplest way to do that would have been to take what I had, chop it in half around the middle, and end with `To Be Continued.' The more I thought about that, however, the more I felt that the readers would be better served by a book that told all the story for half the characters rather than half the story for all the characters. So that's the route I chose to take. [ed. What the hell is he talking about? This entire series is one endless To Be Continued! The only resolution you ever get is when someone f***ing dies! And were the readers really better served by a book focusing almost exclusively on the most boring and/or loathsome characters? Not that it made much difference to me, since I found the other 3 books boring and endless, too. As I mentioned previously, this one just had the added bonus of less interesting characters. Hooray!]
X, X, X, X and X, X, and all the rest of the characters you love or love to hate will be along next year (I devoutly hope) in A Dance with Dragons, which will focus on events along the Wall and across the sea, just as the present book focused on King's Landing."
- George R. R. Martin, June 2005
That's right. He wrote that afterward in June of TWO THOUSAND FIVE. He predicted a release date of 2006. Guess when A Dance with Dragons came out? That's right, never! Martin recently confirmed a July 2011 release date. And he's STILL writing the goddamned thing.
At some point when I was wading through this series, Andrea said she thought book 4 was the last book and I showed her that A Dance with Dragons was still to come. Then, in commentary on my friend Jason B's FB conversation about the release date, I said, "Is book 5 supposed to be the last one? Because if that's what he says, I DON'T BELIEVE HIM!" A friend of Jason's said, "The 6th one is supposed to be the last." Yah, right. Then I read that there are supposed to be SEVEN. SEVEN! SEVEN endless books! Jason said last night that maybe Martin was "building up to something supremely awesome." And I said, "I'm sorry, but if it takes you 6 books (and I still don't believe that will be the end, nor that he will ever actually complete the series) to build up to something supremely awesome, you're doing it wrong."
George R. R. Martin wrote a beautiful novella called A Song for Lya. It won the Hugo for Best Novella in 1975. I am having trouble reconciling that Martin, the one who could tell a powerful story in a short span of time, with this Martin, who can't seem to finish a story EVER, let alone make me actually care about the characters or what's happening. I have been tempted to go back and read A Song for Lya again, but I'm afraid that my current feelings for Martin will completely ruin the A Song for Lya experience.
My friend Scott S. mentioned some other series whose universe was supposed to be richly realized. Scott said something along these lines: it couldn't help but be a richly realized universe because the author described every goddamned cobblestone in every street.
Everyone keeps saying how masterful the Martin series is and, in my opinion, the only masterful stroke is Martin's inexplicable ability to keep a**holes reading it. Even a**holes like me, who hate the whole goddamned series. There were probably at least 400 times where I would stop reading mid-sentence, take a deep breath and think, "F*** this. I DON'T GIVE A S***." And I didn't. I truly didn't care what happened to anyone. And then, inexplicably, I would keep reading. After a certain point, it became this masochistic challenge. I didn't want this series to defeat me. I WANTED to understand the allure. But, nearly 4000 pages later, I failed. And after my mini-rant last night, and after finishing book 4, I was so tired, so broken, my soul so completely crushed, I couldn't bear to write about it this morning. As you can see, I got over it. However, I am DONE with this f***ing series. Lucky for me, Martin isn't even done writing book 5 and even if I WANTED to read book 5, I wouldn't remember most of the characters by the time it came out and there is no way in hell I would ever go back and read books 1-4 again to refresh my memory.
I want to punch George R. R. Martin in the face. And then I want to punch myself in the face for sticking with this goddamned series for so long.
Final thought: Just because it's epic doesn't mean it's good.
The blurb for this ebook does not tell you that what you will receive (unless it has since been changed) is the content of 5 books packaged into one single eBook file. This has got to be one of the most most bone-headed decisions I have come across in a long while. I see one icon in my kindle reader that encompasses all five books. So I don't see the covers of the individual books as depicted on the paperbacks.
Secondly, when you have an ebook that is nearly 5,000 pages long, things like trying to scroll to a particular page is not very accurate, and so on. It also means that if I want the eBook on my iPhone, I have to have the entire 5,000 pages on the phone etc.
I realise on the one hand my gripe is not that big a deal, but on the other hand it was very frustrating to expect one thing and receive another. The reality is that the publisher has specifically had to go to the trouble of concatenating these books into one eBook rather than just supplying the ebooks separately as you would get if you bought them separately. And I can think of no good reason for doing this.
In the end, I discovered by chance that Amazon allows you to get a refund on your ebooks within 7 days of purchase, so I refunded the combined set and bought the eBooks individually. Yes it cost a little more but at least I now have a more manageable collection.