Thursday, March 6, 2014

A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

This book was absolutely amazing- my first true taste of the adult fantasy genre. The story is intriguing and complex, weaving effortlessly between its eight different character perspectives. I found it to be much easier to read than I expected. Even with the large amount of characters mentioned, I was able to follow along quite fluidly as I progressed through the book. Its size, one of the things that made me hesitate to start this book, did not hinder my progress at all. It only made me look forward to what lay ahead in the forthcoming pages.

George R.R. Martin’s writing was highly enjoyable. It had a sort of elegance to it that urged me to keep reading. His descriptions are rich and powerful, without being overdone. Things like food, clothing and setting became so real and imaginable. Martin’s excellent use of language, and ingenious storytelling created an exciting and believable story. 

The characters, though some of them a bit cliched, all had strong voices. The character development differed for each of them, almost naturally, as people change in real life. My favorites were Tyrion, Jon and Arya, all of which are outcasts in the story. Tyrion’s wit and wisdom captured me instantly as he was introduced to the story. His strong personality was emphasized by the harsh misadventures he goes through. Jon’s character was the most likable and natural to me. He is forced to grow up and make important decisions in the story, and like in real life, they are not all clearcut. Arya, the stereotypical tomboy, was mostly fun to read about. She is strong-willed and defiant, while holding onto the innocence of being a child.

Eddard is the neutral voice in the story. He is kind but fair, which unfortunately is his downfall. He also holds together the mystery throughout most of the story, which the other characters help support. Although Catelyn is not a bad character, she didn’t stand out very much to me. Her growth is obvious in the story, but she was the only main character that lacked personality to me. I enjoyed reading about Bran, mostly toward the beginning of the story, and the end. Sansa, although very dislikable, was an important perspective to the story, in my opinion. Her fairytale-like way of thinking showed her ignorance and naivety, as she tried to hold onto the innocence of being a child while also becoming a woman, something which proved to be impossible by the end of the story. 

Even after finishing the book, I am still confused as to how I feel about Daenerys. From the start, her situation bothered me- being forced to marry and have sex with Khal Drogo, at the age of 13. While this was at first disturbing, what confused me was that she was able to fall in love with him. I suppose that was understandable, as she had to deal with it, and Drogo is not necessarily bad. She is a strong character, for that, and everything else she went through. However, I wish we could have seen her transition a bit more clearly. 

Another thing I was hesitant about with reading this book were the sex scenes. Though they were not nearly as bad as expected, there was a lot of rape, and sexism. But being that we live in a world where it exists, it wasn’t entirely out of place, unfortunately. Other taboo topics, which I was warned about, included incest and arranged marriage, which surprisingly fit into the book. Only one part in the story was predictable, which luckily didn’t take away from the mystery. 

Though the main plot didn’t start off very strong, the beginning of the story was still very enjoyable and did not lack in content. It was simply another string along with the various sub-plots, waiting to take shape. However, it slowly starts to distinguish itself, and a little more than halfway through the book, it takes off at full speed. The last half of the book went by very quickly and ended strong, making me more than excited to read the next book in this (so far) amazing series. 

Martin’s stunning ability to create effective drama, adventure, mystery, romance and fantasy, all in one book, as well as his ability to make strong, believable characters is truly admirable. A Game of Thrones has definitely become one of my favorite books, and a perfect entry into the world of fantasy.

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