Disclaimer: Beware that this review contains some spoilers for the book and by extension, the first season of the series on HBO.
“In life, the monsters win.”
A hard lesson learned by one of the characters in A Game of Thrones, the first book in George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series, and also one that I myself as a reader learned. Martin kills the most honest and honorable character in the book! And I thought he was the protagonist of the series. Certainly, his POV was the most prominent in the book, giving readers time to love him, grow frustrated with him, and root for him. Then he just…dies. Oh my heart. But I should have seen it coming. Ned Stark was just too good of a character. There were times during the book that I found myself hoping, wishing, praying that Ned would take the non-honorable route, that he would just take his enemies by the ballsacks and rip them off, excuse my crudeness. Forget honor, integrity, and doing the right thing, he’s in the middle of a war and sometimes the only way to gain the upper hand on your enemy is to be cunning and deceitful. But no, not Lord Eddard Stark of Winterfell. He’s a true, honest and merciful man until the end, and his head on a pike is what he gets for it. Hopefully his son Robb won’t follow in his footsteps but I have a feeling that he will. And his death will be no less heartwrenching.
Martin does an amazing job building this world. From the characters to the landscape to the history…he has truly created a world of his own and I am in awe of it. No wonder it can take him up to six years to write one book in this series, the characters are so real and the details are impeccable. There are times when the plot drags and it feels like the character POVs are too many. Jon Arryn’s death, in particular, could have been resolved sooner than it was, in my opinion. But the end, man, the end just brings it all together and leaves you wanting more. After having plowed through 800+ pages already. In this book, Martin brings together the best elements of high fantasy and genre fiction, making Game of Thrones an exciting read that you don’t want to put down.
And of course, I can’t resist talking a little about the now famous (infamous?) HBO series. AGoT has been on my to-read pile for about 2 years now and once the series started I vowed to myself that I would read the books first before I watched the show. Well, I kept that vow despite the many many temptations and I’m glad I did. When I was nearly halfway through the book I watched the first episode of the series. Now that I’m done with the book, I’ve seen 4 episodes. And so far the plot of the series is exactly like the book. Some of the dialogue is even the same. Sure, there are some changes here and there, namely the ages of some of the characters, a few added and subtracted scenes, but nothing too major that I can tell so far. I’m glad I did it this way because now I can watch the show in order to bring to life the story that I’ve read. The show is an enhancing experience, not a substitute for reading the books. At least that’s how I feel about it. Well, that’s pretty much how I feel about any film/TV adaptation of a book because I just love books so much.
If you haven’t checked out this series yet, it is worth the read and engaging even if you’re not really a Fantasy lover. And it makes watching the show much more fun! *psst there’s more sex in the book than in the show* Just sayin’, lol. Nothing too graphic though. But still, the show isn’t for kiddies and neither is the book.