I won’t even try to describe the plot behind the first book in this series by George R.R. Martin. I’m sure by now everyone knows what it is anyway, given that it’s a major television series (which I have yet to watch, incidentally). I’ve had people telling me I should read this book since the show started years ago, and at the time, I vehemently objected to both reading the books and watching the show. My objections were based on two things. First, I didn’t really like fantasy novels, and second, I was worried they would be too violent/gritty for me.
Oh, how times change. Fast forward a couple years, and Ms. Manda has found herself very much in love with fantasy novels (thank you, Brandon Sanderson!). Jason, thus, bought me a pack of the first four books in the series back in December, thinking they might make good books for me. I was still leery, I admit, but when I started reading A Game of Thrones in January, I was immediately hooked.
It’s funny, because in the end, the violence and grit didn’t turn me off. I think they were both tastefully handled. This is a grim world, no doubt, but I never felt like the violence was gratuitous, or that the book was some sort of torture-p*rn. In the end, the part I found most difficult in this book was the focus on politics. I’ve never really been a lover of politics and political science, and there were parts that were so well-written in this book, with regards to politics, that I struggled to get through them. Some days I would only read a chapter or two before I had to put the book aside for the rest of the day.
Regardless, I never wanted to stop reading, or to move on to a different book. As soon as I was through those more tedious chapters, I loved them, and was excited about the things I’d read. That, I think, is a real gift – very few authors can make me excited about subjects I really dislike, but Martin did just that. And I didn’t mind reading the book slowly. I read it over several weeks, and during that time, I thought about the story a lot, and learned many things about world-building and constructing a political and war-torn society. The story stayed in my head so well that many nights I dreamed about it. I have not yet started the second book, because I want to give the first book time to settle in my brain. A Game of Thrones is the first book I’ve read since Shadow and Bone in December 2012 that I felt was truly going to stick in my brain longterm, and that felt wonderful.
I won’t say the book is perfect. The one thing that did bother me was how black-and-white the story seemed in places. From the beginning, we are clearly supposed to support the Starks and shun the Lannisters, and I would have loved to see more from the Lannister point of view, to understand them more. However, I’ve been told by several people who’ve read the entire series (thus far) that this particular issue of mine gets addressed and resolved further on, and that nothing is so black and white after a few more books. So that’s good! I’m looking forward to reading further. And to watching the HBO series now, because yeah, I just have to.