Note Upfront: This is not a proper review of the books as such, just my impressions after reading the first two books of the Song of Ice and Fire series by George R.R.Martin. It’s pretty difficult to do a full-fledged review of such a huge in scope story, which runs through multiple series.
As of now, the complete series consists of the following books:
- A Game of Thrones
- A Clash of Kings
- A Storm of Swords
- A Feast for Crows
- A Dance with Dragons
Hooboy, I don’t realize what I was getting into when I started these first 2 books from A Song of Fire and Ice by George R.R.Martin. It’s been ages since I read a full-blown fantasy series. My last attempt at epic Fantasy was short-lived when I read the first two books of Terry Goodkind’s Sword of Truth, which weren’t bad, but I kinda felt like I had outgrown this genre.
What a pleasure to know I haven’t. George R.R.Martin’s series is absolutely awesome – just the right amount of Fantasy mixed with a host of interesting characters, and enough politicking and scheming to keep you entertained late into the night.
So what’s the series about? Well, it’s all about the confusion and the fight for supremacy that follows after the death of a king. King Robert Baratheon has managed to hold the empire together during his reign, but his sudden death leaves behind a minor son, and a whole host of nobles all vying to dethrone the young prince and become King. Apparently, these sections of the novels are loosely based on the Wars of the Roses, a vicious series of battles of succession that took place in 15th-century England.
To provide the Fantasy aspect, there are threats from the North from the Others – some kind of zombies who are now rising and planning to move south and destroy the current kingdom. There are also dragons and magicians galore, and enough Fantasy to enthrall most readers. But the thing is, what I love about this series is, there’s never too much magic to give anybody an edge. I also love that there is no overarching good character or evil character. All of them have shades of black and white. The characters may not be very likable, but they are interesting, and I love that most characters get to have their point of view shown. It made me more invested in them, and reduced boredom, I mean even the most interesting and well-written character can start to tire, if he is covered fully for more than a 1000 pages!
Also, even the most terrible people seen through the eyes of people who love them are hard to dislike. For example, the horrible Queen Cersei may be an evil conniving b**** but she is also a protective mother who is battling to save her children, and I find it difficult to hate her completely.
I also love that I have no idea how this series is going to end. I mean when I read Lord of the Rings, I read it knowing that good will ultimately triumph, same with Inheritance, and other such books. But, in a series, where no one is all good and no one is all evil, it is really a toss-up as to the fate of the characters.
What I don’t like is the rape, sex, and misogyny that is rampant throughout the first two books. A quick scan through book blogs reviewing the rest of the series tells me it doesn’t get better. But, considering the setting – sometime in the Middle Ages, and the state of war, I guess it’s impossible not to have such story arcs.
Overall though this series is a total hit for me, and I am going to devour the other books pretty quickly, I am sure. The only drawback is it seems Martin takes ages to write his books, and I don’t want to finish them all up, and then have to wait years for the finale .
People have told me that the TV series is also awesome, unfortunately, I don’t think it shows in India. So, that is also something to wait for.
So, are any of you guys reading the books. How do you think the series progresses from here? Any bets on the fate of the characters and who will finally rule? Who are your favorite characters? For now, I like Tyrion Lannister and Sandor Clegane, and of course Prince Tommen (even though he is really a minor character so far). I know I should like Daenerys and Jon Snow, but I find their stories really flat so far, and I am finding I don’t really much care what happens to them. Maybe, this will change later, I can sense these story arcs are going to get much stronger in the later books.