For years and years I have been told that I had to read Martin's "A Game of Thrones". And then the TV-show came, and the reading recommendations exploded; everyone was reading the series and everyone told me to read it as well. It almost felt like the books were being forced on me; like some sort of mandatory reading that I had no choice but to read immediately.
Of course I protested. I hate being told what to read. I hate being obligated to read something. I hate the phrase "You have to read this
", because in the end, I only have to read whatever I feel like reading. And I didn't feel like reading yet another so-called epic fantasy-series.
But I gave up. I caved in, and I dived into a world filled with vivid colors, odd personalities and hopeless cruelty. Martin introduced me to an old tale told in an entirely new way; "A Game of Thrones" is essentially just a story of man's need for power, domination and submission. A mindgame of manipulation, war strategies and secretive plotting - with a light touch of magic, dragons and dark forces.
What really holds the story is the characters, their actions, their reasoning and their distinct voices. Each chapter represents a new world seen from a fresh pair of eyes. The constantly shifting tones and angles make it possible to understand the dynamics of each political force and their individual set of beliefs.
However I did think Martin perhaps fell into his own trap, and his constant shift between characters created a pacing problem. There never seems to be enough of the characters you love (Daenerys, Tyrion, Eddard Stark), and the interruption created by chapters about less exciting characters (Bran Stark, Jon Snow and Sansa Stark) can almost feel like an insult at times.
The sudden death of beloved characters (which has made Martin famous) almost seem pointless at times - a bit too desperate, too dramatic and too easy for my taste. But that may just be because I've watched the TV-show, and knew it was coming all along.
Overall I enjoyed this book. I liked
it, and was entertained from beginning to end. But I am not in awe, I am not spellbound and I am not lost in Martins world. I am impressed with the many characters, their different storylines and the complete mythology Martin has created. An overview like that is always impressive.
I am torn between 3 or 4 stars. 3.5 perhaps?