Last year I watched the tv series that was based on this fantasy epic. I didn’t realize they were books first until my sister gave me her paperback copies to read. It’s one of those detailed fantasy tales full of multifaceted characters. It’s a world full of strife, different factions battling for power, who will sit on the Iron Throne. Not easy to describe, but as when watching the films, I was drawn in by the characters. My favorites are Jon Snow- illegitimate son of a lord, sent to the outskirts of the world to stand guard against dire things that roam in the frozen forest “beyond the Wall”. His young half-sister Arya, a fierce little girl who would rather learn to use a sword than do stitchery and ladylike things. The dwarf Tyrion has grown on me. I didn’t care for his bawdy preoccupations at first, but his jokes cut to the quick of things and he has a way of stating the obvious that others would rather avoid. He looks out for himself but in his own way has more integrity than a lot of the other people crawling around on those pages. My other favorite character is Daenerys, an exiled princess making her way back a homeland she can’t even remember. Early on in the book she was sold by her brother to be the wife of the lord of a band of barbaric nomads. Through the course of the story she had to learn their customs and came to hold her own, win their respect and wield her own power. If you’re looking for strong female protagonists, Daenerys is your woman.
There are plenty more characters I like and tend to follow their threads of the storyline when all the intrigue, politicking and battles get tedious (although the recommendation I read on another blog about Martin writing battles well was accurate. I don’t get too bored!) Truthfully, this is one case where I liked the film version better than the novel. If I’d read this book first, I don’t know if I would have made it through. It’s a bit light on description, which fails to draw me in and make me turn the pages eagerly as I’d like. Having seen the film, my mind fills in the visuals and instead I enjoy seeing where the story has been changed. Not much; so far the tv series has been very faithful to the book.
I like the grim realism of it all. There’s mysterious doings and religious fanatics, scheming courtiers and common people simply trying to live their lives who get caught up in things. I thought at first it was going to just be a story about kings and knights and ladies and warfare, but there are hints of darker stuff going on, and there’s magic although realistically the people doubt it themselves. There are things that make the dead walk, seers who can enter dreams and the vision of animals, and dragons. Those appeared only at the very end of the story, so I am full of anticipation for the next installment.