An old friend had lent me his copy of the first Game of Thrones book ages ago. I put it on my desk and let it cover dust until my friend Mari announced that she would be partaking in the #GoTReadalong in March so who was I to pass up that opportunity to finally beat that beast of a book?!
I don’t think I need to give a summary or anything of that sort for this book because everyone and their grandma knows what Game of Thrones is and I felt a bit like the only idiot who either hadn’t read it yet or had not even seen the HBO show. So there you have it, now I’m in the know, too. And boy was that hard earned.
I have to be honest, I struggled with this book. A lot. The prose was easy enough to read but it was also at times infuriating, especially when Martin talked about sex, sexual organs or sexuality at all. I wanted to yell at him to call the characters ‘manhood’ penis like every other grown person does and to not refer to women’s vaginas as their lips. Yes, I know that is kinda accurate but still a weird way to write it. And OMG if I have to read the words ‘his semen is strong/his semen fills her/or any variation’ it will be too soon. It sounded like an old man beating around the bush, like he would write for a prude audience who couldn’t handle talking about sex and sexuality in a normal way. In short, it drove me nuts.
The changing points of view left me ambiguous. On one side, I like the alternating points of view but I was easily tired of Eddard’s chapters because they were boring to me and also, they were not really alternating points of view. Actually, I go back and forth on this last thing because in a way they were alternating points of view but they were also not written in the voice of those people. The chapters focussed on them, yes, but there was no clear voice for each and every character, they read more or less the same. Maybe this is just a problem for my expectations.
There were at least 400 pages in this story that bore me to death. This is only an estimate, I didn’t count but between pages 100-something and 500-something I felt like nothing happened even though we all knew where it was going and it’s not like the many words were used for solid world building either. Just alternating points of view that felt like we got the same information over and over again. I kept wondering how the people who already watched the show fared through this because I was only guessing at what was coming and they knew. Especially the chapters where Catelyn had Tyrion in her command felt needless and tiresome.
Don’t get me started on the characters because why were they so dumb? I’m talking specifically about Sansa, Ned and and mostly Ned. I’m pretty sure I had a third but I don’t remember at this point. Ned Stark is an idiot which is even more infuriating as he is made out to be a clever man but the way he confronted Cersei was just plain stupid. Why not wait until at least his kids are in safety? What did he imagine would come of it? And Sansa, I understand she and Arya are not big fans of one another but still it was hard to believe she was that blinded by her love for Joff that she completely forgot about her little sister. And, I mean, everything that happens after page 490 or so is partly her fault because she is a stupid, stupid little girl. No love for her, sorry.
There were characters I liked. Tyrion, Arya and even Jon and Catelyn after a while but they still couldn’t make me gloss over the incest, rape and sometimes terrible writing. There was, however, one passage I really liked toward the end of the book when Catelyn has to wait on Robb and she closes her eyes because she can’t see what is happening because so much is going on. She just listens and that is written pretty well but most of everything else seemed very drawn out.
I couldn’t help but feel lost in the story sometimes and not in a good way. Also, not because of all the characters. I was intimidated by everyone who had already seen the show and was like ‘oh em gee I’m so glad I know who is who because how would I keep them straight in my head’. I didn’t have that problem. I think, once you read a Russian novel where everyone has 3 names, everything else is amateur hour. But there were so many words wasted on nothing. The novel turns in circles and maybe they will prove important once you read another 3 long ass books but that’s not good writing to me, I’m sorry. There was a lot of filler. And it didn’t explain the Wall properly and what lies beyond it, at least not until the very end and it drove me nuts.
Also, the constant mention of winter is coming. It took a couple hundred pages until we learned that summer lasted 10 years now and I about lost my shit with that. I mean, normally a year is how long it takes for a planet to orbit the sun so how can one season last a couple of years? My physicist’s brain could not work with that information because it was not otherwise stated that this imaginary land was not set on a planet orbiting some kind of sun and did not abide to the normal laws of physics. Yes, maybe they are going through ice ages but yikes, either you explain that in your plentiful words or you get it right the first time.
And yes, I may be very picky but for a good chunk of the book, there was not much else claiming my focus. BECAUSE NOTHING HAPPENED!! Except talking and scheming and we all knew how it would end. In short, this story needs editing from where I’m sitting and I could probably, easily write another 1000 words on my feelings towards this book but these were my most pressing thoughts. I’m glad that I now know what this is about and know that I won’t have to read more than book 1 because that are just too many pages for me to invest time in, especially for a story I do only have heartedly care about.