Sunday, 8 January 2012

Game of Thrones Readalong Post #1

  • January 8: Progress post #1; Pages 1 (Prologue) - 189 (End of Jon)
I didn't quite make it to page 189. I have read up until page 119 but I think I have read enough to give a partial review. I have to admit I was so nervous about this book. I still have bad memories of trying to read Lord of the Rings and feeling so overwhelmed by all the characters, places, and battles that I just gave up.

This book is much easier to follow but not completely easy. I think there are too many characters and the constantly shifting points of view sometimes leaves me baffled. What is surprising though is despite so many characters, there is not a single cardboard, cliche character in the group. Each character is unique and likeable. What's also surprising is there are points of view from men, women, and even children of both genders. I think this is what makes the book so good. One chapter may be from a veteran warrior while the next is told from the point of view of a teenage princess. What can a bit jarring is how young many of the characters are. It's culture shock to read about a thirteen year old girl getting married or a fourteen year old boy preparing to dedicate himself to the life of a chaste warrior.

What surprises me more than anything is that the book is character driven, not plot driven. This is the first fantasy adventure book that I have truly read. I only read a few chapters of Lord of the Rings and since then I think it has been my stereotype of what fantasy adventures are like that has kept me from attempting to read this genre again. I don't want to read page after page describing different battles. It turns out Game of Thrones is nothing like that. While battles and royal politics are certainly part of the plot, Martin's style is the exact opposite of a dry history lesson.

My favorite part in the book so far, and it is probably because I am a girl, was the consummation of the marriage between Khal Drogo and Daenerys. Khal Drogo is a fierce king of a barbaric people that kill and rape without mercy. Daenerys has been betrothed to Khal Drogo by her brother in hopes that Khal Drogo's army will help him regain the throne that was taken from his family. Daenerys is a young innocent teenager and Khal Drogo speaks only one word of Common Tongue and that is the word "no." As a reader, I fully expected Kahl Drogo to just violently take her but instead it was a tender love scene that was better than any Harlequin novel I have ever read.

My biggest complaint is that I don't understand who's story this is. Who is the main character? I think there are two and they are Eddard Stark (Ned) and Jon Snow, but I could be wrong about that. I am truly excited to read the rest of this book and find out. I find myself rooting for Jon to be the hero of the entire book. I always love an underdog.

I am also anxious to watch the HBO series based on the book. I decided to watch the first episode as well. I didn't go any further because I didn't want the book to be spoiled. The first episode pretty much covered all that I had read so far. However, the pacing felt too rushed and there is very little character development. The book is by far better, but aren't they always?

The tv show was different plotwise only in minor ways, but since it's only an hour long so much had to be left out. Far fewer characters are in the show so it is easier to follow, but this actually kind of bored me. Or maybe I was bored because HBO reduces some of them to stereotypical cardboard characters. In the show, the character of the Imp wasn't cardboard but did come off as kind of gimmicky. The tv show also focused on Khal Drogo and Daenerys but completely ruined the love scene because he is violent not tender like in the book.

Sometimes I only understood what was happening because I had read the book. An example is when Daenerys is told "You don't want to unleash the dragon" by her brother. Without the context of the book, you have no clue what this means. I thought there were a few scenes that were more powerful in the show than in the book though. This included when Ned and Robert reunite and when Bran gets injured. Reading about a boy falling and seeing it happen are emotionally two very different things!

Here's more info if you would like to participate in the Game of Thrones readalong:

The December Wolf Hall readalong has inspired me to tackle another long book that I’m scared to start by myself: A Game of Thrones. I loved the show and Kwame loved the book so I asked for volunteers to read it with me this January. The awesome Jenn from Booksessed responded and we’ve decided to get more people involved by hosting a readalong! We’ve spread it over 4 weeks so hopefully we’ll get through it together.

How to Participate:

  • Enter your blog site on this post. (If you don’t have a blog, just add a comment and start reading!)
  • Optional: Write a post to drag more readers into the fray with us
  • Optional: Stick the button in your sidebar! :)


(Page numbers from my paperback copy, I’ve put the names down to help you find it in your book but it’s not too important to get it perfect)

  • January 1: Reading starts (or has started already)
  • January 8: Progress post #1; Pages 1 (Prologue) - 189 (End of Jon)
  • January 15: Progress post #2; Pages 190 (Eddard) - 395 (End of Daenerys)
  • January 22: Progress post #3; Pages (Bran) 396 - 617 (End of Tyrion)
  • January 29: Final progress post; Pages 618 (Sansa) - 807 (End of Daenerys)

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