I have just finished reading “A Game of Thrones” by George RR Martin.
I had previously made some notes about the thoughts that reading the book has created in my mind; I have little else to add at this moment to what I found interesting and relating to life in this book.
Overall, I am very pleased to see that the HBO series and the book are very similar, which made it a delight to read the book. I sure loved seeing the phrases/quotes/sentences uttered in the book also used in the show.
The book certainly is better than the show – revealing more, especially in terms of dreams and inner reflections, but the show is certainly more memorable.
Writing style: I keep thinking how interesting is the author’s writing style. I noted this before, but it does not hurt to say again that one needs to pay attention to each sentence; GRRM writes even the most critical/impactful event (such as the fall of Bran out of the window, or the death of Ned Stark) in short passages; as if it is as naturally flowing as taking a breath. And in these books with each single breath, the life and fate may change dramatically. So, keep alert readers – you do not want to miss the plots. Looks like life has many and frequent sharp turns in this book.
Should I have not watched the HBO series, then I sure would have been shocked by the death of Ned Stark. But no; thus far the author did an excellent job by desensitizing me. While I am so fond of Brienne and Jamie, I know they may as well die in the 6th book – so I am slowly but steadily detaching myself from these characters now. I thought at first maybe the author was killing the characters out of boredom or for being stuck at and not moving forward, but then I realized that if Bran had not fallen and Ned Stark was not killed, then there would be no war and thus no story anyhow. Seems like a very delicate planning.
Characters: There are a number of notable characters in the book; Ser Barristan Selmy the bold, Tyrion, Arya, Syrio Forel, Blackfish, and the dire wolfs. Aemon Targaryen, with his wisdom and watching over Jon Snow, has been a recent favorite. Jon Snow, as someone who is constantly rejected because of his bastard status, is another character I like to read about. Too bad that he died later in the books, too (is he coming back in season 6?).
Sansa – One character that I cannot get to like is Sansa; am I the only one? I understand that she is young (what? 11? 12?), but her younger sister Arya has even more sense in herself than Sansa. Despite all she is going thru, I cannot even feel for this character. Yet, I gotta give credit to this character – the only time I have seen a shred of strength or a character was when she was forced by king Joffrey to look at the head of his father and she said to herself “I can look, but I will not see”. I think the actress playing this character did an excellent job on the HBO series reflecting this on the screen, too.
Daenerys Targaryen – In this book, there is quite an emphasis on Daenerys Targaryen; more chapters than the other characters. This intrigues me. Looking forward to seeing more how her story line will evolve over the books. Since the name of the 5-book saga is “A Song of Ice and Fire”, I kind of think that Starks (or whoever is holding the swords made by Ned Stark’s sword Ice) and the dragons (and thus Daenerys) will eventually determine the fate of the characters in the book.
I also note that one of the biggest character transformations in this book was for Daenerys; she was a frightened child (by her brother) first, then a child bride to a savage (Khal Drogo) whom eventually she loved and made him love her, and finally made bad choices that possibly resulted in the death of her husband (at her own hand) as well as her child. I expect this character to undertake more in the future; more like a mad woman who lost her mind. I know from the show that this does not happen, but man, did she really make bad choices….I wonder how does this character handle it?
Of note – The number and the richness of the characters created makes this book really interesting, too. I kept thinking; after the ‘War and Peace” by Tolstoy, this book must be the second one that has created such a large number of notable characters. Hats off to both writers – it cannot be an easy job.
The conflicts of human heart and mind: I have noted this before in a couple of posts, but I cannot not say it again; GRRM makes excellent points about the conflicts created by heart and mind; love versus duty; family versus honor; realm/people versus kings (the character Varys and the Kingslayer Jamie Lannister in the later books). I love these contradictions that force characters to make choices and the pain experienced as a result more than anything else (not that I like pain; pain just shows that sometimes there is no good choice). If there was another book as influential as this one in this regard, it would have been “Sophie’s Choice” by William Styron.
Now, I will start with the second book in the series – A Clash of Kings. Hope to read more about Brienne, Jaime, Tyrion, and Arya.