Wednesday, 13 August 2014

A Song of Ice and Fire books 1-5 by George R. R. Martin

Goodreads Summary for A Game Of Throne (the 1st book in the series: Summers span decades. Winter can last a lifetime. And the struggle for the Iron Throne has begun.




As Warden of the north, Lord Eddard Stark counts it a curse when King Robert bestows on him the office of the Hand. His honour weighs him down at court where a true man does what he will, not what he must … and a dead enemy is a thing of beauty.


The old gods have no power in the south, Stark’s family is split and there is treachery at court. Worse, the vengeance-mad heir of the deposed Dragon King has grown to maturity in exile in the Free Cities. He claims the Iron Throne.






A Game Of Thrones
A Clash of Kings
A Storm of Swords
A Feast for Crows
A Dance With Dragon

*Warning , that review is LOOOOONG, lol*
*by the way, I'm not kidding O_O*


-MY THOUGHTS-

“Words are wind”, this was said by the dwarf Tyrion Lannister several times during the course of A Dance With Dragons, the fifth novel in A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin. It’s a simple enough sentence. Yet, those mere three words perfectly describe the series they were written in. 

In ASOIAF, there is three main intrigues situated in place far away from each other ( the fact that internet, plane, car and all the cool stuff from the 21th century aren’t in the picture doesn’t help) in the world created by Mr Martin. They are all connected to each other in a way or another.

In King’s Landing in Westeros, political intrigues about the famous Iron Throne mainly opposing House Lannister and House Stark are taking place. Obviously, power and glory always attracting the most ambitious, other House will enter the cruel game of throne. Some will ally the Lannister thinking that they will later be rewarded. Other will join the Starks because of honour, duty or more sinister motive. And a third group, much more audacious will try to snatch the crown for themselves. Despite the virtuous vows of help a Lord, knight or even the lowliest of peasant can make betrayal always lurk behind this noble gesture. 

As Cercei Lannister, wife of Robert Baratheon and consequently Queen of the Seven Kingdom so perfectly said to her husband’s childhood friend Eddard  Stark, “When you play the game of throne, you either win or you lose, there’s no middle ground.” In other words, more than a title or money, it’s your life you’re gambling with.

At the beginning of the story, Eddard Stark or Ned as most of his friend call him haltingly accepted the post of Hand of the Kings, a function that enable him to rule the Kingdom in the name of the King. His two daughters followed him at King’s Landing, while his sons stayed at Winterfell, ancestral home of the Stark located in the Northern region of the Seven Kingdoms. 

Robb’s, Sansa’s, Arya’s, Bran’s, and Rickon’s ( Ned’s little cubs) future were already traced, decided and written in stone (in their parents’ mind anyway), but poor Jon Snow, Ned’s natural son, or more bluntly his bastard kid had been completely forgotten from his father and stepmother’s plan. Not that his father didn’t love him, he simply didn’t know what to do with him. 

Eventually, knowing full well his position, Jon signed up for the Night Watch, a brotherhood of men charged to protect the Kingdom and stationed at the Wall. As a member of the Night Watch, Jon vowed to remain chaste, stay single, to be childless and to defend the Seven Kingdom until he dies. How joyous...

The Watch has two main enemies, the Wildlings (tribal people who wish to invade the Kingdom and don’t believe anyone should kneel to a King, a Lord or whatever and are obviously considered as savages) and the Others, evil entity with necromantic abilities. 

Nobody knows neither where the Others come from nor how to get rid of them. As the series goes by, the fight with The Others takes more and more importance and we slowly understand that those creatures are far more preoccupying than the war for the Iron Throne. 

By the way, the Watch is a bit of a mess on its own. To Jon’s dismay at the beginning of the story, The Watch is mostly composed of former criminal (rapist, murderer, thief... I guess you get an idea) and not noble knights. 

And finally, living in the free cities of Essos, Daenarys Targaryen has the ambition to take back the oh so coveted Iron Throne from the one she calls “The Usurper” with help of  her husband’s, the Khal Drogo, army . However, since, Dany carries bad luck (and bad judgement) like they are charms, The Wheels of Fortune often turns in the wrong sense for her. And consequently, her dreams of conquest are much more complicated and take MUCH longer than she (or the reader, which means me) expected. 

By the way, there’s actually nothing presumptuous in Dany’s desire for the crown, since this crown should have been hers by RIGHT in the first place.

Back in the good ole days, house Targaryen was the ruling family of the Seven Kingdom. Robert was able to ascend to the mightiest seat in the Kingdom by overthrowing and decimating their dynasty (he had some legitimate reasons to do that, by the way).  That’s why Dany’s claim to the thrown is perfectly valid.

So what should I say? Oh yes. ASOIAF is the most incredible, marvellous and mesmerizing story I have ever read. More than a good juxtaposition of words, it’s the magnitude and depth of the story that impress me. The reader doesn’t follow the story through only one or two characters. At the beginning, we’re seeing Westeros through Ned, his wife Catelynn, Jon, Bran, their two sisters and Tyrion, but by A Dance With Dragons this number goes up to 31 people. These characters are often enemies, have different ambitions and opinions. Most live miles away from each other and in place with different culture and customs. 

Even though, the series is composed of three main intrigues, it can be said that every character has its own personal intrigue. Having that many POV can be annoying though, because obviously you can’t love every character. For example, I can’t stomach Arya and I really don’t care about Bran, so reading their POV is a real struggle. If truth be told, I’m guilty of page skimming whenever those two are around. Despite all these parameters to take into accounts, all these constraints he had to grabble with, GRRM was able to publish a coherent and intriguing story. 

Contrary to most other series in the same genre, ASOIAF doesn’t indulge in Manichaeism. In the literary jargon, we’ll say that the series lay in the grey zone. Characters possessing high moral also have their moment of selfishness, of misplaced pride and vanity (which often have disastrous consequences). And since, points of views are so varied, the reader can have a better perspective on characters that would usually be considered as villain.

As a matter of fact, some like Jaime Lannister for example even become pleasant because we know the reason why they did some of their foulest actions. It doesn’t mean that they’re goody-goody two shoes in disguise. However, we can like them, and even root for them.

I’m a happy ending lover, I’m here for people ending up happy and with the person they love. That’s actually why I avoided ASOIAF. Yes I said it! In this series, characters suffer. Countless of times throughout the books, their hopes, dreams and gentle illusions are torn apart and most of time, their situation instead of improving, goes from Charybde to Sylla. 

Betrayal, death, the death of a loved one, torture, loneliness, despair, none of the characters are safe from those. Said like that, I know that the books sound depressing, however, it’s not the case. Life is harsh is our days, and it was a thousand times harsher in medieval times. So realism beat pessimism 1-0. 

I must admit that even though while I was reading there was nothing I couldn’t handle, a lots of time I was like “ NO. This is so not gonna happen?! Right?! * look helplessly left and right for an answer* Someone’s gonna come and save him!” As you can expect that help usually never came O_O. 

Even though I love ASOIAF, I don’t think it’s criticism free. The first three books, A Game of Throne, A Clash of Kings and A Storm of Swords were UHMAZING. However, I wasn’t as impressed by their successor, A Feast For Crows and A Dance With Dragons. There were interesting, and by the end of each book I always wanted more. However, I can’t say they were on the same league as their little brothers. The problem with those two was in my opinion was that the story was kind of stagnating. 

By ADWD which is the 5th book in what will be a 7 novel series, we still don’t know what the Other truly are, Dany is still stuck in the free cities and there’s nothing that truly announce her coming in Westeros and on top of that there’s a brand new player that could change everything we have come to know in the game of throne. 

I think this issue stems from the huge number of point of view there is in the series.  The story would have flowed much more quickly if the cast had been smaller, besides not every character is actually very interesting.

Oh and also, I hate that books in this series take AGES to come out, no date has still been set for The Wind of Winter which means that it could be published in 6 months or in 6 years! *wall slide and start crying*

Despite the flaws I mentioned, ASOIAF definitely is my favourite series. And I’m very eager to read The Wind of Winter (whenever it will be published).







2 comments:

  1. Great review. Taking on a review of an entire series is tough, haha.

    I have to say, I know Martin is trying to make Jamie a more sympathetic character now, but I'm just not having it. No siree.

    Are you keeping up to date with the theories surrounding ASOIAF? If so, what are your opinions on Jon vs. Dany? I have so many thoughts but don't want to share them in case you're not looking into future theories so they don't bore you, ahahaha.

    I cannot WAIT for The Winds of Winter to come out. I need it now! Lol

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you!

    I'm kind of partaged concerning Jaime. I'm warming up to him because I like reading his POV, but I can't forget the horrible things he did (throwing Bran out of the window). Besides, his relation with his sister is creepy, lol.

    Ha! Yes I'm keeping up to date with ALL the theories, lol. Personaly I don't think that Azor Azhai reborn is Dany. It would be too easy. I think it's Jon. Because after all he's a Stark, so there is ice inside him. And if he's truly Lyanna's and Rhaegar's son (as I believe he is) that means he also has fire inside him. And isn't the book named A song of Fire and Ice? Now we just need to see if he's immune to fire. Oh and by the way, I don't think he died.

    And I think that when Dany will arrive in Westeros, she will help Jon to fight the Other.

    There's just so many possibilities, I just want to have The WInds of Winter so that all my questions be answered, lol.

    What are your theories?

    ReplyDelete

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...