Posted on | May 31, 2012 | 2 Comments
I recently watched the Game of Thrones series from HBO and loved it. Around episode seven, caught in a frenzy of fantasy fondness, I ordered this book. It was a risk, to be honest. I’m not normally one for the fantasy genre but I figured I’d give it a go. Like I say, suggestible.
George R.R. Martin has been hammering away at this story for twenty-odd years and A Game Of Thrones is the first in a series of books (currently five with another two planned, I think) under the ‘A Song Of Ice And Fire’ umbrella. I’ve read that Game Of Thrones is the most pirated TV series ever. I’ve no idea if that’s true but I figure there can’t be many who don’t know the deal with this particular instalment of A Song Of Ice And Fire.
It’s a tricky thing to summarise the story but, here goes: Lord Eddard Stark is charged by his pal, King Robert, to become his ‘Hand’ and, essentially, sort out all the crap the king doesn’t want to. Ned’s not keen but, you know, kings and all that. Cue much Machiavellian scheming and plotting and stabbing of backs… Across two continents.
There’s a lot more to it, of course—this is 800 pages here. It’s worth noting, for instance, that there are multiple protagonists. Martin splits each one’s story and every chapter comes from a different character’s point of view. While trying to avoid any spoilers, this allows him a lot of freedom, as no one character is really the ‘main’ focus, and he can get away with a lot he couldn’t if we followed one person all through the book.
So, did my suggestible risk-taking pay off?
Not really. It wasn’t for me, to be honest. It seems that my liking for fantasy is restricted to occasional shows from HBO. This isn’t a snobbish thing—I’ve no problem with the fantasy genre or those who properly appreciate it. It’s just that I’m not among them. I’ll get my personal geek on with sci-fi until the space cows some home but throw in fantasy elements and I lose interest a bit (famously, I threw my copy of LOTR away in disgust when Tom Bombadil began singing at trees, killing a passing cat*).
A Game Of Thrones is well written, if a little rambling at times and has intricate plots and turnabouts more twisted than a Spineless Swerve-Serpent from the Swamps of Smurgh (a little, slightly condescending, nod to fantasy, there). It keeps you on your toes as there’s so much betrayal that nobody’s safe.
That said, it just wasn’t my cup of tea (see what I did there?). If fantasy’s your bag, you’ve probably already read it but, if not, you’ll almost certainly love it. I’ll be watching the next season on TV but I probably won’t be buying A Clash Of Kings.
*In reality, I only wounded the cat, causing him to limp for the rest of his nine lives, but I did give up on LOTR at that point as real life contained enough tedium without Tolkien cramming in more.