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So I started reading this book with the vague idea that it was a flop, and that may not have helped, but I got through pages of it before feeling so crapped off with it that I shoved it in my I really feel the necessity of a bit of personal backstory here, before I start the review.
So I started reading this book with the vague idea that it was a flop, and that may not have helped, but I got through pages of it before feeling so crapped off with it that I shoved it in my cupboard and tried not to think about it. Page to be exact. More on why later. People love this book and this series.
In the vein of Tolkein, Jordan, Elliott, Goodkind, Hobb, Eddings, Feist et al, A Game of Thrones is set in the classicly boring-and-overdone medieval-England-esque setting, and is essentially about a bunch of nobles fighting over a throne.
Very original. Praised for its focus on political intrigue, its lack of magic and similar fantasy tropes, and its cast of believable and interesting characters, I found the book tedious.
But there were elements to it that I liked, characters who I felt attached to, enough to read the second book and become hooked, and so on. I love page long, fat fantasy books. I love huge casts of characters and have no problem keeping up with them.
A Game of Thrones is not. It offers nothing new to the genre, and does nothing original with what it has. I start imagining things and then have to correct it all as the character is revealed during the chapter. Let me be perfectly straight: I did not find any of the characters to be particularly interesting; though Jaime Lannister had something about him, you hardly ever saw him.
They all pretty much felt like the same character, just in different situations. Ned is all about honour and duty, but especially honour, with love a more minor consideration, but honestly, could the man be more stupid? I read it now and I just felt contempt. No one character stands out, though Arya has potential. Queen Cercei too. Tyrion, the dwarf, seems on the verge of having charisma but fails, and Daenerys The plot is also pretty weak.
A bildungsroman does wonders - yes, let me see the characters on a journey of life rather than a quest, quests are tired. But what is there? What frustrates me most is that this could have been a really interesting story, if only the author had better talent at writing characters - or letting them write themselves. On the plus side, there were a few things I liked. The direwolves - large ferocious animals as constant companions and protectors: always a winner with me; the intriguing climate, where summer and winter lasts years, decades even, before changing how does that work?
Seriously, what do they eat? In many fantasy books my problem is the whole good vs. Here, my problem is that the characters are so black-and-white. No character development. They never once surprised me. The Wheel of Time taught me at the same age as I first tried reading this book, 16 that the first book in a series can be the weakest, because of the amount of extrapolation and background etc.
You know what it reminds me of? Obviously it works for a lot of people. But to all those people who say that Martin has opened up the genre in new ways, that he is the best writer of the epic fantasy crowd and so on, I have to wonder, have they read anything else?
But I really wonder, how this story grabbed other people.
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