A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
The first time I read this book was, I think, about 3-4 years ago. Even though it was a challenge at first and I had a hard time initially keeping the many characters straight, it quickly became something I loved and has since found it’s place in my top list of favorite books.
“When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die.”
As of right now, there are 5 published books in the entire A Song of Ice and Fire series…with a supposed 2 more to completion. I decided to reread this series once I realized that GRRM wasn’t going to have the sixth installment out anytime soon. I’m so glad that I made that decision….reading this book the second time was just as enjoyable (maybe even more so) than the first. Since I already am familiar with the characters, houses, alliances, etc….I was able to focus more on the beauty that is GRRM’s storytelling. Certain small details that may have previously seemed insignificant were more obvious and amazing this time around.
One thing that I was surprised at the second time through, was my emotional reaction to certain characters or scenes. For example….Ned’s beheading….because I obviously knew it was coming, I assumed reading it again wouldn’t effect me as much. But I was wrong…I felt myself feeling just as sad and devastated as I was the first time through. To me…that just shows how brilliant GRRM’s writing is…..he can make you feel like you are actually THERE watching this all unfold. The length and detail that is put into each of the characters makes them so authentic and real, I almost have to remind myself that they are fictional characters.
Speaking of characters….My absolute favorite character in this entire series was and is still….Tyrion Lannister. He’s written so so well and the chapters told in his perspective are some of my favorite to read. The very first time we hear him speak in the book is likely the time that I fell in love with him (speaking to Jon Snow during King Robert’s visit to Winterfell):
“‘Let me give you some counsel, bastard’, Lannister said. ‘Never forget what you are, for surely the world will not. Make it your strength. Then it can never be your weakness. Armor yourself in it, and it will never be used to hurt you.'”
I love the fact that he’s brutally honest with others as well as himself. Even though he has always defended his family (particularly his brother, Jamie), one thing I love about him is his ability to treat others with respect and dignity. Likely because he knows first hand how it feels to be treated as someone others loathe or cringe to look at. Even though most of the Seven Kingdoms, including the Starks, distrust and despise the Lannisters (rightfully so)…Tyrion, despite knowing this, still decides to help Bran by designing a saddle he’ll be able to ride on after being paralyzed by a fall. Again….even though he strongly suspects his siblings of having something to do with that “fall”, he never rats them out….but he still decides to help Bran in the only way he really can.
“I have a tender spot in my heart for cripples and bastards and broken things.”
Another of my favorite characters is Cersei Lannister. I know what you are thinking ….But, but…she’s awful and evil and manipulative. YES!!! She is all of those things as well as cunning, protective, deliberately mean….and just so damn well written! As the series continues, I cannot help but sympathize just a little bit with where she’s coming from. Women in Westeros aren’t exactly treated as equals…even high born women. Cersei doesn’t fight against this… she harnesses her cunning and manipulative nature and uses it in her favor. Even if you can’t be convinced to enjoy her character for what she is…you can’t deny she’s so incredibly well written.
Arya Stark and Jon Snow are two more of my favorites not only in this book, but the entire series. I feel like they are both quietly strong and are characters that others routinely underestimate.
As for characters I don’t like….there aren’t many, but Sansa Stark is one. She’s a character that, while written well, I just find annoying and whiny. It actually takes me up until the last two books to feel anything other than irritation for her character. Catelyn Stark isn’t a character I particularly enjoy in this first book…the was she treats Jon Snow infuriates me. But she is a character I grow to appreciate as the series continues. Then there’s Jamie Lannister, the Kingslayer. He may very well be the character that changes the most in this entire series. So far, in book one, he’s definitely not likable. He’s smug, selfish, impulsive, cocky and just overall a big jerk…especially in book one. But (without spoiling anything for those who haven’t watched the entire show ore read beyond book one), he does a complete character overhaul, he begins to question everything he’s ever known about his family and his life….and actually becomes and honorable, good person who you find yourself cheering for! And once again…thanks to GRRM and his fantastic writing and character development…none of it feels fake or forced. It seems to happen so gradually and naturally that you almost forget what a jerk he was in the beginning of the series.
*Phew* Ok, I need to just stop. Because, honestly, I could talk about this book series all day if I’m not careful. I’m hoping some of you decided to read this book (or re-read) with me in May, and if you did…I’d love to hear your thoughts and opinions. If not….what are you waiting for?!?!? I kid, I kid (sort of)…I know these books likely won’t be for everyone. For one, they are LOOOONG and tedious to get though. The writing is so detailed and, as mentioned before, there are just so many characters that it’s not a book you can just breeze right through. Even my second time around, it took me 13 days to read. Some of the reason was the fact that my personal schedule is very busy right now, but mostly they are just books that take time to read, dissect and digest completely.
I’ll definitely be starting the second book, A Clash of Kings at some point in the month of June and I hope those of you reading along will continue to join me!
“A mind needs a book like a sword needs a whetstone, if it is to keep it’s edge.” – Tyrion Lannister.
My Rating: 5/5 stars (as if there was any doubt)