A Song of Ice and Fire is magnificently complex, thrilling and entertaining!

April 4, 2012

I have been hearing of George R.R. Martin for many years, but never checked out his books because he was always described to me as “the American J.R.R. Tolkien”, and I am not a fan of fantasy. From my perspective, The Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter are too slow with uncompelling lead characters and fantasy elements that overwhelmed the story.

When I saw the ads for the HBO Series Game of Thrones, I expected more of the same and did not check the TV show out for the greater part of the year. The overwhelming critical acclaim ultimately swayed me and I decided to give Game of Thrones a shot. After the opening 15 minutes, I was worried that my fears would be proven right, but very rapidly the story shifted to complex intrigue between the characters and I came to appreciate its genius. Game of Thrones and A Song of Ice and Fire in general are a very rich and entertaining character driven story with fantasy elements. The fantasy elements accompany and support the story rather than distract from it.

In many ways, the TV show reminds me of the political intrigue in the HBO series Rome which I also adored. Game of Thrones was by far my favorite new TV show of 2011 and I felt compelled to read the entire A Book of Ice and Fire series. It took me a few weeks given that there are 5 books of 1,500 pages each (with 2 more books pending). The first three books are absolutely amazing. All of the characters were compelling. I loved understanding their motivations and how their personal destinies were affected by the greater forces sweeping through the realm. After the initial shock, I also came to appreciate how George Martin is willing to kill off lead characters. Unfortunately books 4 and 5 are slow, long, and frankly tedious. Worse too much of the books are written from the perspective of irrelevant or uninteresting characters. I really hope books 6 and 7 are much better when they come out!

In other words, read books 1-3, watch the TV show and if you must know what happens next read the summary on http://awoiaf.westeros.org/.

  1. April 4th, 2012 | 2:00 pm

    its “A Song of Ice and Fire” :)

  2. April 4th, 2012 | 2:04 pm

    Whooops, fixed on the blog post :)

  3. April 4th, 2012 | 2:05 pm

    How can you not like fantasy and be into video games ?

  4. April 4th, 2012 | 2:08 pm

    Somehow it does not bother me too much in video games as I am the lead character. Moreover, I mostly play strategy games on the PC and Modern Warfare 3 on the Xbox which are “pseudo-realistic”…

  5. April 4th, 2012 | 2:09 pm

    Likewise, I like pseudo-realistic sci-fi -> Minority Report, Blade Runner, Star Trek, etc.

  6. April 4th, 2012 | 2:24 pm

    PK Dick more than Tolkien then

  7. April 4th, 2012 | 2:25 pm

    Absolutely!

  8. April 4th, 2012 | 2:27 pm

    Read VALIS one day if you have the time

  9. April 4th, 2012 | 2:29 pm

    Will do!

  10. Antoine
    April 5th, 2012 | 11:44 am

    Hi Fabrice

    I loved Game of Thrones too. It does deserve its amazing 9.4/10 rating on imdb. We discovered the serie recently on HBO On Demand and it took us a few days only to watch all the season 1 episodes.

    The disappearance of the Ed Stark caracter appeared to me as a sign that the story is rich and deep enough to be able to get rid of central caracters. Most series are unable and afraid of doing so, as they cling to the recipe that work. Often this results in additional seasons that, although pleasant, lose the sparkles that created the original interest.

    I would certainly follow your advice on reading the book. But dont want to spoil the watching. Could you tell which volumes does Season 1 cover?

    Thanks and enjoy Season 2.

  11. April 5th, 2012 | 11:51 am

    Book 1 = Season 1.

    The two are so similar I am not sure how much you will get out of the book. The fundamental difference is that the book is written from the perspective of various characters. Each chapter covers a charachter’s perspective: Tyrion, Jon Snow, etc. As a result, the central difference with the TV show is that you get to “hear” the inner dialogue of the characters. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on the book.

  12. April 10th, 2012 | 11:26 pm

    While watching Game of Thrones, I feel the chaos then followed by the Renaissance. From French Revolution to WW1,WWII seems like a game of thrones, but the next Renaissance seems far away ..

  13. Antoine
    April 11th, 2012 | 7:42 am

    Fabrice, will do.
    I liked the Tolkiens but agree with your comment that the story could have a bit more pace. Hopefully the “Song” will be just right.

    By the way, Game of Thrones’ episode 1 last sunday has been HBO’s highest audience ever…