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Friday, August 19, 2011

Game Of Thrones (Song of Ice and Fire 1)

GAME.OF.THRONES.

So.  I don’t know if you got hooked on HBO's Game of Thrones tv series this summer.  But I SO did.  I hadn’t read George R.R. Martin’s books, but I wasn’t sure if I was going to watch it.  For one, I can never remember if we have HBO.  (We do).  And I have to admit the ads were exciting and enticing; flashes promising EPIC excitement, FANTASY, intrigue, DECEPTION, chases, and DRAGONS.  But I had my doubts—While HBO has come out with some pretty high quality series, adaptations can be tricky and aren’t always translated well to other mediums (sorry, Legend of the Seeker)(which did have its own Hercules/Xena: Warrior Princess campy-awesomeness to it, but nowhere near the depth of the Terry Goodkind Sword of Truth books)—Though Game of Thrones definitely gave off a gritty/life-and-death-vibe.  The truth is, I knew as soon as I started watching, I’d want to read the series, A Song of Fire and Ice, as happened with Terry Goodkind’s Sword of Truth, and Sara Shepard’s Pretty Little Liars…But once I started reading the books, I started losing interest in the tv series.  I can make my way through the books a lot faster than the series can.  And I’m very impatient; when I get into a good book, I’m not going to sit around, waiting for the series to catch up.  And then watching the series, I sit on pins and needles…knowing what’s going to happen…and get especially irked when it doesn’t.  And even my pattern of repeatedly torturing myself in this fashion…did I really want to put myself through yet another love/covet/love/irked relationship??????

But as long as my sister ended up taping it, I decided “why not”?

Thanks to the advent of DVRs, I saved us from a small amount of the grueling agony of getting utterly wrapped up in an episode and then having to wait a whole seven more days until the next episode.  I may have missed a little of the excitement and hype of watching episodes as soon as they appeared, but it was infinitely more rewarding to wait and watch a group of three or four in a block, and the weeks in between didn’t seem as hard to bear, knowing that I had another block of episodes coming soon enough.

So, excitement, intrique, deception, fights, chases, dragons?  Yeah.  So there.  And SO. MUCH. MORE.  I was hooked instantly.  *drool*

Absolutely EPIC.

And what about my fear of reading the books?  I am very impatient; in my mind I was already ordering George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire at the roll of the opening credits.

However, my impatience is only rivaled by my frugality.  An epic fantasy is a fairly hefty investment any time, let alone during this economic climate, and I grudgingly decided to hold off on buying the ebook set that cost twice as much as the paperback version (you can read my rant here).  So I went immediately to my library website and put myself on the waiting list.

3 months later.  Possibly less, but about a week after the Game of Thrones tv season ended, I got an email that my book was ready to read!  Yay!!!!

And then I spent about two-and-a-half weeks trying to figure out why I was having trouble transferring my book from Adobe Digital to my Nook…  Add in a road trip…  And by the time I got it all sorted out, the book was about to expire, and because there was still a waiting list, I couldn’t renew. :(

So I added myself back on the waiting list.  :(   And headed back to the BN, just to *drool* over the 4-pack bundle one more time.  And to my amazement, the price had been marked down!!!!—Still overpriced, compared to the paperback boxed-set, but enough of a mark down to make it cheaper than buying the ebooks/books separately.  Frugality and impatience compromised, and I finally acquired my long-lusted-after 4-pack ebundle.  eYay!!!!  :D

Soooo….

Game.Of.Thrones.

Did I mention its complete EPICNESS?

The story is pitted on the Starks and the Lannisters, loyalty, honor, and betrayal.  All seems well in the kingdom, but little does everyone know, it is about to crumble—cracks that are just starting to show through as the book begins, the mystery of Jon Arryn’s death, and the mystery of Jon Snow’s birth.  Much of the story was set into events before the book even starts, family loyalties and slights, and battles that have been fought since men came to Westeros.

For anyone who’s been living under a rock lately, George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones is the first book in his A Song of Ice and Fire series, a medieval fantasy series set in the land of Westeros.  Long ago, there were seven kingdoms held by seven kings.  Then the Targarians came, Aegon the Conqueror and his sisters, flying on fire-breathing dragons, conquering the seven kingdoms and claiming them as their own.  All the other kings became lords, and the Targarians reigned until Jaime “Kingslayer” Lannister slew the Mad King Aerys, and Robert Baratheon killed Rhaegar, Aerys’s heir, and Robert took the throne for himself, with his best friend, Ned Stark at his side.

I thought the HBO series actually followed the first book very well.  There were many times when I was reading the book that I felt I was watching a scene from the show.  I think the most noticeable change I saw was the children’s ages—In the book, Daenerys is around 13, and Robb and Jon Snow are about 14; in the show Daenerys appears to be at least 16, if not 17 or 18, and the boys also appear to be around 18 or so.  In the book, it’s definitely an uneasy feeling to read about a 13 year old being married off—Sexual situations are definitely present in the book, but Martin’s descriptions are often brief and matter of course, leaving most of the brutality and harshness of the situation to the reader’s imagination—Where as HBO leaves nothing to the imagination, and as a viewer, I’m glad they aged the characters.

The 4-pack bundle consists of 3,483 pages.  Game of Thrones ends on page 778.  So not a weekend read.  There is a lot of backstory and set-up, and it was a little slow getting into the story—but I think that was mainly because I was anticipating everything that I knew was coming from having watched the HBO series.  Also, the story is told from the viewpoints of several different characters—Bran, Catelyn, Daenerys, Edddard, Jon, Arya, Tyrion, and Sansa—So it was like having mini-cliffhangers throughout the book—I’d just get into a character’s storyline, and then it would switch to someone else.  But soon enough, I was hanging on the edge of my seat, craving ALL of the storylines.  

I learned quickly that I didn’t hate all Lannisters—Tyrion could be as scheming and mischievous as the rest of his family, but after seeing how his family taunted and belittled him, and underestimated him, it was hard not to warm to Tyrion’s sense of humor and respect his cunning.  Bran’s was the hardest story for me to follow, as he’s injured very early in the book, and it was very frustrating to watch him watching half his family go south without him, while the other half play at being knights, or just watching everyone around him be useful, and wanting so badly to be a part of everything.   But honestly, I fell in love with all the point-of-view characters, and their world—There is no lack of heroes or villains, and I could talk about the intricacies of the story for A LOOOOOONG TIME!!!!  (trust me, this review is actually cut down...)

There are a few loose threads at the end of the book carried over from the beginning, and some VERY pivotal events that set up the next book—Clash of Kings But honestly, it is SUCH a JUICY story that I had fun unraveling the threads and got completely sucked into Martin’s whole world—and even after page 778, I couldn’t wait to dive into page 779!!!






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