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102 of 106 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is from amazon.com by http://www.amazon.com/gp/pdp/profile/A1AFXJ8U72MD6L/ref=cm_cr_auth/002-1238528-2322415
First off, I'm a heavy duty fan of GRRM. I've read over a 100 different fantasy authors in my time (started at 12; I'm now 32). Took about 5 years off from the genre b/c I felt it was all getting too formulaic and cliched.

So, when I came back to fantasy at the end of 1999, I read the usual: Goodkind, Jordan, etc. and then someone told me about GRRM and man,...
Published on June 18 2007 by Ravnos

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, not Great
This book was good, but nowhere near great. When I see the Tolkien comparisons, it makes me shake my head. While I'm not a Tolkienite, there are certain things I give him credit for, and many of those center around knowing appropriate language. Martin is a great writer, but he falters in this genre. In some cases, on the first page in fact, he alters phrases but retains...
Published on June 30 2004


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102 of 106 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is from amazon.com by http://www.amazon.com/gp/pdp/profile/A1AFXJ8U72MD6L/ref=cm_cr_auth/002-1238528-2322415, June 18 2007
By 
Ravnos (Ontario Canada) - See all my reviews
This review is from: A Game of Thrones: A Song of Ice and Fire: Book One (Mass Market Paperback)
First off, I'm a heavy duty fan of GRRM. I've read over a 100 different fantasy authors in my time (started at 12; I'm now 32). Took about 5 years off from the genre b/c I felt it was all getting too formulaic and cliched.

So, when I came back to fantasy at the end of 1999, I read the usual: Goodkind, Jordan, etc. and then someone told me about GRRM and man, that was the kicker!

Here are the reasons to choose GRRM. I've also listed the reasons not to choose him to make it fair b/c I know their are certain personalities who won't like this series:

WHY TO READ GRRM

(1) YOU ARE TIRED OF FORMULAIC FANTASY: good lad beats the dark lord against impossible odds; boy is the epitome of good; he and all his friends never die even though they go through great dangers . . . the good and noble king; the beautiful princess who falls in love with the commoner boy even though their stations are drastically different . . . you get the idea. After reading this over and over, it gets old.

(2) YOU ARE TIRED OF ALL THE HEROES STAYING ALIVE EVEN THOUGH THEY ARE UNDER CONSTANT DANGER: this gets even worse where the author kills a main hero off but that person comes back later in the story. Or, a hero does die but magic brings him back.

This sometimes carries to minor characters where even they may not die, but most fantasy authors like to kill them off to show that some risked the adventure and perished.

(3) YOU ARE A MEDIEVAL HISTORY BUFF: this story was influenced by the WARS OF THE ROSES and THE HUNDRED YEARS WAR.

(4) YOU LOVE SERIOUS INTRIGUE WITHOUT STUPID OPPONENTS: lots of layering; lots of intrigue; lots of clever players in the game of thrones. Unlike other fantasy novels, one side, usually the villain, is stupid or not too bright.

(5) YOU ARE INTERESTED IN BIASED OPINIONS AND DIFFERENT TRUTHS: GRRM has set this up where each chapter has the title of one character and the whole chapter is through their viewpoint. Interesting tidbit is that you get their perception of events or truths. But, if you pay attention, someone else will mention a different angle of truth in the story that we rarely see in other novels. Lastly and most importantly, GRRM doesn't try to tell us which person is right in their perception. He purposelly leaves it vague so that we are kept guessing.

(6) LEGENDS: some of the most interesting characters are those who are long gone or dead. We never get the entire story but only bits and pieces; something that other fantasy authors could learn from to heighten suspense. Additionally, b/c the points of views are not congruent, we sometimes get different opinions.

(7) WORDPLAY: if you're big on metaphors and description, GRRM is your guy. Almost flawless flow.

(8) LOTS OF CONFLICT: all types, too; not just fighting but between characters through threats and intrigue.

(9) MULTILAYERED PLOTTING; SUB PLOTS GALORE: each character has their own separate storyline; especially as the story continues and everyone gets scattered. This is one of the reasons why each novel is between 700-900 pages.

(10) SUPERLATIVE VARIED CHARACTERS: not the typical archetypes that we are used to in most fantasy; some are gritty; few are totally evil or good; GRRM does a great job of changing our opinions of characters as the series progress. This is especially true of Jaime in book three.

(11) REALISTIC MEDIEVAL DIALOGUE: not to the point that we can't understand it but well done.

(12) HEAPS OF SYMOBLISM AND PROPHECY: if you're big on that.

(13) EXCELLENT MYSTERIES: very hard to figure out the culprits; GRRM must have read a lot of mystery novels.

(14) RICHLY TEXTURED FEMALE CHARACTERS: best male author on female characters I have read; realistic on how women think, too.

(15) LOW MAGIC WORLD: magic is low key; not over the top so heroes can't get out of jams with it.

REASON TO NOT READ GRRM

(1) YOU LIKE YOUR MAIN CHARACTERS: GRRM does a good job of creating more likeable characters after a few die. But, if that isn't your style, you shouldn't be reading it. He kills off several, not just one, so be warned.

(2) DO NOT CARE FOR GRITTY GRAY CHARACTERS: if you like more white and gray characters, this may unsettle you. I suggest Feist or Goodkind or Dragonlance if you want a more straight forward story with strong archetypes.

(3) MULTIPLE POINTS OF VIEWS TURN YOU OFF: if you prefer that the POVS only go to a few characters, this might be confusing for you.

(4) SWEARING, SEX: there's a lot of it in this book just as there is in real life.

(5) YOU DEMAND CLOSURE AT THE END OF EVERY BOOK: this isn't the case for all stories in the series. Some are still going on; some have been resolved; others have been created and are moving on.

(6) IF YOU WANT A TARGET OR SOMEONE TO BLAME: this can be done to some extent but not as much. This is b/c he doesn't try to make anyone necessarily good or evil.

(7) ARCHETYPES: some readers like archetypal characters because it's comfortable; we like the good young hero (sort of like Pug in Feist's THE RIFTWAR SAGA); it's familiar and we sometimes like to pretend we're this upcoming, great hero. You wont' get much of this in GRRM with the exception of one or two characters.

(8) LENGTH: you don't want to get into a long fantasy epic series. In that case, look for shorters works as this is biiig.

(9) PATRIARCHY: men are most of the main characters with lots of power (one female exception). ....

I add

con #10

Don't read this book if you don't like authors who take over 3 years to write a book, then only release half of it claiming the other half would try to have half of it within a year. Then 2 years later still be saying that there is no end of the book within sight. Martin takes absurdly long to write a book, and this series probably won't be complete within the next 10 years.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantasy for the non-fantasy reader, July 18 2004
By 
This review is from: A Game of Thrones: A Song of Ice and Fire: Book One (Mass Market Paperback)
My husband, an avid fantasy reader, has tried for years to get me interested in the genre. One evening when I was desperate for something to read, he handed me this book and begged me to give it a chance. I was hooked from page one! The writing is exceptional, and the characters--especially the women--are well developed. What strikes me most about Martin's work is that it is brutally honest and the characters act and think like real people...they don't seem at all like the stereotypical "heroes" I've encountered in other books. One word of caution to those who don't read a lot of fantasy, be sure to give yourself a few chapters to get into this book. Until I figured out how this world worked I found myself confused a lot, and I kept having to ask my husband to clarify certain points. Once I "got it" though, I had no trouble reading. This book (and entire series) is so amazing it transcends genre and can appeal to any reader.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, not Great, June 30 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: A Game of Thrones: A Song of Ice and Fire: Book One (Mass Market Paperback)
This book was good, but nowhere near great. When I see the Tolkien comparisons, it makes me shake my head. While I'm not a Tolkienite, there are certain things I give him credit for, and many of those center around knowing appropriate language. Martin is a great writer, but he falters in this genre. In some cases, on the first page in fact, he alters phrases but retains their original meaning. Except the changes he makes often remove the context that provides the meaning. It threw me out of his story too many times, and reminded me very much of a schmeerp (something changed just to make it fantastical, not because it makes sense). Other words or phrases are distinctly 20th-century, and also derive meaning from things that didn't exist prior to very modern times. Ok, if you're writing sci-fi or modern fiction but jarring in a setting so closely tied to medieval Europe. Others have discussed the similarities to this work and the War of the Roses, but the similar plot doesn't bother me so much as the similar names. It looks like a schmeerp again, esp. if you know the history or have read Shakespeare's historical plays.
Warning: Possible Spoilers
I read both horror and romances so neither the sex nor the violence bothered me. Gratuitous description did. The continuous description of the glistening rings in someone's hair were just as bad the continuous description of other glistening body parts. Some of Martin's similes are also groan-worthy. When Drogo made love to Dany by picking her up "like a child" - yeesh. Others have also mentioned the postmodernist idealogy in this book but I don't think the gray morality is quite so bad as some claim. In fact, I finished the book wondering if the current grayness wasn't meant to be part of the problem facing the Kingdoms: a disbelief in morality similar to the disbelief in the superstitions re: things beyond the Wall. On the plus side, Martin avoids the excessive exposition of other writers (ie Jordan) though sometimes this works against him when a sudden paragraph detailing a burial custom, etc, is inserted into the narrative. He also constructs interesting characters, but too many perspectives. A little trimming could've gone a long way to tightening the plot. Example: there's a chapter in Bran's pov that could've easily changed to Robb's. And more problematic, not all of these pov's seem as relevant as others. This book has some great original ideas -- dire wolves & the Wall being some of the best -- but it also suffers from some generic plots/characters.(Most things Viserys and Drogo will be painfully familiar to readers of historical romances.)
But this isn't a history book: it's a fantasy epic. Not a fantasy perhaps as defined by Tolkien's "On Fairy Stories" nor an Epic as defined by Aristotle's Poetics but certainly both in our modern context. My last complaint involves Martin's balance. In one chapter, Jon is told explicitly that the Game of Thrones won't matter once Winter arrives, and this tends to undermine the plot of political intrigue dominating the rest of the book (tho the dragons may prove this assertion wrong). After 800+ pages, I don't think it's asking too much to know the focus of the book. Overall, still a worthwhile read in my opinion. Just don't believe the hype.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Fantasy? Whose?, May 20 2000
This review is from: A Game of Thrones: A Song of Ice and Fire: Book One (Mass Market Paperback)
I will not contest that the writing is excellent, it is. I will not tell you that I didnt spend many nights unable or unwilling to put the book down way past a sane hour for sleep, I did. And yet, when I finished this book, I felt the fool for having wasted so much time with it.
I think it comes down to what you want from your fantasy. I want characters I can love and believe in and who I know will somehow, no matter how grievious hard their path may be, manage to survive and make things right.
Martin doesnt care about characters here. He cares about plot, and the realistic, organic, authentic world he believes he is creating--which smacks of arrogance to me. He creates characters that you can esteem, but he has no especial regard for them. And while his plot may entertain us, because he has no love for the people who occupy his world, he cannot hope to satisfy us.
Martin's book/world is not a decent, honorable place, nor is it a place where decent honorable people can hope to survive. Time after time he seemed most interested in proving Dark Helmet's (from "Space Balls") hypothesis that Evil will always defeat Good, because Good is dumb.
Unfortunately for me that kind of world doesnt fulfill my requirements of a fantasy. I am not asking for Pollyanna, but I expect, wholeheartedly and unquestioningly, that fantasy literature will be Comedy as defined by Aristotle--meaning that at the end the good guys win, and not tragedy where they do not. This book, I suppose, in the end, is a tragedy, and although I have often wept for "friends" I have "lost" in fantasy novels, I stayed the course (in those books) because I believed that their sacrifice would pay off. I do not have that hope here.
Martin's writing is excellent, and the plot fascinating, but what is a fantasy without people you can root for and love? Martin has created compelling characters here, but he never breathed the breath of love into them, and so, if he, as their creator cant love them, at the end of the book I am left with the question, why should we?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is the story I've been waiting for my entire life., July 18 2014
By 
Andres Consumer (Canada) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: A Game of Thrones: A Song of Ice and Fire: Book One (Mass Market Paperback)
-----
Quick Review (TL;DR)
These books are great. Expansive well described settings and extremely complex and detailed characters. You'll find yourself loving character you hated in a previous books and feeling compassion for psychopathic torturers.
Nothing happens the way you think it'll happen and no one you want to live lives. Everyone dies except for the ones you expect to.
I would highly recommend reading this series as long as you don't mind waiting 1-2 decades as the following books are released.
-----

Full-er Review:

--If you want to support a story you enjoy and get the entire series at the same time you should buy this. --

All my life I've been waiting for something like this story. Every time I watched a movie where the good guy had some kind of distress or trouble and the bad guy seemed ahead, I still always knew who would win. As I am sure you all did. (granted this applies more to shows/movies than to books)

Every time a fairy tale ending occurred with the action hero walking into the sunset with his girl, I got tired. Every. Single. Time.

Good guy wins, bad guy loses/gets away and everyone is happily ever after. Sure there are some exceptions, but not really. Either everyone dies at the end or some other trope occurs. But the bad guy never wins over. Not at the end. Like some horribly boring, predictable formula.

This is the show I've been waiting for. Everything you think will happen doesn't happen. Or it does and then does a complete 180. No predictability at all. I absolutely love it.
You hate the character who paralyzes kids and then you grow to like them and empathize with their flaws as they grow into their character.

Your [favourite] characters die and others live, but you never know which or how they'll do it. Your most hated character become your most loved characters and then they also die. Or maybe not. Maybe they become hated again.

---

This is the story after the happily ever after. The story of the brave warrior who becomes king but is unable to rule, he doesn't know how. Of course he doesn't, he's a boy who knows how to fight, why would he be equipped to rule a kingdom?
This is the story after the king marries a famous beauty.
They're not happy 20 years later, they resent each other and each grows to hate the other more and more. The king drinks and has his way with whore while the queen does the same with her brother.

They are human. They do not live happily ever after. The nice honourable man dies, children die, the scheming betrayer lives. In fact he thrives.
This is the story for those who want to know what happens after the "... and they lived happily ever after". Love, loss, anger, hatred, life and death. No linear storyline with predictable outcomes. No more of that.

If any of that sounds appealing to you then read the books, watch the show, immerse yourself in this world and watch what happens when people have to go through life with real problems and real consequences.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin, June 12 2014
By 
This review is from: A Game of Thrones: A Song of Ice and Fire: Book One (Mass Market Paperback)
A Game of Thrones is a fantasy book which has a very complex story. It is about knights, kings, family as well as betrayals and drama. It is told from the point of view of many characters, which can become confusing at times, especially at the beginning since you are not familiar with the characters yet. But once you get used to it, it becomes very interesting because that way you can see what every character is thinking. Just make sure to read the name of the character at the beginning of the chapter when you start another or else you will get mixed up.

The descriptions were really well written even though they could be long at times and I sometimes surprised myself jumping a couple of paragraphs several times, but the writing of the author was still really enjoyable. Also, just like for the descriptions, since it is a massive book I felt like some parts were dragging on a little too long, but then just a couple of pages later, the action was starting again and it was all forgotten.

My favorite characters are either Arya or Daenerys. Both girls are such independent and strong women, I just couldn’t help but admire them. For the character I hate the most, let’s say that I cannot wait for that little s*** of Joffrey to be dead already…

In conclusion, I recommend this book to everyone who enjoys a good fantasy book. I am for sure going to continue on with the series even though I am probably going to read a couple of other books in between each one. I am also watching the TV series at the same time. I have two episodes left of the first season and so far it is as good as the book. It helps to put a face on the characters since there are so many…
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Overhyped, underdone., July 22 2014
By 
Andrew Gray (BC, Canada) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Nothing but a loooooong soap opera set in a slightly alternate universe version of medieval Earth. There is no real plot or story here, just endless intrigues and character interactions. The world it all takes place in is a barely sketched backdrop, yet he goes on at length about what the knights wore and what they ate at feasts. You can actually skim whole pages and not miss much. Despite its billing, it is barely even a fantasy novel, more of a historical fiction. That said, it is well written for what it is, it just ain't much.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally! Fantasy that keeps me reading..., March 18 2002
By 
Anthony Simeone (Philly) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: A Game of Thrones: A Song of Ice and Fire: Book One (Mass Market Paperback)
I'd been suffering from Fantasy Novel Attention Deficit Disorder for months before I found A Game of Thrones! I was tired of rereading the great stuff like the Amber Chronicles and Lord of the Rings, and tired of getting bored after reading the first few pages of juvenile treatments of the genre...such as Robert Jordan and Terry Goodkind and even, yes, the great Weis and Hickman (I cut my fantasy teeth on their Dragonlance novels as a teen, but now I can't get through a chapter). Apologies to all you fans of the aforementioned, but they don't come close to the subtle and mature read of A Game of Thrones. The magic in this novel is there for just the right amount of accent and is not used as a deus ex machina prop. The language is melodic and, at least for me, lends itself to the easy recollection of multiple characters. The plot and atmosphere are unique, and Martin often offers tiny morsels to enjoy (even the use of the spelling "Ser" for "Sir" is a nice touch). I haven't finished reading the thing yet, but I know I will finish this and greedily devour the rest in the series! Trust me on this one, if you find yourself a hardcore fantasy lover and can't stand the overly-magical, redundant fantasy trash out there now, invest in this book! It'll rescue you from its mediocre counterparts.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A most excellent novel., April 19 2014
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This book is the gateway into a world created by George R.R. Martin that is full of intrigue, friendships, love, and lots of backstabbing. You remain riveted throughout the whole series. I recommend that even if you have watched the show on HBO you read these - they're even better and extremely intense. I'm anxiously awaiting the next book in the series (Book 6); it can't be written and sent out soon enough!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Well-crafted, and completely depressing, July 21 2000
By 
merrystar (Virginia, USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: A Game of Thrones: A Song of Ice and Fire: Book One (Mass Market Paperback)
I cannot contest the power and strength of the writing in "A Game of Thrones". Had the book been less well-written it would never have provoked the depth of dislike I feel for it. However, far from being swept into the story, I found myself continually putting it down or skipping pages.
The problem for me lies in the wealth of unlikeable characers. I quite honestly couldn't find a single character I wanted to know more about. I started each chapter, grateful that I was going to read about someone different, hopefully somebody I would care about. Unfortunately I never did end up caring. It was not the moral "greyness" of the characters which bothered me; many of my favourite fictional creations have both good and evil in their makeup. It was more that I could find no reason to like the characters nor any way to identify with them, and as a result found myself alternately bored and depressed as I read.
The world Martin creates, however expertly, is a dark, gritty and cynical place. Hope, innocence, kindness, and even sorrow do not survive in it. And that, for me, removes the very qualities that make a fantasy novel a joy to read and set it apart from other kinds of fictions.
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A Game of Thrones: A Song of Ice and Fire: Book One
A Game of Thrones: A Song of Ice and Fire: Book One by George R.R. Martin (Mass Market Paperback - Aug. 4 1997)
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