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4.5 out of 5 stars
A Game of Thrones: A Song of Ice and Fire: Book One
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Showing 1-10 of 37 reviews(2 star)show all reviews
on April 1, 2002
I picked up this book with a lot of anticipation. When I read that it is much like English history during the Wars of the Roses, I couldn't wait to get started. After I read the Prologue, I still felt that I had made I good choice. But after a few chapters, I was disappointed. The book never did take off.
I did finish the book because I kept waiting for something exciting to happen. It just never did.
The characters are flat and unbelievable. Not only that, there are so many that I constantly referred to the appendix in the back of the book just to keep them straight. But that didn't really help because many characters are listed more than once under different family names.
The reason that I gave the book two stars instead of just one is because of the writing. It is very good prose. In fact, it's better than most prose in today's mass market fiction. However, even the excellent writing isn't enough to save the book.
I will also admit this: I rarely read fantasy. To me, the benchmark of fantasy is The Lord of the Rings. Perhaps I compared it too much with that story.
I won't be investing time or money with the other books in the series simply because there are no charaters that I cared about.
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on September 20, 2001
I love epic fantasy. After reading the intro chapter online, i was all excited about finding a new author. Martin's writing skills looked promising: the slaughter of the night watch by those weird undead things was very evocative, chilling. not many writers can bring you 'into the moment' like that.
Where did that skill go? I have not been 'in the moment' since that intro. After diligently pushing through the first half of 'Game of Thrones,' I'm giving up. I have tried very hard to like this book, but despite the richness of the world he has created, i just can't seem to care about the characters or what they are doing. I don't think any of them are three-dimensional at all. you could sum each one up with a single phrase. In short, they are entirely predictable.
Some of the reviewers have given Martin 'kudos' for creating characters that are more 'real' than your usual all-powerful hero, struggling with his prophecied destiny. OK, maybe he deserves credit for trying to make them more realistic, but he has not made them 'real.' They don't get under my skin at all. I can't imagine crying for the tradgedies they experience; I'm just not convinced.
I kept thinking the story would get interesting, that the characters would grow, but from the reviews for the next book, looks like it's just 'same stuff, later on.'
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on December 12, 2000
Mr. Martin has written a gripping, realistic account of a low-magic fantasy world where numerous powers vie for the throne. As any of the shrieking 5-star reviews will tell you, Martin's book examines events from a number of different viewpoints, with no true heroes or villians, and many shades of grey. I was thrilled with the book and burned through its 700+ pages in the space of a few days.
Then I finished the book and realized that what I'd read wasn't a story, but instead an extremely detailed timeline of events. This character does one thing, that character does another thing, someone else fights, yet another person betrays. Which is fine if it serves the story, but there is no story.
Mr. Martin doesn't have any point he's trying to make. There are no ideas he wants to get across, no philosophical axes he wants to grind. There's no moral or message to his book -- no point whatsoever. Much like the history of our own world (which this book is based on), events simply happen because they happen, not because the author has a story to tell.
I burned through Mr. Martin's book because I thought all these different events and characters were leading up to something. They weren't. I tried the next book, but it was more of the same. Now maybe Mr. Martin has a story to tell using the whole six-book series, but at 800 pages a pop, it's not worth my time.
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on March 16, 1998
Reading all those '10's on this page send me wondering - have I been reading the same book as all those people ?? Admittedly, 'Games of Thrones' starts with a strong prelude, but is a straight downhill ride ( though not as exciting or speedy...) from there onward - more soap and historical, mixed with almost all clichees the genre has to offer, characters that one would find unconvincing, stereotypical and shallow on TV, not to mention in print, and a plot that seems very reminiscent (if not a reprint or most bluntly said 'RIP OFF'..) of Tad Williams 'Memory, Thorn and Sorrow' ( for those who haven't read it, its somewhat better..) Do not mistake me, this book has both good and original pieces, unfortunately the good parts are not original, and the original parts are not good' - to quote Samuel Johnson's infamous saying, which has rarely been truer. From the threatening mongolic horde of unbelievable numbers, enigmatic and ruthless ghosts in the woods, gilded and corrupt kings and steadfast man of honour, strong and willfull mothers and brooding, capable sons unjustly send into exile and the coming of a dark age symbolized by the start of winter (shudder...) nothing old, tried and altogether far too fammiliar is left out. Pray can anyone tell me where the fantasy (as in imagination !!) part of the genre can be found nowadays - most assuredly not in this 'Dynasty'esque hoard of clichee at least. If You are an avid reader of the genre and are not yet overfed with mentioned clichees be welcome, this will as nourishing as any other cake. For those seeking some new tastes to wet their appetites let it be said : 'Read at Your own risk - but do not tell, that You haven't been warned.....'
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on January 21, 2002
Cosidering the large amount of fantasy writers out there...You don't have to read anything but the very best. So when I saw the high ratings George R.R. Martin was getting I thought it would be worth my time...I was wrong. To be honest...It just sucked. If I want to read about politics I'll grab a newspaper and read the real thing. I have to give George credit, he was brave with his story telling. He wasn't afraid to kill anyone. But the characters were just pawns in some schemer's plot...so whomever dies in the story was meant to die. I wasn't surprised at all...just think of all the things that could go wrong realistically...and they go wrong... If you are looking for a character that rises above his/her negative heritage and becomes greater...then don't look in this series. Its really just there to be unpredictable...which is good. If you wait for the plot to become intense...you might be waiting for a while. Because you are reading fictional history. Not a epic heroic novel.
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on August 30, 1998
When I first started this novel, I was impressed with the grandeur and twisting plotline. But as I got further into the book I began to see the flatness of the characture development, and the callous uses of violence. The story itself is slow and predictable and the charactures shallow. I realize that to sustain a story through the viewpoints of many different people is difficult, and while I admire the auther for trying a challanging form of narration, I think that it hurts the development of both the charactures and the complexity of the story. My comments about the violence does not only refer to this particuler book. Fantasy in genaral, except for a few authers, seems to put grotesque violence where it is not needed to make a point. If the auther wantes a character to be villified then incorporate other ways to show it. A Game of Thrones was no exseption.
Needless to say I did not finish the book.
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on January 16, 2000
I'm on page three hundred something and I'm stuck! The book seemed to start so promising, but now has bogged down. The writing is reminding me more and more of Robert Jordan. Too much detail about clothes and buildings and beards, etc. Can we just take it as a given that everyone wears the typical armor described in the story and only tell us on the rare occassion when someone isn't? I will say that, having read Ivanhoe several times, a couple of parts of the story that could have been exciting were only a pale imitation of that classic story (I have no doubt they were based on similar passages in Ivanhoe). Unfortunately, it seems modern fantasy novel sales are driven by page count, not story quality. I already have the next book in the series, but I'm going to have to be a masochist to get through them both.
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on November 4, 1999
I had expected so much from this book, what with its award and all the rave reviews I'd heard. However the book was slow going in several places, lots of interesting ideas just fizzled out and left me wondering what the point was. Some of the characters were likeable, and even some of the events were exciting, but mainly it was hard to find anything interesting to sustain the book. The ending just sort of lost its steam half way through and it seemed like the author just gave up and left it that way. There was a great deal of unrealized potential here and I shutter to think that this is just the start of another unending epic. If you want better written epic fantasies try, Fesit, Williams, or even Jordan.
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on May 9, 2000
I'll admit that Martin can weave a tale.. But 'twas like standing next to a drunken man forgetting which story he was telling.. "Jon Snow was sent to the wall..." Gulp. "Where was I... A Lady Stark was a woman, a fine one.." Gulp "Lannister, ah, yes, was small fellow, midgets tend to be that way." Gulp... Add ten or more characters all main characters. He should have taken a few, like Jon Snow and told a tale and not a bit of this and a bit of that. With the future girth of his books to come I certainly appreciate books like Reichert's The Legend of Nightfall... One book can tell it all. Although a don't like her epic work either...
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on December 29, 1999
From what I've read below this seems to be a book you either love or hate. I am one of those who hated it. Martin seems to love making his "good" charaters suffer and letting his "bad" characters win. The only good part of the book was torward the middle, both the beginning and the end were dreadfully depressing. I felt like burning the book after I finished reading it. The detailed sexual content didn't help it any either. One of the below reviewers called this book a classic. I won't argue. I've read most classics. While most were well-written, like this book, most were also depressing, like this book.
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