I have a confession: I have deliberately avoided reading A Game of Thrones and the following books. When the series first got big, I picked up A Game of Thrones, the first of the Song of Ice and Fire series, and flipped through it, but it didn’t really grab me. I don’t have HBO and I’ve not followed the tv show, for similar reasons and the additional facts that I don’t especially enjoy watching graphic violence or sex, or soap opera type dramas. This was several years ago.
Now, or a few weeks ago, I had to read A Game of Thrones for an upcoming school presentation. As one of the medieval specialists at a smallish university with a knight for a mascot, I was asked to participate in a school spirit festival that involves some academic-style talks and panels on knight-related medieval things. This year, there is a theme focusing on women in the Game of Thrones series, tv or book. Overall, I’m not sorry I haven’t been reading the series or watching it. I wasn’t in a huge hurry to ge the book back to the library, but neither am I sorry to give it back.
First, I should say that I didn’t dislike the book. George R.R. Martin is good at characters, and good at world-building. He’s also a pretty decent writer. I think it was a good idea to use different perspective throughout the book, but to keep everything in the third person.
That said, I don’t see what all the hype is about. Plot: Lots of scheming. Good guys are really good (Ned and Catelyn), baddies are terrible in generally unreedeemable ways (Viserys, Joffrey, Cersei). Everyone is pretty clearly expendable. That part of the reputation matches what I encountered. Admittedly I say this knowing a little about what happens from social media posts on both the books and tv show. When the last book comes out, I plan to read that just to see how things turn out in the end, but as for what happens in between, I really don’t care that much. None of the characters who live to the end of the first book were that relatable of grabbing to me. If I had to pick a favorite, it would have to be either Tyrion, Jon, or Arya, although Arya is too young in this book to be terribly interesting. While Danaeys has an interesting storyline, her character habit of being so uncertain all the time makes her seem really immature. Granted she’s only 13-14 in this book and she goes through some intense things, but it seemed too much like a comic book style trope of the ‘hero who just needs to develop confidence in her own abilities to become super powerful”. Sansa annoyed me, and the only reason she’s not in the dislike column is because she’s an 11-12 year old kid who just doesn’t know better. Least favorites are numerous, including all not previously mentioned Lannisters with any character development at all.
I don’t see what all the hype was and is about. This seems to be my luck with mega-hit best-sellers more often than not. The only 2 exceptions I can think of are Harry Potter (and I got tired of that towards the end of the series) and V.E. Schwab’s A Darker Shade of Magic (and it’s sequels, although I haven’t read the last one yet).