So, A Game of Thrones needs no introduction. I had no intention of reading it at first and I only watched the TV version recently, but now I’m caught up with that, I can see myself getting impatient between series. It’s already happening just waiting a week between episodes. I’m much more a TV marathon kinda gal. So a few weeks ago, I bought an ebook of the first instalment. Have you seen the size of it? No way would my weakling wrists have coped with that in paper. Yet there is one thing that paper would have been better for. At the back is an appendix of the main families, which would be perfect to flick to when you start to get confused. But Kindles aren’t designed for flicking. They want you to read from beginning to end in a straight line.
The thing is, there are too many characters. I thought this watching the first episode and it took me ages to remember who was who and who was related to whom and what they had done and why they were where they were. Exhausting, I know. If I had started to read the book without that visual reference, I don’t think I would have made it to the end. I’m pretty sure this is standard for epic fantasy though. And, brace yourselves; this is the first epic fantasy I have ever finished. Yup, never got past the first few pages of Lord of the Rings.
The vast cast of characters is the one the reasons you can get sucked into this world though, and also justifies the sheer length of the story. I do think the whole series is really one story. It’s the story of a nation’s entire politics, a history of sorts, no wonder it needs so many people. But real history has reference points. The back-story seems to be fed through in drips and drabs. The back story is what I want to read these books for! I already know the story of two and a half seasons (I’m guessing each season follows a book?).
The adaptation is pretty faithful to the book. One of the main differences is the age of characters. The Stark children are much, much younger than they are in the show. The reason for this is because HBO didn’t want to remove the sex scenes because they were so crucial to the story. I was expecting, sex all over the place, but it’s really rather tame and skipped over. Not like the show at all. But my mind has already placed the actors into roles, so I couldn’t read them as children; or not as children as young as they were described. I would much rather imagine Kit Harington than some scrawny blonde kid thanks very much.
Fortunately my favourite characters were still my favourite characters in written form. Jon Snow is still kind and loved his moments with Ghost. Tyrion Lannister is just the same. I had forgotten that Daenerys Targaryen started off a bit pathetic so was set out to be disappointed, although she turns kick ass soon enough. Although I think Emilia Clarke’s defiant acting adds so much to her character.
I also made connections that were previously missing. Yes there are two Mormonts and they are related. I wasn’t getting them mixed up. Catelyn’s apathy towards Jon Snow is much clearer. I understand a bit more about the world they live in and the godswoods. I seriously love those trees in the series. Yes, I’m weird. The Hound also came across as a much more sympathetic character, although maybe I just missed the interactions between him and Sansa before.
I can’t really comment on what the book would be like with a fresh mind. Friends who have read it in ignorance say it’s a real page turner. I think once you get into it or if you’re really good with names, it’s going to be a really immersive series. The last few chapters were rather powerful, but I think I need that a bit earlier on in the book for it to be a real winner. I have got the second book and will probably carry on with my strategy of reading a few chapters between other books. Although once I get past series three, I might change my mind.
If you like historical fiction full of shifty political manoeuvring, read it. If you want dragons, dragons and more dragons, you may need more patience than you have to get to them. It’s really only slightly fantasy. Which was apparently HBO’s big selling point; fantasy for people who don’t like fantasy.
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