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A Game of Thrones

A Game of Thrones

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.

Goodreads | Amazon | Waterstones | Hive

Also reviewed @ Once Upon a Time | Me And My Big Mouth

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  1. Sam (Tiny Library)

    I read it in ignorance and was impressed with how well the TV series fit with my imaginings!
    Glad you're going to continue the series as it's one of my favourites – book three is awesome, you won't be able to just read a few chapters with that one! Be warned though, the fantasy elements do increase.

    1. Ellie

      Well I do read a lot of fantasy just not of the epic variety, so I'm not put off by fantasy elements. I think I will still be reading a few chapters at a time when it's covering the same events as the TV show as I just can't get that excited when I know what's going to happen.

  2. Karen

    It's hard to read something after you have a vision of the show in your mind. I guess it helps that the TV show is a mostly faithful adaptation.

  3. Becky LeJeune

    I actually tried to read the series a few years ago when book four was due out. I just couldn't get into it. I wasn't too excited about the show but decided to dive in on a lark – we were snowed in at our new house and had taken a week off of work for the Christmas holiday and the move. I seriously got obsessed. There's no doubt I'm a huge nerd for this series now! I read book one after having seen season one and definitely had more luck this second time around. I've now read through the first four books. I'm holding off a bit on book five simply because books 6 and 7 aren't due out for ages. And yes, one season per book until you get to book three – season three is half of book three – and it's crazypants! I've also got the prequel novellas (you get a bit of backstory in those – Maester Aemon's brother is one of the characters in the current three).

    This is probably the first time that I highly recommend both the show and the series to people. I love them both for various reasons – the books for the intricate world building, for example, and the show for the fantastic visuals (I love the godswood trees, too!).

  4. Lovely Treez

    I have that problem with vast character lists too, the reason why I couldn't get into LOTR but loved The Hobbit. If there's more than a few characters in a novel I have to draw up some sort of "family tree" showing their connections. I'm mentally saving a list of all these tv series for when my children are older and I have more free time….she said optimistically!

    1. Ellie

      The plus side with this series is that there's loads of information on the internet to double check! I did accidentally read a couple of spoilers about the Stark girls' plots though so you do have to be careful not to click too far.

  5. Unknown

    I'm not general into fantasy at all, but something about this is tempting me to read it. Starting the series just feels like such a big investment though! And I think I'd rather start reading before watching the series. I might save it till I have a week off work or am going on holiday and can give the book my full attention.

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