A Game Of Thrones by George RR Martin
As warden of the north, Lord Eddard Stark counts it a curse when King Robert bestows on him the office of the Hand. His honour weighs him down at court where a true man does what he will, not what he must ... and a dead enemy is a thing of beauty. The old gods have no power in the south, Stark's family is split and there is treachery at court. Worse, a vengeance mad boy has grown to maturity in exile in the Free Cities beyong the sea. Heir of the mad Dragon King deposed by Robert, he claims the Iron Throne.
Ever since my entry into the heady and wonderful peaks of fantasy literature following the release of the Fellowship of the Ring movie in 2001, I have been hard pressed to find an author greater than the inimitable J.R.R. Tolkien. Robin Hobb’s ‘Realm of the Elderlings’ story tops it in terms of pure enjoyment for me, and Terry Pratchett writes with such skill he too edges out Tolkien. But both authors have fallen short of the sheer scope that Tolkien envisioned and, successfully, created.
Since then, I have only come across two authors who have come close to envisioning and successfully carrying out their literary creations to match Tolkien; Steven Erikson and George R. R. Martin.
Martin’s epic fantasy series, ‘A Song of Ice and Fire,’ has managed to – in both scope and creativity, not to mention simple writing ability – capture and recreate the story that started in Martin’s head. Some authors try, and fail miserably. Some capture and recreate perfectly, but the author’s scope is minimal.
For Martin though, in scope, creativity, and writing ability, A Song of Ice and Fire is everything you want in an epic fantasy tale.
The first book, ‘A Game of Thrones,’ was first released in 1996, and since then another three books have been released, with the fifth hopefully to be released this year (2009). Set in a world very akin to our own medieval history, specifically the English War of the Roses, A Game of Thrones introduces us to one of the greatest (and largest) character lists around.
The story is told from eight perspectives. Each perspective is held within a chapter which, when the characters move away from each other, allows the author to continually leave minor cliff-hangers at the end of each chapter.
While six of the characters from this first book are from the same family, the perspective is shifted around in preceding books. Death is commonplace, almost to the point of horror, but conducted in such a way that it, sadly, reminds us of our own bloody histories. Martin does not shy away from the death, rape and plunder that would have been norm for the setting and in doing so provides a much more complete story.
Mindless destruction is often the cause for character splits and confrontations, and by the end of the book characters you assumed you would be attached too for some time are left headless, gutless or simply gone.
Throughout the entire series Martin focuses almost primarily upon one continent. However there is one character, Daenerys Targaryen, who has been forced to flee to a separate continent as a young girl. At first I remember feeling disorientated and a little slighted at seemingly being provided this perspective which seemed nothing short of pointless. However as I have continued to read, she has become one of my favourite characters.
‘A Game of Thrones’ is without a doubt one of the most involved and simultaneously enjoyable books I have ever read. Dense to the point of labour, but captivating well past my bed time, Martin knows exactly where to draw the line between lots of information and tedious boredom.
If you like Tolkien, or if you like the idea of an epic fantasy series, then you must pick up ‘A Game of Thrones’ as soon as possible. Martin’s ability to create a world both entertaining and disastrously realistic is nothing short of mind numbingly brilliant.
Joshua S Hill
The novel, A Game of Thrones, begins with an encounter with supernatural beings; this may give a false impression as to what will come. As the story begins to unfold, the theme moves strongly into the area of political intrigue and this forthcoming war that will happen as a result. The fantasy element, while always there plays only a minor role in the majority of the rest of the book.
A Game of Thrones in not your usual fare, it is hard-hitting and bad things do happen to the good people. Two families take centre stage in a battle for the Throne; the Starks and the Lannisters. The Stark family live in the cold hard North, Winterfell is the seat of their domain. We are, using chapters headlined with the family names, introduced to the Stark family. Once we have familiarised ourselves with the Stark’s, King Robert and his family visit them at Winterfell. King Robert is married to a Lannister, Queen Cersei. The King’s main reason for visiting is to offer Eddard Stark the honour of becoming his Hand (most trusted advisor). Eddard unhappily accepts and he must move to King’s Landing in the South.
Eddard Stark’s young son Bran is injured during the King’s visit, whilst this is originally thought to be an accident that occurred when he was climbing it becomes apparent that the Lannisters played a part in this tragedy.
In an interesting sub-plot Jon Snow, Eddard’s bastard son, joins the “Black” or the “Night’s Watch”, a company of men who’s role is to guard a huge wall of ice in the far North. He is accompanied there by Tyrion Lannister, a dwarf. Although they do not become friends they end up with a grudging respect for each other. Once Jon has pledged himself to the “Black” he must forsake friends, family, marriage and children and his whole life will be spent in the protection of Land.
With Eddard now in place as the King’s Hand, tensions rise between himself and the Lannisters. Then, suddenly one day, the King is killed hunting wild boar and Eddard and the Lannister are drawn into a battle for the throne.
Finally, at the end, the fantasy element once again returns and we are left looking forward to the second instalment.
This is a very good novel, full of twists and turns. It leaves you wanting more and move on to A Clash of Kings.
"Colossal, staggering ... one of the greats" SFX
"Fantasy literature has never shied away from grandeur, but the sheer mind-boggling scope of this epic has sent other fantasy writers away shaking their heads ... It's ambition: to construct the Twelve Caesars of fantasy fiction, with characters so venemous they could eat the Borgais." Guardian
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Tell us your thoughts now by writing a reader's review today.
A Song of Ice and Fire
A Game Of Thrones
A Song of Ice and Fire: Book 1
A Clash Of Kings
A Song of Ice and Fire: Book 2
A Storm of Swords 1: Steel and Snow
A Song of Ice and Fire: Book 3
A Storm of Swords 2: Blood and Gold
A Song of Ice and Fire: Book 3
A Feast for Crows
A Song of Ice and Fire: Book 4
A Dance With Dragons
A Song of Ice and Fire: Book 5
More recommended reading in this genre
A Tale of the Malazan Book of the Fallen
The People of the Black Circle
Robert E Howard
Chronicles of the Black Company
Shadow Ops series
The Rigante Novels
The First Law
The Ascendants of Estorea
The Drenai Novels
The Aspect Emperor
R Scott Bakker
Chronicles of the Raven
Legends of the Raven
Prince of Nothing
R Scott Bakker
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Kate from UK
Half way through book 5 ' A Dance with Dragons' and losing the will to live. On the back of the TV series the first two books were enjoyable enough with sympathetic characters and some genuine boo hiss baddies to hate but by book 4 we were flagging and book 5 is simply dreadful. Self indulgent repetitive and pointless. Nothing happens. About half the book can be summed up as follows: Everybody wanders about aimlessly dressed in boiled leather and mail or slashed satin and velvet, eating big pies, barley stew, porridge and/or roast swan. Dany continues to play the stroppy teenager before finally getting laid having dumped her dragons in a pit on noticing they aren't house-trained. Martin clearly doesn't care about his characters so how can we? So utterly disdainful is he of his readers that he ends his books with a self pitying winge about what a bitch it all has been for him to write. Oh yeah? Well not nearly as big a bitch as it was to lay out good money then waste hours of our lives reading this self indulgent piffle mate.
Wayne from US
Awesome book, enticing read. Love the series and people complaining how it's poorly written... Seriously?This is really a great series, not a single one of you could even come close to matching Martin's writing.
Mamushet from Washington DC
I would have to say that the world GRRM created is interesting. But the series is over extended and loses its appeal after the first two books. The fourth and fifth books are filled with repetitions and tedious details. The characters who were the focus at the start of the book either get killed or behave in such unexpected/negative ways that any connection you may have made with them will not persist and the story moves very slowly. The book starts by building some anticipation for the arrival of winter yet you will have to read five books to get there. It is like watching 15 min boring commercial for 2 min show. Overall disappointing.
Greblixx from Germany
Avoid this mediocre book. It's more than loss of time. It's a nonsensical mess. Book 4 and 5 have absolutely nothing to say and all the characters are primitive. It seems that the author just wants to set a record of number of pages lacking of any substance.
Jayne from United States
For a while, I've been trying to figure out how I feel about these books (I've read all 5). They're a deviation from the traditional fantasy storyline (hero that overcomes all vs. true evil) and I can appreciate and respect Mr. Martin's boldness. I do think he does it well, the story is well written and always keeps you guessing. I didn't have a problem with the multiple characters and their separate chapters (I made it through the Wheel of Time series and loved it), but I did have a problem with caring what happens. I like that Mr. Martin has no qualms about killing off whatever character needed to die and the revolving complexity of the plot is really interesting. But honestly, what I think he lost between the multiple characters and their impermanence was making me care about the character. I think he shows their negative sides much more than any goodness in them and in not knowing how long they're going to be around, I found myself avoiding getting too emotionally involved in their stories to the point that I just don't really care what happens to them anymore. I also agree with another reviewer here in that somewhere the overall plot gets lost. Also I'm just confused about the role of the whole "winter is coming" idea - I would like to see that come to more prominence because I could see that forcing everyone to set aside their differences and their petty politics to fight a common foe - and it's seemed like that since the very first chapter. Overall, I say kudos to Mr. Martin for daring to break the traditional fantasy conventions and hopefully opening a whole new realm of possibilities for other writers but I hope that after this series, he learns from his mistakes and writes a much better one. I give it 6 stars for boldness, creativity, interesting characters and good writing.
Nobody from USA
Wow, you are comparing Martin to Tolkien? That's pretty ridiculous. If I could pick a fantasy author to recommend to someone looking for something to equal or best Tolkien's LoTR, it would have to be Gene Wolfe, and the Urth series.
Phil from US
Book 1, good -- Book 2, OK --- Book 3, hoping something happens that doesn't waste Book 1. Book 4, didn't finish, no ending could be worth the bother. I've read "War and Peace", Gibbon's "Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire" (twice), Selby Foote's "The Civil War", the Literary Digest's "History of the World War" (WWI, all ten volumes); I even took a crack at the Encyclopedia Britannica when I was 12 and home sick for a month. I've read some part of a book every day for over 50 years, since I was able to read anything. And never, ever have I abandon a book in mid-stream (not even Joyce's "Ulysses" or even James' "The Golden Bowl", which, while brilliant are a slog for a modern reader). It's bloated, filled with characters no one can care about, and too many points of view. The only way to end this series is to kill off nearly everyone and since there are so many characters the reader can hardly care. As Stalin is reputed to have said, "one death is a tragedy, a million deaths are a statistic." So with this series, Martin has killed a million words and it's hard to care about it.
Felix from America
An absoloutely brilliant novel. In my opinion, A Game of Thrones is one of the greatest fantasy novels ever written by one of the best authors ever. George RR Martin is able to capture emotions and build suspense and leaves you wanting more. A truly great novel.
Jake from Australia
To all the haters, you're entitled to your opinion. I like to recall the story of how the producers of the TV show read a part of the first book and were immediately overwhelmed, impressed, taken by the imagery, the ambience, the sense of place and the characters. So, at least 2 people in the world were touched by the book. Now that's 2 more than a lot of other writers.
Cristoff from Australia
Too long winded, too much focus on tedious details. The basic Premise for the novels is good in my opinion, But really needed to be written by someone like J.K.Rowling who knows how to filter out Blab. The second half of the third book is the most interesting to read while the whole fourth book made me want to scure my eye balls with a hot iron poker.
Yngvar from Norway
I have been going through books 1-4 now, and I must say that I sometimes could not get off the book, it's exciting. But many other times I really relent starting a new chapter, especially when I see that the chapter title is "Sansa" or "Catelyn". There are way too much text in which nothing ever happens, nor the monolouge is interesting . Worst of all is the vast number of too-long descriptions of what people are wearing! Or how things look! Got damnit, that's so uninteresting!
Anthony from UK
To those who say the writing isn't good, I challenge you to write at Martin's level. You'd fail. The different pespectives add depth to the story but I understand that some people might have trouble understanding.
d'Argantel from Japan
Since so far I read but Game of Thrones, the first book to the series. I wish to note that in no mean I judge the series alltogether. G.R.R. Martin have created an interesting world with lots of likeable charachters, epic story and unique in a sense playing with reader... The problem I have is that it's boring. No, not the story, however overdone and simple, but the narrative. Never have I reade such flat descriptions and emotionless dialouge, not to mention forced expositions... Honestly , the idea of charachter perspective told story with each chapter being presented from pov of different one involved in an event is nice, the execution is less than impressive. If not for the HBO show I would have hard time getting into the presented world. Another thing are all the Deus Ex Machina literaly forcing the plot to continue the intended way. [spoiler] Honestly no one thought that it is odd that before Joffrey there was no other Baratheon of blond hair?[/spoiler] To be honest I am almost sure the whole book series was written from the very first page to be made into a movie or, as it came to be, tv series. HBO patches some holes, adds here, takes away there and makes the story overall better and of course... Puts life into the charachters and dialogue! I hope the other books of the series are better because so far my jaw hurts from yawning.
Darren from Manchester
I can only really use two words to rate this book (you can apply the same two words to the entire series to be truthful) - Over Rated. I have seen people rate this alongside Tolkien or Ursula Le Guin, Martin couldn't and doesn't hold a candle to those writers (nor about 10 others whom are far superior). Try reading the Mistborn Series (Brandon Sanderson) or Malazan Series (Steven Erikson) and then re-assess Martin, I will guarantee you opinion will have changed :)
Andrew from USA
Game of Thorns is a good book, but it is intro to a bad series. I have many gripes for the book but the biggest and most important one is the singular fault with Eddard Stark. That being when he learns of what the Queen has done. Eddard to this point in the book (the whole book almost) has done the "right thing" no matter how much it hurts himself, family, anyone. At the finally moment when doing the "right thing" would mean justice for his family and protect his family, he doesn't do it. Instead he makes an offer with the Queen instead of exposing her. Martin had a good book and a good beginning to a series until that moment. It went downhill from there, and really is just unreadable.
Gordon from Oklahoma, USA
A Game of Thrones, and the rest of the Fire and Ice series, are the finest stories I have read in many years, and I am a prolific reader who enjoys many different categories of literature. After having read Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy as well as the Hobbit a few years ago while the Peter Jackson movies were being progressively released, I am of the opinion that "A Game of Thrones" and the entire Fire and Ice series to this point are several steps above anything Tolkien ever wrote. An added bonus is the result of HBO is doing a great job of bringing the Fire and Ice books to the homes of people who would never consider picking up a 1000 page novel. Anybody who bothers to read each of the books from both writers can count themselves lucky to be able to enjoy such well written literature. For those who have seen the HBO series and enjoyed it so far, you should read A Game of Thrones and decide for yourself if the written material is superior to the theatrical release. I would also put this series above the Harry Potter books and movies.
Emily from England
Read it because of the series on television and am not ashamed. It does include adult scenes, which I thought fitted the atmosphere of the novel and I am a teenager, so it is understandable I would find them more awkward... I didn't. You can't complain about not understanding the novel if you don't read all of it, including the 'boring' parts. All the Tolkien lovers need to broaden their horizons. GRRM isn't trying to be Tolkien, he's an epic writer on his own with his own style.
Kah from Brazil
This is modernity, I guess. The way of narrating a story has certainly changed. Things are about discourse and action, now. "Less plot" and "more character". This is a great epic which is providing nice adaptations. Of course, the plot is very long and, because of this, its quality oscilates sometimes. I myself didn't like the fourth book (the first three books were an amazing experience) and the fifth has been little playful. But this is not about comparing G.R.R.M to Tolkien or Lewis. This is about accepting what this generation is producing and understand it withouth making anacronisms.
Stefan from Serbia
I have to say that this is an insult to the genre! Overrated piece of shit!
Highfantasy from Pakistan
I have few complaints: The books are filled with far too many subplots, characters and POVs. I wonder why add them when Martin has to kill and burn everything, I found this practice to be rather masochistic, reminiscent of Peakes' Gormenghast trilogy. How much detail is enough and how many time does he has to repeat them? For instance Old Bear's Raven sitting on his shoulder and repeats last word of every sentence he says and he is awarded with corn, Ghost is warm, Bran is crippled, Catelyn is a women, Sansa is a complete fool, Davos has moving his finger less hand and Danerys deserves a slap... oh come on move it along there are so many Sers you get lost in their sigils a type of armor and the type of rotten wine they drink. I liked the story but it's way too long and tiresome to read, endless and repetitive details ruined it. I cannot get past the third book. Overrated.
Thomas from England
I would like to point out that the book being reviewed is Game Of Thrones, not the whole series, A Song Of Ice And Fire, which many people seem to be forgetting...
M from USA
Utter crap. To compare this to Tolkien WHO CREATED THE MODERN FANTASY GENRE is inexcusable and ignorant. Typical of most modern entertainment, it is nothing more than a writer's endless quest for cash and fame. Mediocre everything... at best, the characters, the plot,etc. all same old same old. Sadly after 3 decades as a fan of the fantasy genre I have stopped reading fantasy novels as the genre like so many other things in this modern world have been cheapened and turned to crap. To all those people who love reality TV... you have ruined entertainment in nearly all forms by supporting such drivel.
Eric Showatt from Australia
People seem to think the reason why the opinion about this series is so divided because the way the author kills off the character and the amount of angst, miseries this series content. While this may seem like a plausible reason, the real reason is actually far more simple. Game of Thrones sucks. Period. Now I'm not here to troll or bash the author - I'm here to review this series honestly. There is no doubt in my mind that GRRM is one of the most prolific writer of our time. His world building ability is on par with Tolkien, and the character he has created are very realistic and interesting. One can almost read Game of throne like an alternative history if we forget all the magical element within the story. The political motivation of each character are very well defined and the consequences for failure in this series are heavy - you are lucky if you managed to die a clean death, as is the case with Ned Stark. He died, sure, but there are many character who ended up wishing they were dead but couldn't quite manage it because their tormentors prevent them from doing so. There is beauty in this book. Beauty in the finality of death and the cruelty of living. However... I would like to ask every reviewer and every reader of Game of Thrones, what is the actual plot of this series? Lots of things happen, sure. You get loads and loads of characters. Each of them have their own arc. Some gets killed off, some don't, but are any of them truly relevant? Just consider this for a second and you will see what an appalling story the series is - it's not actually a story. It's many story woven into one book, like a game that contains several character sheet and no main plot whatsoever. Things unfold, but it's just things that happens. If I were to describe what this story is about, I would simply say "It's a book about a bunch of things that happened in a land called Westeros", and that's pretty much what the series has become by the end of the third book. Now I will go on to say that the first book is simply breath taking. There is actually a plot, and the characters pov are consistent and - most importantly - relevant. You get the honorable idiot Ned Stark who is trying to figure out why Jon Arryn was killed, while his wife and kids are trying to figure out who pushed Bran off the balcony. The two conspiracies tied together, because what Bran witnessed was the key to Ned Stark's hunt for the reason why Jon Arryn is killed and why he is becoming involved in the first place. The subplot with Dany? That's just the icing on the cake, like something that you can either read or ignore completely. The tradition continues on to the second book, after Ned stark's tragedy, the land is divided and the war happens. We see the brutal aftermath, we see the people fighting for the Iron Throne. While the plot began to dwindle after the first book, the characters are presented with one goal - that is to fight for the Iron Throne, with a subplot of getting their loved ones back to safety. However, after the third book everything went downhill. The war is more or less resolved. The winner and losers are already evident. Major character are killed off, new ones are introduced but none of them are coherent anymore. Everything literally becomes "just shit that happens", and the entire series has become a wait for "something to happen". And that's why the series has become such a disappointment in so many eyes. If anyone has to ball to say GRRM can't write for a damn, they have no business in writing or creative industry in general. However, if anyone says reading A Song of Ice and Fire is becoming increasingly pointless, then you have my sympathy. I've no doubt that things are going to change now that Dany and Tyrion is coming back to the mainland to reclaim their home, but as it stands today, Game of Thrones is a massive disappointment that has a strong beginning but poorly executed plot throughout the middle.
Chris from Scotland
Having just ploughed through the final published book in the series to date, I can only echo all of the sentiments previously expressed by some of the more erudite reviewers and I definitely fall into "the don't waste your time camp". I did enjoyed the first HBO series in a superficial way but was disappointed with series 2. Talk about milking it, I for one won't be giving the man who reminds me of a character in Lord of The Rings any more of my hard earned dosh. Nuff said!
Manpreet from India
This book is full of all the emotions and elements; this book is a journey full of violence, treachery, loyalty honesty, love, families, romance, conspiracies, back stabbing and much more. Read the complete review of the book - GAME OF THRONES on my blog - http://manpreetkaur93.blogspot.in/2013/03/book-review-game-of-thrones.html
Deanna from England
I made to halfway through book five, and I just could not finish the book. I have read The Lord of the Rings, and I am not adverse to very long series (The Wheel of Time is still going and I have no qualms with that), but Game of Thrones is SO overrated I can scarcely believe it. The first three books are alright. Minus a few incredibly laughable and cringey sex scenes and some truly awful characters there are a few interesting scenes (one every fifty pages maybe). I bought them and I do not feel like it was a complete waste of time, but really I do not feel like I have read something exceptional, just an average book, the kind that I have read once and will probably forget after a few years. The fourth book however... I can honestly say I have never found a story so dull. The action is sporadic at best, and dispersed so thinly between sections equivalent to three smaller novels that it really did not feel worth searching for them. The description lacks originality, the characters are unrealistically extreme (and generally just quite irritating), and what few interesting characters Martin did start out with are long gone by the fourth book, lost to unrealistic shifts in character or pointless and unengaging death scenes that are not in any way emotionally affecting. Maybe it is just my personal taste, but really? I am shocked at how much hype this has got. I thought it was just an embarrassment to read, and I am giving my copy to charity as soon as I can.
Maja from Croatia
I studied literature and know that some of the best books ever written did not develop stories, characters and endings the way the audience wants or deserves. It's not a matter of a compromise. However, these days, for the fact of globalisation we as readers want to think that the book, the author and the reader are one big factory. I prefer waiting for each book sequence in suspense, even if it does not satisfy my expectations. JRRM's Song of Ice and Fire in my opinion is simply amazing, and it's definitively not easy to read. It's like an expanding storm that swirls the characters and plots in concentric circles. Consumes time for sure, and if you think it's too long - you should read shorter books. If you think it's overly descriptive - you're missing the beauty of visualisation of every spot and object and character, when you should be grateful to JRRM for letting you see what he is seeing. It's not a one-read-book and will show you something new every time you reread.
Hans from Belgium
I enjoyed reading it. And i will finish it. This is mainly because i believe the story has enormous potential to end , and i quote the great academic J Clarkson , on ' a bombshell'. But i do have to critisize a bit. The book is frustratingly long. To long. 5 books would have sufficed. At this point i'm acctually just hoping jrrm doesnt screw up the ending his readerers/fans deserve.
Jonathan from United States
This is a great and wonderful read, from start to finish it keeps you guessing and gets you involved with each and every character, so much so that you find yourself falling in love with each one of them, even the not so nice ones, and if you see a bad rating it's simply because that person did not get it or understand the plot.
Anon from Sydney, Australia
It's not that the author is trying to say that good people die, it's just that a lot of people really don't get what goes on. It's the most cunning and luckiest that survive. The characters do tend to change quickly from time to time, which would level my rating down a bit, and some of the characters I love to hate. It is unpredictable and the last two books have been a droll, again lowering my rating. Overall, it's a great fantasy book, and better in quality than a lot of other fantasy novels. The lore is immersive and detailed, though some parts unecessary. The book may have started out as Lancaster vs York (as in War of the Roses, which is what the books are based on) but now it's turned into a massive fight for dominance over land and power, with no one exactly safe and leaving a lot of hype. Do hope Martin picks up in the next book and hurries it up a bit. And I don't get why people say the good guys always lose... most of the characters are grey and do what they believe is right. The good guys occasionally triumph. For the people saying that they want to argue why it's not good, wish there was a comment section.
Jon from UK
Captain Frogbert, you a clearly a moron who is obsessed with LOTR. I really don't even know where to start with how wrong you are on every point you made in your review of this book. If you are really that upset with this book you should just go read LOTR another eleventy twelve times and leave the rest of us alone.
Anon from Anon
OMG I have just finished the blooming lot of them and I have to exactly the same confusion, I am utterly exasperated that barely a plot line has been concluded... The whole thing after the quite good Clash of Kings has become an utter nonsense, time I will never get back.
Sean from Australia
It's ok. He's not a particularly good writer, in terms of characterisation (some of the pov writing of the younger characters is execrable) and the book is pointlessly long. I have severe difficulty in accepting that any reader who gave this book 10 stars has seriously thought at all about the possibility that a 15 year old could successfully lead a hardened army into battle without a viceroy pulling he tactical strings or that a 4 year old would be capable of being the master of a a wild wolf... Ok it's fantasy, but that doesn't mean it has to be total b.s. If it wasn't for Tyrion the book would stink quite badly. Convolution is no substitute for good writing, by the way. Good for fantasy writing but it ain't great... Watch the series instead, still contains a teeth- gratingnumber of 'yes, my liege' type conversations, but again, Tyrion saves the day.
Guy from England
I am outraged at the position of this series on the top 100 list. This should be at least second (the Malazan Book Of The Fallen is also AWSOME). Out of the many, many books that I have read these are my favourite: the many interwoven storylines are well thoughtout and presented. The books set a new level of fantasy, portraying a brutal, gritty and mature story with many hundreds of realistic characters. There are no good vs evil here, no super powered imortal heroes. Martin is a master writer, he leaves you laughing and weeping and it is extremly easy to loose yourselve in his world. Once I got the first book (purchased on a whim) I was hooked and had read the whole series on the inside of a month. READ!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Robert from United States
The War of the Roses + Genghis Kahn + Saturday afternoon monster movie = A Game of Thrones... (Lancaster vs. York... Lannister vs. Stark... really??) The book was ok... but there was nothing in it that I haven't read or seen before...
Einar from Norway
I am sorry to say that I have read five volumes, while my frustration has been steadily increasing. All the plots are still hanging in the air. The time I spent reading these books feels like a waste of time, and I can absolutely not recommend them to anybody.
John from John
Incredible. Simply incredible. Best high fantasy series I have ever read.
Matthew from US
Boring. Just boring. Nothing ever happens. It's not that I don't get it. It's simply that nothing happens. Boring as heck. People try to say that if you don't like it you are not smart enough to understand all the intricacies and nuances, or whatever, but I think that the opposite is true. I think that it is less intelligent people that are easily wrapped up in that stuff. Meanwhile, nothing happens. It's just like a soap opera. There is no story. There is no point. Nothing happens. Boring. I can't believe this ever got published, let alone made into a show. PS I usually try to avoid saying this, but since a guy pointed out his genius level IQ in his good review, I want to point out that I also have a genius level IQ... and this book is sooooo boring.
Karen from England
The Review, Part 2.... had to give this up. To cut a long story short, this might have made a decent trilogy, but frankly, life's too short for stuff that goes on... and on... and so on. Unpleasant. Avoid.
Karen from England
Just started this a couple of days ago, Martin is a new writer to me and after reading the reviews I've got to say I've never seen a fantasy author divide opinion so much... The story isn't anything new, although the different-perspective chapters help it out, and the books could probably do with dropping the sex/incest angle (nasty!) but I don't think I've read enough to be able to judge further - will keep going for a while as I hate to give up on a book without at least trying to finish it (unless it's complete rubbish of course...) Five stars based on what I've read so far, although that might change in the course of time. P.S. Tyrion Lannister - best character so far, no contest...
Andy from uk
the most engrossing read i just couldnt put it down. the first and third books are by far the best in the series up to this point in fact i read the third book in a fortnight. it does however contain an enourmous amount of characters and book four and five do meander somwhat however they are worth reading if not just for the character of ramsey bolton who is perhaps the most despicable creation ever to polute prose. overall a satisfying read and i just hope GRRM finishes the series before time catches up with him
John from Australia
Possibly one of the best series I've read in a while, every chapter is a cliff hanger.
John from Canada
I did not enjoy book one from the first sentence, although there is a soap opera quality about the lame writing style that keeps tricking you that some time down the road, something (by the middle of the book ANYTHING would have been good) will happen eventually. By three quarters of the way through, I was still on the verge of putting it down, especially since after 600 or so pages I was still basically uninterested in a single character, and I've seen Bazooka Joe comics with more depth, but that soap opera drug laced in between the lines kept me going... Until a war breaks out between the Lannisters and the Starks, and Martin describes the horns as having a haroooooooooooooo sound, and the Lannister trumpets as a Do-DA, Do-DAAAAAAAAAAAA... I have never laughed so hard as I put a book down in my life. Well played. We have an author who trumped his own horrible writing with a trumpet. Nice attempt at onomatopoeia.
Fateh from Canada
"Words are wind" go read the book to see for yourself how amazing it is!
Uday from Canada
I think most of the readers giving negative remarks just either can't take the complexity of the story or are the kind of people that have to have everybody live and have a corny happy ending. I mean one of the great things that GRRM has done with this series is how he makes you really love the characters-yes even Cersei- and how he isn't afraid of actually killing off those characters. That alone makes the story so much more interesting and suspenseful, because you never know when any character might die. Also, as for those of you saying that you don't see the importance of characters like Jon, Dany and Sansa you just haven't read far enough into the series. They're chapters become very interesting and you can really relate to them. The first three books have to be the best. The characters are rich, writing style superb, more of the fantasy and magic further on in the series and way the chapters are split really make you see things on a much larger scale and make you appreciate the effort of all that detail even more. Another thing, it takes lots of superb writing and imagination to not just use the "magic" part of fantasy to solve all of the conflicts, and than you can appreciate characters like Tyrion who use their intellect a lot more. If you liked the Wheel of Time I feel you will like the Song of Ice and Fire series just as much or more.
Doto from Ruskiland
The first 2 books were good I thought. The rest felt like author already ran out of anything new to say and were full of filler. The characters started to turn from believable to completely poor. The story stopped advancing. Then the author started to introduce 999999999 different characters that I was starting to get lost in not to mention completely not care about while the characters I thought were interesting were dropped or have a few uninteresting chapters filled with adjective filler instead of witty dialogue or plot. I recommend first 1-2 books the rest are just cash cow.
Jake from United States
Personally, I find people who really criticize this series only look at things on the surface (it's too long, too many characters, too graphic, poor characters, etc.). They don't look at things deeper, try and see why things are the way they are, and just think of this great series as a pointless kill fest. In reality, a lot of the space is meant to build tension and expand on things, the characters are much deeper than people give them credit for, and if you can't follow along then there is nothing I can do for you. Also, why would anyone say Martin's writing is bad? I think his prose is excellent and really develops emotion, atmosphere, and setting.
Brian from USA
Do yourself a favor and read Lackey's collaborative series that starts with 'The Shadow of the Lion' about convoluted politics in byzantine fantasy Italy if you are interested in gritty, deeply-laid plots, rich character development, and epic scope in a fantasy world. After reading the Ice and Fire for three books I realized that Martin substituted 'Days of our Lives' sketchiness and petty characterization for real depth, and from what I have seen, the continuing series has turned into a buffy-esque cash cow rather than a devoted effort to provide a serious series for epic medieval/fantasy fans. Don't get me wrong, I genuinely like Martin. His collaboration with, and editing of, the Wildcard series probably changed the face and raised the bar of the entire superhero genre for all time, but this particular series evokes echoes of L. Ron Hubbard more than it does Tolkien, Machiavelli, or Jordan.
Colby from USA
Where to start? A few years back my cousin made it his mission to get everyone in our circle of friends to read the series. When news hit that HBO was going to make a show out of it and all my friends raving about the series I decided "why not" and gave the first book a try. Didn't hate the book but was definitely let down. Gave Martin the benefit of the doubt that this book was just used as introduction and setup for the rest of the series, and that I was in for a ride. Made it through the first 200 pages of the third book and........I'm out. I can't say this is a BAD book by any means. I just find it very convoluted and overrated. Martin seems so determined to ram quantity over quality down throat. Too many characters, plot lines, and too many descriptions of each. It reminds me of going to a restaurant that has everything on the menu, from sushi, steaks, chicken wings, spaghetti, chili, enchiladas, lobster, and pizza, and none of it turns out very good. I'd rather have the eatery that focuses and bangs out a few key specialties every night. I found it very hard to connect with the characters when I'd read about them for 1 chapter and then have them disappear for 80 pages at a time. There were times where I'd already forget what said POV character was doing the last time I read about him because of the length of absence. I've read the first 2.25 books and still have yet to figure out what Dany adds to the story. Or Jon Snow for that matter. Cut these two out and I don't see how the main plot changes. Even when someone dies, 2-3 more characters are added which diminishes the whole point of the dying character's death. I also thought fantasy books were supposed to contain fantasy? It merely seems to be sprinkled in so far instead of embracing it. What I'm seeing so far is two main parties (Starks and Lannisters) fighting over who runs the country, I could turn it to C-SPAN and watch that. For something that is deemed as fantasy, it's incredibly down to earth. I don't mind sex reads and gory violence if it's done right. I mean, 50 Shades of Grey is quite popular right now with the former. Martin's scenes though just seem to be spontaneous acts to show....I don't know what. As if everyone does it to pass the time. It's the kind of reading I would have loved when I was a horny 14 year old kid but as an adult I don't see it adding anything. Last criticism, the pacing of the story is way too slow for my taste. Most of this is due to the excessive number of characters and sub plots. Martin ends up weighing the series down rather moving it along. I want the small sports car that zips down the highway, not the diesel that lumbers and slugs along. All of this could have been avoided if Martin would simply realize that his story contains fat in need of trimming. The greatest authors can tell a fantastic story in the least amount of words. Since there are plenty of Lord of the Rings comparisons, here's another. Counting the Hobbit, Tolkien was able to create Middle-Earth in roughly 1200-1300 pages. Martin has already written about 4000 pages and is nowhere close to finishing his tale. Leads me to believe he can't bring it all together. But let me end on what Martin does get right. He can deem up a few entertaining characters, whether good or evil. Joffrey and Cersei might be despicable, loathsome characters but we'd be bored without them. Then we have the devious cunning of Littlefinger and Tyrion. Or the wise beyond her years, Arya. Also, when something actually does happen for a change, Martin does a really good job keeping the reader entertained and eagerly turning the pages (until I get to a Sansa or Dany chapter that is). The climax and twists genuinely did keep me guessing as to what happens next. Again, this is not a bad series but could have been so much more. My advice, skip the books and watch the HBO series. It keeps the relevant story bits and edits out the cumbersome pace of the books.
Forrest from Florida
I will admit, the first three books had me enthralled. However, when I started turning the pages of book four, I started skipping paragraphs, pages and finally chapters. I understand if you want to tell a story from multiple perspectives, but I would rather not read from a characters perspective that I detest, it's annoying. Pray do tell, what is the point of giving the ENTIRE history of an unlikable character (ex: Cersei), just for them to remain hated, with no advancement of the story? Also, when the entirety of every sixth paragraph focuses on what the character is eating, with excruciating detail, it becomes repetitive and boring. That, and the overly descriptive nature of every character and castle make this story a screenplay, not a book.
Ed from California
This complete series is a promise of things to come. (Well..... they never do) Winter is coming... but gets sidetracked. Every interesting character disappears in one way or another. How repetitive can you get? It seems like Martin's plot was to disappoint us with every character. What aggravates me the most is that the story and characters had such potential when it began. I suggest you read the first couple books and get out of Dodge, unless you prefer "Rocky Balboa gets killed in a car crash on his way to the fight"! I have had this dream before... I'm in quicksand and can`t quite reach that branch... uuuhhh help!!
Wes from Australia
First off - this series isn't for everyone. It introduces a lot of characters, so if you struggle with that you won't like it. Second, no one is safe. For this, I love the series. But for many people who need to have their heroes survive - you will hate this. Third, the writing is long - but beautifully written, and I think some people will miss a lot of the intricacies and don't quite get the writing style. This series breaks a lot of convention, but if you can handle that and have the patience you will love it! If you struggle with multiple characters, need a safe happy warm ending and like a more traditional style this series isn't for you, and frankly that is where a lot of these negative comments are coming from. Also many of the negative reviews abandoned the series early on, and in my opinion the second volume of Storm of Swords is where it gets amazing. One reviewer felt characters got killed off and the story arcs ended there - to that, I say they aren't getting the bigger picture, but I won't say specifics as not to reveal any spoilers. Bear in mind it will be years before the next book, so if you don't want to wait that long (and possibly many years after that for the final book) then you might want to avoid the series. Otherwise, great read.
Jon from England
Overall, a very good series. The first three books are excellent (the third truly brilliant, 10/10 if considered in it's own right, in my opinion). The last two not so good, but still a reasonable read (I'm hoping that Martin will pick up his game again for the next books). It's been levelled here that he's not the best writer in the world and that's probably fair, but then neither was Tolkien (and he was an Oxford don) and I'm unlikely to read Erikson or Jordan for their literary value either, if it comes to it. He tells a good story and, whilst they're not as atypical as some reviews might like to suggest, he creates characters that you actually care about. This is evidenced here by the number of peole moaning about how he's killed off their favourite characters - it wouldn't upset you if you didn't like them. One thing that I particularly like about the series is the sparing use of magic. It's always been an annoyance in fantasy that when faced with a difficult situation, the writer could (quite literally) wave a magic wand at it. It also increases the impact on the reader when there actually is magic. As a result, this isn't a series for fans of more overtly magical fantasy. There aren't wizards, elves, goblins and orcs pouring out of the woodwork here. I think that due to the size of the series, there are now a lot of plot strands for Martin to hold together. This means that, firstly, it's tough to follow some times and secondly, it's tough for Martin to write. As a result, it takes him a while to get each installment written, so you need patience and a good memory. Finally, there's a lot of sex and violence. Really, who cares? Get over it.
Bob from England
This is a fantastic book but too little action and its quite slow to start.
Ivan from Canada
Wow, these books are incredible. Best books I've ever read. Do not listen to the trolls calling it poorly written. The number of different story lines and character incentives is incredible.. Probably too much for some readers to understand and they get lost with the amount of characters. Do yourself a favour and get these books!!!!!
Brett from Canada
Not sure if half the people are elitest or the other half are fanboys but I found the book very engrossing, funny and angering at times although I hate that he killed off my 3 favorite characters.
Emina from Melbourne, Australia
I haven't read the book, and after reading most of the reviews I have no desire to. I mean even, when the movie came out I didn't really find the plot that interesting, or should I say the idea.. Also, to the really super smart "genius" above, what does an IQ have to do with what you like?? Are you serious?? Yours, was by far the stupidest comment ever!
Hazel from Canada
Mediocre writing. Boyish sex scenes. Meandering plots. Killing with no apparent direction. Despite my disappointment in these areas I read the first book long enough to be taken hostage by the characters only to be gravely disappointed I'd ever continued later on in the series.
Sad from United States
Those reviews make me really sad. Basically, people are just coming to GRRM books because they cannot read, and are watching HBO series. Both the TV series and the books are really bad. First, there is the constant repetition of words in sentences and sentences in paragraphs. Is like a copy and paste work of a lazy writer. Second, characters are really shallow. None of them have any serious psychological crossroads and issues, they are just the same hack-and-slash brutes, or honorable-idiot-naive, in different nuances. Third, the world building is basically pathetic. How can a planet have winters of decades that don't even follow a regular pattern? Also, deserts grow south, while the north (the cold part, how creative...) gets past that planet equator line. So, that planet must have some very eccentric orbit. There is no folklore, there is no culture, there are no strong religions, just a mix-up of our Earth religions and taken from the summaries on an Elementary school encyclopedia. Fourth, he keeps repeating himself because he is a really bad writer that "writes as he goes", so he needs a lot of Deus Ex Machina events on order to solve the issues and questions that are carried out through the books. And, nevertheless, he cannot make the story get a proper pace. I, unfortunately, had to read the five books two times, one on a basis of 150 to 200 pages per day, and the second time, on a fixed basis of 50 pages per day, as I had to make a complete, encyclopedic, critical summary, with all the style mistakes, a deep analysis of plots and characters, and so on. So, I can consider myself a specialist in this series, and that is why I can state: it is really one of the worse literary works in the history of Mankind.
Pete Bates from UK
Maurice felt the need to state he has an IQ of 147, this makes him anything but a genius. As for the book, it's over-indulgent. The plot itself is overly complex, hindering rather than aiding the story as a whole. They're too many narrative strands just leading to a slow moving behemoth with all its meaning being saturated in too many separate narratives. He tries to incorporate too much of his stories fabula and world into the story creating a contrived, mess of narratives. His world is rich and this could have been shown to greater effect in a far more controlled narrative. Martin appears to be a man with many great ideas whilst lacking the control to properly put them into practice.
Maurice from Cayman Islands
Anyone not loving this series must be seriously dull or retarded. I have an IQ of 147, making me a genius and have read just about all the great fantasy series. This series yields to none.
Alex from Italy
The best book I ever read, just finished the third book and I can't get enough of it!
Andy from Ottawa, Canada
When I read these books (and I did read 1-5) there was not one moment where I was not totally into it. Once you get to know the characters, the books get better and better all the time… never mind the sex and the battles (for all you action thrillers who need “Actions” all the time). After book 1-3 there are no requirements for big battles scenes at least until the characters are deemed ready to do so. Its fantasy, its action, its drama, its horror, its all I need all at once. George R.R. Martin did a great achievement so far writing this most excellent story and I’m sure the next two books will be as good as the first five. – Cersei is sooooo cunning!
Michael from Sydney
I have to agree with the more negative reviews: the first couple of books are not too bad, but its going downhill and it soon loses its way. Characters seem to be killed off for no particular reason and entire plot-lines disappear with them (and are not replaced by anything interesting). The series is bloated and self-indulgent. Its a shame because it seemed to have so much potential as I read the first book. First lesson that Martin needs to learn: Less is More. The great authors understand this and their books are still being read decades later: Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, Le Guin's Earthsea, Howard's Conan, Moorcock's Elric. Martin doesn't get it and I don't have time to read to the end of an increasingly turgid five-part series to indulge him.
Alan from Canada
The first 2 books are great, 3 is mildly entertaining but not great. Stopped reading the 4th book midway through. Just plain boring. Too bad nobody thought Martin needed an editor. Less is more, pal.
Gary from England
Started reading this series of books after being amazed by the HBO Series. I thought the first 2 books really drew you in to the stories and made you care for and hate the characters. Unfortunately from book 3 onwards the story has lost it's edge and Martin seems to be telling the story for the sake of it rather than developing the characters we once cared for, he seems to think that killing of the people we root for is a way of keeping the reader interested, it ultimately has the reverse effect. It reminds my of lots of US series such as Lost, Fringe and many more who have an excellent early series but then struggle to maintain the intensity. I am currently reading A Dance with Dragons and even though I already have Winds of Winter waiting in the wings I may not even bother opening it if A dance with Dragons continues with it's plod through the seven kingdoms.
Veronique from Canada
The best book I have ever read!
Cathy from Ohio
No denying that George R.R. Martin is a talented author and plot initiator. Each release was a greater and greater disappointment. He is nothing compared to Tolkien, where a true story was woven and hope against a crueler world was presented to a thirsty audience. These books just present cruelty and avarice as mankind's inheritance - perfect for Hollywood.
Marie from USA
I agree with Australia's opinion.
Plato from Timbuktu
Nice writing style, excellent plot, amazing world. I love how Martin weaves together seemingly unconnected plotlines and shows us so many perspectives, giving us a much more sophisticated understanding of the story. The world Martin created is awesomely huge and complicated, although the endless introductions of new characters can be hard to get into. Also, the not-deaths get pretty annoying after a while. Other than this, I have no criticism for the series, and am eagerly awaiting the release of the 6th book.
JW from Canada
The best series of books ever written, IMHO. Martin is the Shakespeare of our time.
Ron from USA
I love fantasy. I really do. I read to escape the world and maybe learn a bit along the way. But when I read this book I actually wanted to escape it, rather than use it as an escape. The characters are dark, and the only decent ones are either subjected to horrible circumstances and changed to be dark, or killed. There are a few interesting characters but they are shoved to the side to make way for the more "interesting and human" characters that go around killing and raping. This book is slow, boring, and dark, and if that's what you want then good for you. But if you want a book that's interesting, or just actually goes anywhere in less than 5 books, than you should probably look elsewhere.
Nat from India
Well I had heard a lot about this book online and saw that it had got great reviews from everyone, moreover the HBO series of AGOT was also there so I finally decided to read this one.The book is um something very unique and good in its own way. It's gritty and mature more to the extent than I had anticipated, the plot is laid out brilliantly. The storyline and characters are good though it seems that Martin according to me didn't satisfactorily end it. The tortures through which the characters are put through and it seems that Martin's focus on keeping things like this makes me wonder that there won't be a great ending to this thing and things would cross to such an extent that it wouldn't matter at all. One more thing is that it's surprising a bit that there is absolutely next to no magic though there are some fantasy elements but for most of the times it seems like maybe a non fantasy novel. The book was with all things still great. Full of twists and surprises. Definitely a good read though maybe not for everyone.
Gary A from Australia
Books 1 and 2 are great. Book 3 is ok. Books 4 and 5 are garbage. The fact that books 4 and 5 are are garbage makes everythig in the first three books garbage as well. The plots that were set up in the first two books all just melt away. Characters that have been developed over many many pages are just terminated with all their associated plots just left hanging where there once could have been a good story. This is a great concept but this guy is just trying to tell too much story and it looks to me that he was sick of writing it by book 4 and just wanted it done. At the end of book 1 and book 2 you can't wait to read the next one...by book 4 you are asking why am I bothering.... Don't waste your time or your money... give it a miss.
David from USA
Read through the 3rd book and going to stop. While I enjoy the read, have the same complaints of over subplot development without any conclusions or wrap up. There is no end, a good story should have beginning middle and end. Other than killing off characters, no conclusions or endings. After over 3000 pages no hope of an outcome. Very disappointed because I was entranced by the first book. After speaking to several friends who finished the series, they all told me to stop where I am.
Jani from Finland
I can't really understand many of the reviews posted here. The sex scenes I don't have a problem with. It's not like they are great, but I don't get ticked off about them either. The only complaint I agree with is the occasionally dull storyline (Arya's chapters mostly) but there are just more good chapters than bad. But the thing I really don't get is the overwhelming complaining of G.R.R. Martin killing the likeable characters. I mean come on people! SPOILERS!: The only important and likeable characters he has killed have been 1) Ned, who's from the old storyline like Robert with most of his grand deeds already done, 2) Robb, who was NOT a POV, and clearly not invested in storywise as much as his bastard brother, 3) Khal Drogo, again not a POV, 4) Oberyn Martell, appears only in like 4 chapters, not a POV, 5) Renly, not POV, his death making great room for Stannis character arc, 6) Tywin, who also was not a POV, and his death granted a great boost for Tyrion's character arc. I might be forgetting someone but not anyone special. Remember, Catelyn DOES NOT die, Bran and Rickon don't die either, not Davos, not Tyrion, not Jaime, not Daenerys, not Brienne, not Arya and it also seems that the Hound is still alive, working with his sins as are gravedigger. I am pretty sure that Jon doesn't die in book 5 either, just another Martin cliffhanger. A lot of the unlikeable characters have died. Joffrey, The Mountain, Balon Greyjoy and Theon is a spacecase. SPOILERS END. I myself found the books great, but a rating of 9 is accurate because George is occasionly stretching the storyline through cliffhangers and dull chapters.
Frank from Cork
The best fantasy series of all time in my opinion. It's a complex plot that makes you work and even re-read the books to pick up the clues, but if you do then you will be rewarded. It's not for everyone and if you want instant gratification, black and white good guys and bad guys, clean-cut dragon-slaying heroes, evil wizards, etc., or if you need to have the plot spoonfed to you, then ASoIaF is not for you. If you're the type of idiot who skips whole chapters and still expects to get something from the book, then ASoIaF is most certainly not for you. GRRM is a genius and this series is a brilliantly woven masterpiece. That said, I'm not surprised by some of the negative comments, there will always be people who prefer the likes of 50Cent to Beethoven.
Matt Cole from Vancouver BC
If writers are Gods – and they are – then George R.R. Martin is Zeus, King of Gods. Martin flawlessly weaves a tale of epic fantasy to launch, which is arguably the best fantasy series ever ( I know The Lord of The Rings and The Malazan Empire have their fans). Game of Thorns achieves not only because of a great plot, which does not stagnate, but because of the intriguing characters, both male and female, that are brought to life through Martin’s skill. Tyrion, Sandor Clegane (the Hound), Cersei, Arya, and Daenerys are particularly memorable. This first installment is not heavily loaded with magic and the supernatural. Other than the appearance of a supernatural race in the opening pages and again briefly later on, and the emergence of other mythological creatures in the closing pages, Game of Thrones is devoid of magic and the supernatural. The conflict is among men and women, noble houses positioning themselves for the throne of a Kingdom. The book is laden with political intrigue, conspiracy, ambition, and hidden family secrets. Still, while the great houses maneuver for control of the throne, the reader is ever aware of a long dormant evil, that may rise to threaten the populace of the seven kingdoms. I am looking forward to getting into Clash of Kings & Storm of Swords and beyond. As per the suggestion from other reviewers that this book is too explicit, I can say I have no idea where this is coming from. I would not consider either the sex or violence in this book too explicit. Certainly Steven Erikson and R. Scott Bakker have gone farther in their series.
Roland from South Africa
Man oh man, where do I start? I was looking for another fantasy epic after reading Lord of the Rings and found the first book and I bought it, probably read the first 30 to 40 pages and I was so dissapointed! I just stopped there. Come on don't we have enough misery in the REAL world! And really like some of the reviews said: a 48-year-old man writing about explicit deeds done to 13-year-old girls? That is quite creepy and out of character for real fantasy. If any prospective readers are reading this, please stop and don't make the same mistake I did: NOT READING THE READER REVIEWS! It makes all the difference. To sum it up: What a sad Song of Fire and Ice...
Barb from Wisconsin
I took the time to read all 5 books in the series and when I got to the end of book number 5, I felt like it had been a big waste of time. Within each book, Martin introduced countless characters, meandered off into numerous storylines and spent endless pages on descriptions and conversations that were of no story value. By the end of book number 5 not one storyline came to a conclusion and I was left wondering what had happened to or would happen with all the characters that had been introduced. Additionally, I felt like I had suffered through so much death, destruction, perversity and nasty sex scenes that not having anything conclude was especially disappointing. Martin clearly got himself into a typing frenzy and forgot about how to really develop and tell a story. If you choose to read all 5 books, prepare yourself for disappointment. The Eragon series by Paolini who started writing his series in his early teens was better written than Game of Thrones and there is certainly no positive comparison to be made of Game of Thrones to J. R. R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings.
John from Ljubljana
I have read the first three books and they are all fantastic to read; they involve everything a great fantasy book needs. The series has an absurd amount of astonishingly realistic characters who couldn't be more different and yet at the same time they are all still the characters inhabiting this amazing fantasy world. I fell in love with the Game of Thrones almost immediately, mainly because of unexpected turns and twists, that are not so common in this genre. I highly recommend it to all fantasy fans out there.
Cat Fitzpatrick from London, UK
I think a main reason why there is such a difference in opinion regarding this series is that the fantasy element is very small compared to the huge volume of story. The main strength of A Song of Ice and Fire lies in the politics of a kingdom embroiled in a civil war where there isn't just two armies battling for the throne, there are up to seven various forces struggling to lay claim to either part or the whole of Westeros. There are very good characters that come through - Tyrion Lannister for one is really interesting, and I really like the deviousness of Petyr Baelish - but as you go through the books the volume of characters increases, which can swamp the story in parts, and characters can vanish for quite a long time whilst the others are worked through. The story can be quite slow and repetitive, and not enough time is spent to really build all of the main characters as well as they could be. Sex is also overused with everybody at it like rabbits or raping their way up and down the length of Westeros. However, some great set pieces are developed such as the use of wildfire in a river battle, and if you like epic stories this is richly detailed if maybe too over ambitious as to the amount of stuff crammed in. It's worth a read, but takes a lot of investment of time to get to the good bits.
Jeffrey from Missouri
First one is pretty good, but as others say, it goes downhill from there. I am near the end of 3rd one, and what I keep thinking of is that this is just like the daytime soaps on TV. It has turned into an endless series of twists and turns, where you can predict that just when one of the "good guys" just about get to a good place, some unlikely twist will prevent them from getting there. The villians, when they lose, get banished, etc., so you KNOW they will be back again. The sympathetic characters are all telegraphed simply by the names of the chapters. The twists seem to be just for the sake of throwing in a twist to keep the story going, not to advance the plot towards a conclusion. I am sure (?) there will be a conclusion, but I have sort of lost interest in what it will be. I will probably finish the series, because I have invested enough in knowing what happens, but as I read it I have this gut feeling like I am wasting my time. Regarding the prose and characters. I hear people praising the prose. When I first started the book, I could not help but think of "A Conneticut Yankee at King Arthur's Court" by Mark Twain. He does a wonderful send-up of the whole "knights in shining armor" style in that wonderful parody. I give it a 4 because despite the many weaknesses I see, I AM still reading it, so something must be done right.
Tyler from US
One of the most drawn out stories with so little action and magic I've read. Isn't the story I had hoped to read.
This is easily the most overrated series in history... It's not abysmal, mind you, but it's not great either. The first couple of books are actually page-turners as Martin's style makes for very quick and fairly entertaining reads... too bad later on the pace becomes stale and the series reveals all its shallowness. -Writing style: this is what made Martin famous: his writing style is fluid and enjoyable and it never tires the reader, keeping him/her hooked to the book (even if said book is irrelevant plot-wise). The attention is kept high through the use of plot-devices like cliffhangers, random character killing and equally random adult scenes... the trick works (at least for the first two books) but as soon as the magic fades you'll realize how shallow these books are. -The plot : it mainly consists of an endless succession of petty bickerings among noble houses with consequent betrayals/murders/reprisals/wars. Later on it develops into something more magic-oriented with undead and dragons. Overall the plot is not that bad but it's terribly slow-paced and NOT original, especially in later books. -Characters: POV chapter and Martin's style will make you sympathize fairly well with the characters. Some are well built (at least in the initial "cast") but if the author really thinks his characters are realistic and "grey" he is deluding himself. Most of them are flat and play the same stereotyped part throughout the entire series (the first 5 books at least)... telling if a char is a good or bad guy is never a hard guess. There are occasional side-changes but they're quite predictable and far from being mind-blowing. Lots of important characters die in these books... and I LOVE authors who don't fear killing their puppets .... usually ....not this time. Why? Because if you want to kill your characters you have to REPLACE them somehow... GRRM apparently exausted his creativity in giving birth to the first "batch" of characters and every subsequent entry is even MORE dull, flat and utterly uninteresting. -The grittiness?? : I love gritty books, especially gritty epic fantasy books... gritty means more realistic , gritty means the reader gets more involved. But this?? Random, useless sex scenes every 50 pages or so? At first it's somewhat entertaining but after 3 books you'll just say "Owww, again??!?!?!?? *skip*" every time you encounter one. The level of detail can be painful at times.. really , what the f**k do I care about how the moonlight reflects on khal drogo's wet c**k? Allow me to say it once more: the adult scenes in this series are useless, gratuitous and boring.... probably GRRM put them in his book hoping to get some free publicity from the "scandal" and to attract teenagers. This is little more than a moneymaking franchise, decent at first but getting worse and worse with every installment... There are A LOT of fantasy series much, much better than this. 7/10 to the first book, 4/10 overall to the series.
David from Netherlands
I've read a lot of Fantasy. I guess this book was never meant purely for the Fantasy fans. This book transvers from the individual FFans to the general public. That in itself is a great achievemend. I've read the books. They are good. The massiveness about this story is good. The multiple threads, the mulitple main characters. It gives it a lot of credibility. It is actually the strongest point of this project. However, it's slow. SO damned slow. There's almost no speed to the pace of this story. It goes on and on without much spectacular happening. There are no really great crushing scenes that stay in my mind, where I can almost quote the whole LOTR trilogy by memory alone. I must convess even though I've read the whole series twice to get in back in order after the long period of waiting for the next book I still cant remember a lot of it. If you want a real great, slightly faster paced story with at least things happening and some things able to linger I would advice Robert Jordan.
Andreas from Sweden
Have to say that this must be one of the most overestimated books ever. He can write a whole chapter without shit happening. Just telling you about how everything looks like and what he/she feels. It's boring. I have read to the middle of book 4 and I have to say, he kills of every single character that's interesting. Or he stops telling the story about them. First book starts of good. But from when Ed dies its just downhill. I don't get ppl that says that amazing is and to low. You need to read more books, some good books. I don't want to finish the books but I feel that I have to, too much invested now. Thank god that I didnt pay for it. I would like to talk to George Martin and ask him just how the fuck he thought when he wrote this. "Let's kill off every single main char and then just fill in with new non-important/interesting guys and leave it at that"
Andrew from Australia
Teenage fantasy fiction with an adult rating for gratuitous sex and violence. On the plus side, I enjoyed the story-telling. But got bored of the endless descriptions of armour by the end. This is written to be a best seller - nice and easy to read, without much depth. It lacks literary merit, the language is poor and the descriptions not particularly evocative. The real silliness seems to be his lack of imagination: The map of Westeros is an enlarged Britain, with the capital roughly where London is, and a big wall for Hadrian's wall. North of the wall are savages (poor Scots) and there are vestiges of the indigenous (Celtic) religion in the wild woods. The 'civilized' have the conqueror's (Christian) religion of course (but it doesn't seem as exciting - surprise, surprise). Barbarian hordes with their own savage ways threaten from across the continent, and the main action consists of conflict between the House of Stark (York) and Lannister (Lancaster). I did like the idea of a really long Summer and Winter though, presumably this comes into more play in about 10,000 pages time... Some people seem to think the book's greatness lies in its 'grittiness' or its muddying of good and evil. Yet, throughout the book there is really no doubt which side is good and which is evil. And although he supposedly told the story from different perspectives, there was little change of voice - a missed opportunity... So, I guess, yes, it's like Tolkien,but without his depth, language or imagination.
Will from USA
I read this book and its sequel, but could go no further. I feel like Martin's method of telling the story from each character's perspective was interesting, but ultimately seemed to compel him to write ridiculously long chapters about characters that are of very little interest. The amount of explicit content thrown into the novel is absolutely excessive, weighing down the novel with a layer of filth that in no way progress the story. As other reviewers have mentioned, I have no problem with this content being included, but it quickly losses the little shock value it had, and does nothing to progress the novel. The different elements contained in the book are split by region. In the south, politics, wars, and other such evils of man occur. The "evil" generally wins out and personally, I grew quite tired by the lack of anything good. In the north there is an ominous wall, which is supposed to hold out all the real bad guys. Martin generated a large interest in me for this region, despite it being a bland place of over done evils: zombies, shape shifters. This region is where the magic seems to lay, but a minimal amount is seen. There is also the region where the dragon queen lives. I do not know her name. I do not know what she has been doing. All I know is that after two books and what felt like an endless amount of chapters dedicated to her, and she has managed to acquire three boats. Ultimately, this separation serves to make the reader more inclined to read only certain character's chapters. Regions are made to seem so distant as they have had minimal (if any) interaction makes it seem like it would be better to split the books by region. The characters you don't connect with you will not read. And you probably will not connect many characters, and the ones you do connect with just die. These sudden deaths get approval from others claiming how shocking and "gutsy" it was to do such a thing. The reality is that the author kills them off in such a manner that the reader is left wondering. Why did the Character die? (A rarely answered question) Do I care that this character died? (Probably not. Most characters named upon death are some distant cousin to some character you read about through someone else's perspective 125 pages earlier). Did the character really just die? (Turns out, the author lies to you, saying certain characters have died, and bringing them back to life later). Killing characters off was something I once did in high school writing assignments to be done with said character. I got a similar impression that this was Martin's use as well. Characters themselves get varied levels of treatment to development. Most of them did not make it past infancy, or after two books are still stuck in that. I will not be reading thousands of pages to figure out what could have been put into two books. There is no real conclusion after this book and the sequel. I no longer care about the conclusion. I did not know the HBO series existed upon reading this, and still have not watched it. If you thought Eragon was a poor fantasy novel, then you're end for a prompt demand to re-appraise your rating of it. The frustration I went through reading A Game of Thrones were tremendous. Normally, I enjoy fantasy (good and bad) a great deal. The worlds may have been strange in some cases, but imaginative. A Game of Thrones fell short of every positive thing I had heard said about it. Except I suppose the cover art was pretty good.
Andrew from Canada
I haven't read the book, just commenting on the COMMENTS. I notice... People who don't like it: they find it too explicit and lacking in coherent story telling plot lines. People who like it: love the explicit content and just want others to like it too, without much else reason. Based on that I don't think I'll get it.
James from Philadelphia
This is one of my favorite series of all time. Being able to understand so many different characters' perspectives on the books' events makes the series an extremely interesting read. Books 1-3 are absolutely brilliant. 4 and 5 are a little less so, but I partly chalk that up to the fact that you only see half the POV characters in each. I am eagerly awaiting the final two installments and I hope they can live up to the promise that the series has shown up till now.
Big from Daz
As with many of the above I came to these books via the HBO series which I thought was excellent, I am now on book 5 and starting to feel like the whole thing is being padded out to make someone extra 'coin '. Most of the story and main characters either died or came to an end by book 4, as someone above said I really get the feeling Martin is bored himself, or planned to bring it all to an end around this point. The bit with Ayra going backwards and forwards in the book was made so much better in the mini series (they cut it out!). The sex scenes are too much, Martin has a worrying sexual fantassy with Dany a very young girl in the book, touching herself, exploring her sexuality, was it neccesary? I was surprised at the age of many of his characters in the books, presumed they would grow over the course but then he kills them? The mini series cuts out a lot of the fantasy stuff, seems to be staying away from the warg thing, green dreams, giants etc certainly not spending the time on it that Martin does and it's so much better for it. Here's hoping the tv series keeps this to a minimum and maybe doesn't kill off Rob! When it comes to rating I am marking down on the basis that one book I've just read (part one of two) started and ended having gone absolutley nowhere. I get the feeling he wanted to end the whole thing around book 4, still going to stick it out to the end but don't expect to be able to make any character attachments. 5 books in I am now learning about a whole load of new characters in Dorne, all that said the battle of Blackwater was mega.
Rupert from England
Have just finished book 5 - is there a book 6? Lots of stories left unanswered... What happens to Bran, or Arya, the Wall, the Free People, Denares, the dragons, Stannis?
Jørn from Hagalid
Amzing is an understatement.
Richard from Washington, DC
Martin seems to think that incessant scenes of rape, murder and incest equal "adult". He fails to realize that this is just pandering to the lowest common denominator. We get it, it's a hard old world! Somewhere in all the thousands of pages, where he tells you what everyone is wearing and what every knight's heraldry looks like, there may be a good story. But after three books I couldn't find it and have given up. His prose is plodding, and using characters' full names all the time is annoying at best, as it feels like filler and ruins any rythym he might have had. Almost all the characters are unlikeable and he seems to think killing any character that might be worth rooting for makes him "edgy". Sorry, it just makes him lazy. You just get the feeling he doesn't know where to go with these characters, and so he kills them off. Besides, keeping them around might mean he would have to resolve storylines instead of keeping the money machine going with new characters and even more pointless storylines that he can end two books down the line when he runs out of idead for them. And enough with the incest! I wonder about him, if he can't think of any way of showing sexual relationships besides rape and incest. He's not writing an epic fantasy series. He's wrinting a porn soap opera.
Tonya from Paterson
The reason most of us read is to escape the sometimes harsh reality of life. In Games of Thrones I couldn't put the first book down, however I soon realized that evil was prevailing far too often. There isn't enough relief for the good guys. As an audience you need comedy, love and laughter just as much as tragedy and pain - there is an inbalance to these stories and killing off damn near ever underdog was just plain wrong.I was totally disappointed.
Pat from Boston, MA
It starts out meeting a family that you immediately like and generally root for, some more then others but overall good start. I thought some pages or hundreds could be edited out but because the story was so strong and the characters so good I wasn't upset reading page after page. I was wishing I could read faster most times but by book 3-4 the story goes stale for me. I thought killing off the "good guy" and leader of the story was awesome. In a way I hate this book, it sucks, but then seeing the great changes smaller characters make to combat his death make you fall in love with Robb Stark, Arya, Jon Snow and even Jamie Lannister. But after the "Red Wedding" the book to me became stupid, "bad guys" get 2nd 3rd and 4th chances while people you care about are killed off without hesitation or meaning. Theon, Jamie, Cersie, Varys, Baelish and even the Vlegane brothers are never killed off like Ned or Rob and now maybe Jon. I feel like Martin backed himself into a corner as people and agree with the statement that he's grown bored with this story. Well, why do you think that? Maybe it's because everyone we rooted for is dead, leaving only 100 new characters with no interesting back story, the same families fighting for power / alliances and the same warnings of "winter is coming", "the white walkers, wights, others etc are coming south of the wall" and the whole stupid dragon thing. Please get the story back on track and have a Stark win. My rating now is a 5, after book 2 it was a 9 or 10.
Erik from Ohio
The first three books are great. They held my attention throughout with lots of different things happening in the same time period due to the variety of characters. I like the setup of writing chapters about certain characters, and it's even more exciting when one character's fate brings them alongside another main character in the same chapter. I wish GRRM would have kept the Starks intact with their direwolves completing the immensely strong family, but it's not all happy endings in life either.
Dave from Maryland
Got through part of the fourth book and quit. Seriously, WTF is up with killing off or drastically screwing up the life of every character you get attached to? I thought killing off Ned was cutting edge and suprising... but by the third book I could no longer attach myself to any characters for concern they tooo would die or end up elsewhere. Evil seems to always win, and that just gets old. A good thing once in a while would have kept me hopeful. If I want to see reality of human behavior, I can watch the news; the hope with a book is to escape to a better place. This series becomes a hell instead.
Captain Frogbert from New York
I read the first book of this series and was thoroughly pleased to see the back of it. Martin is, at best, a mediocre writer; a comparison to Michael Crichton would not be inappropriate: Plodding, trite, calculated, repetitive. Martin's characters are flat, his dialogue clumsy, and his mise en scene is cobbled together from a hundred other (often far better) fantasy novels (and a few worse, I’ll give him that: He steals from everyone, not merely the best). Add to that his clumsy attempts to invent language by misspelling common words and you have the worst sort of middlebrow hackery. Oh, yes, calling a knight 'Ser' instead of Sir, really makes me feel like I'm in another world. And Maester does the same thing. One of his common "creative" threads is to make things BIGGER. "The wall" isn't just another Great Wall of China, it's a really, really BIG Great Wall of China. Made of ice! (Ooooooh). His "Eyrie" isn't just a tall tower like Barad Dur or Orthanc, it's a really, really, really tall tower (like Barad Dur or Orthanc) only TALLER — see how subtly better it is? As for the world he has "created," well, his Dothraki are just yet another take on the Mongols (can you say Horseclans or the Dalrei of Guy Gavriel Kay's Fionavar Tapestry?). The rest of the world is even worse, a pale pastiche of dark ages Europe via a worn carbon copy of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth, with a thick slathering of Tales of King Arthur and Knights of the Round Table. Off the top of my head, I can name you a dozen or more fantasy worlds with more depth and variety. As for his characters, what a stifling band of dull, predictable, stick figures poorly disguised as plot devices (or was it the other way around?). Let’s look at his one honorable man, Bormoir, I mean Ned Stark. He tromps through his life growling and bemoaning his fate, never suspecting that the people EVERYONE ELSE KNOWS are the bad guys are going to do him in by lying, a concept he apparently cannot bring himself to understand, much less guard against. He’s far, far too honorable, you see. Then he gets tossed in prison and, eleventy-twelve pages of other stuff happening later, comes out and recants his entire life and is killed. Aaaaaaand scene! Applause, applause all around. Ooooh, what daring, killing off the main character like that. Of course we never see his captivity or torture. We never learn WHY he recants and loses his honor, we are simply left to presume that he was broken... somehow. His death has no meaning because its entire reason for happening is so casually tossed away. On the other hand, we are treated to an overlong exploration of Tyrion Lannister’s captivity, with his ridiculous cookie cutter jailer, which results in his release, none the worse for wear. Oh well, off to the next whore house for him! Tra la la. The rest of the characters are just as bad, little more than scrapings from the bottom of the central casting barrel. The fat King (Henry VIII via Falstaff), the evil queen (how original!), the foppishly eeeeviyl queen’s twin brother (and incestuous lover... ooh, we never saw THAT coming!), the evil queen’s foppishly evil son (really nothing more than Draco Malfoy in a Prince Hal suit), the eunuch eminence gris, the untrustworthy liar of a counselor (oh wait, that’s ALL of them)... oh, Lord save us from cardboard cutout characters! This novel is soooo bad! And who decided, a few years ago, that a fantasy novel just isn’t worth a publisher’s time if it’s not 20 bazllion pages long? For God’s sake, the ENTIRE Lord of the Rings trilogy is shorter than the FIRST VOLUME of this five-frikkin’-part monstrosity! Game of Thrones is a lousy story, set in a boring world, written by a man who has no understanding of plot, pacing, story or character arc, or anything else a good writer understand. And who is, apparently, utterly lacking in the basic ability to edit his work or simply to (please!) to STOP TYPING! Avoid this novel if you possibly can.
Modesto from New York
This is a great adult fantasy series. This story is not for everyone. Especially for people who like sexy elves and tough dwarfs... Not for those who seek instant gratification. This is fantasy, a whole new fantasy, an adult fantasy. I love how people are mad that certain characters are killed off but yet they bash the book, if you were not hooked and attached to the character you wouldn't care someone got knocked off. So that is what GRRM does, he hooks you right in, (**SPOILER**) I see a lot of complaints over Ned's death, Ned is in the book maybe a handful of chapters, HAHA. (**End of Spoiler**) Sure there is a lot of fill in but that makes the world he created bigger, brighter, darker, dangerous, sexier and more alive than most reads out there today. This story is fantasy, thriller, exotic and poetic, you can argue it's real, if Westeros existed and Dothraki... That is how people would have lived, killed and ventured. It would be A Song of Ice and Fire!
Nancy from Honolulu
First two books were gripping. I am halfway into the third book and am finding it hard going, and I am a forgiving reader. Far too many subplots going on with too many unsympathetic characters without a central unifying concept. I will slog through, but I am finding myself taking digressions to read entirely different books, just to get a break. This is a big change, as I read through the first two books over a long weekend - completely enthralled.
Kyle from Vancouver
It's funny reading through all the reviews, the majority of tens come from people who've read only book 1, or book 1 and 2. Those were great books, great character development. But as many people here point out, as the series goes on, GRRM's reticence to conclude a single damn subplot much less a plotline, while opting instead to introduce endless new characters dilutes the overall narative as he is no longer able to do any one storyline or character justice. The new characters don't get much development at all. It's a shaggy dog story... grips you at the start, but after weeks of reading and no plot lines coming anywhere near completion, one starts to lose faith the the author will ever conclude plot lines or revisit your favourite characters. I'd give 8 or 9 stars to the first 2 books - but the series over all I'd say 4. He's totally wandered off and does not seem likely to return, so I shall do the same. Now, I'm going to go see what this Steve Erikson everyone mentions is all about....
George from Toronto
This story is the best ever written in any genre, period. The first book is a wonder, the second is as good, and the third is best in the series. I agree, the fourth and fifth aren't my favourites. But they're still above-average. I can't wait to see how the story concludes -- Martin is planning a total of 7 books. I read some of the negative reviews. The ones who are negative put right in their review that they skipped chapters. What? Martin is a genius story teller, he didn't write 1,000 pages for his health. It was for a purpose. If you skip a chapter, how on earth can you complain if the rest of the story stops making sense? The man is a God. I read Erikson, Tolkien, Rothfuss, Hemmingway, and also crap like the Hunger Games. Martin's story is #1 by a significant margin.
Hanna from USA
I am not a book "reviewer" however, I was drawn into this series after I saw the HBO mini series "A Game of Thrones". I read through the first 3 books anticipating what all the ground work Martin has laid to mean... well I have been in the middle of "Dance with Dragons" for 6 months now and am extremly dissapointed. I can't finish it! Nothing has come from the ground work that was laid in the first 3 books. Main charaters are killed off for no apparent reason. I feel like I am reading in circles and nothing is being resolved and nothing meant anything in the first 3 books. Does this sound confusing... well try reading all the books... your head will spin. I HOPE that HBO will take this story and realize the short comings of the books and makes this series into what it could be... an outstanding fantasy!!! BTW... the dragons still are not anything of importance in Dance with Dragons... I wonder where Martin got the name?
Matt from USA
I've read the first three as a favor to a friend, I agree with those who felt they got worse as the they went along. The idea that no character is safe is interesting, but the meandering story is beyond boring. I also felt that the amount of rape and the age of the girls being raped was very disturbing and handled very poorly. The fact that he also uses unreliable narrators also means that everything you read can be a lie - an unpleasant story-writing tool when the books are thousands of pages long. Really I don't think it was his original intent, rather it became a lame cop-out Martin used when he realized he had written himself into corners he wasn't creative enough to get out of. But to reiterate, my main complaint is simply that they are so boring. It is amazing what people enjoy.
Adam from England
Slogged through the first four of these books and just can't bring myself to read any more. It's overly drawn out (you could easily get rid of half the pages and still tell the same story) and the author prefers the shock value of killing characters to actually developing their stories. When you've invested so much time into reading about a character it's irritating when they're brutally and pointlessly dispatched only to be replaced by far less interesting characters.
Jonathan from Canada
I can't lie, I find it a complete joke that people compare Martin's work to Hemmingway and Tolkien??? Are you serious? The first book in his series is great and sets a good stage but then it all just goes down hill and he totally botches what could and should have been an unreal story. All the characters are either so annoying that you want to kill them yourself or boring to the point of skipping their parts to get to good characters. Every interesting character either gets killed off or never heard from again. No magic gets used which to be honest is a little bit annoying. There is always the hint that it could be used but nothing actually ever happens. Also just a question is winter ever going to get here? I find that the series moves too slow, small trivial events are blown into these colossal moments because nothing literally happens. In my opinion the best series and fantasy author going right now is The Malazan Books of the Fallen and Steven Erikson. He just finished his series 10 books in 10 years and it is unreal. Amazing characters that are actually intriguing, think for themselves, have their own motivations and actually evolve over time. You never know who is the most powerful who is the weakest and there is always something going on. Multiple plot lines play through all the books are not forgotten. Anything Malazan related by Erikson and now Esslemont are must reads and add Glen Cook to the list too. I've had enough Martin.
The series is well written and the first books are quite intriguing but the plot progression is way too slow... I mean really, maybe 40% of the pages (maybe less) are relevant plot-wise. Martin likes to kill characters (which would be a GOOD thing imho) but he is completely unable to replace them with equally interesting ones.. the result? Later on the "plot" (but really, NOTHING happens after book 3) drags on a couple overused characters and a bunch of flat and totally useless minor figures constantly whining and wandering aimlessly around.
bones from london
Overrated and overwritten. I love my sprawling fantasy and sci-fi but this tested my reading patience, nothing happens that takes you out of the ordinary, characters are, like a few other readers have mentioned, 1 dimensional, you loose track of sub-plots, which after reading the Nights Dawn Trilogy and the Gunslinger epic, was disappointing as Peter F Hamilton and Steven King do it so well and keep you interested and excited. Don't get me wrong, these books have their flaws but in the grand scheme of the trillion pages you get through they are hardly noticed where as 'Thrones' flaws are there in your face. There are so many other trawling epics (as the ones I mentioned) that are well worth investing reading time in with no 'let-down' factor at the end - whenever that may be ;) I put 2 stars just for George RR Martins effort to keep going... and going even when it seems from the writing that even he's getting bored of it.
Bruce from North
The bad: 1) Corny faux-Tudor diction ("must needs," "mislike," "mayhaps," etc.) 2) Frayed, endlessly subdivided narrative. Instead of advancing the many subplots he has already created, Martin prefers to create new ones driven by new characters, each less interesting than the last. 3) Information overload. To be fair, this is a problem of the fantasy genre in general, and some readers will love memorizing maps of imaginary places, learning the genealogies of imaginary families, and sorting through hundreds and hundreds of made-up names. The good: 1) A convincing portrait of feudal power struggles. 2) Martin is a magnificent travel writer, though the countries he visits don't exist. His world is vividly imagined: you can taste the food, smell the air, feel the cold, etc. His visual imagination is particularly rich. 3) Some very exciting scenes and plot-twists. Television screenwriters will have rich veins to mine... leaving great heaps of slag behind them.
Claire from Cardiff
Finished reading 'Game of Thrones' last night. Now I am just falling out of bed to get to my nearest bookshop for 'A Clash of Kings'. Yup. It's that GOOD! Haven't been able to put it down...
Kaleb from Colorado
After having just finished reading the first book in the series. Anyone who says it is boring or not well written has odd to questionable taste. This book is easy to read and I found my self engrossed in the plot and totally lost in the world the author created. Martin leaves it no secret that characters make the story. I don't see how people can be so quick to criticize. I have only read the 1st book, but I would say Martin is the equivalent of Hemmingway when it comes to the Fantasy genre. I was lost at times due to the amount of characters, but between watching the show and reading the novel, it wasn't that bad. The book definitely is better than the series. The HBO writers tried to make it adaptable to their style shows. There are gay references, an over emphasis on sex, and it strays from the dialogue of the book where I thought it would be better to just be faithful to the book. Overall an amazing read and I'm looking forward to the 2nd book.
Alex from Alaska
This is a different kind of fantasy book. This is my favorite of the 5 books out so far in the series. I like it because it lays such a powerful groundwork. (Spoiler alert). I thought the prologue with the Others was an introduction to a world of magic and wizardry. Much the opposite. Eddard Stark goes south, I thought to right the wrongs of the kingdom. No, he dies. I felt like Sansa in the book - I grew up reading 'fantasy' novels where good wins and good and evil are clear and heroes did great more than human things. But Martin is not interested in that kind of story - he is telling history the way it happens - to individuals involved in the muck. I was drawn to the book for its fantasy roots, but in truth this is a book for anyone interested in political thrillers or history buffs. It's like reading the diaries of many historical figures, and putting the history together that way, as a historian does it. I don't think it's accurate to refer to Martin as the American Tolkien. Few characters in Tolkien's world are interested in being human. They are superbly good or superbly bad. I prefer to compare him to Victor Hugo, specifically to Les Miserables, which goes into great detail in order to explain a moment in a characters life. The book doesn't tell you the moment is important, because it has BECOME important. Such is the ability of Martin to cause us to care about his characters. Must-read.
John from New York
Do not listen to the low rated reviews. Anyone who claims that "nothing is happening" or that the characters "lack depth" are probably not capable of picking up on how much is actually happening in the book.
Ben from California
I can't see why people are so divisive in their reviews of this book... I almost listened to the negative comments, and I'm glad I didn't! It is extremely entertaining for those who like to actually read, and I suggest any fan of the fantasy genre to pick it up immediately. You'll find yourself rooting for characters you wouldn't think to -Tyrion Lannister is perhaps the best anti-hero I've ever read. READ IT!
Michael Patrick from Niceville, Florida
Great series. I'm on the second book and like them so far. Many of these reviews have said that as you progress the writing gets weaker, but so far I see no cause or effect of that. Bottom line great series similar to Tolkien but easier to understand and not so boring.
Joel from Australia
These comments seem to be either at the bottom or the top of the scale. It's quite confusing, really. I'm currently on the second book and loving it, the main flaw I have is that I find Bran's character and his chapters are boring, but that's subjective. Aside from that, I recommend these books if you aren't afraid of some adult themes.
Pete from DC
I love the first couple of books. The third book was OK but the 4th and 5th are painful to read. I felt like I was in readers quick sand. There are so many pointless subplots and characters. He should have stuck with the winning formula found in the first part of the series and closed out the story. Disappointing.
David from Kent
I am on the last book and I am finding myself skipping whole chapters because the characters are so boring and 2 dimensional. I have to say I have only got this because of about two characters as for the rest I feel they have become nothing more than page fillers. For the plot of the books, I have likened it to 'Lost' the TV series. Interesting at first but goes on for far too long with nothing really happening in-between. Since starting this series of books I have read three books in-between, often to only read something that has been written above the childish standard of George R.R. Martin. PS, I have never wanted a character in a book to be killed off more than Brienne.
Simao from Vila Nova de Cacela
Excellent book, a must read, Tyrion lannister is simply incredible, lots of twists. Incredibly written.
Anders from Norway
An excellent book! If you like action fantasy you should deffinitly read this book.
Andy from Reading
I am so far severely disappointed with these books (currently on Bk3pt2), there appears to be little attention to building up scenes and I find that I really don't care about a number of the characters, Dany and Jon appear to be the only ones with any redeeming features. The plot appears to be largely stationary and makes Wheel of Time (which I love) into a fast paced novel. I also found that the sex parts were very crudely done and I especially do not want details about rape irrespective of whether or not it really happened in the middle ages, I am reading a fantasy book not porn and I expect sex content to be tastefully done as befitting the fact that we are supposed to be civilized.
Lin from America
Martin was marketed under the moniker "The American Tolkien". It just underscores how little Tolkien is understood. Martin's Song of Ice and Fire is plodding and dull with a few glimmers of interest every now and then. Like a city built in a hurry without zoning, it sprawls through scenes and characters, some of which are developed, others are carried along and then left sitting idle. The writing is not uniformly awful, but it certainly isn't good either. The problem with B grade fiction is that when it is inflated into five books (and counting) it starts to collapse under its own weight. A Song of Ice and Fire disappeared into its own event horizon by book three. And I'll quote one of the more irritating characters to support each of these points: "Hodor!"
Chris from Middlesbrough
Excellent book, loved the structure of it. the series was a little dissapointing (only minor things such as Tyrion's war efforts not being the same as in the book, and possibly a general low 'first series' budget). I'm just instantly thrown into the fictional world that GRRM created and wish that I'd lived in times like that myself!.. Brilliant
Jessica from Belgium
Nearly finishing book 2 - A Clash of Kings - of the ICE & FIRE Series, this is indeed an incredible way of writing , capturing times that we will never know. Because of the multiple character roles, you get different perspectives of the storyline and the plots combined. Reads a lot more fluent then Lord of the rings ever did. Highly recommendable author. This is what fantasy really needs to be .. I won't be surprised if these were filmed by James Cameron or Steven Spielberg one day.
Chad from Montana
I would give this book a 0 if the system would let me. The book drudges on slowly, with basically nothing happening in it at all. Exposition in it is limited to descriptions of politics, and anything else is dominated by preteen girls getting raped and abused. Explicit material is fine, if it's important to the plot, but this book just shoves it down your throat. The fact that this stuff came out of a 48-year-old man's head is highly disturbing. Even the only remotely interesting subplot doesn't get resolved until the fifth or sixth book. Just about the worst book I've ever read.
Mike from Pittsburgh
I just don't understand how some reviewers are giving this series less than nine stars and are calling the writing middle school level. Martin's prose is leagues above any modern fantasy writer and is better then Tolkien in my opinion. I have read some good modern fantasy, namely Erikson and Sanderson, and none of them even come close to matching the character depth and plot development that Martin weaves. Hands down, this is the greatest fantasy series of all time.
Gary from Vancouver, BC
This book will always have a special place in my heart for it's heavily inspiring story-line. George R.R. Martin has the vigorous spirit to lift this tale of the altered Europe (via medieval period), with plenty of appealing characters which seem astute as they are tantalizing. The fact that it doesn't follow a typical mono myth had me interested, because many high fantasy that I have read, had done so. Overall this book had a few faults (What book doesn't?) though it was an enriching tale.
Martin from Canada
Glad I read these reviews before buying a copy! I started on Goodkind's crap and tossed it out after the second book. Disgusting. If this is the same then toss it out with the rest, or better yet, don't waste your time!
Kyle from Kentucky
HMMMMMM.... lets imagine for a second, you're stuck in a time period where there are no cell phones, security cameras or even police around to keep the naughty kids from coming out to play. What do you think would happen? Probably wouldn't be pretty, but we now chose to forget that our morals of today weren't the morales of ancestors. They didn't have welfare or the Salvation Army, if you were hungry or freezing you would probably have to do some pretty bad things to better your situation. And if you've bashed a man's head in for a chunk of bread some of the other things that GRRM writes about probably wouldn't seem to bad. I think he does an excellent job capturing the morale dilemmas of the time period. If you think murder, rape and incest weren't common in that time period then you're extremely naive! Great book though, do read.
Connor from America
I find it funny how the shallow reader claims this book is all about good versus evil when it's really about how people are neither good or evil but GRRM is a great writer and one I will gladly keep following.
Zuzurlo from Italy
Stunning! That's what this serie is! I couldn't even sleep because I had to read more and more. It's the best around for whoever is not afraid of a little adult content. The only downside is that it's 2 books and many years short of the end.
Tony from UK
My god how is this series not in the top ten! George RR Martin is the American Tolkien. A Song of Ice and Fire is top notch adult fantasy and there is a good reason why these books are best sellers. The current rating here is not a good advertisement for the website. I voted 10/10 to try and bump it up a bit.
Aaron from Australia
An engaging and thrilling start to a fanastic series, Game of Thrones is fantasy filled with political intrigue, double crosses, betrayals and shocking reversals. The characters of Game of Thrones are the stand out feature, with deep personailites, it's difficult to identify who the real heroes and villains are (and after five books I still don't know). Oddly these reader reviewers have been hijacked by puritans who feel compelled to descibe the books as dull AND obscene. Allow me to retort: what a load of bollocks. While sex and violence are elements of the book, they're never used gratuitously. Anyone who claims the books are pruile or offensive, or that they felt ill reading them, obviously hasn't read many novels above a Harry Potter reading level. There's more explicit content in the 117 bible verses that make Song of Songs of Solomon.
Tom from Boulder, CO
Utter rubbish..The book is shallow and essentially exists to permit the author a venue to remind us that his world is bad and that bad things happen, in excrutiating detail. It is as if he enjoys writing about child abuse, rape and incest. Another reviewer commented that it was middle school level writing and I think that is an affront to all middle school children. The author simply lacks any ability to weave a good story. It reminds of those book reports we had to write where we had to come up with a 1000 word report and we over wrote everything to fill that number. Dont waste your time like I did...
Rod from West Country
I saw the HBO mini series, and thought that the book is usually better, I will read it. I am so pleased I did! Absorbing, Super Epic, no one is safe, not the heroes, not the villains. There is magic but malevolant........ Downside only five books...
William from London
I think that this is a good read, however, having read four of the books now, I am struggling to carry on. Firstly Martin seems to take an age to write his books, and secondly, it just to seems to me to be unbelievable how many of the main protagonists and characters are all killed off or changed dramatically in such a short period of time. So, a good read, but don't get too close to any of the characters, as by the end of a novel, it is likely something you don't want to happen to them... has.
Rob from UK
Epic is an understatement.
Kyle from Indiana
I've only just started this series and I plan to finish it. It's the best thing my eyes have ever seen, hands down!
Cristian from Netherlands
I read through the books because I was bored. And all I can say is that the boredom I had is the only thing that kept me reading. I found the world the book was centered on quite dull, the writer tries to keep you interested by making the characters conflict from time to time and by mini cliffhangers which can tend to move away from the story's setting. It wasn't the worse book I read but it surely wasn't the best.
Andrew from Las Vegas
I bought this book on the recommendation of sites such as this one who compare the author to the likes of Tolkien and Jordan. BIG MISTAKE! I hate to leave a series unfinished but I will not be reading past this first book. I had to force myself to complete this novel like a kid gagging on their broccoli being force fed to them by their parents. I though the Wizard's First Rule series was pretty graphic with the wanton slaughter of innocents and graphically brutal sex and rape scenes, but Martin now takes the cake in the depravity department. I don't mind explicit content in my books when it is integral to the story, but Martin seems to cram the rape, incest, and child molestation down the reader's throat simply for the shock value. I get that bad things happen to innocent people, but this book just beats you over the head with it. This all might be forgiven if the story was interesting and engaging, but it just isn't. I agree with Jason, the book is boring. For those who think this book is epic, read The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson and see what a true epic looks like.
Dan from Arizona
I just got hooked on the new HBO series, loving the characters and plot twists, having a hard time waiting for the next episode... So I bought the first novel of the series... Boy, am I glad I started with the televised series. It is far superior to the basic, middle school level writing of the novel. I feel like I am reading a student's first stab at writing a novel... So choppy and pedantic... Nothing flows and all descriptions are at such a basic level. It is almost jarring when I am in the midst of this text for Tweens when a violent or explicitly sexual scene pops up! This surely is not fine literature, and don't you dare begin to compare it to the master works of Tolkien! I will keep reading, however, because the plot and intrigue are still appealing. Thank God for HBO, or this would be returned to the children's section of the public library.
Jason from North Carolina
This is not a hard read, so stop spouting that nonsense. Its shallow and boring. There is no action at all, unless its designed to kill off one of the handful of decent people in the series. We get it Martin, the people in your world just want to rape and curse. Its funny that this tripe is supposed to be such a sophisticated read, is this truly what fantasy has come to? If this is the best the genre has to offer and is the future of the genre I'm done with it. This series is total garbage.
Paul from Glasgow
Steep learning curve at the start as Martin introduces a plethora of new characters in rapid succession; still found myself sucked in completely and ended up reading the whole series.
Shallow, poorly written not worth buying at a yard sale. Read the first pages and the last in each chapter don't both with the crud in between.
Shell from Winchester
Brilliant series - can't wait for film series.
Ryan from Wisconsin
A Game of Thrones definitely deserves to be rated up with Lord of the Rings. Has some of the most interesting and in-depth characters of any fantasy book.
JP from Finland
I have read first three books of this series so far and enjoyed it very much. GRRM is not a superb writer in all meanings of that but he definitely knows how to write hard as rock fantasy series.
John from Leeds
A Song of Ice and Fire is pretty much the last word in medieval fantasy. Martin's work is in a league of its own, head and shoulders above the next comparable work in terms of plotting, characterisation, world building and quality of writing. Other authors may as well abandon the medieval milieu and explore new avenues in fantasy, as there is little left to say on the matter that this series does not say better.
Mathias from Gothenburg
Simply the best fantasy epic ever written. Nuff said.
David from Ireland
If I had to summarise this series in one word it would be shallow. The books are "adult" in the sense that they contain a wealth of explicit material. Digging any deeper exposes their lack of adult depth. Martin's basic world view is "good people die" - beyond that he seems to have little to say. The narrative seemed (to me) to suffer from this world view. Many fans will argue in defence that the writer is creating a book on a grand scale, describing the meta-narrative from a number of overlapping points of view. My problem was that none of the micro-narratives seemed interesting enough to sustain a book on their own (I recognise that this is a matter of opinion). The prose is functional but falls far short of the masters of epic fantasy, like Eddison or Tolkien. Throughout you can see the influence of Martin's apprenticeship in writing for the television screen-action over substance. This won’t ruin the appeal of this series to many people - but if you like your books to have depth as well as action and suspense you might want to look elsewhere.
Tim from Perth-Andover
Someone said Eragon was better than this. .. .. .. ...after I stopped laughing, I decided to write this review. Martin's books are some of the best fantasy being written today. The time it takes for them to come out should not judged as part of their quality. Are they simple commercial fare? No. Emphatically no. These are books for intelligent people who like to read. They deserve to be higher on the list.
PP from The Hague
One of the best fantasy series so far... however I understand why it is not on the top of the list: the series is not complete and me and probably many others will wonder whether or not the series will ever be complete. The story lines are becoming more and more complex and interwoven in every next book GRR writes. But still, like a Leonardo's David without the head...
Anthony from Cardiff
I had to correct my review. Just finished the 4 books and I am totally ashamed of my last comments. Its simply that the more you read the rewards will come. I am 37 and have been listening to audio books for a year now, since I have lost my sight. Talented writers like this keep blind people in the world sane. I am gutted I have to wait for the next book - Mr Martin please hurry up!
Eric from Quebec
In my opinion, one of the best series, probably my favorite. In most series, it is easy to expect what will come next. This is one series where everyone has an opinion, and a different one (if you debate with other readers). Not everyone agrees who they think will be the "main" character in the end, if any. I really love to see how, from every character's perspective, their perception of Right and Wrong changes. It makes you think about what we do in our lives, that we consider "right", that from another perspective would be viewed as "wrong". Overall, this story makes me think, surprises me and captivates me, which are the foremost reasons I use what time I have to read =)
Anthony from Cardiff
I have just started the second book in the series and I think it is very good, however I am finding some of the characters boring so I find I am looking forward to my favourites rather than being engrossed with the whole story. At the moment I would rate both Magician and Eragon better.
Tony from USA
Great series, very adult oriented and gritty series. One of the best series I've read. Only problem, 6 years between books, with at least 3 more means you won't be able to finish it for about 20 years.
William from California
First off George R. R. Martin has got to be the SLOWEST author in history. With only 4 of the 7 planned books released, don't plan on finishing this series for at least a decade. The book itself is not bad. The prose is good and the plot is fairly intricate. However what I find the drawback of this series is the, I guess you would call it realism, or pessimism maybe. The good guys don't always win in this, in fact, they usually lose. I am going to finish the series because it is fairly well written and I am curious about the ending. But I doubt I will ever want to reread it like I have with many other series. Just my 2cents.
James from Melbourne
At the moment I am about 120 pages in and nothing much has happened, it is a bit slow and on the brink of giving up... Should I keep going? Editors note: Yes, yes, yes, YES! It is worth it, it can be a little difficult to keep up with the large cast of characters but your perseverance will be amply rewarded.
Dustin from Washington
Amazing piece of literature, the character development and the story telling is superb. I read these book and absolutely had to recommend them to everybody I knew. Several of my co-workers started reading the books and they all love them as well. There IS a reason for all the hype behind this series.
Tom from Qc
Really, GRRM is not a writer, he is a god! A Song of Ice and Fire is way better than the Lord of the Rings! I have almost finished the last published book so far. A Song for Lya is very good too, GRRM is not only good for fantasy, he is a great SF writer too!PS - sorry for my bad English, I'm a French Canadian.
Lester from Manchester
This is amazing. The entire series is amazing. Buy these amazing books!
Darren from Wilkinson
This book is much better than Lord of the Rings. It really is that simple. LOTR was overly descriptive and had far too many silly songs and dances. Tyrion Lannister is one of the best characters in fiction. Buy the whole series - you won't be disappointed.
Chris from Netherlands
This book, and all of the series, got me reading till 3.00am. Martin uses Point of View characters to reveal bits of his plot in such a maner that you're always hoping to find out more. I for one couldn't wait to read the next chapter of my favorite characters. Beware, as the review says, bad things will happen to the characters you like most. Hate it or love it, every page you turn could mean the end, it's thrilling and exciting in every way...
Steve from Burton
This book, and the other books published of the series, are as absorbing and intriging as any I've read. Could replace Tolkien at the top of your bookshelf.
Russell from Cardiff
I think you've rated this book to low, it at least deserves to be on a par with Ursula Le Guin's books. Don't get me wrong, the Earthsea books are great and among my favourites but this is quality fantasy and needs to be seen as such.
6.2/10 from 168 reviews
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