A Song of Ice and Fire, Book One: A Game of Thrones, by George R. R. Martin
Until last year, I had not watched the TV show ‘Game of Thrones‘, but I wanted to and had been advised to do so by several friends. At this point, the third series was about a third of the way through and I figured I could at least catch up before the fourth began this year.
At this point a friend advised me to do the same thing she did – read the first book before watching the first series, then read the second book, watch the second series, third book, third series, etc. (though I understand that the show isn’t quite so rigidly sticking to the 1 series covers 1 book rule anymore). Wary as I was of the price tag involved – since large books are pricey and TV boxsets even more so – I chose to follow her advice and bought A Game of Thrones to read, with a borrowed Series One and Two boxset on the side for watching later.
I had marathoned all three series by the time I was half done with the first book.
What I’m trying to get across here is that A Game of Thrones the book is very long and not exactly a pacey read. That said, it isn’t a bad book. Reading it at the very least showed me just how faithful the TV show is sticking to the source material (at least here) and it was interesting to see the story play out in two different mediums at once. However, much like The Hunger Games, the game of thrones personally plays out better for me as a visual story.
I’m a big fan of ensemble casts in fiction, both on screen and in literature, so I particularly enjoyed the multiple points of view, giving insights into the goings on in different areas of Westeros and different points of view in what was happening. It added a lot of interesting shades of grey and prevented the narrative from becoming stale. It’s also interesting to see a fantasy world where the story is so focused on the politics, but for me it’s a little easier to watch in short scenes rather than read. The issue with multiple protagonists is the temptation to skip over characters you aren’t so fond of and I won’t lie, I did just that more than once. In fact, after finishing series 3 of the show and still reading about events that were now in Westeros’ past in my mind, I almost gave up altogether, but I stuck it through to the end and read the whole darn book.
I enjoyed the experience of reading A Game of Thrones, but I won’t be reading through any of the subsequent books any time soon. Maybe once the show has finished and some time has passed, I can return to see how it plays out in writing. For now, the show is enough.
(Written October 2014, for Goodreads. I have not read any of the Song of Ice and Fire books since, but I am a fan of the HBO adaptation, Game of Thrones, and may revisit the books when I have the time or in audio book form. Keep an eye out for a series recap and weekly reviews of series six, coming soon)