Game of Thrones: A song of Ice and Fire

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Game of Thrones – George R R Martin.

So let me tell you a story about Game of Thrones, ya’ll know Arya Stark? Maisie Williams attended the school that I live opposite. She and her family still live nearby. This is my go-to story when any one asks me about Game of Thrones. Plus, I have a tumblr, I know what’s going on in that show without having to watch it. Recently however, after a series of very funny gif sets about pie and this video:

I thought I should get into it myself, so I marathoned the whole of season one over the last bank holiday weekend and am now just finishing series two. I saw a couple of my favourite bloggers had read the books and I thought perhaps I ought to as well, at least I decided, I’d get to see what was missing and get a more in depth look at the story and the characters.
I have to say, I’m glad I watched the series first, it made the book and the sheer amount of characters less daunting.

Kings and queens, Knights and renegades, liars, lords and honest men. All will play the Game of Thrones.
Summers span decades. Winter can last a lifetime. And the struggle for the Iron Throne has begun. It will stretch from the south, where heat breeds plot, lusts and intrigues; to the vast and savage eastern lands; all the way to the frozen north, where an 800-foot wall of ice protects the kingdom from the dark forces that lie beyond.
The Game of Thrones. You win, or you die.

I really should have braced myself, winter is coming.
I enjoyed the book, I think reading it alongside the show gave me a much fuller experience, though I felt that some of my favourite, or some of the more interesting characters could have done with more narration in the book and their views and thoughts were much better. I think the book would have done well to have a chapter from Cersei’s point of view and there wasn’t nearly enough Renley, I loved Renley on the show. Also, guys, I paid 20p for this book in a library sale. That was amazing value for money, have you seen how many pages are in this thing?!

Though I like the book, I found that it was a little bit problematic in regards to it’s treatment of women. Though George R R Martin is often praised for his portrayal of women and he has written some amazingly bad ass women, I found that there was a lot of raping and abusing going on, particularly of young girls. I understand that this set in a time where that kind of thing was prevalent, that young girls were sold to bind houses, but did there really need to be so much rough taking from behind and generally degrading women? Like, was that totally necessary? I found the amount of that a little hard to stomach at times and actually, I don’t think it helped the story at all. I wanted to read more about scheming, about people betraying each other all for that iron throne. The Lannisters were despicable people and they were fun to read about, but did I really need to have their story being interspersed by tales of a thirteen year old girl being raped by an enormous horse lord? No, I didn’t. I am so glad that the show changed the ages of the characters, I quite fancied Jon Snow until I read the book and realised he was fourteen and I don’t think I could have coped seeing a thirteen year old Dany going through what she went through. Despite these feelings, I do think that the female characters we did have were incredible, Lady Catelyn Stark is incredible, Cersei is the HBIC but man, she is fierce, Arya, Sansa… They are all worthy of the title: Badass. But, I think going into the next four books I would like to see women in general being treated with a little more respect.

That aside, Game of Thrones is an epic fantasy, the story is rich and dense, the characters are awful, but you love them anyway. God, I wanted to slap Joffrey up side the head, I wanted to shake Robert Baratheon until he saw sense, I wanted to plead with Ned to go back to Winterfell, I wanted to decapitate Theon Greyjoy, I wanted to give Jon Snow a big hug, I wanted to swoop in and save Dany, but by God, my favourite is Tyrion. That chap is my special snowflake.

The absolute best thing about Game of Thrones though is even though it’s gory and full of torture and betrayal, it is still surprisingly tender. The relationship between Arya Stark and her older half brother, Jon, is so lovely, the way that Tyrion befriends Jon at the wall, tries to help Bran and protect Sansa, despite what their mother does to him and the way that Ned relates to his children all show that this story has heart, it’s more than the fight for the iron throne. Also, it’s great because one moment you have all that cut throat business and then you get a scene like this:

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I do love the television series, perhaps more than the book, I think that my time on tumblr stumbling across various memes makes the whole thing less serious. Whenever I read the phrase: “who are you?” “Jon Snow.” “Ned Stark’s bastard?” I can’t help but smile, it’s a catchphrase that everyone seems to pick up on. Whenever I saw Ned Stark say: Winter is coming I couldn’t help but laugh. You don’t know the half of it Ned. Now, whenever I hear someone talk about death all I can think of is “and what do we say to death?” “Not today.” Game of Thrones is utter genius and I love it. But, and I know this is like choosing which child you prefer, I love the television show more.

Don’t be put off by its heft, this book is good, it is really good, but if you don’t have the time or the inclination, the television series covers all the bases and doesn’t have quite so many moments of sexism. Plus, Emilia Clarke and Kit Harrington are really quite attractive.

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9 thoughts on “Game of Thrones: A song of Ice and Fire

  1. I feel the same way. If you think Arya and Dany are badass now, keep reading. Tyrion is hilarious and is probably the most dynamic character. George RR Martin is ruthless with his characters but that makes it even more fun.

    • I’m told the series is a bit liberal with some characters and has used a little artistic licence, I just found I could get to know the characters better on screen which helps when there are so many of them!

  2. Nice review, so glad you’re into this series now! I felt the same way about the first book in relation to the treatment of women but from experience (I’m up to A Feast for Crows), I can definitely tell you that the female characters develop beautifully. I found my experience with the books and the show to be the opposite of yours; I started watching the show first, and I found it so hard to keep up with all of the characters, but once I started the books, this made it much easier. I don’t know, maybe it’s different for everyone. I definitely recommend reading the rest of the series, because there are a few things the show misses out. I do recommend you steel yourself for the second book, though, as this one I found the hardest to finish. It’s not as action-packed as the others, but the plot is vital for the rest of the series, and both parts of the third book more than make up for it! Sorry, I’ll stop rambling, I’m just so excited that we’ve recruited another fan! 🙂 xx

    • I assumed the girls would be better represented as the series went on, I’m excited to read them all, though also a little cautious after your warning about the second one!
      Usually I hate adaptations and prefer the book, this is my exception to the rule! Thank you for reading my ramblings! 🙂

  3. Pingback: The 2014 End of Year Survey | The Perks of Being a Bookworm

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