Tag Archives: A Song of Ice and Fire

Evolving Characters of A Game of Thrones

Looking back at the first book of A Song of Ice and Fire, which of course is known as A Game of Thrones, I have to say that my opinion of characters has changed over the books. I’ve read the first three books so far, and I have developed different favourites by the time the third book ended.

Looking at the Starks, I haven’t really changed my opinion about anyone. However, I still strongly like Anya Stark and Jon Snow. I never really liked Robb Stark, and my least favourite of the kids was and still is Sansa. My opinion of Catelyn fluctuated between like and dislike, but ended up with mild dislike.

The Lannisters have been an interesting group. Joffrey Barratheon has always been a little ass, and I never liked him. Never liked Cersei. But Jaime and Tyrion have changed. In the beginning, I really liked Tyrion, but my like for him has faded a bit. At first, I hated Jaime. He was one of my most disliked characters. However, I actually like him now.

A lot can change over George R. R. Martin’s books. Earlier today, I posted a video review of A Game of Thrones, looking at how my opinion has changed or not changed about the book.

Has your opinion of the characters changed? Let me know in the comments below without giving me any spoilers.

Dragons in Fantasy

Dragons are a big part of fantasy novels. They’re also a big part of mythology from several cultures, especially Chinese. There’s even the real life komodo dragon. But what are some of the best novels and novel series that feature dragons?

I’ve read quite a few. One that’s quite prominent is the Pern series by Anne McCaffrey. However, I classify that as science fiction, not fantasy. There’s also Temeraire by Naomi Novik. And who can forget Smaug from J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit? And then we have the dragons of A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin. Although I haven’t read them, we can’t forget the Dragonlance novels written by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman.

What are some of your favourite fantasy series with dragons?

Damn Spoiler!

So, I was reading through my WordPress Reader feed, checking out all the blog posts that interested me, and I quickly went by one that did something I really, really dislike.  It told me the outcome of a character from a popular novel and TV series. Excuse me while I vent.

Why?! Damn damn damn damn! I wanted to find out while I was reading the book! I didn’t want a blog post’s headline to tell me who lived and who died! I’ve seen a news article do the same thing, and they had to apologise for it. So many angry people who lived on the other side of the world and wouldn’t get that episode a few hours or a few days after. Now I read a blog headline that spoiled it for me. Damn it!

I really, really hate spoilers. The blog post and the news article both spoiled Game of Thrones for me. As for the news article, it happened to be talking about the TV show, but the book that it happened in was the one I was reading at the time. I read that very scene a few days later. I knew what was going to happen, so it didn’t give the same kind of impact as it would’ve if I hadn’t seen the spoiler.  And now, this new spoiler is still a couple books away for me.  Sigh.

Is There a Trend Toward Dark, Gritty Fantasy?

Tolkien, Brooks, and even Jordan, all write or wrote heroic fantasy that features a naive and innocent protagonist who becomes a great hero and defeats a dark evil lord.  That’s pretty standard heroic fantasy.  But I look at some of the more modern fantasy series, and I see a move toward a darker and grittier tone.

A Game of ThronesGeorge R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire is probably the best example of this.  It began in the 1990s with A Game of Thrones and has yet to be finished.  He takes a long time to write.  Well, this series has nothing of the heroic fantasy series, except maybe dragons.  There seems to be no innocence.  Everyone has a dark side. There’s a lot of violence, sex, and an incredible amount of very graphic death.  Martin kills so many characters, no one is safe.  Major characters die! Even the good people aren’t entirely good. And the antagonists seem to have some humanity.

gardensofthemoonAnother series is The Malazan Book of the Fallen by Steven Erikson.  In the first novel, Gardens of the Moon, also written in the 1990s, we get another vast cast of characters that has the reader briefly confused.  They are also all varying shades of grey, though there is a bit of an evil in this one.  Any innocence is shattered completely, as this is a brutally violent series with many deaths.  And this world has non-human races that are completely unique.  It’s an original world that doesn’t seem to borrow from the old heroic fantasy.  What I liked is that you never really knew who was good and who was bad.  Like in war, it’s a lot of people on both sides just following orders.

wizardsfirstruleI’m including Terry Goodkind’s Sword of Truth in this for one reason only, the evil antagonist is unlike any I’ve seen in heroic fantasy.  Don’t get me wrong, this is actually quite typical heroic fantasy, and our bad guy is truly evil, but this crosses a line that you rarely ever see crossed in heroic fantasy.  Let’s just say that the rapes are rather disgusting.  While the heroes are on a typical heroic quest, the villain is doing unspeakable things that felt so out of place.

What do you think?  Is there a trend toward the dark and gritty in fantasy?

Book Review – A Storm of Swords

astormofswordsA Storm of Swords

Author: George R. R. Martin

Series: A Song of Ice and Fire #3

Genre: Fantasy

Published 2000

Review Copy: Paperback bought new

Overall Rating: 5 out of 5

Goodreads Description

Of the five contenders for power, one is dead, another in disfavor, and still the wars rage, as alliances are made and broken. Joffrey sits on the Iron Throne, the uneasy ruler of the Seven Kingdoms. His most bitter rival, Lord Stannis, stands defeated and disgraced, victim of the sorceress who holds him in her thrall. Young Robb still rules the North from the fortress of Riverrun. Meanwhile, making her way across a blood-drenched continent is the exiled queen, Daenerys, mistress of the only three dragons still left in the world. And as opposing forces maneuver for the final showdown, an army of barbaric wildlings arrives from the outermost limits of civilization, accompanied by a horde of mythical Others–a supernatural army of the living dead whose animated corpses are unstoppable. As the future of the land hangs in the balance, no one will rest until the Seven Kingdoms have exploded in a veritable storm of swords…

Review

A Storm of Swords is the third installment in George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire epic fantasy series.  It continues the war in Westeros and the battle over who is king.  In this book, we see some big changes.  Huge changes.  You know how sequels are usually not as good as the original?  Well, I think this one exceeds not only the first book, but also the second.  What a ride!

As with the previous two books, each chapter is simply titled with the point-of-view character’s name.  This time, those characters are Arya, Sansa, Bran, Tyrion, Catelyn, Jon, Daenerys, Davos, and two newcomers, Jaime Lannister and Samwell.  We no longer follow Theon.  I found that the most compelling storylines were of Arya, Jon, Daenerys, and Jaime.  Sansa’s getting a bit smarter, but still a bit annoying.  Bran has a major story going on, and while it’s interesting, I felt it didn’t have as much impact as others.  Tyrion’s still my favourite Lannister, but he’s lost his touch a bit.  Catelyn is still Catelyn, a character I don’t particularly like.  Davos was never that interesting to me.  Samwell has a good story, but it’s not at the top.  Now, Jaime’s story, I really enjoyed that.  Not only did I enjoy his point of view, I’ve come to actually like him as a character.  Loving his sarcastic sense of humour.  Arya is a very good character, and I’m enjoying how her development is going.  There are things going on with her that are quite interesting, I have suspicions about something that will happen, but I’m not quite sure yet.  Jon is going on to bigger things, and he’s had quite an up and down story.  I’m very interested in seeing where it goes.  Daenerys is still on the other side of the sea, but things are changing a lot for her, as well.  We’re seeing the development of a leader.  We also see that not everything is as it seems with her and those with her.  I’m really enjoying some other non-POV characters, such as Sandor Clegane, Peter Baelish, and a very mysterious cold handed person from beyond the wall.  I have suspicions about him, but I’ll wait to see what happens.

The world continues to be great to explore, and we’re seeing more of it, including Daenerys’s exploits.  The number of cultures is astounding.  I can easily visualise everything that’s going on, and I feel like I’m going along in a medieval world that is somewhat dark and dreary at times.  It all feels damp.  Of course, it rained a lot.

The story has always been extremely good.  The intricate linking between the individual stories is incredibly well-done.  This book had a bit of a downside, though.  The middle was a bit slow-going, but it really picked up toward the end.  And what an end it is.  Chapter after chapter had me shocked and amazed.  So many unbelievable things happened that I was wondering what was next.  By the end, this is what I was thinking: What the?  Mr. Martin, you’ve made this reader very happy and very excited about reading the next book.  Never have my thoughts and emotions been manipulated by a book as much as this one.  Bravo.

So, I can’t give this lower than a score of 5 out of 5 stars.  It deserves it.  Best one so far.  Wow.

I Actually Like More Than One Lannister

Shocking, isn’t it? Everyone loves Tyrion. I like him, too. I find him one of the most fascinating characters in the A Song of Ice and Fire series.

As I’ve been reading A Storm of Swords, my opinion has been changing on one of the Lannisters. Could it be Tommen? Actually, I know very little about him. How about Cersei? No way. She’s still a cold bitch. Still don’t like Tywin. Joffrey? Never. How about Ser Kevan Lannister? I’m pretty neutral about him. Who does that leave?

That’s right, I’ve grown to like Jaime Lannister. Shocked? Well, I’ll leave you with that thought.

There’s a Reason I Don’t Read Spoilers

I saw an article on Yahoo the other day about Game of Thrones, and I noticed it said there were spoilers. I did not read it. Whenever I see anything about Game of Thrones, I do my best to ignore it. I haven’t watched any of it.

You see, I’m currently reading A Storm of Swords, the third book in A Song of Ice and Fire, and the last several chapters I’ve read have shown me why I should never read spoilers. Huge twists in the plot. Incredibly major things happened that I did not see coming. In my mind, I’m thinking, “Holy crap! What the hell just happened?” I don’t want that feeling to stop, so I’m going to continue avoiding spoilers.

My Favourite Author Is Better than Your Favourite Author

I was surprised when I saw this article.  I had no idea this was going on.  I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, because fans can be very aggressive online and bash anyone who disagrees with them.  I can understand a little bit, because I’m a sports fan, and I’m a very loyal fan of the Edmonton Oilers.  However, books are a different kind of thing.

A Game of Thrones

vs.gardensofthemoon

 

 

 

 

 

 

In one corner, we have the author of A Song of Ice and Fire, the series that spawned the Game of Thrones TV series.  He is George R. R. Martin.  In the other corner, we have the author of Malazan Book of the Fallen, a Canadian author who goes by the name of Steven Erikson.  They’re both authors of epic fantasy that have very similar themes.  They’re both violent, militaristic, epic war fantasies.  They’re both incredibly long.  They’re both gritty and dark.  But there’s one big difference.  A Song of Ice and Fire isn’t finished yet.

I have read the first two books of A Song of Ice and Fire, and am currently reading the third.  I’ve read only the first Malazan book.  Although they’re similar in theme, they are totally different in atmosphere.  I find myself getting immersed into both worlds very easily.  I also find myself getting confused with characters if I’ve left the series for too long between books.  I’ve forgotten most of the character names for Malazan, and there are many.  They both have huge casts of characters.  They’re both pretty amazing series.

But the fans seem to be at war with each other.  They seem to think the authors are competing against each other, as well.  But according to that article, it’s far from true.  Erikson and Martin have talked to each other several times and are rather surprised about their fans’ behaviour.  I’d have to say I am, too.  In the world of epic fantasy literature, there’s room to enjoy both series.  You don’t have to insult others because they like a different book than you.  Since I like both, I can’t understand this feeling.  I’ve read books I don’t like, but I don’t declare war on the people who do like them.  Honestly, it’s not worth it.

So, if you are one of these crazy fans, I have one thing to say:  They’re just books.  Just enjoy them.  Your personal tastes are just that, personal.  You don’t have to get upset if someone has their own personal tastes.

Personally, I really enjoy Gardens of the Thrones by Steven R. R. Martin.

Winter is Coming…in Summer

Well, there goes summer.  Back to Westeros I go.

I’ve been feeling a lot of anticipation recently.  I’m nearly finished reading Moving Pictures, and my next book is A Storm of Swords.  Back to the world of Westeros and the coming winter.  It was just pure luck that we had a storm coming through today, so I had to take the opportunity to make this brief video.

It’s not often that I feel such a great amount of anticipation for a book.  I’m really looking forward to this.

What are you looking forward to reading this summer?

When Your Favourite Character Dies

Ever read a novel and the worst imaginable thing happens, your favourite character dies?  I’ve done that several times.

A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin is very well-known for doing this.  Now as a very popular TV series, named after the first novel, Game of Thrones is showing an expanded audience what it’s like to have many of your favourite characters kick the bucket.

You go through several stages.  Disbelief and shock, unable to accept that it happened.  You think that somehow they’ll come back.  You feel resentful of the author for killing the characters.  Finally, you accept that it happened and continue on.

Is it good for the book?  I think it creates a lot of drama.  For a series like A Song of Ice and Fire, it creates a feeling that anything can happen.  You have to accept that anyone can die.  Very few do it like Martin does.

I’ve read some others where not many die, but my favourite character dies.  That comes as more of a shock than the deaths in Westeros.

But what do you think?  How do you take the deaths of your favourite characters?  Please don’t post spoilers.