Thursday, 20 September 2012

Book 65 of 2012: A Game of Thrones

I'm almost up to date with my book reviews now, though I've got a few to post from the book tree books that I've been reading this year. The book tree is due to finish next month, so I'll get those all finished up and posted in the next few weeks.

Last year I watched most of the TV series of A Game of Thrones. I really enjoyed what I saw (basically every episode except the last one, because that was when we moved into our new house) and decided that I'd quite like to read the books. I took a look at them in various shops but they're such massive tomes that I realised I'd have to find a space on my shelves for them, so I put off getting them. When I got my Kindle I realised that this would be the perfect series to get on my Kindle, so Mr Click treated me when I passed my OU course. I've got this version: A Game of Thrones: The Story Continues: The complete 5 books (A Song of Ice and Fire) which comprises of all of the published books so far (the first five, in seven volumes).

Of course, my ebook version doesn't have a pretty cover. But it's got lots and lots of books which should keep me going for a while.

For those of you who've not seen the TV series or read the books, A Game of Thrones is the first in the series A Song of Ice and Fire. It's set in a fantasy world and each chapter follows a different character and is told from their point of view. This book mostly follows the relationship between the King in the south of the country with one of his subjects who rules in the North, Ned Stark, (though who isn't king). Originally the land was divided into seven realms which have all gradually pledged allegiance to the king (over many, many years). King Robert took the throne in his youth and a parallel plot follows the exile king and his sister.

During the course of the book one of the Stark children witnesses something which leads to an attempt to assassinate him, meanwhile King Robert asks Ned to be his 'Hand' (sort of second in command) and Ned and his daughters move south. Daenarys (the sister of the exile king) is married off to the leader of tribe; Ned's illegitimate son goes off to be a guard on the Wall. There's so many different strands to the book that describing it as a whole it quite tricky.

I really enjoyed the book. I'd seen most of the events in the TV series and it appears that the TV series stuck quite closely to the book, with the exception of just a few bits (though I'll have to wait to say exactly which bits were different until we get the TV series on blu-ray in November). The last few chapters were all very new to me because although I had a vague idea of what was going to happen, I was lost on the fine details.

I love the Stark family. There's something about them which is quite easy to relate to; they value family and despite their differences, they're quite close. Though I do think that Sansa needed a good slap for most of the book. Among my other favourite characters were Jon Snow (Ned Stark's illegitimate son) and Tyrion Lannister (the Queen's younger brother) who has some of my favourite lines.

In terms of the ebook edition that I read, it was great. I was very grateful that I had a slim 'book' in my bag instead of the big fat copies that I've seen. I do tend to read ebooks slower, and this was the case with A Game of Thrones. It was quite cool to discover that I could download the book onto the Kindle app on my iPhone and so read it on there, then sync it to my Kindle and have it recognise what page I got to. That's very handy for when I'm out somewhere when I can't take my Kindle with me (as was the case when I was on Red Cross duty and ended up sat in the tent with nothing to do in my down-time).

A slight downside is that you can't zoom in on the maps and they're so packed with detail about the places that the Kindle edition just doesn't do them justice. Luckily I was able to find an app (as well as various websites) that display all the same information and it was handy to have that open on my phone when I wanted to double check something, so see who a particular person was.

I did get a little confused about some of the numerous characters and places. Martin has several characters who are named after other characters, or who have names that are similar to other names. Plus there are various 'houses' and places which need to be kept track of. It's useful to have something to refer to to keep track of everyone. There's an Appendix at the back which explains who is who, but when I'm reading, I get a little bit annoyed at flicking back and forth and like to be able to compare side-by-side. Again, my phone came in handy here, though I was worried about catching a spoiler when I was looking at some of the sites I found so tried to stick to Wikis that would be spoiler-free.

I've really enjoyed getting into this series. I'm trying to pace myself with it to keep it lasting a little bit longer, but almost as soon as I finished this one I moved on to A Clash of Kings. I'm really looking forward to seeing the TV series again now, though we've just started watching All Creatures Great and Small so it's unlikely to be on the cards until the beginning of next year now.

""... My mind is my weapon. My brother has his sword, King Robert has his warhammer, and I have my mind... and a mind needs books as a sword needs a whetstone, if it is to keep its edge." Tyrion tapped the leather cover of the book. "That's why I read so much, Jon Snow.""Page 118

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