Admittedly, I was pretty late to the party when it came to the whole Game of Thrones craze. In fact, I only got round to watching the TV last summer, over a year after it concluded. It was one of those things where I’d heard so much good stuff about the show that I was convinced it wouldn’t live up to the hype. Boy was I wrong. I loved it. I adored it. It’s left such a last impact on me, regardless of how disappointed I was about some of the choices they made regarding the last season.
I loved the show that much that I recently bought all seven of the A Song of Ice and Fire books that are currently out and I’ve just finished the first one.
A Game of Thrones, the one the show was named after. I found myself in a strange situation heading into reading the book. It marked the first time that I was reading a novel, having seen its live action adaptation beforehand. Traditionally, I was used to reading a book series first before I went on to watch it’s screen adaptions. I’d done this with the likes of the Harry Potter series, the Percy Jackson series, the Hunger Games trilogy, the Alex Rider books, The 100 books and more.
I was surprised at just how accurate this book was in comparison to the TV show’s first season. Usually, you find the screen adaptations tend to miss certain areas of the novel out, but for the most part it matched the book identically. Sure, there were a number of characters in the book that never made it to the show, but other than that it was pretty much the exact same.
George R. R. Martin’s writing style is quite complex. I found it hard to come to grips with when I first picked up the book, but once I got used to it, it began to flow a lot easier. He’s got an eye for the details. He never misses a beat when he’s describing his characters and the world that surrounds them. I found myself so immersed in his world, with his descriptions painting the perfect image for me.
I loved the book. It took what I loved about the TV show and just amplified it. The world is truly sensational. Being an Englishman, it’s so clear the influence Martin has taken from my country’s history and it’s what makes me resonate with the tale even more. The characters aren’t the traditional good and evil you find in the majority of stories, but they’re morally grey. There’s people on either side of the conflict that you can relate to. Whether it be Ned Stark and his untouchable honour, or Tyrion Lannister and his quick wit and charm, Martin’s ability to write from the view points of such a wide and range of characters, including those of children younger than 10, is one of his greatest strengths.
That being said, there are a number of issues I find with the book. Some of which I also had with the TV show, but some I specifically found in the book. First of all, the whole Danaerys and Khal Drogo situation… *sigh*.
Trigger Warning: Talk of Rape and Sexual Abuse with Children
As I found with the TV show, Daenerys Targaryen’s relationship with Khal Drogo is one I found uncomfortable and at times infuriating to read. After being sold to Khal Drogo by her brother Viserys, Daenerys is forced to wed the warrior and he eventually forces himself on her. While this is uncomfortable to watch in the show, it’s much more disturbing in the book when you realise Daenerys is only a child in the novel. The show made the right call aging her up with Emilia Clarke, because there’s no way this sort of thing should be used. I’d understand if Khal Drogo was portrayed as some unbearable monster, but the fact that we’re supposed to believe Daenerys falls in love with her abuser and the couple are almost romanticized, despite her being underage is shocking to me. I really don’t know what Martin was thinking when he decided this was a good idea.
The use of rape in general is one I’m not fond of. I know this is supposed to be a book for adults, but there’s still something really uneasy about reading about rape. It’s not my cup of tea.
Otherwise the book is a really strong first entry into the A Song of Ice and Fire story and the ridiculously in-depth history Martin has crafted is undeniably impressive. Since finishing the first book, I’ve immediately picked up the second and find myself enjoying it just as much. Even if it’s without one of my favourite characters now. Eddard Stark, I miss you.