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A Game of Thrones book club discussion open posted 27 September 2004 in Book ClubA Game of Thrones book club discussion open by legatus, Auditor

Bah, I ended up having to work both yesterday and today, and had precious little free time over the weekend for book discussion. Although from the looks of things, I didn't miss much in the way of discussion regardless <!-- s:P --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_razz.gif" alt=":P" title="Razz" /><!-- s:P -->

In any case, I finished reading AGOT late Friday, and I really enjoyed it. So much so that I've started reading the second book in the series now, and I'm already 200 pages in.

I felt the low fantasy setting was well suited to the story and lent a certain sense of authenticity to the book that might've been lacking had Martin delved more deeply into traditional high fantasy elements. The Others, the Children, dragons, giants and the like don't play a visible enough role in the story to break the illusion of them being merely creatures of story and legend rather than actual beings, and the same is true of magic. We hear about magic being used to forge weapons during the Age of Heroes, and rumours about those wielding it to the east and south of the Free Cities, but short of the encounter with the maegi woman near the end of the book, we don't actually come across any real magic, and I think this is to the book's advantage.

I do get the feeling that some of the more fantastic elements will play a more prominent role in the subsequent books in the series, with the Others massing above the wall and Dany's dragons growing to maturity, and possibly even an encounter or two with the fabled Children of the Forest. I'm glad Martin chose to limit them in this introduction to the series, however, since it made for a more human story of political intrigue that didn't require the suspension of disbelief very often, making it easier to get quickly drawn into the story.

Also, the focus on the human factions in the realm helped create a strong sense of deep history that could be easily believed and related to. And now that these core factions have been well established, an outside threat from above the wall would have all the more impact, and the reader could more easily share the character's sense of surprise and disbelief at the appearance of creatures and beings out of legend. Granted, I can't say for a certainty that Martin will choose to follow that story thread in book two, since there's still a lot of story to be told concerning the wars between the human factions, but I imagine he'll get there eventually.

In all honesty, I didn't really take notice to a lot of pointless, gratuitous violence in the books, so I certainly wouldn't call it overdone. Martin didn't dwell on gruesome details, and if anything, I found the battle sequences fairly tame.

And the sexual passages that come to mind most readily also seemed to serve one purpose or another in my view. Dany's first sexual encounter with Drogo, for example, made me wonder about what it might've been like hundreds of years ago (or even now, in some cultures) to find yourself betrothed to someone you don't even know, married, and all too soon thrown into the thick of things. Her young age only reinforced and strengthened the strangeness of arranged, politically motivated marriages (and the sexual baggage they entail) from my point of view, and served as a reminder that this was something common for these fictional cultures, helping to keep the setting in the proper perspective.

One thing I do wonder about is people's reactions to the characterisation of children in the book. After reading some negative commentary about Arya's character (I think it was her character at least) on the Author Q&amp;A board, I found myself reading her chapters fairly critically, but even so, I rather enjoyed her character. What is it about her that some people don't like? Same goes for the other young characters in the book, if in fact there are negative feeling borne against them. view post


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