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dusted off in read-only


A Game of Thrones book club discussion open posted 24 Sep 2004, 21:09 by Grantaire, Moderator

Alright, this discussion is now open, and I expect to leave it open for however long people feel like discussing the book. Spoilers for AGoT are okay, but please try to refrain from spoilers about the later books (or at least warn people). Post your thoughts about the book, from general liking/disliking to specific thoughts about the book. Here are some sample questions to get y'all going: -Martin's use of history as somewhat of a parallel to his story. Did you enjoy that style? -The violent and sexual content. Did it add appropriately to the story? Or was it overdone? -The lack of some fantastical elements (i.e. no elves & dwarves, not too much magic). Did you feel that the sometimes lacking amount of magic detracted from the fantastical appeal? -Characters. Did you feel characterization was done well? Were the characters realistic, especially in the context of the story? Feel free to dive in :wink: view post

posted 27 Sep 2004, 05:09 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 :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&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

posted 28 Sep 2004, 16:09 by drosdelnoch, Subdidact

For me the main thing that I liked about this book was the characters mortality. the author wasnt afraid to kill people off and for many people it was a shock when one who was built up to be a major player gets his napper lopped off. I also have restarted the series again after I picked up the third book in the series. view post

posted 29 Sep 2004, 00:09 by Anonymous, Subdidact

I have to say I loved A Game of Thrones. Martin can write very detailed and believable characters. He is also not afraid to stray from genre "traditions," and in the process does a gust of fresh air into the fantasy genre and literature in general. This is no Lord of the Rings clone like so many other fantasy books out there, and no ultimate evil. Instead the "evil" characters are only "evil" because they simply look out for number one. I think the the "sexual episodes" of the books give a huge amount of detail about the chracters and because of this were kinda of necessary. I am thinking of Dany and Drogo and Tyrion and Shae. Without the episodes of Dany and Drogo we would not see the how the character of Dany changes from a very passive person to the strong willed person she becomes. Also the Tyrion and Shae shows Tyrion's ultimate weekness. view post

posted 01 Oct 2004, 18:10 by Alric, Auditor

On a few of the points... As a student of English history, I found Martin's use of the history of The War of Roses as a model. It allows Martin to get a firmer grasp on the grit and nature of a political struggle such as this. Toward this end, I think that Martin has made some brilliant decisions. Of all fantasy books out in recent years, Martin's has one of the best balances of political intrigue matched with moments of brute physicality. I enjoyed that. The fantasy aspects of this book... Well, I can understand why people would say that there was a lack, something missing to make this story and actual fantasy. However, the stark and fantastical prologue pretty much fixes the ultimate "other" sense in the reader's mind. That opening always stalked the back of my mind no matter how gritty and "real" the bulk of the action turned out to be. Martin is writting stories within a much larger story. Winter is coming, and there will be nothing mundane about this coming winter. Characters... I think the characterization in this book is the best out of the three. Let me break that into a few directions. The character that stands out most to me in the first book is Eddard Stark. He is both dynamic and solid. He is a man of action torn between his sense of friendship, his sense of duty and his love for his wife and family. He is quite excellently rendered. Also, the Imp comes alive as the book goes along. Now, I think the characterization in this book is the best because I think Marin forces his hand too much in later books, especially in some aspects with the Imp (battle prowess in the battle with the chains) and mostly with Arya. He is trying so hard to make us believe that she is a bad-ass character that it reeks of false effort. She is not consistent with what she does, thinks and accomplishes. As such, I tend to lose interest in Arya as the series progresses. The nature of the writing is strong in this book. The gritty focus on details and straight forward approach to telling the story wasn't over done in this book. In fact, it provided a great deal of the energy. It gets a bit overdone in the next two books, but that is a different issue. All in all, it is one of the best first books in a fantasy series that I've read in a long time. It helps that Martin was very much a vetern writer when he started this novel. It showed. view post

what i like posted 23 Jan 2005, 00:01 by ilana richardson, Candidate

what i really like about George Martin is the touches of comedy he puts into his book. I think that really makes the book more enjoyable. Writing funny dialogue is a gift and he's got it. Of course i love the series for alot of other reasons too :wink: view post

posted 02 Jun 2005, 01:06 by SymeonHaecceity, Peralogue

One of the aspects I thoroughly enjoyed was the *family* relationships. All too often in fantasy characters are orphans or their family relationships are nonexistant or background noise. In reality, we are deeply tied to our families, for good or for ill. The Starks, the Lannisters, the Greyjoys, the Targaeyans. Even PoN seems to be about orphans - Cniaur, Kelhus, Achamian and Esmi all are estranged from their families. The emperor has a rather *ahem* interesting relationship with his mother. Still, I think one of the things I like more about Martin's work over Bakker's is his depiction of the family romance. view post

posted 18 Jan 2006, 03:01 by OsRavan, Commoner

i'll add i dont think arya was supposed to be badass so much as psycho. I mean she clearly has her limits. shes not some super powerfull warrior, which is what i like. When you strip it down, shes just a confused, scared, lonely girl. view post

posted 02 Mar 2006, 01:03 by Diem Kaye, Candidate

I never really saw how Arya could be described as 'psycho'. Sure, she's a scared little girl, but you gotta remember, in the whole family of the Starks, only two of the children actually looked like Starks. Jon (and the guesses on his heritage are enough to fill out more than this thread) and Arya. And in the first book, Ned tells Arya how much he reminds him of his sister, because Arya obviously has the 'wolf blood' in her. We know little about the previous Stark's but we do know this much. People who had 'the wolf blood' tended to be badasses. Also, I think Martin is building Arya up to be much more of an assassin type character than a warrior. The only thing I worry about, is that the way the storyline is currently going, it's not like Arya will have anyone to assassinate by the time she gets back to Westeros. view post

posted 27 May 2006, 14:05 by Vox, Subdidact

When I read A Game of Thrones, I didn't think it was all that great. Perhaps it was because of all the hype that I had heard people giving Martin before I went out and bought it - I started with artificially high expectations. What I read then left me a little disappointed. A secondary reason could have been that I had just finished reading Midnight Tides by Steven Erikson (my favourite). Compared to Erikson, I felt that the scope of A Game of Thrones was far narrower, although of course as a first book it would not do to make it too broad. I quite liked the parallels I could draw between Westeros and Medieval England: from the War of the Roses to the Boy King on the throne, there was a counterpart in Martin's world to the reality in ours. On the cover of the UK MMPB, which I got, there was a quote: "Characters so venomous they could eat the Borgias". This was a very accurate assessment in my opinion, as I found several instances where a character that I assumed the reader was meant to sympathize with showed a nasty streak (Catelyn, for example). I found this quite refreshing: Martin seems unafraid to malign any of his creations. My major gripe with A Game of Thrones was the unoriginality of the characters. I'm sure people who haven't read this book have seen the following character types before: The tomboy who learns how to fight The siblings who are opposites The unfortunate who has to adapt to life in a foriegn culture The honest and naive man in politics The boy who struggles against his the circumstances of his birth The spymaster The duplicitous politician The king in the Henry VIII mold. These categories fit nearly everyone in A Game of Thrones, marring my appreciation of Martin's characterisation. As a result, the character I liked the most was Sandor Clegane, who didn't quite fit the stereotypes presented above. It may be a minor problem, but I also felt that the novel was focused a bit too tightly on the nobility: we don't get to see the repercusssions of the power struggles at the top of the feudal pyramid upon those on the bottom. I thought that might have helped the reader empathize with the story better. Vox PS. I posted something similar on the Malazan Board, entitled "So what's all the fuss about GRRM". view post

posted 29 Oct 2007, 21:10 by Mulliman, Commoner

[quote="Vox":16df063k] The tomboy who learns how to fight The siblings who are opposites The unfortunate who has to adapt to life in a foriegn culture The honest and naive man in politics The boy who struggles against his the circumstances of his birth The spymaster The duplicitous politician The king in the Henry VIII mold. [/quote:16df063k] Well, that can go both ways. As well as a story of political intrigue, aSoIaF is also a fairytale or a saga merged with reality. Martin obviously plays with all the clich├ęs of ordinary fantasy and tales: *The Good King who defeated the Bad King does not rule happily ever after, but turns out to be a drunken sot. *The Good Queen is a psychopathic bitch. *Her brother, the Good Knight, has an incestuos relationship with her, as well as being very far from a knightly character. *The Monster (Tyrion), is the only one with a bit of morality. *The Good Guy doesnt win in the end (Eddard). view post

posted 03 Nov 2007, 05:11 by Jamara, Auditor

What I love most about Martin's writing is it's pragmatic look on life. No one is purely good, and no one is purely evil. It's all relative to their view points. And as to whether the violence/sexual violence was too much or gratuitous, I think it is a fresh reminder of what it was really like back then. Imagine living, as a peasant, is a world where a noble out on a ride could force himself on your daughter and you could nothing about it because that was just the way it was. I think it gives a refreshing breathe into fantasy. I like to think of Martin as the originator of adult fantasy (granted I have not yet read Erickson, though it is actually hard to find him in a bookstore in the States). I don't think that when I was younger and just getting into the genre that it would have been appropriate to read Martin, but when I found him when I was older, it was very cathartic reading fantasy portrade in such a mature manner. view post


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