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This summer I have been working on reading through George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series. The first book had been purchased on my Nook for a few years now, and I always found excuses not to start reading a long, extensive fantasy series. I knew that the books had grown in popularity, thanks to the televised version’s success on HBO. I came into the books with minimal knowledge, having only heard faint whispers about the content (such as how everyone always says “Winter is coming” in the book). I also should point out that I still have not watched a single episode of the television show, nor do I know if I will.

I thought it would be fitting to start posting the occasional review as I read through some books, and what better review than to recap the first three books in this highly regarded series? I have witnessed, firsthand, the greatness of Martin’s writing and can count myself lucky that my favorite character since Book 1 has not been killed (so far).

A Game of Thrones

It was a struggle for me, personally, to adapt to the way that Martin mapped out his book. I hated how each chapter changed the point of view to a different character, preferring the perspective of some over the others. But as the book moved on I started to get caught up in an endless cycle. At the start of a chapter I’d frown because it was involving a character that I was not particularly fond of. By the middle of the chapter I was sucked into what was going on. When the chapter ended, I found myself wanting more of that character to continue. That is, perhaps, one of Martin’s greatest successes with the book is making the reader interested in every chapter, even when the character is not a personal favorite.

The characters and the world come alive in the novel. It is, by any account, an excellent first novel in a series. It establishes a lot of the important elements without making the reader feel overwhelmed by the locations and cast of characters and the political alliances introduced. It is a novel quite unlike any other I have ever read. How many other sagas end their first book with the death of one of the established main protagonists?

A Clash of Crowns

This book took everything great about the first book, added in some new elements, and delivered a masterpiece. It introduces one of the most interesting characters with the Onion Knight. At first I was unconvinced about him, but by the end of the book I ended up liking Davos a lot. He is a hard character to dislike, possessing many admirable qualities.

If the Starks were the centerpiece of the first book, then the group of kings and their armies were the centerpiece of this one. It would be no small task to juggle writing a book of this complexity, keeping timelines and character locations/allegiances straight. But I honestly didn’t see any place where I noticed things being out of place.

In spite of being on the “wrong” side of things, I couldn’t help but grow to like Tyrion a lot over the course of this novel. He definitely stepped out into his own light as a character, displaying a lot of the clever wit and ability to play the game with the best of them.

A Storm of Swords

The Red Wedding. This book should really be called A Sea of Blood from All the Dead because there are a LOT of deaths in this book. He really does not hold back in this one, killing off the major and the minor with disregard. Yet all of it continues to push the plot forward, especially as many secrets and plots are uncovered or hinted at. Mysteries from the first book get some attention in here, bringing the wonder to an end.

I was completely shocked that Jamie Lannister became one of the characters who was featured with his own chapters. I could have bought into the idea of Brienne of Tarth right away, and for much of the book it would have shown the same things because their stories run parallel. But by the time he reunites with his father, it becomes a little clearer and I found myself showing some sympathy toward the character that spent most of the second book imprisoned.

Ygritte was an awesome character, and she made the chapters about Jon Snow a lot more interesting and fun. Because he knows nothing. 🙂

I love how the book wrapped things up, leaving many question marks to be addressed in the fourth book along with a trail of bloody (and not-so-bloody) deaths to get there. My favorite character is free from the Dog and is headed North (if you’ve read the books, you’ll know who it is. I’d hate to name them, in the chance that George R.R. Martin reads their name and decides to kill them off).

I’ll probably pick up the fourth book from the library on Saturday. I’ve heard the next two books aren’t as good as the first three, but I hope that I heard wrong.