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A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin

Read 23 May – 17 October 2019

I’ve watched the first season of the show more than once, so there were no surprises to be found in this book, only details. That made it a slog to get through, even as it matched my expectations exactly.

The book is fine, but most of its strength lies in finding out what happens — not so much in the flair of its style, or the inventiveness of its ideas, and certainly not in the very systematic, episodic structure that often threw me off pace.

On the one hand, it did give me what I craved: more detail and cohesiveness than the show could bear to sustain. On the other hand, there is a certain ’80s fantasy corniness in some of those details that the show did well to correct in its art direction. Why does everyone wear impractically ornate animal-shaped helms? Sure, make armor fashion a thing, but those appendaged helms just seem like they’d be a hindrance in battle, existing more as flavor text than as a realistic part of the world. They remind me of the “no capes” gag in The Incredibles.

Nonetheless, I am into it, and I plan to keep reading the books. As the story drifts from the show’s, I can only hope that the experience of reading it will feel less like a chore.

About star ratings

My ratings are subjective. I’m not aiming for a perfect ranking of comparative artistic merit, just trying to represent how I feel about stuff. Here’s what they mean:

Personal favorite. I simply love it, warts and all.
Something special. Highly recommended.
Good, but unremarkable. I’ll probably forget about it.
A waste of time. Not recommended.
Practically insulting. Soulless garbage. (Rare!)