REPOST--Why loving A Song of Ice and Fire makes you want to rip your heart out and come back for more punishment



Source : Created by Olga Daniels.


Many years ago now I came across a piece of fantasy writing called A Game of Thrones.  I had never heard of George R.R Martin, but the book had a really cool cover so it grabbed my attention. I know attracted by a cover, how cliché.  (To the a-hole that lent the book too and never returned it.  I still have my daggers out for you.)

Let's get two things straight before proceeding.     

1.   I love Jaime Lannister. I have no idea what gave that little nugget away. Unsure if I could share him. I know we Saucy Wenches share our book boyfriends around, but um confession. It might be difficult to pry my limp fingers and naked body off him. But I would share then, I think.
2.     I’m not a Daenerys (Danys) fan. I can already hear the gasps of shock from some of you.

****Mild spoilers after the jump*****















So what got me on the series bandwagon?


From the first couple of chapters I knew I was going to be propelled into a world of high fantasy. After all, children with direwolves, what was not to love? Quickly I was thrust into a world where intrigue, drama, morality and immorality were all battling each other.  There was duty, there was honour, there was scheming, there was backstabbing, there was incest and there was death.  Early on you could hear the drummer was drumming to the beat of war as the factions began the battle for the Iron Throne. As the books progress the beat gets more frantic. The first book, A Game of Thrones, had all the marking for setting up a world about to implode and I felt I had to be there to know how it was all going to go down.  Picture if you will the kings aligned up upon the board with their armies ready to strike should any advantage be shown.  As each book went on, I became more and more invested in the characters. I had to know that they were going to be okay. I had to know if they would live or die. If my nerves could handle it.

The pervading sense of doom.


The whole setting of the books is that the long summer is over and now we have to prepare for the long winter.   The children in the series are often called the children of summer, for they have never known the devastation that winter can bring.  The landscape descriptions that are evoked by the novels shows are very diverse land.  There are varying religions, climates, familial ties and each has a part to play in battle, strategy and war.  

The early descriptions of a place called The Wall were intriguing as there was something otherworldly that lay beyond its boundaries. Imagine if you will, the footsteps of deadly forces that revel in the gloom and despair that a harsh winter can bring. Doom seemed to permeate over The Wall, sending out its tendrils to grasp anything within its reach. As winter starts to bite, the tendrils extend further South.  The Wall is the barrier between Westeros and the Others.  The Wall is the barrier to keep out evil, but the Wall is undermanned and under pressure. Even here at the Wall as events play out, you still sense that the real battle will be fought here and not down in Kings Landing which is where the traditional seat of power is.

You always get the sense that along the Wall it is always winter. And sometimes it makes me shiver just imagining the place and how cold it must be to stand at the top of the wall and feel the cold wind buffeting the Wall and men huddled around fires and wrapped in black cloaks to keep warm.   In the back of the men's minds must be the danger that lurks, waiting on the other side of the Wall. When the men go ranging beyond the Wall into where the wildlings are, you can hear the echoes of the dead. As each step is taken further North from the Wall, the sense of death lurking increases. Because death means Others.


“he remembered the dead coming over the stones with arrows in their faces and through their throats. Some were all in ringmail and some were almost naked…wildlings, most of them, but a few wore faded blacks. He remembered one of the Shadow Tower men shoving his spear through a wight’s pale soft belly and out his back, and how the thing staggered right up the shaft and reached out his black hands and twisted the brother’s head around until blood came out his mouth. That was when his bladder let go the first time, he was almost sure.” Sam Tarly – A Storm of Swords

One element that pervades the books is the sense of impending disaster and doom. The world is gloomy and to quote the Starks motto “Winter is Coming”. It always feels like things can’t get any worse and then they do.  Victory is quickly followed by defeat. Defeat, quickly replaced by victory as the author highlights so clearly how one wrong / one right decision can alter the course of the political landscape.  In the background is that it can take only one death and all the chess pieces will be scattered. Thus the chessboard is reset and  a new game is started.  Each character is a pawn on a chessboard battling for survival. And in this game, being a king is a deadly business for both the life of the king and the other players. For here kings die as easily as they are thrust into position.

The books centre on how astutely a person can play the game of thrones.  As with any game there are winners and losers. Some players are better at the game than others. Some players continue to grow from strength to strength as they gain more experience. Other players think they are winning the game, yet they fail to consider that while the old saying is “keep your friends close and your enemies closer”, the closer you keeps your enemies, the more easily they can stab you in the back.  Trust me, all players have some kind of weapon they can wield. So readers need to keep their wits about them. Yes the world is all encompassing, but don’t get too comfortable in your seat as right around the corner you are going to find yourself ten paces behind the game, or the person you have been backing is lying in a pool of blood.

Multiple Points of View. (POV)


There are a lot of points of view (POV’s) to keep track of and sometimes it can be a bit daunting, but it is so worth it.  One of the main reasons, I have enjoyed these books so much is the author’s ability to make the characters grey and I think the multiple points of view has helped to establish why George R. R. Martin is able to tell this type of story and it is a deliberate ploy to pull the reader into this world. There are characters I started out loathing – hello Jaime Lannister (I wanted you to meet an evil, torturous death after the first book) and Theon Greyjoy (I spent many an hour plotting your demise). The imagined deaths were slow, torturous and painful.  Here is where the true brilliance of the author comes into play. To begin with we are only shown some characters' points of view (POV’s) and hence our view of characters that don’t have their own POV is coloured by perception.  Once characters are given their own POV’s my empathy and, in some cases, my support for certain characters changed.  Case in point is Jaime Lannister and Theon Greyjoy. Let’s just say that if Jaime Lannister isn’t still alive when all the chips come out to play and with a certain woman, I won’t be happy.

 I think Jaime Lannister is one of the most redemptive characters I have ever read and I am a sucker for that.  This is not to say that Jaime Lannister is a completely noble person, by any means, but he is not the horrific person he may appear in A Game of Thrones. The ability to make the reader want a character to succeed after a very unforgivable action in A Game of Thrones, an action that would see many readers wanting to see Jaime Lannister impaled, is truly what makes this series one to treasure.  The multiple points of view help to layer the books so that you can see events from very different angles, and this helps to create the whole, complex world that the series is set in. Just a little side note for those friends who I am still trying to convince of the merits of Jaime, the love doesn't even start until Book 3, A Storm of Swords. Up until then, I wanted someone to thrust a sword into his supposed black heart.

Don’t get too comfy in your chair.


Just when you think you are getting cosy in your seat, an event will jump up and make you want to throw the book across the floor or start drinking copious amounts of wine. This might lead to some swearing saying “What the fuck just happened here?  

“Please,” she said. “He is my son. My first son, and my last. Let him go. Let him go and I swear we will forget this…forget all you’ve done here.  I swear it by the old gods and the new, we…we will take no vengeance…” – A Storm of Swords.

There are shocking deaths -hello the Red Wedding; maiming – how ugly can we possibly make characters, lost limbs galore, who needs a hand, a nose and what's a few scars? It almost feels like George R.R Martin wages a war on the reader of shock and awe.  He wants you to think that no one is safe and trust me I believe it that no one is completely safe. But once you have your favourites, it becomes a lot harder to handle if they die or are missing in action. Didn’t I already tell you these characters are real?   It is worth noting that the body count is high in this series.  As for all the characters it is never wise to assume they are dead, unless there is concrete proof, like say a head chopped off, displayed with crows pecking it. In this world it is best to burn your dead; otherwise you might be in for an unpleasant surprise. The last thing you would want is a bodiless hand or headless body trying to attack you. Could this happen? Yes it really could.

 

Why my Heart has been trashed.


You have to be prepared to have your heart ripped out. Mine, has been pulled out, staked, stabbed and put back in. I envy the people that have only just discovered this series given the success of the TV show as the wait between books will not be so excruciating.  When A Dance with Dragons came out, long-time fans had not seen some of these characters since 2000, with A Storm of Swords.  To say it was a long time between drinks is an understatement. But I keep getting pulled in each time the next book comes out, as I have to know how it will all end. Will my favourites still be standing? Jaime / Arya / Asha / Brienne / Jon / Bran and Davos. Will those I don’t like finally meet the sword or perhaps a dragon? Danys is on that list for me. (I know shock horror, but I did warn you I’m not a fan.) Cersei is in that category too, but that darn George R.R. Martin has even managed to make me have a tiny smidgen of sympathy for her. Does she deserve a bad end? Assuredly, but this is where the whole genius of this series boils down too.  Cersei is completely evil and often very unhinged.  Yes even Cersei gets a POV along the way and suddenly you are able to see more clearly how she was moulded into the person she becomes.

Will the king and I have children?” she asked
“Oh, aye. Six-and-ten for him, and three for you.” That made no sense to Cersei. Her thumb was throbbing where she’d cut it, and her blood was dripping on the carpet. How could that be she wanted to ask, but she was done with her questions.
The old woman was not done with her, however. “Gold shall be their crowns and gold their shrouds, “she said. “And when your tears have drowned you, the valonqar shall wrap his hands about your pale white throat and choke the life from you.’ - A Feast For Crows.

Thus when the reader is given a chance to look inside characters minds, it can be both scary and enlightening at the same time. 

Danys and Tyrion I want to see the pain (for the reader) end.


Danys and Tyrion, sad to say I loved them in Book 1 and Tyrion up to until he headed across the Narrow Sea. However since then nothing has really captured me in their stories, and since these two junctures in their narratives I've lost interest. I don’t care about Meereen. I don’t care about the slaves or the dragons. – Hey I love dragons with the best of them, but I still feel a bit like, what is the point of them in relation to this series and to Westeros? Perhaps the epic plan is that Danys will sweep in on the three headed dragon, along with two other Targaryens (one popular theory tends to suggest this might be Tyrion and Jon) and save the day. But I’m not feeling it.  Danys has been stranded there for too long and it is boring, boring, boring. I spent the Danys and Tyrion chapters of A Dance with Dragons trying not to fall asleep whilst reading them.   If the story across the Narrow Sea was napalmed I don’t think I would be too disappointed, except for one particular character that needs to get her butt back to Westeros ASAP. I now think the Narrow Sea is pretty much a death knell for an interesting story line. The action is on Westeros. That is the island and people I care about most. Perhaps once the series ends my view might change.  It is going to take a lot for me to back Danys to be ultimately victorious.  Yeah like a miracle.  If this happens then be prepared to see my heart trampled into the mud and Danys supporters doing a happy dance above me.



But by the time the series wraps up, I will have invested a lot of time and emotional heartache that to see Danys succeed to the throne might make me ball my eyes out. It might be wise to note here, I don’t cry easily when I read a book.

I don’t feel Danys deserves to be the leader of Westeros, although it doesn’t come down to who deserves to does it? It comes down to who can play the game better.  In my view there are others that would prove a better leader and yes that even includes Stannis Baratheon.  Please don’t shriek too loudly when you read that. Yes George R.R Martin (sorry, I can’t seem to say his name without saying the whole thing) as I raise my fist to you, you have made me like this character too. I am probably one of only five people in the whole world. No doubt we could have our own fan club. Contact me if you are interested ;). Although, I am a bit nervous about where Stannis story arc is going. There are many other characters whose leadership has more promise, however the scramble for the throne continues. Some may argue that Danys doesn’t have experience to guide her, that she is too young. Again this is the glory of this series. There is a character for everyone and we can all back our own candidates to ultimately succeed.  Much like a political campaign really.

Just a small note on the Starks. I can’t leave them out.


There are many different noble houses in the novels. From the Starks, Baratheons, Lannisters, Freys, Greyjoys and many more. Yet the Starks are, and always have been my favourite.  So you start your series off by introducing some cute kids, Robb, Jon, Sansa, Arya, Bran, and Rickon. They are very diverse in character and age and then you scatter them. It is almost as if you have a handful of marbles and then fling them as far apart as you possibly can.  The trouble is that I just want them back together again, somehow, some way.  Perhaps that isn’t the overall plan, as it seems that all the Stark children have their own destiny. And George R.R Martin’s vision of destiny may vary from mine. I am sure I will be satisfied with whatever conclusion he comes to.  I hope.  Some of the Starks have already completed their journey, while others are still on the road, searching for a way to make sense of what the gods have dished up for them.  My heart bleeds for this family when I know all that they have gone through and are no doubt yet to endure.  I worry, because I think the author delights in keeping me on my toes and killing characters when I'm not paying attention.

My love affair with the North.

The North is where my heart of hearts remains and as the story progresses the area I love the most continues to be torn apart.  Winterfell is an empty shell; there is fighting between the factions and still the dreadful walking dead are making their presence felt.  The marauding hordes have laid waste to much of the land and Winter is coming.  As players jump sides as often as you can change your underwear, it is little wonder that the devastation is plain to see.  As winter tightens its grip across the land, the future remains uncertain, the land divided and who knows how many more deaths, or in this series's case, presumed deaths the author has up his sleeve.  Oh wait I won’t know until 2018 at the current rate of writing. Just kidding. I am hoping that “Son of Kong” will be out before then. 
The Winds of Winter, I hope that when you finally make it to the shelves that many questions are answered and that it sets us up for the final book and a fantastic end to the series. You have taken me through the ride of my life so far and I can’t wait to see what is still to come around the corner.  
Will the The Winds of Winter hurry up already?
P.S Why oh why did the book covers change? I loved my first three covers and then in book 4 the theme wasn’t continued. Grr. I like my book covers to match thank you very much. The End as I could ramble on and on.

A Song of Ice and Fire

A Game of Thrones
A Clash of Kings
A Storm of Swords
A Feast for Crows
A Dance with Dragons
The Winds of Winter - to be released.

Sound off below. Let me know what you love about this series and what you hate. Who do you think will still be standing when the series concludes? Who do you think will be on the Iron Throne? Do you have a favourite character? Or a character you wish had been beheaded long ago?

Special mention to Zee the Terrible for taking the time to read through my post before it was published to the blog.

http://animated-gifs.tumblr.com/ - gifs sourced from.

Comments

  1. LOVE IT! You already know I agree with you on pretty much everything! And your post makes me want to go back on by vow not to read the latest one till the series is concluded! Agh!!

    Aww thanks for the special mention :* it was my pleasure!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Zee. Be strong. LOL the series will end hopefully in ten years. I am hoping it might speed up with the tv series, however I doubt it.

      Delete
  2. Wow, Angela! If this was only a review I can only imagine what it is like to read the series. Which I haven't. YET. But I've seen the show. I know, I know, the books are better. They always are. But I promise to read them. I'm too curious to not to. Though I have to say the TV show leaves a pretty good impression. Not like certain HBO shows with bottled blood. I will NOT go there.

    Favorite characters? Well I don't know, I love Arya (my kind of character!) and Tyrion, and Jon, absolutely Jon. Then this boring, puppy-eyed, blond girl became interesting and I think I actually cried when Khal Drogo died. That's when I started rooting for her. Now, I understand her journey isn't portrayed the same way in the books and that she isn't worthy of my worshiping but I'll wait until I read the books to get over it. If that's the case.

    A character I wish had been beheaded long ago? Jaime is certainly one of them. Again, I have to read the books to change my opinion here, because from what I've seen so far, that pig deserves a long sword thrust between his ribs. Oh, and Joffrey. Of course Joffrey. So young and such a sonovabitch and pain in the ass already! He gives me headaches!

    But I know I have to read the series. And I want to. Even more so now that I've read your post, Angela.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Olga. I am sure when you get to the books it will be so worth it. Yes the show is very good and you definitely get the essense of the books. The tv show has also been pretty faithful to the books, at least season 1, which is the only one I have seen so far. I love that you love Arya. She is wonderful and her story is amazing, but very rough and so many heartbreaking moments for me.

      You might still like Dany's. Like I said there are so many characters. I just find Dany's story very, very frustrating. You might see why if the tv series stays with the books, however as the tv series is only 10 episodes a season, I very much doubt the book portrayal of her will come across the same. It won't be the same torture.

      Whoa you want to behead my Jaime. LOL. Yeah he does come across pretty badly, but if you don't have a small amount of like for him after season 3 of the show, then the writers won't have done their job properly. Trust me. Joffrey, agreed. He is the most evil boy to walk Westeros.

      Oh a can't wait. Let me know in future if you get time to read the series and we can read together.

      Delete
  3. Love it Angela!! As I've told you, I've been listening to the audio books on my commute. I am 100% in love with Jon. I do enjoy Tyrion also, but I'm only on A Clash of Kings. I'm enjoying Dany so far. Also, I've suspected that Jon's mother was a Targaryen. The one mention of her in Game of Thrones mentioned she had purple eyes, like Dany's.

    I don't love Jamie yet, but since we like the same things, I'm waiting to fall in love with him.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Anne. So glad you love Jon. He is one of my favourites. I love his whole story to date and I suspect a similar thing to you re Jon. I just know you will love Jaime as you love the guy that isn't the main lead, however plenty of Jaime to come I assure you. I hope you do like him. Also glad you like Dany's. Honestly she is great in the first book, not to bad in the second, but I felt bored by book 3. You will have to let me know what you think once you have heard book 3.

      Delete
    2. Ooooh, I love this blog! A little spoiler here, a tiny spoiler there, and you've got a satisfied spoiler whore! So, Jon's mom is a Targaryen, huh? *rubs hands greedily* Sounds good. :D

      Delete
    3. Let's just say he might be a Targaryen. But my money is on it being his Dad not his Mum. Enjoy that little nugget.

      Delete
    4. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
    5. You just wiped off the satisfied grin from my face. Wha-...what do you mean his Dad might be a Targaryen? Are we talking about the same Ned Stark? Or he's not his real father? C'mon, Angela, answer that. Don't be stingy!

      Delete
    6. Okay just for you. No I don't think he is Ned's child. I have always hoped he really was, but I'm really doubtful now. However I still think he is a Stark.

      Delete
  4. Great post, Angela! love it.I read only Game of Thrones and though I loved it, I decided not to continue for now. It is such a complicated story with SO MANY characters and POVs, I want to read the series when all the books are out so I'll have a continuity of things, so I would remember who is where and where is who...Can't tell you who I love so far, too early, maybe Aria and Jon and about Jamie, you know that another Jamie has a hold on my heart

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Merit. I completely understand. It is a long wait between books for sure. None of this one a year business. Yes you can have Jamie Fraser and I will have Jaime Lannister. I'm fine with that.

      Delete
  5. Thanks, Angela! You're making me anxious for winter to arrive, when I plan to read books 2 and 3. I loved book 1 and I love the HBO show. I was thinking I'd read each book after each tv season, but I am so curious about why you love Jaime that I am determined to get through book 3 before taking any more breaks. I've seen many accolades from readers about Martin's ability to completely turn a character around, and I'm figuring Jaime is the character. So far, I think this is a colorful, sprawling, enthralling epic, which is my very favorite kind! But a LOT of people I care about DIE. It does hurt to read.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Claps hands with glee. Yes Kathi this is truly a strength of Martin's that characters you hate are suddenly not so evil. The magic way he is able to do this is via POV. Jaime gets POV in Book 3 and therefore that is why my view of him changed. And yes the character most people would say this is true of is first Jaime and I would think secondly Theon. Until a character has POV we only view them through others eyes and it just goes to show how much you really can't view a person by outward appearance and innuendo.

      OMG I so know what you mean by the deaths. When I watched Season 1 of the show, I commented to my husband. I had forgotten how many of these people would be dead after the first season and how many have died so far in the books. No one is safe it seems.

      Delete
    2. I wholeheartedly agree with you on the POV thing. I take the POV very much to heart when I read. I feel what the character feels.

      Delete
    3. I couldn't believe my eyes when they beheaded Ned. I kept staring at the TV in disbelief. How could they! I know, G. R. R. Martin actually killed him off and the TVshow guys just followed the book, but still!

      Delete
    4. I know, it was so shocking. That isn't the worst of it either. Trust me there are more jaw dropping moments.

      Delete
  6. Great post, Angela! You really make me want to read them, and so many others have recommended them too. I like angst, as you know (just not with my Ty & Zane), so the idea of getting my heart ripped out sounds like fun! I've heard that there are a lot of shocking deaths/events in the series.

    I didn't know that the Lannister was for ASOIAF! Also, I didn't know there would be more books. How many will there be total?

    "Early on you could hear the drummer was drumming to the beat of war as the factions began the battle for the Iron Throne. As the books progress the beat gets more frantic." -- I can almost feel the drama that you mean here. That's a really great description!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much Amanda. I hope that I do inspire people to read them. I know they have a lot more coverage since the tv show has come into existence. LOL yes there is plenty of angst and I'm still hanging out for a lot of resolution. There are a ton of shocks, especially in deaths that while beinf foreshadowed, often you don't realise there was foreshadowing until the person dies and then, I'm always like "Oh that is what Martin meant by mentioning that."

      There are meant to be seven books in total. Unsure if Martin will be able to complete it in that time as there are a lot of balls in the air so to speak, that he is trying to juggle. I hope only seven as would be great to have it conclude in the future.

      Delete
  7. The books are on my list, but were about midway on the list, until I read your post. The only reason I haven't started them is because they seem so overwhelming to take on. But now, I'm like--Bring it!

    I did skim through parts of your post. I've only seen the HBO show, and I didn't want to be spoiled on a few things, although I can't help but hear some whispers here and there from book readers.

    So, seven books in all? Five have been published, the sixth is on its way soon? And the seventh, who knows?

    ReplyDelete
  8. Veronica thanks. They can seem overwhelming that is true, but honestly I feel like a preacher, they are so worth it. My review is pretty spoiler free I think. I don't mention who dies. Yes seven in total. 5 published. Note the last book took 6 years to write. So that is why I was kidding about 2018 being the next one. I think this one will be quicker, given the tv series and he has a serious problem to try to overcome in A Dance with Dragons given events in the book and hence why Martin says it tooks so long to write as he could get it right for a long time. But it is probably one of the issues I have with the books as the problem was based primarily with events not on Westeros, but across the Narrow Sea where Danys is. But I doubt it will be here before 2015 as he has so many commitments. He might surprise me, but I doubt it.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Awesome review, Angela!

    I've read these books but it has been almost a year now since I first read them and I've read so much since then, I feel almost hazy about a lot of stuff that happens in them. Actually, I think this might have been the last book series I read in actual book form. It wasn't long after finishing this series that I got my Kindle and been reading on it ever since.

    Anyways, it is a really great series, but I figure by the time the next book FINALLY comes out, I'll have no clue what happened in the first five books and probably be moved on to something else entirely and not even feel like reading those mammoth books again. :( Which makes me sad cause they really are great reads. Honestly, if I had known how long it takes to get a new book in this series, I probably wouldn't have read it last year, but waiting until after (if!) the series is ever completed and then read it.

    As for my favorites..I'm totally a Stark girl...specifically an Arya Stark fangirl. SPOILERISH-- and if Arya and Jon do not reunite, I will cry. I'm more invested in those two's reunion than I am in who actually ends up on the Iron Throne or any of that other crap.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I can so understand what you are saying Lisa. It does take a mammoth effort to carry on with them. I just have to know what happens so am in for the long haul.

      I love Arya and yes she has to meet up with Jon, but at present I'm unsure how this would happen or if it can given current events. That Narrow Sea storyline has bogged Martin down unfortunately.

      Delete

Post a Comment

You Might Want to Read...

Dani Mega O'Malley: Superstar

When The Music's Over

So Many Questions: The Fever Edition

A Tribute to The Fiery Cross

Fangirl Friday: Jensen Ackles