The pure satisfaction of finishing this book… not that I wanted it to end, but come on. This thing is 800 pages.
HOW CAN I CONVEY MY FEELINGS ABOUT IT?!? There’s just so much detail that cannot be passed over. I can’t believe how in-depth the world is, how you can read so many points of view and so many storylines and STILL know what’s going on. EVERYTHING is connected- you see a knight mentioned in passing, but his brother is at this other court and his sister is married to the current lord’s nephew. It’s insane. There could be no storyline, and it would be a masterpiece.
What I liked about it:
-I went into this worried that I’d have to skip a lot, but I was pleasantly surprised. Sex is definitely a thing, it’s mentioned (and not just mentioned, tbh), but nothing is graphic. It’s not lingered upon, just an accepted fact of life, and that I can appreciate. Having done research on the middle ages (the technology era that this is set in), it would not be realistic to omit it altogether. No judgment on this part of the book can be based on the television show; despite not having seen it I am aware of the raciness of it. The book is not porn, even if much of the show veritably is.
-The violence as well. As a writer, I can appreciate the portrayal of it- despite much of it being quite unsavory. It takes a special writer to be able to write like that.
-THE WORLDBUILDING. BECAUSE HOLY COW HOW DID HE DO THAT?!? As I mentioned above, there is so much history, so much politics, and so much EVERYTHING THAT YOU CANNOT JUST NOT APPRECIATE IT. Tbh, I’d put this along with Earthsea and Lord Of The Rings in the best-worlds-of-the-past-century category. BECAUSE SERIOUSLY.
-There is a lot of grey area in this. Like, no one is perfect, and DUDE THAT IS AWESOME. Because yeah, there are some definitely bad people in it, but there are also ‘good’ people that do bad things and I think that’s a good way to see life.
-This book doesn’t gloss over life. It sees it for what it is- a bit of bad, a bit of good, and the good doesn’t always win. I really like how it’s not going to give any false promises.
-It actually reads a lot like historical fiction- I could actually believe that the events could have happened. Sure, there are fantasy elements, but in terms of the writing style it reminded me quite a bit of Wolf Hall. I really liked Wolf Hall, so it brought back good memories!
What I didn’t like about it:
-I’m a sensitive pansy, so I do need to say that there was definitely stuff that disturbed me. A lot of awful things are accepted (the Targaryen practice of incest to keep the bloodline pure? Haha no ick just nope. And a lot of the Dothraki culture is just kinda… weird. And gross.) that are just wrong. Violence is a HUGE thing, and it is described. As a writer I appreciate the skill, as a human, I cannot condone it. (however I also can’t see how the book would promote it either, as a lot of critics have said. It is accepted as a bad thing, but it’s just that. Accepted. No one tries to change anything or whatever…)
-I never felt any true connection with any of the characters, minus maybe three. A lot just seem rather distant. True, some of the more antagonistic characters have tragic backstories, and you can see why they feel the way they feel, but still.
-It’s quite political. This wasn’t actually too much of a problem for me, having gone through a major (and not-quite-over) Plantagenet/Tudor historical fiction phase, but I can see how it might get a bit dry. It came dangerously close to that for me, but then something important happened or the POV changed and all was good.
-It was long. Like, freakishly so. I finished it in two days, but it certainly dragged at times and I was a little bit glad when it finished. But that might be because I really need to finish my physical TBR before November.
All in all, I really did love Game of Thrones. It might be a little bit before I get the next book (although I’d like to!), and I may have been happy to finish, but it really was good and totally deserves the five-stars. It is NOT a young-adult novel, and I probably wouldn’t recommend it to many teens*, but if you want to learn how to write fantasy, this is the book to read. There were DEFINITELY red flags, but the benefits of the worldbuilding and the writing style far outweigh the questionability.
*Maturity is definitely needed to read it. The violence is graphic, although not excessively so, and sex is not romanticized. It’s not a quarter as graphic as what I’ve heard on the show, but it is present. I’d probably suggest reading at the same time as a parent, but depending on the case that may be more for the parent’s sake!