The Scruffy Rube’s #CBR5 Reviews #28-30: Song of Ice And Fire Books 3-5

I’m officially on my victory laps after completing my annual half-cannonball. Now it’s just about setting a new personal best. You can keep up with these and all my reviews of other things at my personal blog

The last time I tried to review a book from George RR Martin I was pilloried as a twit who didn’t/couldn’t understand his genius. I freely admitted I didn’t, that I could be wrong and that I apologized for any offense, but all the tumult made me felt excluded, as if only those who adore Martin can review him.

Still, my wife, devoted both to nerdery and (against all odds) to me, encouraged me to pick the books up again. And after the season finale this spring, I did. Rather than write long reviews I’m boiling my thoughts down to one sentence each…may god/Martin-Uber-fans have mercy on my soul.

For those who enjoy saying “What-the-what?!??!?”: Storm of Swords

A dry first half lays the ground work for as thrilling a set of three hundred pages as the series has ever had, with monumental swings in momentum that turns the heretofore expected plot on its ear.

For those who wonder about the role of religion in politics and war: Feast for Crows

A less dramatic but totally riveting look at the depth and complexity of a few key characters (particularly the ladies), including  an incisive look at the faith & belief systems that have rationalized their desires. (These two books get three stars)

For those who are pot committed: A Dance With Dragons

By this point you need to know what happens next–even if several stories are numbingly repetitive, others are aborted mid-book and more seem utterly inconsequential–this book quenches that thirst. (This one gets the two)

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alwaysanswerb’s #CBR5 Review 46: A Game of Thrones by George RR Martin

#36I’m really doubting I’m going to add anything new to the decade-long conversation about A Song of Ice and Fire, so I’m going to put my whole review (and by “review,” I really mean casual collection of thoughts) under a cut. Continue reading

Lollygagger’s #CBR5 Review #37: A Song of Ice and Fire: A Clash of Kings by George R. R. Martin

I didn’t consume this book in the same manner as the first one in the series. It was on an e-reader instead of paperback, so that possibly had something to do with it; it wasn’t staring up at me from my nightstand, begging to be finished so it could take its rightful place on the bookshelf.

[Spoilers ahead]

As the title suggests, this book in the series focuses on the fights between Stannis Baratheon, Renly Baratheon, Robb Stark and Joffrey Baratheon (Lannister). Joffrey continues to be a little shit, Renly makes a brief appearance before taking his leave thanks to a creepy death fog baby, Stannis gets all eaten up by some wildfire (well, his troops at least), and Robb wins some battles and loses some he isn’t even fighting (sorry Winterfell). Theon is also a shit, although one can sort of understand how he came to be shit. I have little sympathy for him, but I can imagine a world where he wouldn’t make such piss-poor decisions. Tyrion, as Hand of the King, makes some great decisions, plays and nearly beats Cersei at her own game, and is rewarded with a missing nose.

The women continue to be complex but also frustratingly bound by duties. Cersei is a fascinating character, and one whose perspective is not readily shared, so she’s also a bit of a mystery. When she loses it, it’s interesting. Sansa and Arya are going about their own adventures, both devastating in their own ways. And Daenerys remains in search of ships, braving some pretty rough going to find people who may help (or may not). Jon is also still beyond the wall, Bran and Rickon are doing … things, and Catelyn believes they are dead.

Much like last time, I found myself speed-reading the chapters focused on Arya and Tyrion. I was less interested in most of the rest, although the chapters providing the perspectives on the Blackwater Battle were difficult to put down. The chapters from Bran and Jon’s perspectives were especially boring to me (I just don’t find the beyond the wall stuff that interesting right now; silly political infighting is so much more my speed) and even Martin’s great writing couldn’t keep me interested if anything remotely shiny or pretty were nearby to distract me.

One thing that was sort of fun was seeing things that didn’t show up until the third season of the TV show. Because I’m still catching up to that, my images are colored by what I’ve seen on HBO; I’m looking forward to book three because I know there are things in there that have not yet made it on screen. As for a recommendation – yes. Of course. Read it if you like the TV show. Read it if you don’t like the TV show. Just read it.

Scootsa1000’s #CBR5 Reviews 32-34: A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings, and A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin

Unknown-4This Summer, my two older kids decided to join the swim team at our local pool. Having no idea what kind of commitment that entailed, I agreed, and on the first day, packed a paperback copy of A Game of Thrones into my pool bag — for JUST IN CASE I had a few minutes to read.

Fast-forward almost 3,000 pages…I had no idea that swim team would take up so much time, and that so very much of it would simply be sitting. And waiting. And sitting. And waiting. By the end of the season last week, I had just about finished A Storm of Swords. But enough about the inefficiency of kids’ swimming…time to talk about the game of thrones.

Of course, we watch and love the HBO series. And I had been curious about the books for a while, wondering if reading them would help me understand some of the more complex storylines on the show. I could never keep track of who was so-and-so’s bannerman, and who was king 12 generations ago. But I wasn’t in a huge rush to read the books, because “FANTASY”. I’m not too keen on Tolkien and the like, so I doubted that Martin would have much to offer me.

Boy, am I embarrassed about that assumption.

I’m so glad that I finally dove into this mad, crazy, upsetting, violent, scary, sometimes beautiful, oftentimes hilarious, and all-around amazing world.

And yes, reading the books definitely helped me to understand some of the more detailed plots on the show. But the books are so much more than that. The themes of power, family, honor, and pride are written of again and again, and I find it interesting to follow along to see which characters have which traits, and which characters change over the course of their storyline — both for the better or the worse.

Sure, I have some complaints, but really, they are so minor.

The sheer number of characters is overwhelming. I find myself flipping to the appendix constantly. Who belongs to which house? What’s their sigul? How are they related to other houses? Argh.

And when I’m not looking through the appendix or using wiki to look up the details of a character I’ve already forgotten about, I’m looking at maps. I have no idea where anything is. Ever. I feel like I should already know how close it is from Riverrun to Kings Landing, but really, I have no clue. The maps help. And speaking of maps, why don’t I ever get a map of where the Khaleesi is running around, freeing slaves? I could use a map of her travels, because without one I can’t really grasp the distances traveled by her weary bunch.

However, in general, its been a pretty positive experience. I think Martin is a much more talented writer than I ever would have guessed (seriously, last night when I finished the epilogue to A Storm of Swords, I had goose bumps. That’s some good writing there.). Sometimes I get mad at him (hello, Red Wedding), but other times, I am sort of in awe of his insanity (Purple Wedding? Whee!).

I really enjoyed the first two books, but I think I can safely say that the third was my favorite. The last third of the book was pretty much non-stop batshit crazy, in a good way. I know I’m about to head into the least favorite book of the series, so I hope I’m still as enthusiastic about the Song of Ice and Fire when I finally get around to reading Book 5.

You can read more of my reviews on my blog.

Jen K’s #CBR5 Review #82: Aces High edited by George R.R. Martin

The first volume of the Wild Card series introduced a variety of characters, and the wild card virus, developed by an alien race. Once released in the US, it infects and kills the majority of its victims, but 1 in 10 survive. Some of them become aces, others jokers. The virus can give special powers (aces) but it can just as easily cause malformity or some other useless changes, and these people are referred to as jokers.

Full Review.

Rochelle’s #CBR5 Review #22: A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin

paperback

I love listening to audio books on long drives (and during presidential primary season) and I tend to do a lot of long drives in the Summer.  This year I finally got back to A Song of Ice and Fire.  And now I remember why I took a break.  Don’t get me wrong, I have loved books 1 – 3, but they are brutal.  Brutally brutal.  Creepily inventively brutal.  Not necessarily inappropriately brutal, I get that this is a brutal, violent world, but by Culthu, these books are brutal.

I am in awe of the way Martin has been able to keep so many balls (or severed body parts) in the air.  As he jumps from story line to story line I never feel like I have to get a refresher on what’s happening.  I never get the characters confused with one another, and I attribute that to excellent writing.   I have complicated feelings about almost all of the characters, again a product of great writing.

I am really looking forward to Book 4, but I’m saving it for next summer.  I need another break.

Lollygagger’s #CBR5 Review #33: A Game of Thrones: A Song of Ice and Fire Book One by George R.R. Martin

I’ve watched all three seasons of A Game of Thrones and enjoyed them immensely. My husband has read all five of the books; I had not heard of them until the TV show started. I usually don’t go in for fantasy books (nothing about Lord of the Rings/The Hobbit appeals to me), although I did enjoy reading and watching the Harry Potter series. I think I enjoy magic, and castles, and ridiculous concepts of honor; I just didn’t realize that there were books out there that had the things I like without the things I don’t.

I bought the bullet and bought the first book at the airport before leaving on my honeymoon. We were taking five flights total, and while I had a kindle full of fun books to read, I knew that for about 20 minutes at the beginning and end of each flight I’d not be able to access it. So I figured it made sense to have a physical book that I could easily step away from (because I knew what was going to happen next) and that was broken down into such small chunks that I could stop and start without getting lost. This fit the bill perfectly.

I loved this book. I loved the narrative device, I loved the character development, I loved the writing. It’s clearly difficult to form my own visions of people and places now that I’ve seen actors and sets assigned to them, but that didn’t take away from the book for me. In fact, I think it helped me keep everything straight in my mind, at least as much as I could. We learn about so many different people in this first book that I think I might have been confused if I didn’t have the TV show in the back of my mind to jog my memory.

As seems to be the case with most people I’ve discussed this with, my favorite chapters are the ones dealing with Arya, Daenerys, and Tyrion. I like Arya’s spunk, Daenerys’ steadfastness, and Tyrion’s self-awareness and humor. I’m not so much interested in Bran, or Jon, or really any of the other Starks, and Sansa. Oh Sansa. The women in this book are interesting and not one-dimensional (except perhaps Sansa, at least initially); the men are complicated and not all just excited to pick up a sword. And while there were many brutal scenes involving poor treatment of women, I don’t get a misogynistic feeling from the writing. Martin has chosen to set the book in a fictional world but it still has a lot of the same issues (expressed in different ways) as we have in this one. I look forward to reading book two, and anticipate that it’s going to be very hard to fit any other books in between now and when I finish book five.