Reviews: A Song Of Ice And Fire
- Themes: Sure, they're there, but irrelevant.
- Setting: Now we're talking. Lots of interesting ones, though a few bad ones seep in later on. The world as a whole is *coherent, and Westeros has an interesting set of societies. Many of the foreign ones are good too.
- Characters: Again, mostly awesome. Many of the early characters that seem week eventually become awesome, or dead. Jaime, *Tyrion, Theon and Sansa stand out for the quality of their arcs.
- Plot: Extremely good. See general comment for more.
- Craft: Each chapter is satisfying, each character arc, each book. Writing is consistently good, until the reader is fatigued by elongated arcs they don't care about.
- The first book is really good. The second is better. The third is fantastic.
- The fourth has a few issues, but generally does what is seeks to do: after the epicness of the third book, give a more character driven approach.
- The fifth isn't a waste of paper, but still a wasted opportunity. It had the three most popular characters - Tyrion (my own favourite), Jon (a good character who's human limitations shackle his potential. Or used to), and Daenarys, who I've enjoyed and liked less and less. From her tragedy in book 1 it is all downhill with her. Tyrion's arc introduces the actual best arc, then sinks to mediocrity. Jon's is good, and would be a fantastic subplot, but can't hold up as the meat of the book. Dany's is awful. Her supporting cast is generally uninteresting. The major characters are generally uninteresting, compared to the other plotlines. There are a couple of really bad parts, linked always to the East. The series is so sprawling that the bits so far from its main setting and premise would struggle even if intriguing.
- Hopefully the next book will return the series to its former glory. ADAD tried to be AFFC but with the main characters, but it was the minor ones who stole the book, apart from the ones who wrecked it. The two books could easily have been condensed to a sort of book 3 compromise, of a 1 and a half volume book, once the dross was cut.
Enjoyable for many, but I've given up.
After A Game of Thrones, I was expecting the greatest fantasy series I had ever read. After A Feast for Crows I wanted to write GRRM a strongly worded letter. That'd teach him. For a while I had agreed with the hype that this was an incredible and realistic series that defied convention and cliche. In truth it has the plodding pace and shallow melodrama of a soap opera set in a fantasy version of medieval Europe. Kings rise and fall, people get stabbed, ladies are courted, people get set on fire, allegiances change, people get shot, castles are taken, people get decapitated, and the plot advances with the speed of quadriplegic turtle. That may be fine for many, but I wanted a resolution one book, eight hundred lemon cakes, twelve slashed velvet doublets, and thirty-seven nipples ago. I couldn't even bring myself to read A Dance With Dragons. I'd rather not spend another 10 million pages being jerked around, especially since that one focuses on my least favorite characters. The critics, on the other hand, find it hard to shut up about this series. The most ridiculous praise I have seen for it is "'Reminiscent of T.H. White's The Once And Future King'." I suspect the goon who penned that absurd comment had only read a summary of the Arthurian classic, remembering that it dealt with kings and knights. In no way does Martin's blood-soaked, cynical cash-cow of a series resemble the humanist anti-war story that has been called (justifiably) the greatest fantasy novel of all time. I apologize for my vitriol, as I have nothing against fans of the series, but I cannot abide opinions that are completely fucking ridiculous, especially when they come from someone who is paid to review books. I mean, Jesus shit! How do these kinds of individuals even get a job like that? It probably involves rim-jobs, since that's basically what they do for GRRM as critics. That reminds me: the sex scenes are just pure unmitigated horribleness, especially with Daenerys. She's like fourteen. I'm sure even fans can acknowledge that that is fucking nasty. I'd better calm down. The series is certainly appealing to many people, but it isn't my cup of tea. By all means enjoy the books— after all, I'm just some curmudgeon on the interwebs going through a case of Hype Backlash. I've simply decided that the series is not for me and moved on now.
Epic Series to Sold Franchise: 11 Years to Screw Your Fans
Martin knows prose. His expertise of Voice is incredible; that's what made the series such a hit with fans and critics, delighted to have gritty, realistic epic fantasy. Unfortunately, somewhere between 2000 and 2011, Martin forgot what the hell it was about. The first book had a cohesive story; sure, there were cliffhangers for future volumes, but the story was entertaining. Book 2 was forgivably dry in the way of middle books for trilogies everywhere: Too much setup, not enough resolution. Book 3 rectified, it was delightful. Then came The Change. Martin originally released a book 2-3 years, but it was 5 years to book 4, another 6 years to book 5, which were originally supposed to be one book. Why were they so long, and why did they TAKE so long, compared to prior volumes? Martin's unwillingness to cut, which he has admitted. Fair readers, if you ever see an author UNWILLING to cut, run. Save yourselves. Martin split Planned!Book4 down the middle by character, giving fans their least-favorite characters in the book they'd waited 5 years to buy. To get more of the characters they wanted, fans had to wait an additional 6 years — over a decade in all. Disappointed with A FEAST FOR CROWS, I eagerly awaited A DANCE WITH DRAGONS. It was a disappointment akin to Star Wars prequels for this troper, and for similar reasons: The author's unwillingness to cut. Virtually nothing happens in book 5 except for major cliffhangers at the very end for all your major characters. Martin could get away meandering early in the series, because he was still world-building. We don't need it anymore; we know who's who, and what things are. We're just looking for the resolution to plots introduced as early as...oh, the prologue of book one. Dragging them out it one way to guarantee future sales and more seasons on HBO. But the series has degenerated into ongoing soap opera. The last event worthy of mention (were I telling the tale in oral tradition) happened in book 3.
The Jury is still out
This is an impressive and compelling series, very readable and approachable, despite its length. Characters: This is where the series really shines. Martin has created perhaps the largest collection of detailed and three-dimensional characters that I have ever encountered. What is more the characters are believable and their actions make sense to their characters and they grow and develop in believable ways. In the 5th book, however, a number of major characters seem(to me at least) to start 'spinning their wheels' about some thought they have and fail to progress, or grow, or learn from mistakes like they previously had. The World: Martin has created a fascinating world which seems both foreign to our own and yet very similar and understandable. In particular he incorporates 'Fantasy' elements very seamlessly into the world. The first three books give tantalizing hints and slowly parcels out information to build on. The 4th and 5th he seems to be focusing more effort on world building and has fleshed a good deal more out. The Plot: This is where things get tricky. Originally this was supposed to be a trilogy and especially in the first book one can see a lot of buildup for the threat from the North. However, the bulk of books 2-4, and a large chunk of 5, are dedicated to the political intrigues of Westeros and another character trying to learn how to be a good ruler, mixed in with the occasional hint of the greater danger which threatens the entire world. As far as I can personally tell, the problem is that the characters have taken over the story(Martin has indicated something similar) and though the 5th book seems to have the divergent plot threads coming together at last, 5 books in with 2 more to go and I have absolutely no idea what the point of the story is any longer, nor do I have any clue where it is headed. Twists and mystery are one thing, but I am so completely clueless I have some personal doubts that Martin himself truly knows where this story is going. I do love the series, especially books 1-3, and I sincerely hope I am wrong but at the moment the Jury is still very much out on whether this will end up as a Fantasy Masterpiece, ala Lord of the Rings, or simply a very well written and fascinating character study that failed in its initial promise to be something more.
A Feast for Crows
The first three volumes of ASOIAF are among the finest works of fantasy; an epic canvas of feuds, magic, betrayal, love, warfare and frozen zombies. However our relationship gets a little awry in this, the fourth book. Here I'll summarise with minimal spoilers: BRIENNE: The problem here is that we focus eight whole chapters on a knight's quest that we know from the get-go is a forlorn hope. Interesting stuff happens but not relevant stuff. The story cuts out just when it might be going somewhere. CERSEI: A whole ten chapters is given to watching a queen lose her bearings. Interesting,yes,but by this point we have little empathy for this bitch(in heat). Mostly a window to see how other characters are getting on. JAIME: He's a badass knight in search of a story. He finds it, but only near the end. EDDARD: Whoops, my mistake. SANSA: A teenage girl climbs down a down a mountain, when suddenly things get very interesting only to cut ou GREYJOY: A royal pissing contest leads to a surprising development that won't happen until the next book. BREASTS: Your need to read about breasts will be sated in every chapter. MARTELL: A redundant character loses the head he should have been using. Whole plot rendered meaningless by a cripple with bedsores. SAMWELL: Midget sex? Kinky. Incest? Agreeable. Samwell,even with his clothes on?....... My main beef with this installment is that as soon as any storyline gets interesting,it ends. This book is more a warm-up, a trailer, an appetiser with god-forsaken raisins in it. It's not to the quality of the prior three but it's not Crossroads of Twilight either. It's dissapointing but nonetheless I'd buy the next one as soon as it comes out.
A Clash of Kings
A Clash of Kings is a second installment which, while not as wham-heavy as the first or third books, is an excellent read that brings Westeros to life so vividly you can smell the death. (Minimal spoilers) Parts that are awesome: TYRION: The Imp gets a promotion and plays with fire. ARYA: Covered in dirt, hounded by soldiers and far from home. Unlike Bran or Sansa, Arya has an active role in the plot and a use for that knife of hers. VARYS: The master spy gets some sympathy and shows some serious balls. STANNIS: The closest person to a big bad. His most endearing quality is that he's a rule-abiding, pyre-lighting dick-head yet he's hardly a monster. DAVOS: Probably the only person with his head screwed on straight. Granted he doesn't call many shots until the next book but it's nice to have a decent sane man every once in a while. In regards to the pace it's quite slow in the first half. There are five or so threads that don't mix but do reflect on one another. New characters are introduced and existing ones are fleshed out. Some plots walk slowly in yards while others run in miles. In terms of action the story doesn't really lift off until a certain person bites the dust/meets the Stranger midway, and after that it's one awesome moment after the next. Having great characters, war, intrigue, grief, wonder, horror, wights, dragons, midget sex and a bittersweet ending, A Clash of Kings is an excellent installment well worth the 10.99 (Unless you're French and have to buy it in three volumes,in which case learn Hungarian). Scores 11/11