Monday 7 September 2015

Review: Game of Thrones (A Song of Fire and Ice #1) by George R. R. Martin

Summers span decades. Winter can last a lifetime. And the struggle for the Iron Throne has begun.

As Warden of the north, Lord Eddard Stark counts it a curse when King Robert bestows on him the office of the Hand. His honour weighs him down at court where a true man does what he will, not what he must ...and a dead enemy is a thing of beauty.

The old gods have no power in the south, Stark's family is split and there is treachery at court. Worse, the vengeance-mad heir of the deposed Dragon King has grown to maturity in exile in the Free Cities. He claims the Iron Throne.

George R. R. Martin
George R. R. Martin was born September 20, 1948, in Bayonne, New Jersey. His father was Raymond Collins Martin, a longshoreman, and his mother was Margaret Brady Martin. He has two sisters, Darleen Martin Lapinski and Janet Martin Patten. 

Martin attended Mary Jane Donohoe School and Marist High School. He began writing very young, selling monster stories to other neighborhood children for pennies, dramatic readings included. Later he became a comic book fan and collector in high school, and began to write fiction for comic fanzines (amateur fan magazines). Martin's first professional sale was made in 1970 at age 21: "The Hero," sold to Galaxy, published in February, 1971 issue. Other sales followed. 

In 1970 Martin received a B.S. in Journalism from Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois, graduating summa cum laude. He went on to complete a M.S. in Journalism in 1971, also from Northwestern. 

As a conscientious objector, Martin did alternative service 1972-1974 with VISTA, attached to Cook County Legal Assistance Foundation. He also directed chess tournaments for the Continental Chess Association from 1973-1976, and was a Journalism instructor at Clarke College, Dubuque, Iowa, from 1976-1978. He wrote part-time throughout the 1970s while working as a VISTA Volunteer, chess director, and teacher. 

In 1975 he married Gale Burnick. They divorced in 1979, with no children. Martin became a full-time writer in 1979. He was writer-in-residence at Clarke College from 1978-79. 

Moving on to Hollywood, Martin signed on as a story editor for Twilight Zone at CBS Television in 1986. In 1987 Martin became an Executive Story Consultant for Beauty and the Beast at CBS. In 1988 he became a Producer for Beauty and the Beast, then in 1989 moved up to Co-Supervising Producer. He was Executive Producer for Doorways, a pilot which he wrote for Columbia Pictures Television, which was filmed during 1992-93. 

Martin's present home is Santa Fe, New Mexico. He is a member of Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America (he was South-Central Regional Director 1977-1979, and Vice President 1996-1998), and of Writers' Guild of America, West.


I originally wanted to read this series through the TV show. I never watched it, but my sister did. She was always trying to get me to watch it, but I refused because I always said "I want to read the book". Well Sydney, I finally did.

There will be slight spoilers in this review.

I was intrigued by the idea of this book and got really excited because I thought this series was finished. I thought it was six books long and I, for some reason, though that A Dance with Dragons was the final book. But now that I see that it's not I'm nervous. People are saying that George R. R. Martin takes really long to write these (which is understandable due to the length and depth of the novel), but I don't want to be 55 when I finish this series. So now I'm trying to take my time in reading the rest of the series.

My favourite character was Arya; she reminded me most of myself, especially when I was around her age. Very curious and a tomboy. Her journey was most exciting to me; she had sword lessons, she was very close with Jon, and she found a secret escape route of the castle. I must say I was angered with her ending in the book because it was so abrupt and even so we hardly got any of her POV through the book. But she was fascinating enough to keep me excited for her chapter.

I also really loved Jon Snow; I will admit that that was influenced by the show's actor, but can you blame me?

(No, he is not the little man with the bow and arrow)

He was most honourable and I really did feel sorry for him being born a bastard. I felt Jon and Arya deserved to be part of house Winterfell most due to their honourability and love of their family. Even though Jon was a bastard, he was still around Robb, Arya, and Bran a lot. They all seemed to love having him around but Catelyn wouldn't accept that. Oh no, not someone who might actually be better then her own children. Gosh, Catelyn bothered me the most in this novel. She had to be one of the most hated people I've ever read in a book. Remember when she told Jon he should be in Bran's place (dying and paralyzed)? It really should have been her.

Since I've finished explaining the characters I liked, I thought I should really mention Tyrion.

My sister loves him in the show (I swear, his hair gets better), and thought I might take a liking to him as well. I really don't know how I felt about him. He was funny enough, and I enjoyed his banter with others. He was also most smart and it was nice to hear about how Jamie really cared about him. Even thought Tyrion was an imp, he still had feelings, but he told Jon Snow to wear your flaws as armour and that seems like a great way to think of things. Plus he reminded me a lot of Gregory House when he was begging to keep his "pets", which were actually the people he picked up along the way on his journey. Which humoured me because of this picture:

Daenerys is a character I keep forgetting was even there because of the fact that all the stories intertwine with one another except for Dany's. The reader will see Tyrion in Jon's POV and Catelyn in Eddard's and so on. I felt pretty neutral about Dany, didn't feel any immediate love for her. She was just an okay character for me. I didn't like how she kept trying to command her khalesar to follow her even though she wasn't a khal. I get that she was his khalessi, but they need to move on. And little did she realize, but after khal Drogo died, she pretty much became her brother, Viseryes.

Sansa was just a pain in the butt; she was constantly blaming everything on everyone else. And stop with the Joffrey obsession! She didn't know him, not one ounce, and he was her "prince". Oh my prince this, my prince that. *shudders* It was real annoying after about three times of hearing it from her. She was ridiculous, but not the way George R. R. Martin wrote her; I'm glad he wrote her this way so that I could hate on her, like I do with her mom, Catelyn.

Bran was a character I enjoyed reading about because he wasn't always complain constantly and he enjoyed climbing (at least when he could). However, I was really sad that there wasn't a POV for Robb; I think I may have preferred that to Bran or even Sansa. I really hope that Bran remembers about Cersei and Jamie because that secret died with Ned.

Ah, Ned. He was another character that I enjoyed reading, however his POV came up too much for me. I feel that I may of loved Arya the most because her POV was like a rare sight. Ned was enjoyable to read most of the time, but sometimes I found myself having to re-read a paragraph of Ned's because the following paragraph didn't make sense. However, that's expected in a book as long as this one.

The Lannisters where annoying people as well (aside from Tyrion), but I must say that I need to applaud Cersei. She is very smart when she's on her own and can get herself out of a tight situation. I actually wanted a POV for Cersei as well as Jamie. However, I find it appalling that they sleep together because "they're twins". Ew, just no. But for some reason I found that I liked Jamie, even a little bit. So that may be why I like the Lannisters a little.

All in all, the story was great and I do plan on reading the second hopefully this September or October. Side note: the actors chosen to play each character in the show were greatly chosen.

Review: Outlander (Outlander #1) by Diana Gabaldon

The year is 1945. Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is just back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon when she walks through a standing stone in one of the ancient circles that dot the British Isles. Suddenly she is a Sassenach—an “outlander”—in a Scotland torn by war and raiding border clans in the year of Our Lord...1743.

Hurled back in time by forces she cannot understand, Claire is catapulted into the intrigues of lairds and spies that may threaten her life, and shatter her heart. For here James Fraser, a gallant young Scots warrior, shows her a love so absolute that Claire becomes a woman torn between fidelity and desire—and between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives.

Diana Gabaldon
Diana Jean Gabaldon Watkins grew up in Flagstaff, Arizona and is of Mexican-American and English descent. She has earned three degrees: a B.S. in Zoology, a M.S. in Marine Biology, and a Ph.D in Ecology.

She currently lives in Scottsdale, Arizona.


4 stars

I knew the inevitable was slowly creeping up on me. Yes, I've been putting off this review; I loved this book and I already know that I can't really put into words why I loved it or how much, but I will definitely try.

This book has turned into a TV series that plays on Starz/Showtime. I've gotten a lot of questions if I'm going to watch the TV series or not, but I don't think I will. I've had the same situation come upon me with Game of Thrones and like I've already told others, I prefer books. I like the fact that with books, you can imagine each character as you want to. I imagined Claire much different from the TV series, but Jamie is perfect in the TV series. It's a spitting image of how I imagined him.

Unfortunately I had some of the first book spoiled for me but it didn't stop me from really liking the book! It was like a big adventure and I really enjoyed the journey. Claire was a complicated character whom I disliked in the beginning; it wasn't that she was a bad character I just thought she was really boring. To be honest, I actually can hardly remember any of the beginning with Frank. Frank, who? Oh yeah, Frank, the guy you wouldn't shut up about. Honestly when I saw the picture of Frank online, all I could think is he dulls in comparison to Jamie. Seriously, who would you pick?

My favourite part of the book was when Jamie went "for a swim". He was trying to get the wheel to turn at his old home and ended up losing his red shorts. I found that humorous.

Obviously no one likes Captain Randall (or Blackjack, whatever you want to call him), but I especially disliked Laoghaire because of her... thing with Jamie. She frustrated me thinking they had this "special thing". However, I was extremely pleased when she saw Jamie carrying Claire, as well as when Claire told Jamie that he could be with whomever he wanted. He got so possessive and that pleased me even more.

I feel like it's important to discuss the "BDSM" or lack thereof in the book. I've seen multiple reviews comparing Jamie to Christian Grey and his "ways". First of all, this book is NOT sexist. Might I remind you of the era of the book? Way back when, women were punished for not listening. Men were too, differently then women were. This book does NOT have BDSM in it either. There's a scene when Claire is spanked, big whoop. It wasn't meant to be a sexual encounter; yes, Jamie was turned on. That doesn't mean that Christian Grey is a reincarnation of him. Most men would be turned on by doing something of this to their wife/fiancee/girlfriend. You know why? Men are visual and primal creatures. When they do something like this, it's something only they get to do/see. Outlander should not be thought of as demeaning or sexist.

I'm not trying to say that if you didn't like this book you're wrong, I'm just placing my opinion; I wouldn't call this book sexist because a lot of what happened in this book, happened in this era. Back then, it wasn't a big surprise if a prisoner was raped or beat. You would hope it wasn't happening today, but it does still happen, just not as common.

Anyway, moreover to the point of the review: I enjoyed this book. BUT... the beginning was a little slow for my taste. I had a difficult time reading the first 30 or so pages. I actually started this book about a month or two before I actually got into the book, and the reason I stopped was because I couldn't understand what was "so desirable" about this book. It bored me, and there were multiple times through the book that I had to go back and re-read a paragraph. However, you can expect that in a book as long as this one. That's the reason for four stars.

Honestly, I'm not going to be that person to say "everyone read this". It's certainly not for everyone, and I didn't even think I'd enjoy it myself. However, I have a Sydney to keep pushing it on me (thank you Syd). Anyway, if you like romance I recommend it. You might find you like the past times, you might not. But whatever you do, try your best to get past the first 50 or so pages because it's worth it.