Book Reviews

Book Review (re-edit): A Dance with Dragons, by George R. R. Martin. 2011. Book 5 in the Game of Thrones series.

A Dance with Dragons is book 5 in Game of Thrones Series, and continues the story in the aftermath of a colossal battle, the future of the Seven Kingdoms hangs in the balance beset by newly emerging threats from every direction. In the east, Danerys Targaryen, the last scion of the house of Targaryen rules with her three Dragon’s, as queen of a city built on dust and death. But Danerys has thousands of enemies, and many have set out to find her. As they gather, one young man embarks upon his own quest for the queen, with and entirely different goal in mind.
Fleeing from Westeros with a price on his head, Tyrion Lannister, is also making his way to Daenarys. But his newest allies in this quest are not the rag-tag band they seem, and at their heart lies one who could undo Daenrys’ claim to Westeros forever.

Meanwhile to the North lies the Mammoth Wall of ice and stone. There, Jon Snow, 998th Lord Commander of the NIght’s Watch, will face his greatest challenge. For he has powerful foes not only within the Watch but also beyond, in the land of the creatures of ice.

From all corners, bitter conflicts reignite, intimate betrayals are perpetrated, and a grand cast of outlaws and priests, soldiers and skin changers, nobles and slaves, will face seemingly insurmountable obstacles. Some will fail, others will grow in the strength of darkness. But in a time of rising restlessness, the tides of destiny and politics will lead inevitably to the greatest dance of all.

This addition to the Game of Thrones series authored by George R. R. Martin superb in its story line. Yes there are moments when things become complicated if the reader is not following the story line closely. However, in saying that, A Dance with Dragons brings forth many answers to questions pondered, and gives more substance to each of the characters as well as the story line itself. Fantastic writing once again from George R. R. Martin. I have to give A dance with Dragons a score of 9.5/10.


Book Reviews

Book Review (re-edit): A Feast for Crows, by George R. R. Martin. 2005. Book 4 in the Game of Thrones series.

A Feast for Crows is the 4th novel in the Game of Thrones Series, authored by George R. R. Martin, continues the story of the War of the Five Kings of Westeros, the fate of the Night’s Watch and those beyond the wall in the North, as well as the plight of the true queen of Westeros, Danerys Targaryen who dwells across the Narrow Sea in one of the Nine Free Cities. At least, that is the expectation. What in fact occurs in the book is the story of Westeros. Kings Landing, the river lands and the Eeyrie. The tales of deep deceit, treachery and distrust. Whilst the story of her twin brother Jamie is one of rebirth and readjustment to his new role and duties.
The beautiful blonde Cersei is at court surrounded by people she cannot trust, her father is dead, she is betrayed by both of her brothers and she fears constantly for the life of her young King. Fickle attempts to bind other wealthy and powerful families to her son’s cause have left Cersei with a council often torn by loyalty and ambition and as the book progress’s Cersei’s power over the court slowly ebbs away. Eventually she becomes so overwhelmed by fear and suspicion that even her wits seem to dwindle and she starts making rash decisions, and disreputable allies.

Jamie Lanister, a once feared and fabled knight now finds himself short of a sword in hand and back in King’s  Landing as the head of his bastard son Tommen’s King’s Guard. Although Jamie has long been wearing the White Cloak, he finds himself changed after the torments of capacity and torture; eventually leading him to make a secret pact to ensure the safety of his sister’s enemy for the sake of his own honor.

The stories of Jamie and his sister could not really be more different where Jamie is learning things he never knew about himself, Cersei is becoming more and more isolated. Her thoughts, though logical in her head, are outrageous and treasonous, whilst Jamie finds himself turned more toward the honor of knighthood. A man once feared for his deadly skill with a blade finds himself ending sieges without bloodshed and making treaties so as to save the lives of his enemies. In many ways the two stories mirror one another, whilst Jamie’s chapters seem sullied with secrets and deceit, they are peppered with almost pornographic sex scenes that only further the already soiled image of Cersei, whilst her brother’s head is filled with tales of knights and valor.

A third story which again stems from that of Jamie Lannister, that of Brienne of Tarth. At Jamie’s behest she is in search of Sansa Stark, who many believe is the last remaining child of Eddard Stark and Catelyn Tully. Blessed with Jamie’s own sword, now named Oathkeeper, Breinne travels across the lands of Westeros in search of any lead she can find. This part of the story is strange to read, as you are simultaneously reading of the true whereabouts of Sansa Stark. Yet with Breinne you meet characters you have come across previously, but now they are strangers to you. Gendry, the bastard of dead King Robert Baratheon, murderous madman Rorge and even the Red Priest Thorus of Mur cross your path and leave you wanting to shout into the pages as you know they have the answers Breinne seeks.

Meanwhile Sansa and Arya Stark, the Daughters of Eddard and Catelyn, are on opposite sides of the world. Sansa is in Eeryie disguised as the bastard daughter of Petyr Baelish, Whilst Arya finds herself in Bravoos, learning the ways of the Many Faced God. Sansa’s chapters are snow white and frozen ice, reflecting the chill within her. Forced to hide who she truly is Sansa feels almost overwhelmed by the weight of her disguise and with every sentence you can hear her true identity struggling in the cold depths of the mountain.

Book four in this series has to be my favorite so far. It brings together a long awaited possibility of war. A feast of Crows is amazing in its depth and detail, and pulls together parts of the story which have been gaping open with unanswered questions, and unfinished story lines. This book leaves open many creative opportunities that we all hope George R. R. Martin gives us exactly what the audience is waiting for. I rate A Feast of Crows 10/10.


Book Reviews

Book Review (re-edit): A storm of Swords, by George R. R. Martin. 2000. Book 3 in the Game of Thrones series.

A Storm of Swords, authored by George R. R. Martin begins with five kings battling for the right to the Iron Throne, whilst long lost magic’s are slowly reawakening. The story picks up a little before the ending of the previous book, A Clash of Kings, and opens in a Prologue of Men at the Nights Watch, “brothers”, devoted to protecting the realm of the Seven Kingdoms from dangers beyond the too foot wall, marking the end of the civilized world.
The prologue sets the tone for the rest of the book, defined by death, dark magic, and gut wrenching tragedy; yet even this does not prepare you for some of the pages that follow. We are reintroduced to characters known to us previously, but in a new light as many of them now given their own point of view. Most notably Jaime Lannister, a lethal swordsman, secret father of King Joffrey born as a result of the incestuous union between himself and his twin sister Cersei. Until this point Jaime Lannister has been one of the worst enemies of the Stark family, however, A storm of Swords provides an intriguing insight into his actions and motives, somehow worming his way into most people’s empathetic side.

Other chapters in the book are told through the eyes of the Stark children Arya, Bran, and Sansa and their bastard born brother Jon Snow, who is now a member of the Nights Watch. The children have been separated since the murder of their father, and the uprising of their brother Robb as King in the North. Arya is crossing the war torn Westeros, heading for Riverrun, where her mother and brother seek refuge in the castle in which Catelyn Stark spent her childhood. Sansa remains trapped in King’s landing, where she is forced to behave as though she loves and is loyal to King Joffery, and his mother Queen Regent Cersei. Bran and the youngest Stark Rickon, have separated and are both crossing the North in search of answers, whilst Jon is beyond the wall feigning loyalty to the wildling free folk in order to infiltrate the army that intends on breaching the divide between the Seven Kingdoms.

Further into Westeros Lady Catelyn Stark releases Jamile Lannister ina bid to send her servant Breinne of Tarth, a female Knight, to see him safely to Kings Landing and exchange him for her daughter Sansa who Catelyn believes is one of her two remaining children. At Riverrun Catelyn watches her son Robb conduct his army making brave and foolish decisions. These chapters allow you a wonderfully maternal insight into the war, where Catelyn, desperate and grief stricken, will do anything to reunite herself with her remaining children.

Robb finds himself wed to a young girl, Jeyne, breaking a promise made to one of the least trustworthy lords. in Kings Landing Tyrion Lannister is locked in a constant battle for power against his sister, which he finds himself at the losing end off upon the arrival of his father, Lord Tywin Lannister , who takes up the role of Kings Hand instantly. He begins by forcing marriage upon Tyrion and Sansa, in a so called attempt to forge peace across the shattered Kingdom. However, this simply leads to more tension and tragedy within the castle walls and death that marks a turn in the fate of Tyrion Lannister forever.

So much happening with one novel can make a very exhausting read. It almost becomes an information overload, in that George adds twists and turns to no end, until the readers head is spinning faster than a top. I even found myself re-reading parts to make sure that I kept up with the story line. A Storm of swords, the third in the Game of Thrones series is filled with promise of even more adventure to come. A mesmerizing read filled with intrigue and excitement, I give the book a rating of 9.5/10.


Book Reviews

Book Review (re-edit): A Clash of Kings, by George R. R. Martin. 1998. Book 2 in the Game of Thrones series.

A Clash of Kings, by George R. R. Martin, is a fantastic second instalment to the Game of Thrones series. It begins with Robert Baratheon and Eddard Stark dead; the crown resting with King Joffery. However, Robb Stark, Stannis Baratheon and Renly Baratheon all lay claim. The comet in the sky is seen as a sign of war and incest, fratricide and murder discolour the landscape. Winter is coming and the undead and Others are beginning to stir. Into this, from across the sea, comes the daughter of the Dungeon Kind to add her name to the list of pretenders to the Throne. With the disastrous and literally heart breaking conclusion to its predecessor, this book only continues the strife raging across Westeros, providing a total lack of end in sight.
The Seven Kingdoms have been plunged heavily into civil war. Five are vying for contention and naming themselves King, with none abiding the others. Stories and alliances are fracturing alike, and the reader is helpless before the onslaught of new characters, new plot lines, and revelations. As well as cliff-hangers that leave the mind reeling with the desire for more. The characters allotted chapters is increased to 9, promoting only one supporting character from book one to a fully-fledged lead, and introducing an entirely new character to introduce us to the inner workings of an entirely new plot thread.

Tyrion Lannister is once again one of the books highlights of the book providing a much needed breath of humour, as well as an intelligence that is not hindered by personal greed, ambition or idiocy. This in no way means that any of the other characters are a chore to read, but rather act in ways that leave the reader entirely certain they deserve to be smacked upside the head with a shovel! The sheer bastardry of some of the characters both introduced and returning is horrific at points. The loss encountered by some of the characters rends the heart stricken. Danerys Targaryen, who figured so powerfully in the first novel (especially in its astounding finale)gets little play in the book, occupying not much more than 100 pages of its nearly 1000. But her brief moments are crucial and point toward much more to come in future volumes.

This has to be one of the best written pieces I have had the pleasure of reading in a long time. George R. R. Martin is an author of note and promise of creative journeys ahead. I give the clash of Kings, by George R. R. Martin a 10/10 rating.


Book Reviews

Book Review (Re-edit): A Song of Ice and Fire, by George R.R. Martin (1996). Book 1 in the Game of Thrones Series.

The novel, A Song of Ice and Fire, begins with an encounter with supernatural beings; this may give a false impression as to what will come. As the story begins to unfold, the theme moves strongly into the area of political intrigue and this forthcoming war that will happen as a result. The fantasy element, while always there plays only a minor role in the majority of the rest of the book. A game of Thrones is not your usual fare, it is hard-hitting and bad things do happen to good people. Two families take centre stage in a battle for Throne; the Starks and the Lannister’s. The Stark family living in the cold hard north, Winterfell is the seat of their domain. We are, using chapters headlined with the family names introduced to the Stark family. Once we have familiarised ourselves with the Stark’s King Robert and his family visit them at Winterfell. King Robert is married to a Lannister, Queen Cersei. The King’s main reason for visiting is for Eddard Stark the honour of becoming his Hand (most trusted advisor). Eddard unhappily accepts and he must move to Kings Landing in the South.
Eddard Starks’s young son Bran is injured during the King’s visit, whilst this is originally thought to be an accident that occurred when he was climbing it becomes apparent that the Lannister’s played a part in this tragedy.

In an interesting sub-plot Jon-Snow, Eddard’s bastard son, joins the “Black” or the “Night’s Watch”, a company of men whose role is to guard a huge Hall of Ice in the far North. He is accompanied there by Tyrion Lannister, a dwarf. Although they do not become friends they end up with a grudging respect for each other. Once Jon has pledged himself to the “black” he must forsake friends, family, marriage and children and his whole life will be spent in the protection of Land. With Eddard now in place as the King’s Hand, tensions rise between himself and the Lannister’s. Then, as the Lannister are drawn into a battle for the throne.

It’s not until the end that the fantasy element once again returns and we left looking forward to the second instalment. With the promise of Dragons and deepening plots the first novel, A Song of Ice and Fire, authored by George R, R, Martin is a fantastic beginning to an amazing series. I have to admit I have enjoyed it immensely, and I have given it a rating of 9.5/10.