Mark Reads ‘A Game of Thrones’

Because I just have a lot of feelings that I cannot keep inside of me, I thought it would be fun to introduce one-off book reviews of things I am reading in my life that aren’t done in a chapter-by-chapter way. Plus, in my head, I sort of imagine that Mark Reads is a daily book club, so why not allow other books to seep into our reading rotation? So let’s discuss A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin!

WARNING: MASSIVE SPOILERS FOR THE FIRST BOOK IN THE ASOIAF SERIES, A GAME OF THRONES. You’ve been warned!

I don’t know that I’ve ever done this before, and I’ve tried searching my past to find an example, and I’m coming up almost empty-handed. I had heard my friends singing the praises of HBO’s adaptation of A Game of Thrones, but I’m inexperienced with fantasy books, and I hadn’t read a word of the series. I generally read books before I watch cinematic adaptations of the source material. It almost never happens in reverse. (Despite being a fan of Cormac McCarthy, I did watch No Country For Old Men before reading the book, and it is literally the only time I have seen an adaptation that inspired me to read the book.)

It wasn’t until my roommate told me that A Game of Thrones was like The Wire, but with dragons, knights, and medieval-style politics that I decided to give it a chance. I personally think that The Wire is one of the most perfect shows ever made, so once he said that, I knew that I might be missing something amazing. So, sometime around the time between the sixth and seventh episodes, I spent a couple days marathoning what had aired, then started watching it in real time, then had my heart RIPPED OUT OF MY CHEST AND STOMPED ON THE GROUND AND THEN GEORGE R.R. MARTIN FED IT TO HIS CATS OR SOMETHING AND WHAT THE FUCK.

I’ll get there. But the show was fantastic. Gripping. Like The Wire, it was like watching a long, fulfilling novel unfold before your eyes. Sure, it might be “slow” to start, but it rewarded you for every second you spent learning names, lineages, characters, and geography. It all mattered.

I told myself that I’d read the first book and then try to wait to read the second book during the second season but LOL NOPE, NOT GONNA HAPPEN AT ALL. But I knew that despite hearing how remarkably accurate the show was to the source material, there’s no way I could get away with not reading it, so I picked up that sweet deal on Amazon (first four books for $29.99 on the Kindle) and began to devote my BART rides to work and an hour or so a night to living in this world that George R.R. Martin created.

Reading A Game of Thrones after having watched the series was a bizarre experience, especially as I began to understand how the show IS the book. I think that partially helped me plow through it so quickly, as nothing ever seemed slow to me at all, and it was almost like re-reading a book, getting to spot foreshadowing and character arcs I’d not noticed the first time around. I love the tone that opens it all, giving us the physical and emotional idea of the Wall in the North. I love that the Others are introduced (HELLO, LOST) and then not seen again for almost six hundred pages. The technique casts a foreboding cloud over the entire novel and supports Mormont’s final message to Jon Snow: It doesn’t matter who is on the throne. The true evil lies beyond the Wall, and when Winter comes, that is all that matters.

The story told here is engrossing, for sure, but (and I’m sure I’m the last person in the world to state this) GRRM’s real power is in creating characters that are fantastically life-like. I really do like the comparison to The Wire when thinking about this book. We are dropped into the lives of eight people (nine, if you count Will, the man from the prologue), and Martin spends hundreds of pages developing who they are, where they came from, what sort of tropes and archetypes you think they might represent, and how they relate to the growing chaos of the world around them. It is an investment, in that sense, because Martin is a particularly pedantic writer. (And The Wire is inherently a pedantic story as well.) Why does he spend so much time in the heads of these characters? Why switch between so many perspectives, many times giving us the same scene from someone else’s point of view? For me, it gives this book a much fuller, more robust sense of urgency, a more complete view of a world that otherwise would be unimaginable to me.

And that’s the thing: I am not a particularly fantasy-seeking reader. I’ve read very little of the fantasy genre, and I’m sure my lack of familiarity with it is what kept me away for so long. It’s clear that GRRM has borrowed a lot from medieval history, from our own modern world, and from fantasy novels themselves. But this world is distinctly his, and for a fantasy book, I was lovably shocked how real this all was. In fact, at this point, aside from dragons, what else in this specific book couldn’t happen in our world? And I love that about it. It doesn’t distract from how grandiose and ridiculous it is at all, either!

But really, let’s just get down to the REAL shit. Can I just gush about my favorite characters? I just want to talk CHARACTERS because REASONS. List time?

1) Arya Stark

I don’t think it’s a big surprise that I (and probably many others) really enjoy Arya. Her fierce determination to subvert and separate herself from the rigid gender roles that this world forces her into is GORGEOUS. It’s honestly hard to dislike her at all, and out of everyone else in this book, I anxiously awaited every single moment that I got to be inside of her head for a chapter. I’ll get to Eddard in a bit, but having her father validate her feelings in a way by giving her lessons with Syrio Forel is just…god, it’s such a rewarding and fascinating character journey. She represents any person who feels like they don’t fit in, and who finds people who will allow her to pursue her own journey of happiness and acceptance. It’s even more interesting to contrast her with Sansa (who I’ve grown to enjoy quite a bit) because one wants the royalty and the pomp, and she’s the one who is ultimately disappointed by it.

Beyond A Game of Thrones, I feel like only a few characters have the potential for massive character growth, and I’d put Arya at the top of the list, especially as her fate is left in such a precarious position. (Is she REALLY going to the Wall???? OH GOD WILL SHE GET TO HANG OUT WITH JON SNOW omg please let this happen.) What I’m most concerned with by the novel’s end is how Arya will begin to find her place in the world. She’s desperately searching for it, and had all of Westeros not been thrown into civil war, I think that her training with Syrio would have provided her with that answer, or at least a much more steady path. (PS: Please let Syrio be alive.) And now, heading to the Wall, where she’ll see her best friend again, I’m hoping that Jon Snow can provide her with the positive leading that she really is looking for.

2) Jon Snow

HEY IS ANYONE SURPRISED THAT I LIKE THE DUDE WHO IS A SOCIAL OUTCAST AND IS MOPEY AND MISUNDERSTOOD. Yeah, you shouldn’t be, but GRRM does such a fantastic job of making us truly feel for Jon Snow, who never chose to be a bastard, but still must face the negative repercussions of such a reality. It’s why he and Arya are so close, because they both don’t want the life that they’re destined. The problem with Jon is that he can’t change the fact that he is a bastard so, like Tyrion, his journey is one of acceptance. He has to find a way to find his own life with that title and to own it the way that Tyrion does. It’s not necessarily spelled out all the time, but I have a feeling that the two understand and respect one another a lot more than is said. Or maybe I just want them to be friends?

I think that Jon’s experience as a bastard explains why he has such an empathetic heart. Despite the rage that flows through him (which is entirely understandable, by the way), he still manages to reach out to Samwell within minutes of meeting him in order to protect him from brutalization. Of course, their friendship is a beautiful, beautiful thing, but even if you look at the way he acts with others he cares about, you can see the same sensibility. Think about his gift to Arya, or the way he is so devoted to Bran. In a way, I think Jon doesn’t want others to experience the harshness of the world around them, so he does what he can to alleviate that.

I’m just excited to see how his role on the Night’s Watch helps him grow to love himself more, and I think that, ultimately, that’s what I want to see from his character in the future.

3) Tyrion Lannister

Literally the only Lannister I can stand, and for good reason. He’s hilarious, and he uses his lack of tact to his advantage. And for a Lannister, he is remarkably reasonable, one not prone to cruelty and heinous acts of selfishness. (Well…not all of the time, at least.) I read a review of the show that said it was all too “serious.” Okay, first of all, that’s literally one of the worst things to complain about in the history of complaints. Give that statement some context, for real. But even at face value, it seems that person wasn’t even paying attention: Tyrion Lannister serves to poke fun at the entire apparatus. I don’t mean to suggest that he exists purely as some meta commentary on fantasy or this book in particular, but he does operate to provide some much-appreciated breaks in tone, and it helps that it fits so well with his character. He doesn’t seem like a construction to serve a purpose. He’s very real.

There’s not much of it in A Game of Thrones, but Tyrion is clearly hiding a lot of emotional pain/scars behind his facade and I think Shae might be the first one to break through that. I don’t know how much will be explored in the future, but a lot of this book examines the way that he deals with people who are outcasts: Jon Snow, Bronn, and She are perfect examples of that.

Honestly, though, I get the sense that Westeros would be better off with Tyrion in charge, don’t you? Plus, his father is kind of a total dick to his son, so I’d love to see him either win his father’s respect, or maybe TAKE HIS PLACE. oh god THAT WOULD BE AWESOME.

4) Daenarys Targaryen

HOLY CHARACTER ARC. I mean, this is some epic shit. Even more so than Arya, Jon Snow, or Tyrion, Daenarys in born into a role that is rigid and intensely-defined, and she gradually becomes more confident, eventually breaking free of that system to become her own person. All of the characters in the Dothraki world are just fascinating to me, but her relationship with Drogo, Jorah, and her servants just makes me feel SO MANY GOOD THINGS. And I think it’s part of a greater sign for this novel, too. GRRM writes his women as those trapped in these patriarchal systems, but he finds these empowering ways to show how they can break from tradition to gain power, respect, and self-confidence in ways that I don’t think most fantasy novels do.

For Daenarys in particular, she’s a character who is thrust into a situation that is, largely, about fear. Even her narration right from the beginning is indicative of this, and it was wonderful to read those first few chapters of hers, knowing her end result, because you could see how uncertain, reluctant, and frightened she is. She feels like a product to be traded to strange men from a culture that she doesn’t understand, and all of this is through the vicious, horrific treatment of her brother. (HATE VISERYS. HATE.) But as she rejects the notion that she is mere property, one who cannot love who she is “traded” to, she begins to discover the power she does hold, both as a woman and as someone who does not accept the cruelty of the world around her.

Seriously, of everyone who is after the Iron Throne (especially by the end of the book), I’m most excited to see what Daenarys is going to do. By the end of her story, her gamble amounts to such an immeasurable loss, with her khal dead and the Dothraki abandoning her. The pyre she walks into is such a symbolic moment of self-sacrifice and cleansing, and Daenarys wakes from it to emerge as THE MOTHER OF THREE DRAGONS. Oh my fucking god, could that be the most amazing image to end a book on??? LOVE IT FOREVER.

After my top four characters that I instantly felt drawn to, I sort of felt that everyone else had something I either enjoyed or intensely hated. Catelyn’s character was fascinating to me because she chose to break off from her husband and do what she thought was right, and I respected her a lot for that. However, I despised the way she treated Jon, especially since…HE DIDN’T CHOOSE TO BE EDDARD’S BASTARD. I mean, I get that he is a physical reminder of your husband’s infidelity, but SERIOUSLY. STOP IT.

Eddard’s arc is probably one of the most tragic and depressing stories I’ve ever come across, especially since he fits so perfectly into the role as the sole moral leader in a mix of dastardly, despicable politicians. It’s even worse reading it when you know how it ends because IT IS FORESHADOWED SO MANY TIMES.

When I watched the show, I was certain that by casting such a huge actor in the role, it was a guarantee that he’d stay. There are few moments on television that have shocked me quite as badly as watching his execution at the end of episode nine. I couldn’t believe it. You can’t do that. He’s arguably the main character in the whole series! WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING?

But for me, it represented an important point: sometimes, you can do the right thing, but those with power will continue to do wrong. Sometimes, goodness does not prevail. Obviously, Eddard is a fool, and knowing his death was coming, you can see his missteps along the way. Yet the execution scene in the book is still just as unbelievable.

My heart. GRRM. How dare you do this to me. 🙁 🙁 🙁 🙁

Other Odds and Ends

  • I understand why we didn’t get to see the battle between Robb’s forces and the Lannisters in the show, but it was AWESOME to read it here.
  • King Joffrey is somehow even more irritating in the book.
  • They casted the PERFECT actors for Varys and Littlefinger. Also VARYS HOW DO YOU DO THAT THING YOU DO. Holy christ.
  • I thought it was kind of weird that Stannis is spoken of so much, but we don’t really meet him? Maybe in A Clash of Kings? Yes, I’d like that.
  • OH GOD I WANT TO SEE WHAT IS ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WALL.
  • I want a direwolf so badly. 🙁 🙁 🙁
  • WHAT IS THAT THING THAT ATTACKED JEOR MORMONT. A wight???? SO ARE THERE ZOMBIES IN THIS SERIES???? oh my god my head will explode.
  • Eyrie. EYRIE. So much terror and AWKWARDNESS (Lady Lysa’s son?????). I mean…ok, first of all, I love the concept of this castle built in a way to make it both impenetrable and horrific to get to, even if you live there. I love the idea of that unbelievable hole in the floor that sends men flying. And even though I felt awful for Catelyn, since she truly wanted justice for Bran, I was just amazed that Tyrion was able to use his wits to organize the trial by battle and get out of that. He just astounds me.
  • I’m interested to see how the true line of kings is dealt with in the next book. Will others discover that King Joffrey has no right to the throne? Or will the secret die with Eddard?
  • I didn’t really care for Robb until he was suddenly in charge of things. His relationship with Catelyn is so touching to me. I especially loved when she wanted to hug her son, but couldn’t because that is totally ~not allowed.~ HEARTBREAK.
  • So this book is ridiculously dense, and I’ve missed at least a couple thousand characters or plotlines, so LET US DISCUSS THIS IN THE COMMENTS.

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
This entry was posted in A Song of Ice and Fire and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

216 Responses to Mark Reads ‘A Game of Thrones’

  1. danger says:

    So this is the book you're reading after dark materials trilogy? Cool.
    Just tell me when you're starting A Series of Unfortunate Events. I've never heard of this book though.

  2. Clare says:

    oh my god. OH MY GOD. when I saw this in my twitter feed I screamed a little, not gonna lie. ASOIAF is just my literary crack and the beauty of how Martin subverts SO MANY EXPECTATIONS throughout the story (as exhibited perfectly in the tv version: when asking friends what they thought would happen they would often pinpoint what they saw as fantasy tropes and just assume they'd just happen according to trope) ughhh just perfect. I LOVE SEEING YOUR THOUGHTS. KEEP READING. BECAUSE A CLASH OF KINGS IS ONE OF MY FAVOURITE THINGS EVER.

  3. Katie says:

    I am so so so glad that the HBO series is encouraging people to pick these books up. I've spent god knows how many years trying to persuade people to read them, so it's really gratifying to see how popular the series is becoming.

    Also Mark, this might be obvious but still, stay away from any forums discussing ASOIAF. Seriously. At least until you finish A Dance with Dragons. There are so many hundreds of thousands of theories concerning the books that it's impossible not to get spoiled for something. Plus, so much misogyny and racism UGH.

    I'm curious though, who do you think it was that sent the dagger after Bran? Almost everyone I ask when they finish the first book has different answers, so it'll be interesting to see what you think.

    Although I have to say, I am just sitting here laughing at your optimistic predictions for the characters. You are so woefully unprepared. That phrase was literally invented for this series.

    • Clare says:

      I always think that when I see Mark's good old "you are not prepared" — it really, really was invented for ASOIAF.

    • xpanasonicyouthx says:

      oooh, i didn't think of that! I mean….Cersei or Jamie Lannister, right?

      DON'T TELL ME but that would be my #1 guess.

      • lunylucy says:

        Omg this reminds me, you should make a predictions post for each book before you start!!!

        • Clare says:

          I second this!

          • xpanasonicyouthx says:

            It's already done. I wrote them all down before starting A Clash of Kings and I'll put it up next week as it's own post. I wanted to have MORE ASOIAF for y'all instead of cramming it into one review.

            Also just FYI: About 75% of what I predicted is already wrong. I have never been SO WRONG in my life.

      • pica_scribit says:

        Yes! Make predictions! If you get even ONE THING right, I will be shocked and awed, because, you know, NOT PREPARED.

        • lunylucy says:

          lol he can guess "Tyrion will be funny" and "Jon will be emo" and "Arya will be badass".

          • pica_scribit says:

            Well, yes, I suppose that is true. He might also guess that most of the characters who survive to the end of the first book will still be alive at the start of the second book, and then some of them will die over the course of the series. But vague predictions are no fun!

            • lunylucy says:

              I know, I was just proving your point that he can only be right by guessing, like, characterization xD

    • feminerdist says:

      I am seconding the stay away from all message boards EVER, INCLUDING ones for the tv show. I picked up book 1 after watching the first episode of the HBO show, and tore thru these bitches. I'm somewhere in the middle of book 5 right now, and shit keeps getting real.

      But anyway, in the short amount of time I've read these, I have accidentally spoiled myself at least three times by looking at a seemingly innocent conversation about the HBO series. Then I'll see one phrase and be like "SONOFABITCH!!!!" So yes. Stay away from message boards. Or wikipedia. Or anything else.

    • monkeybutter says:

      Also Mark, this might be obvious but still, stay away from any forums discussing ASOIAF. Seriously. At least until you finish A Dance with Dragons. There are so many hundreds of thousands of theories concerning the books that it's impossible not to get spoiled for something. Plus, so much misogyny and racism UGH.

      Seconding all of this.

  4. pica_scribit says:

    Oh, Mark! You are making my day! I frickin' LOVE these books! GRRM is not afraid to take risks, kill of likeable characters, or make you re-think characters after a really bad first impression. As I sometimes describe the series to friends who haven't read it, just when you think you know what's going to happen next, GRRM turns the story upside down and shakes it.

    And by the way, Mark, your reading of these characters is so precious and fuzzy and naive. You are SO COMPLETELY UNPREPARED.

    And is Joffrey in any way NOT Draco Malfoy?

  5. bradycardia says:

    I'm with you on reading before watching, so while everyone was raving about the HBO series, I was devouring this book! I loved it, and am really looking forward to A Clash of Kings. Still haven't gotten around to watching the series yet though!
    I loved Arya (of course) although I fear Syrio may have sacrificed himself for her which is sad because he was most excellent. I really liked Robb, and how he was still tried to be Bran's big brother while trying to be the Lord of Winterfell.

    And yes, this is a story about even when good people do good things and are deserving, the bad people can still win, so no one is safe! Poor Eddard.

  6. cait0716 says:

    Hooray! I started reading this series because of the HBO show, too. Though I read the first book before the show started and then held off on the second book until the first season was over. (Now I'm about a quarter of the way through A Storm of Swords).

    I just love this story. I love how incredibly dense it is. All the political intrigue is incredibly well done. And there are just so many awesome characters. Honor and justice don't always win out. It's so heartbreaking the Ned's honor is his ultimate downfall. He just wants to do what's right, but he's surrounded by people who don't play by the rules. And then it's interesting to see that mix of honor and naivete in the rest of the Stark's. Jon's just so damn honorable up on the wall and Sansa really believes all the stories of chivalry she's been told. Sigh, I don't have high hopes for the Starks, as much as I want them to win the entire thing.

    I've started to pick up on allusions to Arthurian legends, which should have been obvious. Given the epic fantasy setting of this tale, there were bound to be some references to King Arthur and his knights. The strongest one I've noticed is Bran's wound. This appears to be a call to the tale of the Fisher King – the guardian of the grail – who was inspired by an old Celtic king named Bran. The Fisher King was wounded and unable to walk. So now I'm waiting to see if Bran has or comes into possession of some grail-like object of power. I refuse to believe that it's all a big coincidence.

    Personally, I think the ultimate showdown of the series is going to be between Dany and Mance Raydar. I predict that everyone in Westeros will fight and kill each other and reach some sort of stability just before they get invaded from the north and the south. This is mostly because I really, really want to see an epic dragons vs zombies battle. Dragons would totally win.

  7. HungryLikeLupin says:

    I have very mixed feelings about these books, most particularly as relates to the representation of the female characters in a lot of ways, but on the whole I'm enjoying them. (Have just started the third book, which my friends all say is their favorite in the series.) And though I wasn't totally wild about her in the beginning, I'm going to go ahead and take a not-terribly-popular position here and say that by the end of the first book Sansa had become one of my favorite characters.

    Yes, there's a lot about her that annoys me. But frankly, the scene that she has with Joffrey at the end, when he takes her up to the wall to see her father's head, is a moment of such EXTREME BADASS that I can hardly stand it. She flat-out refuses to give him the satisfaction of a reaction, and when she calmly asks him, "What would you like me to say?" it made me want to stand up and cheer. Sansa, I don't care what anyone else says, I love you.

  8. xpanasonicyouthx says:

    ALSO HOLY GOD AEMON. That reveal was like HOLY SHIT.

    • lunylucy says:

      AEMON IS ONE OF MY FAVORITE MINOR CHARACTERS. He's kinda like Dumbledore <3

    • pica_scribit says:

      At some point you should read GRRM's "short" (read: ~100 pages) stories about Dunk and Egg, which take place about 90 years before AGOT. Aemon features as a young side character.

  9. Jake says:

    Hmmm I didnt really get the love for Jon Snow….until I read A Dance With Dragons. Theres not even a spoilery reason for me liking him. I just suddenly liked the dude and squeed (sp?) with delight every time his chapters showed up.

    Also Clash of Kings is amazing! My favourite book in the series, well actually book 3 is my favourite because the first 500 pages are on par with 1 and 2. But the last 500 its like if you walked into your kitchen to make a snack and GRRM was waiting in the shadows with a frying pan and beats you senseless with said frying pan. AMAZING

  10. Kestrel says:

    Thank you for this beautiful gift, Mark. I always hoped you'd read this series. *tear*

  11. knut_knut says:

    I LOOOOVED Dany in GoT and then it all went downhill 🙁 But I also hated Sansa at first and now I love her….GRRM STOP PLAYING WITH MY EMOTIONS!

    • pica_scribit says:

      It sort of amazing to compare their character arcs when you think about the fact that they are probably not quite two years apart in age.

      • knut_knut says:

        hmmmmm they might actually be the same age… I'm not entirely sure though. I assumed TV!Dany was 17-ish and TV!Sansa was 13-15 but I think in the books they might both be around 13

    • Karen says:

      Yeah. I liked Dany in GoT, but meh. I just don't care about her anymore.

  12. pica_scribit says:

    And I just wanted to share my puppy, Sansa:

    <img src="http://pics.livejournal.com/skjaere/pic/0007f3p2"&gt;

    • knut_knut says:

      d'awww she's so cute!!! is she a lab mix?

      • pica_scribit says:

        She was a foundling who wandered into our yard in VA when she was about six weeks old. We were never sure of her parentage, but the vet's guess was a lab/foxhound mix. There were lots of stray hunting dogs in the county, and she has a very light, small build, so it's a good guess. She only howls when her dad plays the harmonica, though. She got named Sansa not for the character in the book, though, but because the name is close to both the Romanian word for "luck" and the Russian word for "sunshine". However, like her fictional namesake, she's very pretty, has a sweet disposition, and wants to believe the best of all people.

  13. elusivebreath says:

    OMG Mark yay!!!!!! I was sitting here idly checking the site while waiting for Mark Watches to update and I find THIS. So, so awesome. ASOIAF is one of my all time favorite book series' (and I have read a LOT of them), and one of the absolute best of the epic fantasy genre. I have a lot of ~feelings~ but I think most of them are spoilery so I will just say that we have the same favorite characters with the exception of one, but I'm not going to say who because I think it is a touch spoilery to even hint at why.

    I started reading these books in '95, I think? Somewhere around there, and only the first book was out, and it has been SO HARD to wait 5 years between books. Please please please let the next one not take so long!!

    • xpanasonicyouthx says:

      GOD THAT IS SO COOL TO READ. You started this when I was TWELVE YEARS OLD. Oh god, I can't imagine waiting FIVE YEARS for a book to come out.

      • Katie says:

        Five years? That's nothing. Because of the way A Feast for Crows and A Dance With Dragons were split up, some readers had to wait ELEVEN YEARS before they found out what happened to certain characters. I can't even imagine.

        • elusivebreath says:

          Yes, I am one of those readers. And I'm still waiting, since I'm rereading the series before I open Dance with Dragons, which is sitting on my coffee table TORMENTING ME.

          • lunylucy says:

            HOW DO YOU HAVE SUCH PATIENCE. Also man, respect for all that waiting, always. I only started reading these in 2009 so I've had to wait for ADWD about 2 years. TERRIFIED OF HAVING TO WAIT FOREVER AND A DAY FOR THE SERIES TO FINISH.

          • knut_knut says:

            your will power is amazing! I was in the middle of AFFC when ADwD came out, but I couldn't contain myself and started reading ADwD anyway. It didn't really matter though, since they go together anyway- it worked out well, actually!

        • xpanasonicyouthx says:

          WAIT EXPLAIN THIS TO ME. I DON'T GET IT.

          • Ryan Lohner says:

            Books four and five are split geographically, not chronologically, both covering what half the characters are up to in the same time frame (though book five is much longer than four and eventually overtakes it).

          • monkeybutter says:

            I don't think this counts as a spoiler, but initially this series was supposed be four (well, really three, but it quickly expanded to four) books, but then he had trouble when he went to write ADWD after ASoS, so he had to add in AFFC to fill in the gap, and eventually it became so large that he decided to split the book so that it only covered some characters' POVs, while others would have to wait until ADWD. Eleven years passed between ASoS and ADWD and some POVs. Hopefully now that he has ADWD figured out it will go faster. But I won't hold my breath.

            • xpanasonicyouthx says:

              AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH THAT IS A NIGHTMARE!

              • monkeybutter says:

                Yup, be thankful you (and I for the most part, since I only read these 3 years ago) didn't have to live through that. I also missed out on HP fan angst about the release of OotP. There's some good aspects of coming to things late!

              • Kelly says:

                You have no idea Mark….I was one of those people waiting 11 years.

      • elusivebreath says:

        Wow, I was 20ish? I feel so old 😛

  14. Natalia says:

    I'm like you, I read the book before watching things. I mean, I knew there was a movie based on One Day coming out and I rushed to buy and read the book before it opens (next week!). So yay.

    The books ruined the show for me!! I'd read the first two before the show came out and I thought the book was (ok , loooong) good, and I'm a fast reader so everything seemed to happen all at once but super slowly. I don't know, I just really liked the characters and was blown away by the setting and the plot. So when it was time to watch this story onscreen, I thought it was slow, it lacked passion, everybody was just mean enough!

    Sure, the show is really pretty and the sets and photography make me gasp, but I knew what was going to happen next and it took so long for them to show me those parts I really wanted to see (melted crown anyone?!).

    So that's my story. Goodnight!

  15. Lina says:

    Bran is also one of my favorites… I too read the book after I Watched the series on HBO. I will definitely be reading the others before they come out on HBO. I am worried though. It seems GRRM really likes to rip your heart out and then stomp on it. I feel as if this series drowns in despair. I guess we will see.

  16. Jessica says:

    alkjsdflkiajslkjs! I’m so happy you’re reading GoT!!! YOU ARE SO NOT PREPARED. And you probably already know that after everything that happens in GoT, but there is so much to come. Keep reading!!

  17. enigmaticagentscully says:

    YAY! I've just finished watching the show and I loved it! I totally started watching because Sean Bean was in it and I love him to pieces. (in hindsight, probably not the best idea in the world) and now I really want to read the book! But WHYYY did I not see that ending coming?? It's SEAN BEAN for gods sake. He's not allowed to live in ANYTHING.
    My friend has promised to lend me the book though! 😀

    In other news, I live a Daenarys Targaryen appreciation life.

    <img src="http://i55.tinypic.com/28h1u6v.jpg&quot; border="0" alt="Image and video hosting by TinyPic">

  18. Weston says:

    "OH GOD I WANT TO SEE WHAT IS ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WALL."

    NO NO YOU DO NOT D: D: D:

    • Jacob says:

      Yeah, there kind of is a reason why they built a 700 ft tall ice wall instead of, say, a picket fence. A reason other than how anachronistic that would be.

  19. sparkerworks says:

    I AM STILL WORKING THROUGH MY SANSA HATE don't judge me

    • Pitseleh says:

      JUDGING YOU (just kidding). It helps to remember she's twelve?

      • sparkerworks says:

        . . .Barely.

        I think a big part of it is that I am less fond of the parts of me that are like Sansa and strive to be more like Arya, so I am in love with the latter's character. The truth of Sparker at 12 was probably somewhere between the two: a bit of badass and sass, and a bit of dreamy perfectionism.

        The real world, however, beats that out of you rather quickly.

        • knut_knut says:

          it's funny that you say that because I know a few people who dislike Sansa for that very same reason (or something similar)- she reminds them too much of how they were when they were 13 and naive and dreamt of Prince Charming. I was never really into love stories and all that so that part of her personality never bothered me.

          • sparkerworks says:

            I think it's just the whole concept of unconscious expectations– we find we have many of those as we grow up and fail to meet them; Sansa just arrives at her party a whole lot sooner with Daddy Neddard's (my pet name for him) head on a spike.

            When you read Sansa you know she's going to be faced with realizing these truths of life and it's painful to have to contemplate, so you lash out with hate. And call out to the Heavens that she may have a Sassy Gay Friend intervention.
            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jnvgq8STMGM

    • takashid says:

      I dont blame you, for all the development she gets later, the fact that she told cersei about neds plan was so vile (even if it was not meant to be a betrayal) that i still cant completely love her.

  20. Becky_J_ says:

    I, for one, had to skip this entire post and all of the comments because I haven't read it. But I read the title of this post and I just needed to say that MY COPY CAME IN THE MAIL TODAY and I can't wait to read it and come back here and belatedly enjoy all of this loveliness!!

  21. monkeybutter says:

    A GoT review?
    <img src="http://i52.tinypic.com/wjazx5.jpg"&gt;

    It’s even more interesting to contrast her with Sansa (who I’ve grown to enjoy quite a bit) because one wants the royalty and the pomp, and she’s the one who is ultimately disappointed by it.

    Yes! I'm so glad that you like Arya and Sansa, because they are my favorite characters, I love the contrast between their personalities, and Sansa gets waaaaaaay too much hate from the fandom. I can't even talk about them because SPOILERS, so read more! I guess I can say, since it's also relevant to Dany and just about every other female character in this series, that they're a great way of showing how the world would be better off if women weren't treated like property. And, you know, that NED SHOULDN'T KEEP SECRETS.

    (PS: Please let Syrio be alive.)

    Haha, your mouth to the Seven's ears.

    I also didn't really care about Robb in the book (sorry), but the show made me like him. I agree, the hugging was the best part. He's still a kid and needs his mom, but he can't show it because he has to lead. Heartbreaking!

    <img src="http://i54.tinypic.com/2e1g8r6.gif"&gt;
    I disagree with one small point about Catelyn. She didn't really go off and do her own thing when she captured Tyrion, because she and Ned had agreed that they weren't going to let this go, and they thought that Tyrion was guilty. She took the initiative, but she was acting in accordance with what she and her husband had agreed was for the best of their house. I guess I'm only mentioning this because I think Ned should share the blame for everything going to crap (him and a million other people), but Catelyn gets the most hate.

    And on a related note, who do you think Jon Snow's mom is? 😀

    • elusivebreath says:

      I have so many theories on who Jon Snow's mother is it is not even funny O.O

      • xpanasonicyouthx says:

        Wait is that like…a thing? I honestly never considered it as important once.

        oh god ARE THERE THEORIES????

        • knut_knut says:

          SO MANY THEORIES

        • monkeybutter says:

          HAHAHAHA WHOOPS. Yeah, there are a lot of theories. And only one is acceptable, imo.

        • elusivebreath says:

          I don't know if it's *important* per se, but it is definitely something that gets everyone talking. I have one theory that just recently popped into my head during the show, but I haven't quite figured out the logistics of it yet lol.

        • pica_scribit says:

          This is a total thing. And yes, fandom has come to the consensus that there is only one right answer. Even if GRRM says it's wrong, we will continue to believe. ;p

          • FlameRaven says:

            I'm not really involved in SoIaF fandom, but my brief jaunt over on westeros.org led me to believe that the popular opinion seems to be R+L=J… if only because it has its own little code. Although apparently whenever this is brought up GRRM just smiles and says "that's an interesting theory" so… who knows.

            I have to say that that particular theory did not ever occur to me over reading three books, but my roommate figured it out on her first reading. It does make rather a lot of sense, although how anyone in-character would figure it out at this point I don't know.

            • drippingmercury says:

              I believe R+L=J so thoroughly I sometimes forget it's a theory, honestly.

              There might be some people who could verify it? IDK. Also, (Book 5 spoilers!): V'z ubcvat Oena jvyy frr fbzrguvat guebhtu gur urneg gerr. Htu, gung fprar jurer ur svefg tbrf gur jrvejbbq naq frrf Arq fnlvat "…yrg gurz tebj hc nf pybfr nf oebguref…" Nfvqr sebz gung tvivat zr nyy bs gur fnq sberire, V jnf nyy LRNU ORPNHFR WBA NAQ EBOO NER GBGNYYL NPGHNYYL PBHFVAF, EVTUG?!

              MARTIN WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO MY EMOTIONS

              • FlameRaven says:

                It's something I never would have caught myself, honestly, but it makes a LOT of sense.

                Creuncf. Rira vs Oena fnj fbzrguvat guebhtu gur urneg gerr, gubhtu, V'z abg fher vs ur pbhyq qb nalguvat jvgu gur vasbezngvba. Svefg, V guvax gur vagragvba bs gur puvyqera bs gur sberfg vf gung ur fgnl jvgu gurz sberire, fb V qba'g rira xabj vs ur'yy znxr vg onpx fbhgu bs gur Jnyy. Frpbaq… tvira ubj bayl Abegurearef frrz gb oryvrir va gur cbjre bs gur byq tbqf, V'z abg fher vs nalbar jbhyq tvir uvf ivfvba nal perqrapr.

                Vg'f cbffvoyr gurer'f n zvqjvsr be fbzrguvat fgvyy nebhaq, ohg tvira gur znffvir ivbyrapr npebff Jrfgrebf, V whfg qba'g xabj ubj yvxryl gung vf.

                • drippingmercury says:

                  Ubarfgyl V'q whfg or unccl gb xabj jurgure gur gurbel vf gehr be abg, rira vs Oena pbhyqa'g yrg nalbar xabj be qb nalguvat nobhg vg. Rira vs ab bar ryfr xabjf gur gehgu, vg fgvyy zvtug cebir gb or fvtavsvpnag sbe gur cybg rira vs Wba/bgure punenpgref nera'g njner bs uvf urevgntr. Oena, va uvf vfbyngvba, zvtug or n pbairavrag jnl gb erirny gung snpg jvgubhg cebivqvat gur pngunefvf zbfg ernqref jbhyq jnag sebz fhpu eriryngvba (orpnhfr gung'f whfg gur fbeg bs rzbgvbany gbegher Znegva ybirf).

                  V'ir ernq fbzrguvat nobhg ubj Ubjynaq Errq zvtug xabj? Pna'g erzrzore jul ur jbhyq. V thrff ur jrag fbhgu jvgu Arq qhevat gur eroryyvba, fb znlor ur jnf ng gur Gbjre bs Wbl be unq n terra qernz be fbzrguvat, VQX. V'ir orra ubcvat gung Errq zvtug or gur bar yvivat crefba va ba gur frperg.
                  …Gura gung yvar bs gubhtug znxrf zr jbaqre vs Zrren naq Wbwra xabj fbzrguvat, naq gung'f jul gurl xrcg fnlvat "ernyyl? Lbhe sngure arire gbyq lbh guvf?" nobhg Gur Ynhtuvat Xavtug/Gbhearl bs Uneerauny fgbel.

                  • monkeybutter says:

                    Yeah, I'm sort of banking on him being the only living person who knows, maybe Wbwra naq Zrren, too. I think GRRM has said that he'll never get a POV because he knows too much.

                    • drippingmercury says:

                      Argh, GRRM is so cruel. The fact that he'll never get a POV makes me think I'm right, but Martin is the king of cagey replies. Martin could just be toying with us. Maybe that character just "knows too much" in a general sense and his POV would be like univat Gbyxvra gnxr bire gb tvir hf n jubyr puncgre bs "Pbapreavat Penaabtzra" (not that I would complain)!

        • Kelly says:

          Many, many theories….and don't you dare ever google Jon Snow because you will get so many spoilers! Like people have said upthread….stay away from ANYTHING related to the series online because you WILL be spoiled (and that possibility becomes more likely since so many people loved the HBO series)

  22. FlameRaven says:

    Best surprise ever! I went to check on comments for Amber Spyglass and I get this instead! Awesome.

    Okay, so first the easy question:
    I understand why we didn’t get to see the battle between Robb’s forces and the Lannisters in the show, but it was AWESOME to read it here.

    It's because even HBO has budgets, and large battles are incredibly expensive to film. Everyone is hoping they scrape together cash to do some big battles in Season 2, but I don't know if that will happen.

    That said, the adaptation of book 1 was just amazing and really solidified the story in my mind. I found myself liking Tyrion a lot more than when I did when I was younger (I first read the books at 15), and I love Daenerys to pieces. She is so FIERCE. &lt;3

    Also, let Ned Stark's death here be a warning to you: NO ONE IS SAFE in these books. I often tell people that while ASoIaF has hundreds of characters much like Wheel of Time, GRRM keeps his plotlines in check by killing off characters. Lots of characters. Any characters, any at all. So you know… don't get too attached to anybody, is what I'm saying.

    I don't know if I can do a concise summary of my thoughts, it's all just awesome. I will read comments instead. <span class="idc-smiley"><span style="background-position: -12px 0pt;"><span>:D</span></span></span>

    • Ryan Lohner says:

      And Martin has stated that book six will be a bloodbath even by this series' standards. It's pretty much the only way this story can be wrapped up in just two more books, anyway.

      • monkeybutter says:

        Nooooooooooooooooooooo.

      • FlameRaven says:

        Mm, I kinda suspected as much. I mean (spoilers) Obbx 6 vf jura obgu Qnrarelf naq gur bgure Gnetnelra/gur Tevssba ner tbvat gb or znxvat gurve zbir gb Jrfgrebf, cyhf Inelf qryvorengryl guerj Xvat'f Ynaqvat onpx vagb punbf ol nffnffvangvat Xrina Ynaavfgre. V jvyy abg or gbgnyyl fubpxrq vs Gbzzra trgf zheqrerq nf jryy. Naq V pna bayl vzntvar gur punbf gung jvyy erfhyg vs Wba ernyyl qbrf ghea bhg gb or Eunrtne naq Ylnaan'f fba.

        • @RaudhrGarm says:

          Spoilers: V pbhyq frr Gbzzra qlvat rnfvyl hasbeghangryl. V unir n ovg zber ubcr sbe Zlepryyn, ohg erzrzore gur png gung'f orra sbyybjvat Gbzzra? Naq Neln'f vf orvat frag gb fbzrbar jub genvaf puvyqera…Jub qb jr xabj jvgu n ybg bs lbhat, ibvyrag oveqf? Bu, cyhf Png bs gur Pnanyf naq cresrpg bccbeghavgl gb grfg ure vqragvgl…Fbeel sbe enzoyvat, ohg gur cbvag vf gurer, nf jryy nf gung cebcurpl.

      • pica_scribit says:

        Last (wo)man standing gets the Iron Throne?

    • pica_scribit says:

      My roommate demanded to know, in the middle of reading the first book, whether Arya dies at any point, because if she did, my roommate refused to continue reading. Obviously I will give nothing away here, but I love how attached people get to the characters so quickly. Girls who grew up reading Tamora Pierce's "Song of the Lioness" seem to get especially attached to Arya because of her resemblance to Alanna. Yay, fierce little girls with swords!

  23. @amykins13 says:

    I am so excited you decided to read & write about these books. OMG. I just finished the latest book (started the first one a few weeks ago) and HOLY CRAP. Looking forward to your take on everything going forward 😀

  24. Karen says:

    CATELYN IS A GODDESS AND HATERS CAN GO TO THE WALL. I will defend her from haters until I cannot type anymore.

    There is a ridiculous amount of misogyny and sexism in the ASOIAF fandom and she and Sansa especially (but other female characters too) receive and undue amount of hate, but they are both in my top 5 favorite characters in the series.

    I just read the series for the first time back in March and it quickly became a major obsession for me. When A Dance With Dragons came out, I went to the Waterstones off of Piccadilly Circus and got my picture taken on the Iron Throne. I AM SO COOL.

    When I read this book, I literally had to put the book down and write a post full of ~feelings~ on my lj when Ned died. I LOVED NED. WHY, GRRM, WHYYYYY????

    • xpanasonicyouthx says:

      I mean, does some of the misogyny just come from fantasy fandom in general? I mean, I don't imagine that that is a "new" thing in this genre at all.

      fucking ned 🙁 🙁 🙁

      • Danielle says:

        Some. At least in other mediums (games, comics, etc) woman are often portrayed as busty, barely clad sexpots (see http://gomakemeasandwich.wordpress.com/). However, what's suprising is the amount female fan hate you get for them. Too many people I think see them as "weak" because that aren't Arya or Dany(or some of the other awesome female characters you meet later).

        • lisra says:

          Of course it's not fair to hold it against her that she's not like Arya or Dany.

          But isn't it fair to point out that she can be a very presumptuous and unfair woman, especially in the way she treats Jon?

          But ok, I guess discussing this is a minefield. And I really need my legs.

  25. SorrowsSolace says:

    So excited you're reading the series. I love Arya, Tyrion and Bran, they're all so well written and sympathetic. They also chose the right actors for the show. GRRM seems to be pretty good at world building and really makes you care for the characters too.

  26. birdbrainblue says:

    Okay, first of all, I want to say that I'm a HUGE fan of ASoIaF. The character development is honestly stunning, the attention to detail is jaw-dropping, and I haven't made this many audible squeaks, gasps and other noises while reading since the last few Harry Potter books. Seriously, I powered through all five doorstoppers in a week just last month. THAT IS HOW MUCH I LOVE THESE BOOKS.

    But at the same time, as a feminist the intense dehumanization of prostitutes in this series gets on my nerves. Not to mention the liberal use of hurtful mysogynistic terms like "c*nt" and "wh*re" as terms describing women. Yes, it makes sense in the context of the universe, but characters like Robert and Tyrion are rarely called out on how they treat women, and there aren't any negative associations with the use of those words. It's an uncomfortable issue hidden behind the intense amazing awesomeness of the rest of these books.

    • xpanasonicyouthx says:

      Spoilers for 'A Clash of Kings'! OMG I AM SPOILING ON MY OWN SITE I'M A REBEL

      V qvqa'g ernyyl pngpu n ybg bs gung va NTBG, ohg Gurba Terlwbl'f puncgre va gur ortvaavat bs 'N Pynfu bs Xvatf' vf whfg ERIBYGVAT. Yvxr gur jnl ur gerngf gung znvqra naq gur tebff grezf ur hfrf gb qrfpevor ure naq SHPX. V qvqa'g qvfyvxr uvz HAGVY guvf puncgre. Juvpu vf jul V ynhturq fb uneq gung ur jnf orvat n zvfbtlavfgvp, frys-pragrerq shpxurnq, naq gura ur fubjf hc nyy unhtugl gb uvf sngure, naq uvf sngure whfg grnef uvz gb fuerqf. SHPX LRNU, GUNG'F JUNG LBH QRFREIR.

      V zrna, V trg gung TEEZ jebgr gung fprar sebz uvf cbvag bs ivrj, naq Gurba gbgnyyl JBHYQ guvax yvxr gung, ohg lbh'er gbgnyyl evtug. Gurer'f ab bhgfvqr vasyhrapr gb fnl GUVF VF SHPXVAT NJSHY.

      SO YEAH.

      • xpanasonicyouthx says:

        GOD THAT LOOKS SO AWESOME.

        • @amykins13 says:

          Wait, how do I translate spoilers? I looked everywhere for info 🙁

          • michellenotprepared says:

            Yes, it would be helpful to know how to unscramble these comments. I don't read a lot of blogs or participate in many forums or anything so I have been trying to figure that out as well. Somebody help please!

          • Ryan Lohner says:

            Paste it into rot13.com; it's an ancient code made by moving each letter up 13 places, so in the 26 letter Latin alphabet it becomes its own key.

      • birdbrainblue says:

        UGH, THAT SCENE. Yeah, that's bascially exactly what I'm talking about – the dehumanization of women is accepted and even encouraged in a huge part of their culture, and nobody ever does anything about it. AGOT is definitely one of the better books when it comes to this issue, but I felt like someone needed to warn you. There's a lot of unacceptable misogyny in this universe and I've seen nothing about it in any of the reccommendations you've gotten for ASOIAF on this site.

        BUT THEY'RE STILL REALLY WELL-WRITTEN BOOKS, and you aren't prepared AT ALL. 😀

      • Dina says:

        Nu… ohg Gurba'f punenpgre nep… zbfg pbzcryyvat nep rire. Ubj pna nalbar fgvyy ungr uvz nsgre NQjQ vf orlbaq zr.

  27. joeldi says:

    I gotta say, I was really looking forward to more HDM today, but this is actually a good idea Mark. Next time throw us a warning so I know how excite to get each morning when I check out my RSS feed.

  28. BradSmith5 says:

    Oh man, I tried to read this, but the point of view just changed TOO much. As soon as I got introduced to one character, the next chapter forced me to start over fresh. This happened like five times! Does it ever end!? And the characters were too crude for me. And not Mark-funny crude, either.

    I'd watch the show, but I don't have TV. 🙁

    • @RaudhrGarm says:

      It works though. You get more invested in each character and thus more concerned about the eponymous game, even if they are to be on conflicting sides.

      Then again, considering how many characters and point-of-view chapters there are in the later books…

      As for watching the show, just wait for the inevitable DVD/Blu-ray boxset with those extras. Yum. If you're a law abiding citizen that is.

      • xpanasonicyouthx says:

        Both of them require time, yes, but having seen the pay-off, it is so worth it. I'm halfway through A Clash of Kings, and while it gets realer much earlier than the first book, it does follow a similar pattern. Yet I find myself breezing through it because I have faith that all the time and attention I give it will pay off.

        And basically I just hit the point when it has started to and oh my god my fucking heart.

  29. flootzavut says:

    I *think* I can safely say most will agree with me, although I am not about to say "I speak for us all", when I say that more of Mark Reads is a Good Thing (TM) and you may shower us with new reviews of random books whenever you should feel moved to.

    That is all 😀

    (avoiding temptation to actually read the review as I think Fire and Ice sounds like something I should probably eventually read…)

  30. stefb says:

    I almost bought Game of Thrones the other day, but decided on His Dark Materials instead, for now. I shouldn't be buying books at all and reading them, and instead I should be researching my honors senior project that will take up a year of my life, but what are ya gonna do. Also I buy more books than I can read in a reasonable amount of time.

    Just skimmed this briefly, as I'm not that incredibly worried about spoilers here, but I always wanted to start watching the HBO show—at first because uh SEAN BEAN and then I realized it was a fantasy story and in my experience FANTASY + SEAN BEAN = ONLY GOOD THINGS I MUST WATCH AT ONCE even if apparently there is tragedy everywhere.

  31. Lord Melvin Baelish says:

    You en't prepared. You though you wasn't prepared for Eddard's big scene (Ser Ilyn, bring me [A SPOILER]!), you ent no kind of prepared for book two, and book three will hargalblarglblargyoursoul. Seriously. It may not build quite as fast as HDM does in terms of everything happening at once on day one, but good gods, the stuff that's coming…

    As far as "You can’t do that. He’s arguably the main character in the whole series!" goes, there's no 'arguably' involved. He's had twice as many words as viewpoint character as the next highest count, and is, line-by-line the fulfillment of just about every heroic trope you've ever come across in epic fantasy – the Younger Son who had to Rebel against the Insane Evil Emperor, while standing up for Truth, Justice and I could go on, but I'd just end up copying the entire TVTropes wiki into this post. He's an awe-inspiring character. Of course he had to die. Otherwise we'd know that he'd just come riding to the rescue at the appropriate moment, the day would be saved, the taint on Saidin would be cleansed, and everyone would live happily ever after. This is not that fantasy series, and that's not how it's going to go down. As for how it is going to go down? Well, all I'm gonna say is this: You know nothing.

    Interesting note on favorite characters: the author has stated that Tyrion is who he would like to be, but Sam Tarley (Jon Snow's overweight comic relief sidekick, at least until [YOU EN'T PREPARED] goes down) is more like who he actually is.

  32. MidnightLurker says:

    I could not get past the first book.

    Not because it was bad — it was very well done — but because literally EVERY SINGLE CHARACTER WHO I LIKED AND THOUGHT WOULD BE THE MAIN VIEWPOINT PROTAGONIST DIED WITHIN FIVE PAGES OF MY COMING TO THAT CONCLUSION.

    OVER AND OVER AND OVER AGAIN.

    • FlameRaven says:

      That's pretty much how it goes. You think things are starting to settle down and then wham! GRRM kills somebody else important.

      I can definitely understand why that puts people off, but it's something I kind of like about the show. Life isn't fair. Medieval life is ESPECIALLY unfair and awful. Why should the protagonists be safe from the perils that affect everyone else?

      It certainly keeps things interesting.

    • pica_scribit says:

      Clearly you are attracted by impending doom.

  33. Radagast says:

    Hooray! So glad to see this come up, especially as I am RIGHT NOW READING THE BOOKS FOR THE FIRST TIME. I just finished book 2, so I look forward to Mark's post so I can discuss all my feelings and thoughts, and all the comments here have me both anticipating and dreading book 3.

    But I'm apparently reading this close to Mark's own pace, which has me unexpectedly giddy. Woohoo!

  34. celestineangel says:

    So, I have no seen the HBO series (I do not have HBO) and I am just about to finish A Feast for Crows and Mark, all I can say is:

    Never.

    EVER.

    EVER

    EVER EVER

    prepared.

    Ever.

    With that out of the way:

    Arya Stark and Daenaerys Targaeryn for President!

  35. Llysana says:

    Dear Mark,
    Please record yourself while you read A Storm or Swords. Seriously. I'm not joking. Seeing your expressions for that book would be PRICELESS!

  36. redletter_ says:

    Ok so, I'm about to start Clash of Kings and the only thing I want to happen is for Joffery to get STABBED in the FACE.

    By Sansa if possible. Then Tyrion for King because YES.

  37. Danielle says:

    AHAHA really? You thought casting Sean Bean meant that Ned would SURVIVE? One of the laws of cinema is Sean Bean Always Dies. Like Tim Curry, or Christopher Lee.

    • pica_scribit says:

      Ah, but Tim Curry and Christopher Lee almost invariably play villains, and villains almost always end up dead in anything remotely serious. Sean Bean plays lovers and heroes, from what I've seen.

      • FlameRaven says:

        Sean Bean was the bad guy in that one James Bond movie I think… but yeah, mostly he plays heroes and such.

        I did not even think about how his characters always die and how perfect that makes him to play Ned.

        • cait0716 says:

          When I was trying to convince my boyfriend to watch GoT with me, I really played up Sean Bean. So he made me watch Goldenfinger in return, for Sean Bean, and he died before the opening credits! I was convinced he was trolling me.

  38. redletter_ says:

    And if I feel in need of a pick-me-up, this video makes everthing better.

    [youtube fUS2LSJR22k http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fUS2LSJR22k youtube]

  39. kate says:

    YES! so sad you aren't doing them chapter by chapter, but still very excited to hear your thoughts!

  40. kate says:

    also, this! a hilarious comparison of how hermoine, bella swan, and danaerys deal with heart break.
    http://dl.dropbox.com/u/4222914/Pics/daenerys.png

    • FlameRaven says:

      The Daenerys one doesn't even do her justice, either. I cremated my husband, burned alive the woman who killed my husband and child, lit myself on fire and resurrected THREE dragons from eggs turned to stone. Then I made myself a queen and went to go conquer some shit.

      That's pretty much my only quibble with the HBO scene of the end– it's so much more dramatic in the book when Daenerys asks Drogo's bodyguards to declare for her and they're all "Khaleesi, you are awesome, but you're a woman, it can't be done." And then she WALKS OUT OF A GODDAMN FIRE with dragons and they're like "Nevermind, we are blood of your blood, what do you want us to do?"

      Although badass as Daenerys is, there is definitely some wild desperation in her in those last scenes. The repetition of If I look back I am lost especially seemed to me to show that she was just… not thinking about anything she was doing, because if she stopped and thought, she would break down completely and utterly.

  41. Marie the Bookwyrm says:

    Oh, yay Mark! I just re-read the whole series in preparation for A Dance With Dragons (which I just finished a week or so ago). So I was quite happy when I checked your site and spotted this.

    Oh, Sansa! I didn't hate her, but through most of the first book I thought she was an incredible ninny! And how the heck did Catelyn, who seems fairly sensible, raise a daughter like her!?! Of course by the end of the first book she got a harsh dose of reality, and since then I like her better. Although she's still not one of my favorites, I am interested in what's happening to her.

  42. Many Rainbows says:

    OK, considering that tonight at church someone mentioned (and recommended) this series, and then I look here and see you talking about it.. I may just have to buy the books. damn you feeding my book addiction! But alas, I am still working my way through some of the Tarzan novels. Should I drop them to read this once i can afford them?

    • birdbrainblue says:

      Someone recommended these to you at church?

      Wow, color me surprised. That must be a pretty cool church.

  43. K-mon says:

    BRB SCREAMING IN JOY RIGHT NOW.

    You know, I picked up Twilight when HP ended to fill the hole left in my life. I wish I had picked up this series instead because, well, I know I don't have to explain to you. I know others have said this, but, really, you are totes not prepared. And I just kept snickering throughout this entire review. I hope you love the rest of the books too. *GRRM troll face*

  44. Mark's Reader says:

    HOLY CRAP WHERE DID THIS COME FROM?

    I've always sort-of hoped you'd get around to reviewing Martin's major work, but I knew a chapter-by-chapter review would mean you'd finish up the series shortly after the world ends. It's ABSOLUTELY AWESOME to see that you are approaching this using a better review method (namely finishing the whole book before posting a review).

    I started this book series before the HBO adaptation was announced, mostly due to me hearing tons and tons of acclaim for the series on the internet. It's one of the most enjoyable fantasy works I've ever read, the only aspect I've ever felt a dislike for while reading is the switching of viewpoints between chapters (WHAT NO I WANT TO HEAR MORE ABOUT JON NOT CATELYN), and that feeling of dislike is usually gone after I read the first few lines (NEVER MIND CATELYN IS BEING MORE INTERESTING).

    I've never actually seen an episode of the HBO series yet (Screw you Sky Atlantic and your only-HD requirements), but I'm glad it's measuring up to the book series.

  45. drippingmercury says:

    OH MY GOD HOW DID I NOT NOTICE THIS POST UNTIL NOW. It's all I've ever wanted! *Sansa pout* This is what I get for not checking the main Mark Reads page after TAS chapter was posted. CONSTANT VIGILANCE!

    Anyway, thank you so much Mark! I thought you would love this series and I'm absolutely thrilled that you do. It's amazing that you made a general Mark Reads post, too, because this community is awesome (I also imagine it as a daily book club) and I can't even tell you how much I value you and your mods for providing a safe space to discuss these books.

    I'm very glad you did predictions before Clash because LOL NOT PREPARED. I have never actually cackled evilly over how unprepared you are, but while reading this post I did, swear to god. It made me feel a little like GRRM himself.

  46. Brin-Brew says:

    Mirri Maz Duur (the priestess who 'treats' Khal Drogo) was my favourite character. We spend so much time with lords/kings/khals through out the book, it was nice to have one of the commonfolk get a bit of revenge and provide a bit of perspective

    • drippingmercury says:

      I really appreciate Mirri Maz Duur, though I'm not sure I can articulate why very well. I think it's the way she completely destroys the "white savior" trope – Dany's good actions toward Mirri can't undo or fix the recent slaughter of her people or the centuries of Dothraki oppression. Dany can't just remove years of violence with a royal decree, there are systemic issues maintaining these injustices.
      Whether or not Dany learns from the harsh lesson Mirri lays down for her remains to be seen…

  47. feminerdist says:

    I'm so excited that you started this! I only started the books after watching the first episode of the show, and dear god. Unprepared doesn't even begin to cover it. My friend was hounding me for years to read this series, and I'm somewhere in the middle of book 5 right now. Anyway, I just thought I'd share some of my HOLY FUCKING SHIT WTF JUST HAPPENED texts I sent her while reading.

    So for Game of Thrones it was this:
    "HE KILLED THE FUCKING DIREWOLF???? FUCK THIS BOOK!!!"
    and
    "DID THEY SERIOUSLY JUST BEHEAD NED STARK???"

    There are many more as the books go on, but I can't share them yet. 😉

  48. Ryan Lohner says:

    Here's how good book 3 is: on TV Tropes, it actually broke the laws of reality and was listed on the "wall bangers" page in a POSITIVE way. As in, people got to a certain point and then threw the book against the wall…and then immediately ran over to pick it up and keep reading.

  49. Walder Frey says:

    I'm on the fourth book now, so I won't say much, other than; you are so damn unprepared. You've been unprepared before, but never before on this scale.
    Remember, Winter is Coming, heh

  50. SecretGirl127 says:

    NOOOOOOOO! I have been holding off on reading this series in hopes of doing it with Mark Reads and now my dreams are dashed. Must run out (read turn on my kindle store) and buy the series.

  51. Erin says:

    Mark, did you recognize the actor who plays Viserys from Doctor Who? I only bring it up because you mentioned his performance (on Who) particularly even though he was only in two episodes.

  52. EchoCharm says:

    A question: (includes SPOILERS)
    So I started reading The Game of Thrones and liked it until i got to the point where the queen ordered to kill the direwolf Lady. Then i put the book aside and couldn't bring myself to pick it up again. Apart from John Snow I hadn't gotten any real interest about any of the characters. And let me tell you – I like animals a lot. I guess that is why I felt a bit let down by R. R. Martin. Your review (I read only beginning because I didn't want to get spoiled in case I decide to finish the book after all) makes me feel like maybe I should read it, did anyone else felt the same way about that part and did you think the series was worth reading it nevertheless?

  53. paradigm says:

    So I pretty much have the exact same experience with the series as you do. I watched the series first (something I rarely do) and am almost finished with the first book. We also have the same favorite characters, but who couldn't love them??

    I have to say I really like the relationship between Arya and Sansa, and it saddens me to think so many people hate Sansa. I've always been a bit of a tomboy; I'm athletic and was raised in a family full of boys. Hell, in college I played rugby and I'm currently studying martial arts (so I can definitely take a hit, if nothing else). That being said, if I were raised in this world GRRM created, I know I would be more like Sansa. I've always been "the good girl," the one who always does as she's told and hopes for the best in people. I may not have been the most feminine, and I certainly never sat around waiting for a Prince Charming, but I still see so much of myself in her. I see myself in both the sisters.

  54. takashid says:

    Yes, yes, yes! so happy you are reviewing this mark. I love this series so very much, and am just getting into the 4th book. So, will the reviews will be chapter by chapter starting with clash of kings?

  55. Nicole says:

    Please follow these people on tumblr. Their ASoIaF posts will blow you away and/or make you laugh:

    http://itsinthetrees.tumblr.com/ (he has some of the best commentary on the series that I've come across–go all the way through his "winter is coming" tags because, ugh, his posts are THE BEST)
    http://rhaegarfrey.tumblr.com/ (she has some of the funniest reactions to the series AND quality commentary)

    They are quality blogs, sir, and I am in awe of them.

  56. Barbara says:

    I started watching the HBO series before reading the books. I kept telling myself I wanted to wait until more of the books were finished before starting. I made it through about three or four episodes before I had to start reading the books. I don't think that Ned was necessarily foolish, but he trusts that the people he's dealing with will be as honorable as himself.

    I'm currently reading A Storm of Swords (I'm a little over halfway through) for the first time. I'm at the point where I can't read them before I go to bed, or I can't sleep because I imagine what the characters might be going through next. Especially considering that the part I've just finished was a huge what the fuck moment. Can something happy happen for the good guys GRRM, please?

    I also worry that no one seems to be concerned with harvesting food, with a possible decade long winter approaching. Granted, at this rate a good portion of the population will be dead, but you'd think someone would be worried about supplies in the long term.

  57. Orianna says:

    Mark, do you not find Dany's arc in any way problematic? She falls in love with her *rapist*, and when he is killed by the woman he wronged (her whole family was killed and she was raped because of him!) it's this brave woman who is presented as the villain! I don't deny that the books are well-written and have compelling characters, but they are just incredibly problematic. And so is the show. The way they oversexualise women… I'm not sure I'll be able to stand the 2nd season.

  58. Sue Deauxnim says:

    So I basically decided to read this book because of how often it was mentioned on TVTropes and a got the first volume at an airport before leaving on a trip. I raced through the book and sobbed and whined about not having the second book and got the rest of the series the second I could. At first I was really attracted to the character of Daenerys for an entirely shallow reason (Her name sounded like mine and trust me, that never happens) but I soon grew to love her entire story arc for other reasons. I loved her interaction with Viserys (Who is another character I love but in a “he’s very well written” not a “what a wonderful sweet child) sort of way. I also looked forward to Eddard and Jon’s point of view. I did (notice the past tense) hate Sansa. I hated how naive she was and how out of whack her priorities seemed to be. But after Eddards death I found myself looking forward to her chapters. Her silent resistencance to Joffrey is now one of my favorite arcs. I only just started the second book so I’ll be happy to see where this goes. (By the way, now that you started reading the books itll be much easier to get my friend to read it.)

    • doesntsparkle says:

      It took me a while to appreciate Sansa, too. I'm actually a little ashamed of how I felt now. I blamed her for telling Cersi about Ned's plans. Now that I've had time to cool off, I see that she's a product of her time and society, and IIRC she's like eleven years old when the story starts. Her parents should have prepared her for the realities of Kings Landing.

  59. AshleySnow says:

    Mark watches Game of Thrones season 2? Y/Y/Y/Y/YYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY

    • xpanasonicyouthx says:

      Oh fuck, I love this idea. YES. YES. I WILL DO THIS.

      • @RaudhrGarm says:

        Have you seen some of the casting? Hannah Murray! <3 I want some sort of Skins re-union via this show. Liam Cunningham as well. Oh, and Charlie Chaplin's great-grand-daughter will be one of the many Jeynes.
        Love the casting.

  60. stungunmilly says:

    For me the character that stood out the most was Bran. As a “cripple” (I hate that term in the modern world, but it’s what they use in the book.) I completely understand his absolute frustration. Horseback is a huge relief for me as well, and a great form of physical therapy.

    WHAT DOES THE THREE-EYED RAVEN MEAN?

    Huge acting props to Michelle Fairley. She is INTENSE, especially when protecting Bran and confronting Tyrion. Also, how creepy were Lysa and her son?

  61. Doodle says:

    I JUST DISCOVERED YOU ARE READING THESE
    SO EXCITE!!!!!

  62. Jen says:

    You know nothing, Mark.

  63. alwayssilverdoe says:

    Normally my favorite thing about your reviews is getting to hear a different perspective on material I enjoyed, getting to experience it in a different light colored by your insightful commentary and unique background. I like being able to see something in a new way and have a broader sense of it as a result.

    That being said, I literally agreed with everything you wrote here. It was eerily similar to what went through my head when I read GoT, from favorite POVs to zombies to Cat.

    I'm so glad you're reading this and sharing 🙂

  64. improved says:

    Your taste in characters is FLAWFREE.

  65. kajacana says:

    WOAH, I am late to this party – I had no idea there were ASoIaF reviews on this site!!! It's like an early Christmas present!
    I just finished reading Game of Thrones, and tonight I begin watching the series. SO EXCITED I CANNOT EVEN TELL YOU. I read the prologue to Clash of Kings but that's as far as I got – I think I'm going to take a week to read something happy before diving back into the grimness.

    My thoughts, let me show you them (concisely):
    I love Arya and Jon Snow and I totally agree that the BEST THING EVER would be for them to hang out in Clash of Kings. I didn't like Tyrion at first, but he became pretty endearing throughout the story – and he's super witty, which I love. The Eyrie is my favorite place ever and I want to live there, haters to the left. I wish we got to meet Jon Arryn before he died, I bet he was cool. 🙁 Ned's death shocked and depressed me FOR REAL. Dany is a badass, but she freaks me out and I can't quite bring myself to like her.

    This book was a pretty unique reading experience for me – it was so dense and rich, like a…. dense, rich cake…. you know? I had to read it in chunks because it's so complex and GRRM doesn't really try to help you in any way, he just throws all this intense detail at you and makes you weed through it yourself to figure out what's important. It's so cool that through all that, we get some of the most amazingly real characters.

  66. Tauriel_ says:

    When I watched the show, I was certain that by casting such a huge actor in the role, it was a guarantee that he’d stay.

    Um, Mark, he was played by Sean Bean. Of COURSE he was going to die. 😛

  67. lisra says:

    *sigh*

    I'm like 2/3 through this book and it's a trip between "meh" and "yeah it's pretty good" but lately I can't be bothered to read on. I just care about any of the characters (except Arya) enough.. especially not about those who evil spoiler people tell me will become more important later. Not excited. I guess once christmas rolls around and I actually have time to read fiction (hello university, why are you eating my time?) I'll finish it, but… I dunno. It hasn't clicked (yet?), at all.
    That does NOT mean it's bad. Because it's not. Well written, introspection, large plot, what have you… but.. don't feel like it's the second coming of Tolkien, or whatever your favourite author may be.

    The only thing I really hate is how he describes sex. That just rubs me the wrong way. A lot. It makes me feel icky. Which may be the idea when it's one of the more.. uncomfortable scenes, but I think when it's meat to be actual loving, it should not make me feel dirty and icky. But it does. It has the undertone of a creepy old man.

    But that's just me.

    And one day I'll watch the show. I promise. Don't hurt me.

    And it's good to be back, postin'. 🙂

  68. Hotaru_hime says:

    As far as Eddard being beheaded and people being in a uproar once it aired, all I could think was, "It's Sean Bean. He exists to die on screen."

  69. kiahlou says:

    i went to library to get this book so my hubby and i could read it together and some bastard didnt return it! So frustrating, especially when the rest of the series is there! I'll have to hunt it down on ebay i guess because my little country town booksotre doesnt have it 🙁

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