After this many hours together, George and I must be on the first name basis! After all this is probably the longest book I’ve read this year, so we must have shared a cocktail or two. I have to admit that the reason why I even started reading The Game of Thrones was all the hype around the series in the light of the coming up HBO adaptation. So, before I spoiled the fun by watching a condensed version of this mammoth on screen, I cracked open the novel. Immediately I was overwhelmed by what seemed a thousand characters! Keeping all those bloodlines straight was a tricky task! I got to about the end of first ten chapters, when I realized I needed help. Who could follow such complex storyline on their own? Voila, Video on Demand came to my rescue.
Reading the book with facts straightened out in my head was definitely easier. I was glad to see that the creators of the show stuck really close to the novel’s plot. There was nothing important missed, and I couldn’t spot any unfamiliar characters. The only side effect consisted of me picturing Sean Bean as my Eddard Stark till the very end, but that was all. It is interesting how, once sorted out, I could actually enjoy following a large cast of characters. It looked like Martin did not know what a minor character was when he wrote the book. We knew the name and history of every guard and blacksmith; we learned their insignia and family colors. For those of you who struggle as much as I did, do check out the appendix where Martin outlines basic genealogy and main historical events prior to the novel.
You know what? Eddard Stark is so bad-ass! That is until he gets involved in the royal scandal of course. Suddenly, he only cares about “honor” and such things, even when they mean sacrificing his own children. Jon Snow is asked what he thinks his father would choose first – honor or family, – and the guy isn’t even sure! Eddard is committed to his King Robert first, and refuses to plot for the next king against the rules of succession. That is too bad, because immediately he is charged with treason. The man is basically the idealistic version of any self-sacrificial heroes of the genre. In real life he would sign the deed, take the gold and personally deliver the crown to that spoiled brat Joffrey. But no, he chooses to be a martyr. How depressing!
I do blame Eddard’s wife Lady Catelyn for everything that has happened. She lets her motherly hysteria get in the way of rational thinking. Yes, I realize that she hates Lannisters, but you don’t arrest the cub for attempted murder of your son, when your husband sits in the cage full of lions! Those are just bad politics. Catelyn is portrayed as a strong female, worthy of her Lord husband. Then why is she committing such daring acts only to lose her prisoner a few chapters later? I think Catelyn’s problem is her insane sister, over which she cannot gain control. If I was her, I would beat some sense into that lunatic and avoid dealing with her family all together. Useless bunch! Alas, the Cat is outsmarted by the mice.
One female character I do enjoy (besides the spunky Arya) is Daenerys. When reading the novel, I always looked forward to the parts about her and her horse-lord husband Khal Drogo. She is beginning her journey as a timid, gentle girl who is terrified of her weird brother. After being sold to Drogo for an opportunity to take over the Seven Kingdoms, she has to learn to accept strange ways of her new people. I love how she grows into an independent, strong woman. She avoids the mistakes her brother makes, earns love of her husband and her tribe, and develops passionate ambition to take back the throne that once belonged to her family. Unfortunately, due to her trusting nature, she falls into the same trap Catelyn does. After all that development, Martin still reveals her feminine fault of emotion that becomes the end of her idle life. Daenerys must lose it all to be able to reborn again as a true Dragon princess. George, you are too cruel!
And speaking of cruelty, do not get used to your favorite characters, because you never know who is going to go off with their heads next! A Game of Thrones is the first book in the series of five (so far), so do not expect a definitive conclusion. Bad guys seem to have an upper hand this time, which some of my friends find too depressing, but I am optimistic the survivors of the goodie bunch will get back with. The finale features great beginnings like resurrection of Dragons, the division of the Kingdoms and the quest into the wilderness of the north. Just typing these makes me want to pick up the second book! What happens next? It is for you to find out…