A Song of Ice and Fire: A Spoiler-free Review (of sorts)

I find myself in the habit of jumping on the band wagon a little later than most, but Gods (or R’hllor, the Seven, or whichever other Westeros deity you may worship), am I glad I jumped on. A Song of Ice and Fire (or Game of Thrones) was something I’ve been putting off for years. A Game of Thrones, in my defense, was published before I was born, and the show first aired when I was in grade nine. Needless to say my parents were a little hesitant.

By the time I reached my final year in high school, both the show and series were inevitably added to my list. But I had a big decision to make. Should I watch the show or read the books first? Normally there wouldn’t even be a question, but have you seen those books? It was more than a little daunting. So I decided to ask some of the big Game of Thrones fans in my circle. And trust me, they weren’t hard to find.

I went to them expecting to have my dilemma solved immediately. But I soon discovered that everyone had their own opinions. Some of them had never read the books in the first place, whereas some gave up on the TV show all together. Some said I needed to read the books first, while others told me I had to watch the show before I could even consider reading the books.

I came out with more questions than answers. So I did what I do best, I procrastinated.

I graduated high school, spending my summer working, reading, and getting caught up on TV shows, and near the end of August, I decided that if all five seasons of Game of Thrones was on HBO on demand, then I would start it.

Needless to say HBO is on top of things, and by the next day I had already watched eight episodes. I was hooked.

Coincidentally, I had a hair appointment the next day, and began my five month long process, which is still in the making, of achieving the perfection of Daenerys’ hair, but I’m really getting off topic.

I don’t like to do things halfway. So I started the books the same day. It’s taken me months to get through them, but once I started, it didn’t seem nearly as daunting. I loved every second of it. The way Martin designs his characters is genius. Each is so realistic and so complex. There isn’t one character that is strictly and purely good or evil. Though I’m sure I could make a good case for a few of the characters.

I’m speaking like the series is over, but I know it isn’t (thank all of the deities of Westeros for that), but it does feel like an ending of sorts for me. I’m all caught up. There’s no next book for me to move onto. Not yet, at least.

I always knew this would be a series that I loved, but I could never have imagined how much it would influence my own writing style, or how deeply I would get attached. Daenerys has become one of my role models. Jon has become one of my favourite characters. And Westeros…well I wouldn’t actually want to live there, because chances are I wouldn’t survive very long, but it has become a home of sorts. Certainly one of my favourite, albeit painful, fictional worlds.

The way Martin has crafted this series is truly beautiful. He has organized it in such an intriguing way. The seasons in this world last not for months, but for years. Winter being the harshest and cruelest of the seasons, when it finally arrives, the characters find themselves in their most dire and cruel situations so far. I suppose the Starks are always right in the end. Winter is coming.

For any of you out there that may be skeptical, wondering if this series is really for you, let me give you a short and sweet, spoiler free idea of what you’ll be getting yourself into.

This series will give you the perfect combination of the historical and fantasy genres. There’s a lot of sex, and a lot of death (sometimes in the same chapter). You should not get attached to anyone, but you will get attached to everyone. Even those you hate. There are multiple viewpoints in this series, so some portions of the book might be harder to get through, but once you reach your favourite character, it’s all worth it. There are plot twists around every corner, so tread carefully. This world feels so real that you will often find yourself saying “Back in those times,” even though “those times” never really happened. There are quite a few triggering moments in this series, so like I said, make sure you know what you’re getting into. It’s dark, it’s complex, but it really is incredible.

And other than that there are only three things you need to know.

A Lannister always pays his debts.

Never mess with the Mother of Dragons.

And Winter is Coming.

Sincerely, Fiction’s Mistress