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I watched and enjoyed the popular HBO series, Game of Thrones.  I had heard that the TV series accurately depicted the novel. However, in most cases, film or TV interpretations of novels alter important aspects of the story or things are left out.  I began reading the first novel in Martin’s A Song of Fire and Ice series in the hope that I could delve more deeply into the story.  Upon reading the novel, I was both enlightened and disappointed.  I found that the writers of the HBO series had successfully communicated the plotline, characters, and setting of the novel.  Aside from a few slight details that made the book worth reading, I could have just as easily watched the show and considered myself equally informed about information the text offered.

Game of Thrones has a large cast of important characters and interwoven story lines.  In watching the show, especially at the beginning, I was often confused about characters’ roles, names, and the families they belonged to. Reading the book cleared up any questions I had about roles of different people, their families, and where in the land of the Seven Kingdoms or beyond, they come from.  Martin titles each chapter with the name of a character.  He depicts the chapter from the title character’s point-of-view.  Although a viewer can infer most of the information the author provides a reader about the characters’ thought processes and knowledge from watching scenes and listening to dialogue, which is taken straight from the text in most cases, one novel receives special insight from each individual character via the novel.  Watching the story unfold on screen, a person must come to their own conclusions about characters’ emotions and possible literary devices such as dramatic irony, communicated only in the mind of the person the chapter alludes to.

Despite its length, which is 694 pages, the novel is an intriguing and quick read. Some might argue that Martin’s prose is not perfect or beautiful.  Still, the creativity and action filling the pages make it engaging to read.  The conceptualization of another world with kings, countries, cultures, and unworldly creatures is no simple task.  Yet, the way Martin mixes his characters’ personalities and ideals with the problems that ensue from battles for the throne, “the game of thrones,” to their beliefs in dragons, direwolves, and the Others, makes a reader curious about what will follow.  As the people of the realm continue to recite, “Winter is coming.”  What will happen when winter finally arrives? I want to know.

The problem with reading the novel after watching the TV series is that there are no surprises for the reader.  The television adaptation is so concise in its depiction of events and characters in the text, it becomes repetitive and unexciting to read the novel.  For those interested in reading before watching, this series will grab your attention.  I highly recommend the book for those seeking entertainment and an investment in reading a long and large series of texts. The author may not be an expert writer, but the believable fantasy world he develops makes his books worth the time they take to read. Once you begin reading, or watching, you won’t want to stop!

Final Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

For more information:

Map of Westeros and Essos

A Song of Fire and Ice character map