George R.R. Martin's "A Song of Ice and Fire" series Last book you read: George R.R. Martin's "A Song of Ice and Fire" series

By Spider on Tuesday, February 4, 2003 - 01:16 pm:

    I've read the first two books so far -- "A Game of Thrones" and "A Clash of Kings." They're monstrously large -- the first is over 700 pgs, and the second is around 900 -- but they read fast and they're very entertaining (though gross at times -- incest and sex with dwarves and children *shudder*). I do admit to skimming chapters that concern characters I don't care about.

    It's marketed as a fantasy series, but there's very little magic or things fantastical about them...they're more about war and political intrigue, set in medieval-like times. The story seems to be based loosely on the War of the Roses -- here the warring families are named Stark and Lannister. The map of the world looks a bit like England and even has a large wall up north to keep out the "wildings."

    The books are pretty good. The characters are interesting and the plot is intelligent and attention-keeping. Not great, but worth the effort of reading them. Though, let me tell you, I've read some reviews that compare Martin to Shakespeare -- I mean, what kind of drugs are they on? It's people like this who named the OJ trial the trial of the century.

    Speaking of idiots, let me take a moment here to roll my eyes at the retarded fangirls that populate cyberspace. My retinas are scarred from some of the things I've seen them write on a messageboard dedicated to Martin's series. Remind me never to look again at any fan fiction. It should be a univerally acknowledged truth -- fan fiction = crap.

    This site has a lot of info about the books, if you're interested.

By Nate on Tuesday, February 4, 2003 - 01:36 pm:

    i bought the first one after you posted the first time. i'd been meaning to read these for awhile, since they top the 100 best list, blah blah. i've read less than 50 pages, i think. slow to start.

By Spider on Tuesday, February 4, 2003 - 02:05 pm:

    Yeah, they are slow to start. I didn't really get hooked until half-way (i.e., page 400) through the first book. I spent nearly all day Sunday reading the second book without many breaks, and now I'm waiting breathlessly for the third book to arrive from Amazon. And the fourth book doesn't come out till September! How will I survive not knowing what happens??


    The prologue doesn't really have anything to do with the main plot (if you can call it that, since the scope of the books is so large), if that's what you're stuck on. It's more to set up the dangers that the world is facing. Well, it has relevance later on, but much later on.

    One thing that threw me at first was how young the kids are. I'm supposed to take 14-year-old boys and 9-year-old girls seriously? Now I mostly ignore the indications of age.

    Keep reading -- I need someone sensible to discuss the books with. :)

By Nate on Tuesday, February 4, 2003 - 02:34 pm:

    i liked the prologue just fine. i'm at some point where the exiled boy king is pinching his little sister's nipples.

    i'll get on. it might take my next plane trip to get there, though.

By Spider on Tuesday, February 4, 2003 - 02:49 pm:

    Hoo boy, just you wait until his sister gets married, at age 12.

By Bigkevin on Tuesday, February 4, 2003 - 03:31 pm:

    I have read both books and am awaiting the third (in paperback, cause Im cheap) also. I don't have a problem with the barely masked similarities to the war of the roses, and comparisons to england or whatever... My major Issue (and this goes for most fantasy series these days) is that the author is bulking up with hugly complicated plots and not sticking to good, solid character development. It seems that all fantasy authors are trying to reach sales on the Tolkien order, but are using 6-10 book series' to do so, instead of 2-4 books that have a profound impact on the reader.

    That being said, although not as riviting i still read most of these multi-tomed sagas, and await each new installation with bated breath (well not that bad).

    In case no-one has mentioned these series before, here are a couple of ones that i enjoy;
    Terry Goodkind, The Sword Of Truth
    Robert Jordan, The Wheel Of Time

    and if your into the sci-fi Anne McAffery's Pern novels are damn well written, if a fairly quick read.

By Nate on Tuesday, February 4, 2003 - 03:36 pm:

    i've read 7/10 of the wheel of time. it started out great, but i am not so sure he's carried it well.

By sarah on Tuesday, February 4, 2003 - 03:36 pm:

    tomorrow at 1 p.m. i'm going to barnes and noble for a book signing with


    fuck fuck fuck i am so stoked. fan girl gets autograph. i'm going to have him sign my hard cover copy of The Ground Beneath Her Feet, only because it's my favorite of his, and The Satanic Verses is too obvious.

    what will i say to him?

By Spider on Tuesday, February 4, 2003 - 04:13 pm:

    Can you even be a Salmon Rushdie fangirl or -boy? Besides, unless you've written stories about true luv between two characters who met maybe twice in the book, you're no fangirl. (hooray!)

    Bigkevin, that *is* a problem -- there are, like, 10,923,082 characters, and it's hard to keep everyone and their allegiances straight.

    However, though I've not read Robert Jordan, my brother has, and from what he's told me, George Martin's books are much better than Jordan's. The plot moves quickly, characters change, major characters die, there are no 2-page descriptions of clothing, the female characters behave (somewhat) realistically, etc.

By Spider on Tuesday, February 4, 2003 - 04:34 pm:

    I didn't intend that last paragraph to sound so arrogant. I mean, I've never read Robert Jordan, so really, I'm talking out of my ass here. Sorry about that.

By Nate on Tuesday, February 4, 2003 - 05:03 pm:

    that's ok. you obviously are having an off day-- you even called me "sensible" up there.

By Bigkevin on Tuesday, February 4, 2003 - 05:14 pm:

    another series that i could only manage to amke it thru 2 is Jean M Auel's (Mammoth hunters?) where the heroine cna't do anything wrong. and if she can it only leads to a new invention, which makes her queen shit again... I don't like the way that some writers make their heros/heroines infallable, like the sun shines out their asses and the world would stop existing if the hero died.

    spider, I agree that Martin's work is better than Jordan's, actually his was the first series where i really began to realize that (some) authors (and publishers) were using a series as just a cash cow. I mean if you can stretch a 300 page story into 3 books by describing the navel lint of all the main, and half the sub characters, good on ya, but for godsakes, at least let us (consumers, who spend our hard earned $) know with some fancy cover art of belly lint or something.

    OR make the story entirely rediculous, and therefore a comedy where belly lint (or whatever it takes you 3 pages to describe) wont offend. you know kinda like Douglas Adams.

By moonit on Tuesday, February 4, 2003 - 05:34 pm:

    I have given up on Jordan.

    Yes, me, the ultimate book lover has GIVEN UP ON JORDAN.

    Bigkev, have you read any Terry Pratchet?

By semillama on Tuesday, February 4, 2003 - 06:58 pm:

    I'm re-reading the weheel of time series right now to reacquaint myself with the story before starting the new one. I will say that someof teh jokes get really old, but he does a bang-up job of creating the different cultures and histories. And I like the characters. And I have no idea what you mean by -page long descriptions of navel lint. I don't think there is anything like that in that series, and I probably have the freshest recollection of something like that, since I'm reading them right now.

    I tried to get into the Sword of Truth series, but it seemed too much like an absolute rip-off of the Wheel of Time.

    I've never read Martin. Once I get through the 20 books on my reading shelf, maybe I will give him a try.

By patrick on Tuesday, February 4, 2003 - 07:08 pm:

    has anyone made it through David Foster Wallace's Infinite jest?

    im currently reading this

    I found it at a thrift store and I admit i bought it soley for the cover. the jacket had some good blurbs too. thus far its quite a nice read. she's very intuitive and has way about her characters that i can relate to.

By agatha on Tuesday, February 4, 2003 - 07:48 pm:

    i didn't make it through infinite jest, although i enjoyed what i read of it. i got it from the library, and had to return it after renewing twice.

    i love love love salman rushdie. sarah, did you read "haroun and the sea of stories"? cleo loved that one, i got it as a book on tape from the library, and she listened to it about twenty times. i have read "the ground..." and "fury" and "east, west" so far, besides "haroun".

    patrick, that cover does rule.

    what happened to our book club?

By patrick on Tuesday, February 4, 2003 - 07:59 pm:

    someone remarked the infinite jest of Infinte Jest was actually making it through.

    Out of 5, 6 people who Ive spoken to who have attempted to read it, only one had.

By Bigkevin on Tuesday, February 4, 2003 - 09:00 pm:

    I actually made it thru IJ but by the time i finished i could barely remember wha ti had read on the previous pages. Man did it not do anything for me.

By Bigkevin on Tuesday, February 4, 2003 - 09:14 pm:

    yeah i read one or two of T Pratchet's but havnt got into his stuff real deep yet.

    I assume that the "legends" compilation has been done over once or twice, by the assembled. SO let me just say this, For the (sci-fi/fantasy) uninitiated this is a great primer, good staries by a bunch of good/great authors.

    Sem. you mean to tell me that in 9 or 10 books you haven't come across any instances where you felt the detail/description was padded, or long winded? come now, you have to be joking if you don't. for instance book 8 chapter 8, 5 1/2 pages to describe an armed camp (or 3) filled with peoples that have been covered a half dozen times each in all teh preceeding books.

    Of course if you don't feel that way, don't let me dissuade you or change your mind. I feel very strongly abt reading and would not ever want to interfer with someones enjoyment of a book(s) that they like.

By patrick on Wednesday, February 5, 2003 - 11:38 am:

    i figure i will take stabs at IJ over the next ten years, and thats just fine with me.

By Dougie on Wednesday, February 5, 2003 - 11:19 pm:

    I just finished American Gods and loved it. Next is either Dandelion Wine or 2 Years Before the Mast, both of which have been on my bookshelf forever, just waiting to be cracked.

By Spider on Thursday, February 6, 2003 - 08:43 am:

    Dandelion Wine is one of my very favorite books. If you read it now, be prepared to long for summer desparately.

    2 Years Before the Mast is really interesting but not as warm and fuzzy as Dandelion Wine. So, choose which one to read according to your present mood.

By Bigkevin on Thursday, February 6, 2003 - 10:19 am:

    has anyone read Rohinton Mystery? and if so whats the concensus? I read A Fine Balance, and loved it. but I am hesitant to read any of his other work, for no rational reason that i can think of. Its kinda weird, I'm kinda weird... so it all works out :)

By semillama on Thursday, February 6, 2003 - 01:31 pm:

    I made it through Infinite jest. I liked it, but it literally had no ending. it just stopped.

    Kev, you have to realize that with a series like Jordan's, you have to stick in details that have been covered in previous books for two reasons:
    A. There's always going to be people who pick up the series in the middle, and with that many plot lines, some background is necessary.
    B. With a series that big, if you don't go back and reread the previous books, you forget too much of what's going on.

    Personally, I like the fact that he describes things in such detail. It really brings it to life for me. I like the little references to things in the history and folklore of the real world that he incorporates, like the name "Culain's Hound" for an inn, taken of course from the Irish hero Cuculainn, which translates to "hound of Culainn."

    Whereas the Sword of Truth series, well, it's pretty ham-fisted. It's the only series of books that I decided I wasn't interested in finishing, and that says a lot.

By patrick on Thursday, February 6, 2003 - 01:47 pm:

    well then, i have new inspiration to complete it then.

By Spider on Thursday, February 6, 2003 - 01:52 pm:

    I still haven't received my "Storm of Swords" book from Amazon, and I ordered it with 2-day shipping. I'm dying over here!

By Dougie on Thursday, February 6, 2003 - 11:40 pm:

    "If you read it now, be prepared to long for summer desparately."

    Damn if you didn't nail the head on that one, Spider. Holy shit, I almost cried when I read his intro, about him standing there on the 4th of July with his grandfather letting off the last of the candles, knowing there'd never be another day like that again. I had one of those with my grandfather on 4th of July -- it was one of those perfect days when you're a kid -- he made vanilla ice cream with his old hand cranked wooden ice cream maker, and we went to the fireworks, and as young as I was, I knew there would never be another day like it.

By Spider on Tuesday, February 11, 2003 - 02:44 pm:

    Dougie, where are you in the book now?

By Dougie on Tuesday, February 11, 2003 - 07:29 pm:

    Sadly, just chapter 3 Spider.

By Spider on Wednesday, February 19, 2003 - 12:06 pm:

    Nate, Bigkevin, we need to talk about this book!

    I was snowed in Mon and Tues, and I finished (and re-read the good parts) of the third book in the Song of Ice and Fire series, and it's gotten so good and so compelling, I'm slavering at the thought of the next installment. You need to catch up with me so we can discuss this!

    Here's where the story ends at this point:

    *The sweet and vulnerable heir apparent is in the care of one evil, evil man. What ever is he going to do with her?

    * The real heir (or is he?) has just earned a very powerful position outside the contended territory, a development which will surely bring the wrath of a desired ally on his head.

    *The matriarch of the family has been brought back from the dead.

    *The black sheep of a corrupt family has just killed his father, in a violent world in which nothing is worse than killing your own family member. What is going to happen to him?

    *My favorite character lies by a tree, seemingly dying from an infected wound.

    And that's not the half of it.

By Bigkev on Wednesday, February 19, 2003 - 01:21 pm:

    'kay sounds good, but until it comes out in regular (cheep) paperback I can't get it.

    It is only available in hardcover and Trade paperback currently (in my area) sooooooo you'll just have to wait........or buy it for me ;)

    Has anyone read any Orson Scott Card? Im reading Speaker for the Dead right now, and loving it
    I have also read the Tales of Alvin Maker (4 or 5 of them) Enders Game, Enders Shadow, and a couple of others that elude me right now.

    Anyway, im curious to know your thoughts....

By Bigkev on Wednesday, February 19, 2003 - 01:22 pm:

    Btw, what would consider a long book, page count wise.

By Spider on Wednesday, February 19, 2003 - 02:21 pm:

    Where are you located? I found the first two books at Borders for $6.99 and the third book in a larger-bound paperback for $14.99 (though I got it at $8.99 used from Amazon.)

By Bigkev on Thursday, February 20, 2003 - 01:29 pm:

    im in Calgary, that same 'larger-bound paperback' that cost you 15bones runs abt 30 here, and i cant justify that much money on a book that i'll finish in two days (or so). THe first two i picked up brand new for 8.99 each (remember these are all Canadian $ amounts) when they were new.

    I dont like waiting for a book to hit the used shelves, nor do i like not owning the books that i read.

By Bigkev on Monday, March 3, 2003 - 06:48 pm:

    OK, I just found out that Orson Scott Card is (apparently) a rather outspoken homophob... my respect for him is disintegrating by the second....
    Why do people have to be that way?

By BIGKev on Thursday, May 15, 2003 - 04:26 pm:

    pg.841 (A Storm of Swords)

    and almost allthe characters that i liked at the beginning are dead... I only guessed two deads correctly (King Joffery, and King Robb) this is getting really interesting!!

By Spider on Thursday, May 15, 2003 - 04:29 pm:


    What part are you at?

    We have to discuss this when you're done!

By semillama on Thursday, May 15, 2003 - 05:23 pm:

    Spider, I just picked up the first book used. ALthough, since I just picked it up, it's way down the line on my shelf of books to read.

    I'm alternating between Kiln People by David Brin and the sorabji book club pick right now. I think you should pick up Kiln People, you'd get a real kick out of it. I would suggest it for the book club thing but by that time I will have finished it!
    Anyway, after Kiln people is Thinking from Things, which is a collection of essays on the philosophy of material culture studies. Then I'm going to read the Hobbit/LOTR again, and work my way through the series of books Chris Tolkien edited together, you know, the background books on Middle Earth and the writing of the books, what the hell is that called? oh yeah, the History of Middle-Earth. I'm not actually going to read all of them, just the ones in a box set my dad gave me at xmas. Then I believe I am reading Slave Counterpoint, which examines slavery in the Chesapeake and in the Carolinas; A Little Matter of Genocide, which is about US Indian policy up to the present day; The First Americans by J.M. Avovasio; Skull Wars (about Kenniwick Man repatriation issues); and then it's Martin. After him is Flowerdew Hundred by Deetz (archaeology), and something else.

    THis is in addition to anything that I may have to read for work.

By Spider on Thursday, May 15, 2003 - 05:29 pm:

    So, you'll be able to join in our discussion on...(carry the three, divide by two) Dec 15, 2005. It's a date!

    I would say (if you asked, which you didn't, so tell me to piss off at will), shove the LOTR to bottom of the shelf. You will always have LOTR. You may not always have me to talk about A Song of Ice and Fire with. :)

By Spider on Thursday, May 15, 2003 - 05:36 pm:

    BTW, way up there I said the fourth book in the series will come out in September. That is most likely incorrect. To my knowledge, Martin has not even finished writing the fourth book yet, so there is no publication date in sight. His website is going to post an announcement with the book is complete.

By BIGKev on Friday, May 16, 2003 - 05:38 pm:

    Okay ive have just now finished this one... but im on my way out to see the Matrix... we'll have to discuse later... thou i will say all the deaths and twists right at the end are very good/interesting plot twists...

    till later then....

By Spider on Monday, July 28, 2003 - 10:23 am:

    So, BigKev, what did you think of "a Storm of Swords"?

    I'm reading Greg Keyes' "The Briar King" right now, and I like it. It's apparently based on the real-life mystery of the Roanoke colonists who disappeared in the 1600s. The legendary queen of the place is named Virgenya Dare (Virginia Dare was the first baby born in America to colonists and part of the missing group), and there's a dynasty or race of a sort called the Virgenians and a town called Ralegh. The heart of the plot has little to do with this, though, and concerns the waking of a primeval nature god like the Green Man in British folklore.

    The characters are pretty interesting (though I don't like the spoiled princess who's apparently the "promised one" or whatever) and the prose is well-written. It's much less dense than a Song and Ice and Fire, which makes it much easier to follow.

    Unfortunately, it's the first book in a four-part series, so I'll have to wait until March 2004 (at least) for the next installment. I really should make it a principle that I don't start reading series until all the books have been published.

By Spider on Monday, July 28, 2003 - 10:28 am:

    BTW, I'm also reading Terry Pratchett's "Hogfather," which is really cute.

By semillama on Tuesday, January 20, 2004 - 10:24 am:

    Ok spider. I read the first book over xmas and the second in Mexico (seems you've underestimated my reading prowess! raar!)

    I like them quite a bit, but I agree with BigKev (or was it dougie) that the character development is pretty thin. In that the characters seem to either spring into the story fully developed or that the development is really really slow. What I like about the book is that it's sort of like the adult fantasy version of the "Series of Unfortunate Events" books, if you get my analogy.

    (I'm reading Slave Counterpoint right now, and it's an examination of slavery in the 18th century in the Chesapeake and the Carolina Low Country. It's really good. After that, I'll probably pick up a copy of the third book.)

    So far, my favorite main characters are Tyrion Lannister and Jon Snow. I also like Arya and Daenyrys, and I'm a fan of the Reeds and the Wildings.

    One thing I would like to see is a map showing the whole geographical area described in the text. Like, where the hell are these Free Cities? and the other continent?

By Spider on Tuesday, January 20, 2004 - 11:08 am:

    Oh, yay! I'm so glad you've started the series!

    The the third book has a map that sort of fills out the world a little, and I think you can find a whole-world map somewhere online. (I think a gaming magazine published a "Song of Ice and Fire" campaign with a whole-world map about a year ago.)

    I don't find the character development to be too thin, myself, but I think I have a tendency to fill in the gaps with imagined stuff. I like how the characters grow and change subtly and gradually over the course of the three books. Sansa irritated me immensely at first and now she's one of my favorite characters. She has a great scene at the end of the third book...

    What do you think will happen to Jon regarding Stannis, now that Jon's got command of the Wall? What do you think will happen to Tyrion now that he's a kinslayer?

By Spider on Tuesday, January 20, 2004 - 11:12 am:

    Here we go...

    Here are the maps from the third book.

    And here and here are two maps of the whole world that fans have done.

    Here is the map from the gaming magazine, which is a terrain map of Westeros only. It's on its side, with North to the left. You can see the Fingers at the top middle.

    This is a collection of maps gathered by a Russian guy.

By Spider on Tuesday, January 20, 2004 - 11:13 am:

    Sorry to keep posting...I don't think fans did the maps of the whole world after all. I don't know where they come from.

By semillama on Tuesday, January 20, 2004 - 01:33 pm:

    Arg! I haven't read the third book yet! warn me about spoilers!

By semillama on Wednesday, February 25, 2004 - 04:16 pm:


    now i can talk about it.

    I still don't like Sansa at all. I'm waiting to see what's in store though - there has to be something going on there.

    Where the hell is Rickon? I found his utter disappearance from the book very intriguing.

    I LOVED the battle at the wall - that's one of the best battle scenes in a fantasy novel that I've ever read.

    Jon Snow and Tyrion Lannister are still my favorite characters. I'm really liking the Daenyres bits as well, especially after Barristan Selby revealed himself. Strangely enough, I'm really rooting for Jaime Lannister as well now - so I take back what I said about lack of character development. Pretty cool stuff. I'm looking forward to the next one.

By Spider on Wednesday, February 25, 2004 - 05:25 pm:

    Aw, how come you don't like Sansa? She's one of my favorites, in part because I see a lot of myself in her. We both tend to withdraw and become stiffly formal when we're depressed / assaulted (literally in her case, figuratively in mine), we both find it hard to accept that people in our lives could wish us ill, and we both take comfort in organized religion. :)

    I used to like Dany and her chapters, but now she bugs the crap out of me and they bore the hell out of me. She's so incredibly arrogant that I can't care about what happens to her anymore. I hope she suffers.

    I like Jaime now, though, too. I loved his scenes with Cat in his cell, and the way he mellowed out toward Brienne over the course of the story. He's arrogant, too, but...I don't know, he's more 3-D than Dany, or something.

    Where is Rickon indeed.

    So, the question I spoiled you with earlier (sorry about that! I had gotten ahead of myself)....what do you think Stannis will do re Jon?

By semillama on Wednesday, February 25, 2004 - 05:51 pm:

    I don't have a clue. Maybe that's where Rickon comes in though...

By semillama on Friday, February 27, 2004 - 12:55 pm:

    Spider - have you read "the Hedge Knight" short story? I haven't, but it's been made into a comic book series, which I just picked up the special issue that collects issues 1-3. Pretty cool.

By Spider on Friday, February 27, 2004 - 01:07 pm:

    Sadly, I haven't yet -- is the comic easily available? Who's the publisher?

    (Right now, I'm having neuralgia pain in my inner right thigh -- holy GOD does it hurt!)

By semillama on Friday, February 27, 2004 - 02:09 pm:

    You should be able to find it in any comic book store. I think the publisher is DDP. The short story was in one of the "Legends" volumes that Robert Silverberg edited.

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