A Game of Thrones

A Game of Thrones by George R.R. MartinA Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
A Song of Ice and Fire #1
Publisher: Bantam
Number of pages: 835
My copy: Mass market paperback, bought from National Bookstore

In a land where summers can last decades and winters a lifetime, trouble is brewing. The cold is returning, and in the frozen wastes of the north of Winterfell, sinister and supernatural forces are massing beyond the kingdom’s protective Wall. At the center of the conflict lie the Starks of Winterfell, a family as harsh and unyielding as the land they were born to. Sweeping from a land of brutal cold to a distant summertime kingdom of epicurean plenty, here is a tale of lords and ladies, soldiers and sorcerers, assassins and bastards, who come together in a time of grim omens. Amid plots and counterplots, tragedy and betrayal, victory and terror, the fate of the Starks, their allies, and their enemies hangs perilously in the balance, as each endeavors to win that deadliest of conflicts: the game of thrones.

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First off – I don’t think I’d go through the trouble of summarizing A Game of Thrones because I’m pretty sure practically everyone knows what this is about. In case you don’t …well, it’s about several families living in a land called Westeros, all of whom seem to be at war (or at least, are set to manipulating and wiping off other family lines) with each other to claim the power among the land. There are several story lines explored in the book that if I try to explain will either take too long, or spoil you, so let’s not get to that. But in case you’re not interested in reading the book (it is a doorstopper), there’s always the HBO TV series based on the book which will probably tell you everything you need to know.

So. I really had no plans of reading this, until I got this crazy idea last year to get a copy of the boxed set because…well, it looks cool. I don’t watch the TV series, though, so the interest in this was purely from a reading standpoint. I figured that I will probably watch the TV series at some point, but before that, I will read the book first. I am a purist, I told myself. Books before TV shows, or movies, yes?

But I was entirely unprepared at the length of these books. When I saw that the second book in the series was a 1000+ pages, I decided not to get the entire set. Too much investment, I thought. So I got the first book instead, thinking that if I end up liking it, I will probably get the next ones. Never mind if the boxed set is pretty.

Months passed, and I still haven’t cracked the book open. It stared at me from my shelf, daring me to read it. The only reason I was hesitant to read this was because it was so thick. YA books tend to be 400 pages max, and anything longer than that, I felt like it was already too long, and would require too much investment, especially with all the other books in my TBR. 800+ pages in just one book? How long will I finish that? But I was determined, and I picked it up several times only to get distracted by something else. Finally, some friends from the book club joined me in a Buddy Read for this book…and I was in it for real. Can I make it? Especially in the same month that our book club has Fellowship of the Ring as its book of the month?

Well friends, I made it. Without throwing the book away, or screaming in frustration. I shook my fist several times, I cringed, but I made it to the end and let out a loud whoop when I was done. To be perfectly honest, I feel like this was such a huge reading accomplishment that I can’t help but be proud of myself. (Also a confession: every time I bring the book outside to read it — on the gym, or while commuting — I can’t help but feel so cool. Like I have this cool, intellectual and geeky vibe because I’m reading this book. Is it just me? :P) And have you noticed how I haven’t really written anything about the book yet in this review?

But what else is there to say about this that hasn’t been said? A Game of Thrones is a very, very engaging book. The sheer number of characters and names can be intimidating and it can be hard to keep them straight sometimes, but honestly? You can dismiss some of the character names because they’re not so important. The real problem is how not to get attached to anyone because what other fans of the series said is true: characters die in this book. Wait, let me correct that: characters you don’t want to die will die in this book. By that I leave you to wonder, but really, get your heart ready  because if you’re the type who gets attached to characters easily, then you would probably throw A Game of Thrones away from you several times while reading this.

That being said, though, I enjoyed the two weeks or so I spent reading this book, so much that it almost didn’t feel like it was two weeks. I was fascinated with the world of Westeros and the Wall and the Starks and Lannisters and the other Houses. It’s not just court politics or people killing each other for a throne or a crown. There’s family, there’s loyalty, and personal revelations about the characters’ identities as they go through their own challenges. Of course, there were those other things that my friends warned me about too, such as incest and rape and all that, but they weren’t really as graphic as I expected in this book. Mind you — I’m not comfortable about it so I tend to skim, but they’re not really as explicit as I thought they were. Wait, I think my friends were warning me about the TV series, not the book.

Anyway, I enjoyed reading A Game of Thrones. Honestly, I was kind of surprised that I did — not that I was expecting not to like it, but I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it. I understand why so many people are hooked on this series. Will I read the next book? Yes, most probably. Not anytime soon, though, because I’m still taking a breather with this. But maybe I’ll watch the second season of the TV series first before reading  A Clash of Kings, just to change things a bit. :)

Also, I totally want my own direwolf.

Nymeria

Nymeria – Arya’s direwolf. Image from fanpop.com

Rating:

Required Reading - June

Other reviews:
It’s a Wonderful Book World
KyusiReader

Required Reading: June

So where exactly did May go?

I know I asked the same thing last month, but I’m serious. I thought May was a long month, but lo and behold, suddenly it’s gone. And we’re in June, the sixth month of the year and before we know it, the year is half gone! WAIT! I am not ready!

Okay, the real reason I’m kind of freaking out is because I didn’t get to read any of the books I listed last May. I know, right — and it had to be the month I listed two books. I didn’t even reach halfway for one. In fact, I didn’t even put any of the books in my currently reading list — both of them stayed in my office lockers. *headdesk* How lame was that?

On the upside, I did read good books last month, just not the books I was intending to read. I was thinking of putting them in this month’s list again, but who am I kidding? Given the rate I read things now, I doubt I’d be able to squeeze those books in again. (And they seem to be really awesome books, too! *pout*)

I’m going to be realistic this time.

Required Reading - June

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Required Reading: February

January has come and gone…and it’s been a very good reading month, if I do say so myself. I read a total of 12 books — can you believe that? And I finished all Required Reading books too! Here’s a recap:

That was pretty good, yes? I think the books I read in January were pretty good, too, and I enjoyed most of them. I still ended up getting more books so my TBR pile is still solidly on 128. Oh well, I’ll find a way to get that number down.

Did you join last month’s Required Reading challenge? How did you do?

Now we’re on to February!

Required Reading: February

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In My Mailbox (18): MIBF (or, okay, not really)

It’s been a very bookish week since I arrived from Europe, and I am definitely not complaining. This week was special for Filipino readers because The First Filipino Reader Conference happened last Wednesday, and it was also the 32nd Manila International Book Fair (it’s still happening at SMX now, so if you haven’t been there, you still have time!). If you missed the ReaderCon, you can read what happened at the @PinoyReaderCon twitter (tweeted by yours truly :) ).

However, despite my two-day attendance at the Book Fair (the most I’ve did since I started attending), I did not get any book from the fair itself! I was supposed to, but I was terribly late yesterday and I was just too tired to look for a book (or beads for jewelry making), and most of what I wanted was gone. So this week’s (and last week, actually) stash includes some books I got from Book Depository, a book I borrowed and a book I bought during but outside the Book Fair. :P

The loot

Oh, and a lot of bookmarks, too, from the ReaderCon.

Anyway, the books:

The books

  1. A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin – yes, I’m jumping into the bandwagon. I got this from National Bookstore in Mall of Asia. I wanted to get the boxed set, but I ran out of them in the Book Fair. I was supposed to get all four books, but man, they’re thick. So I decided to get just the first book for now and I’ll decide later on if I want the others. Again: man, this book is thick. 835 pages!
  2. Six Impossible Things by Fiona Wood – borrowed from Chachic! And her personal Aussie library book tour continues. :)
  3. A Conspiracy of Kings by Megan Whalen Turner – yay paperback! And thanks, Book Depository. :) I had this pre-ordered a few weeks back.
  4. Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta – pre-ordered this from Book Depository a few months back, too. :) Thanks to Nomes for the heads up of the paperback edition. Plus, I heard its sequel is coming out soon, so I should bump this up my TBR. :)

Oh, and I also got my blog business cards, which I had printed in a rush just for the ReaderCon. Features Steve Emond‘s drawing, and designed by my lovely friend Jana from Jana Styles. :)

Blog business card!

Talk about taking all the book blogging thing seriously. But hey, this is good for networking, and making friends. :)

I remember those days when I’d go crazy during Book Fair season, but I think I’ve mellowed out. That, and after paying for some Europe bills, I need to be more prudent with my book spending. That, and I really still have too many books in my TBR pile, and I really want to whittle it down further. Is this me maturing as a book hoarder? Gasp.

What did you get in your mailbox this week? :)