I finished Game of Thrones and for the most part I liked it. The pros are that Martin has a great imagination, the plot and setting are interesting, and he has a good understanding of how power corrupts. The historical setting is comparable to medieval times and I enjoy stories from that era.
The characters are well-developed and believable. All the characters are flawed and self-centered to an extent, but that makes them more realistic.
King Robert, Ned and Catelyn are probably the most honest and least self-serving of the characters. However, Robert doesn’t want to deal with the responsibilities that go along with ruling a kingdom, and he has never gotten over losing Lyanna. Ned and Catelyn are too focused on being loyal to Robert and fighting the Lannisters.
Tyrion and Varys are self-centered, but they don’t try to hide that or pretend to be something they aren’t. They’re not above buying people (Tyrion with money and Varys with information) if it serves their purpose. They take advantage of opportunities but they do make an effort to see that others benefit in that process.
Cersei, Lysa and Petryr Baelish (Littlefinger) are creepy and only thinking of themselves–There isn’t any other way to describe those characters.
There are more, but these are the characters that I thought were the most interesting.
On the other hand, the book is LONG, there are a lot of characters to keep up with, the author is heavy-handed with description and characters (and animals) are killed off constantly. I understand some writers use description more than others, but there is something to be said for allowing readers to use their imagination also. Game of Thrones probably could have been 200 or 300 pages shorter just by cutting some of the lengthy descriptions and still have been good but to each his own. Death can be an effective way to bring tension to a story, but in this case, I think it’s excessive.
I will probably read the sequels eventually, but I’m not going to rush to do so and will likely check them out from the library when I am ready to read them. I am trying in general to use the library more anyway; I probably wouldn’t read most books more than once so if they are available at the library I might as well check them out.
There is material that some people might find disturbing, although it does make sense for the story. The story is about war and the struggle for power, so it’s not pretty. Anyone choosing to read it should proceed with caution.
On to The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks and finishing The Legend of Sheba: The Rise of a Queen.