A Song of Ice and Fire (A Song of Ice and Fire, #1-5) (2024)

Richard Sutton

Author9 books116 followers

December 4, 2013

Right up front — no spoilers, here or bite-sized impressions…

This morning, I laid down the last volume of George R.R. Martin’s great opus, A Song of Fire and Ice. After reading the first volume, ushered in (for me at least…) through the graces of HBO’s series, A Game of Thrones, I decided to read the series in hardbound version (probably to add some help for my tired, old eyes, as newsprint covered with small point sized type is not something I can easily settle into). And settle in, I did. My wife remarked more than once how distant I seemed while immersed in each book. She was right. I don’t remember being so absorbed in any reading since I was fourteen and had just discovered a newly published English writer named Tolkien.

Thinking that I would want to write a review once I finished each book, proved impossible as one dissolved into the next. It became clear that the only review I could offer would cover the series. With a fervent wish for a cathartic revelation, I plowed through each volume, until it became clear to me that this was not a typical story, writ large. 4,643 pages large, not counting the many appendices and maps to which I made frequent side-trips. The volumes stack up 9 5/8" high and weigh 14.3 pounds. If I rated books by weight alone, this would be five stars.

Fantasy writing is clearly alive and well. I’ve always found that it provides me entertainment at entry level, and then literary appreciation, as the genre fleshes out and matures. Finally, at some sort of pinnacle, reside those books where important nuggets of truth and wisdom are skillfully imparted to the reader. That is where I would set this series, but not without a few caveats.

As a writer myself, I know what a fully conceived story can demand, and how much emotion is invested in the creation of real characters. Then there is my admiration for any well-crafted written work, whether it be ponderous or very brief. If any novel can hold me and transport me, then I say the writer has done a good job. I have had no experience reading anything that held me so long or provided such a satisfying ride along the way. Riding blind, mostly, it took me until I was some time into the entire work, before I began to see what Mr. Martin had in mind for the trip or the destination. The journey wasn’t a joyride, either. It was plagued with frustration, disillusionment, sadness and even a touch of pain, but I never begrudged him any of it. Within his meticulously created world, the population was so real and easily approached, it felt to me as if I’d known each character well, whether they were to be considered pro or antagonists. Neither serves completely to define any of the characters.

Foremost, this series is about real life and power. It unfolds the way life unfolds: messy. It’s a clear mirror reflecting humanity in all of its imperfections. Mr. Martin’s writing carries honest texture, honest dialog and well-honed, cultural touchstones. None of these can be considered minimal tidbits and signposts set solely to enhance the natural progress of the story. No, each of these becomes an entire meal and is best digested by a reader who enjoys several differing courses. If a sense of place, completely established is not something you revel in, this will be a cumbersome reading. The author delves into complex interrelationships, details of setting and details of spirit. He describes meals. He describes embroidery. He describes family crests. He tells their history and spares us no irony. The characters’ metal processes and sarcasms as well are laid bare

The manner in which the story unfolds is as unusual as the level of detail presented. Each chapter is told from a different character’s Point of View. Occasionally, when it is critical to the reader’s comprehension, the author presents the same sequence more than once. Nuance is everything here, as it is in real life. Missed detail, I found out early on, have a habit of coming back as unexpected answers, so I stifled my occasional desires to skim ahead.

I read some reviews by other readers that didn’t think it mattered, what kind of lace bodice a character might be wearing to one meal or meeting, but I found that in a cumulative sense, each detail completed my understanding of each character’s actions and choices. I know how it feels to wipe gritty dust from my eyes, smell low tide at a river’s mouth, or eat something I don’t really like. So reading the sequences of description brought the experiences of the characters home for me. Ditto for the careful descriptions of the food and drink. It’s best not to hurry through these volumes, but to read them in a measured pace when you are alert enough to absorb it all. This isn’t a series to read on your way to work while riding on a subway car or bus.

After the third volume, I found myself dreaming of Westeros – the primary setting, as well as the interactions of the characters. I haven’t done that for many years and many books. I also had to put my own work aside, as I found the author’s voice intruding into my own thinking and my own stories. I had the problem once before, when I‘d finished reading one of Tolkien’s partially finished masterpieces, The Silmarillion. Finished by his son Christopher Tolkien from notes and drafts, it also was not an easy read, but a transforming one. The ideas it expressed were so fundamental and thought-provoking, they resided in my mind for many years after I completed the book and are still there, now. This has forced me to question my own work carefully as it jumps from my imagination; to be sure it isn’t wearing elven grey cloaks! Now, I’ll be watching out for enameled breastplates and chainmail as well.

Where any similarity ends, though is in the brutal honesty of the characters, their speech and their missteps. These are real people, crippled by their sins as much as their dreams. They’re hobbled by the world they have grown up in and the perceptions they hold close. They’re subject to the restrictions and blindness that plagues our world. That makes their behavior so understandable that at times, I found myself recalling memories in an endless avalanche of recognition. The stories are true. It is known.

The author also covers some spiritual ground that deserves tilling again and again. Fortunately, for me, it was rendered gently. The evolution of two major characters, along these lines, although unique, still was familiar enough to be completely believable for this reader. That was important, as organized religion’s pressure – there are several strong systems of belief here – is key to the motivation of many of the characters. The collision between the old and the new is illustrated throughout the series, mirrored in our own civilizations. Mirrored in our own wars and hatreds.

The HBO series, it turned out, did not dilute my pleasure or surprise during the many bumps in the darkness at all. I had expected that giving me an initial memory of the characters faces would minimize my grasp of the suggestions within the writing. In my case, however, the reverse held true. The TV series had such an amazing fidelity to the written word, it carried me along possibly better than if I hadn’t seen Ned Stark’s face, or Catelyn’s or Arya’s… or Tyrion’s. None of these characters or the hundreds of others will easily slip from your memory for some time, whether or not you’ve seen the HBO series.

Finally, I would suggest that if you put aside the many steps in the journey in favor of the destination, you won’t feel satisfied when you’ve turned the last page. There is justice, and there is acceptance and there is discovery, but much takes place along the way. If you keep yourself open to the many details and the many characters. The ending and catharsis eventually unfold where you believe they will, but not in the manner or at the hands of the expected, or in the expected destination, so it pays to keep the details sorted out for the riches experience. Again, the appendices helped. If you hated your college level classes in Medieval Studies, Political Science or never really liked that comparative religion course, then this work-out will not be a task you’ll appreciate. Following up to insure the fidelity of such a mountain of detail gives me great admiration for the author’s organizational abilities alone. I think I lost some serious brain fat, too.

The ending brings what you finally expect it to, yet it seems not to really end the tale at all, somehow. I had a distinct impression that we haven’t heard the last of the Seven Kingdoms. Mr. Martin may certainly feel the need to continue the trip in the future. I hope he does. If you like tidy packages and tidy players, this Song may not be your favorite. On the other hand, if you enjoy a road trip that shows you a good time, serves up tasty meals and leaves you wistful for the next, buy a ticket right away. And be sure to take a light jacket. Winter is coming.

Kelly (and the Book Boar)

2,599 reviews8,857 followers

December 5, 2014

Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/

“In the game of thrones, even the humblest pieces can have wills of their own.”

A Song of Ice and Fire (A Song of Ice and Fire, #1-5) (3)

When I first heard about the Song of Ice and Fire series I assumed it was for supernerds who reside in their mother’s basem*nts and only dare to venture into the daylight in order to L.A.R.P. on the weekends (my apologies to all basem*nt-dwelling-L.A.R.P.E.R.S. for the previous comment). When rumors of the books becoming a series on HBO started, I decided to give it a shot and read A Game of Thrones. And I liked it . . . but good lord did it have a lot of pages and continuing on to book #2 while working a full-time job and raising two young children with busy schedules just wasn’t in the cards. Not to mention the fact that I hate books in a series with a fiery passion!!!!!!

Obviously the hype about GoT never died down, and I found myself saying I would definitely make time to read the remaining books over the winter – and then I said the same thing the next winter – and the next (apparently using “Winter is Coming” as your motivator DOES NOT work). Then a bunch of motherf*ckers decided to start chiming in all over my interwebs about how they were such fans, and G.R.R.M. is their hero, and posting spoilers EVERYWHERE, and a bunch of blah, blah, blah bullsh*t only for me to find out that they were all non-readers who watched the t.v. show, but had not read one page of the books (which would have been perfectly acceptable until they decided to start doing all of the aforementioned). (Note: The dild*s who spoil everything good about television and film are the same ones who incessantly post how successful they are at their various “fitness challenges”). In an effort to maintain at least a couple of my Facebook friends, I decided it was high time to say F-it-all to my responsibilities and do my own “30-Day Facebook Challenge” – which meant I would read the 5-book box set in one month. Plus, it was June and we all know Martin is GREAT when it comes to weddings ; )

Now that I’ve read all five books consecutively, what can I possibly say to sum it up? I liken A Song of Ice and Fire to birthing a child. A horrible, monstrous little child . . .

A Song of Ice and Fire (A Song of Ice and Fire, #1-5) (4)

Okay, that might be too gross for some of you. Let’s go with comparing this to a marriage – you have to enter it knowing you are committing for better or worse, in

murder sickness and in health. You won’t always be in love. Martin will test your patience and will attempt to rip your heart out. You will want to throw a plate at his head one minute and be ready for some "make-up sex" the next.

Discussions with friends who have either read or watched this series have confirmed to me that most of us easily compare it to a relationship and that it is a very individual experience.

You alone will decide if you would choose to be a Stark, or a Lannister, or a Frey, or a Tully, or a Targaryen, etc.

A Song of Ice and Fire (A Song of Ice and Fire, #1-5) (5)

You alone will decide which individual to route for

A Song of Ice and Fire (A Song of Ice and Fire, #1-5) (6)

You alone will decide which portion of the realm you would wish to claim as your own

A Song of Ice and Fire (A Song of Ice and Fire, #1-5) (7)

And at the end of it all, when Martin has killed off people you love and blurred the lines between right and wrong and good and evil, you might find yourself trying to wrap your head around exactly how you ended up routing for bad guys or maybe hoping to hear a little more from the ancillary characters like Dolorous Edd or The Greatjon come Books 6 and 7 (and 8 and 9?????) in hopes of saving your sanity.

The only thing that remains is the question of “who will sit the iron throne at the end of it all?”

A Song of Ice and Fire (A Song of Ice and Fire, #1-5) (8)

Although theories abound, I’m sorry to tell you that every single one of you is wrong. The true king of the Seven will be none other than:

Now that I’m up to speed, it will be hard to move on to something else (I’m being hounded by co-workers to begin the Outlander series. To them I say

shut your filthy whor* mouths maybe next summer). For now, I bid you adieu to rejoin the masses in their fervent cries of “WHEN WILL BOOK 6 COME OUT???????” and leave you with these wise words that have held true over the course of the series thus far:

A Song of Ice and Fire (A Song of Ice and Fire, #1-5) (10)

Oh, and just in case you were wondering:

A Song of Ice and Fire (A Song of Ice and Fire, #1-5) (11)

    favorites puppy-squisher read-in-2014


13 reviews2 followers

July 23, 2012

It's never master prose, but the first three of these novels--eh, particularly the first two--are just so thorough and imaginative that I devoured them, and book three...and, more slowly, book four...and then sort of skipped through book five with the despondent sense that Martin may never finish this series. Honestly, all I want is for Arya to become the Number One Badass Ever and I will be happy. Be warned when you start this series: You'll get invested in the handful of characters you start with, but they'll slowly get diluted with side characters (some of which you'll like, but some of which you honestly couldn't care less about--I won't say who fits each category, as I'm sure it's different for everyone). Days will turn into nights which will turn into days, you still won't be finished with Book Five, and even if you do finish it, it will be with at least some level of concern, because the end--which gets clearer with every book--seems further away than ever.

    fiction science-fiction young-adult

Auntie Terror

453 reviews111 followers

April 23, 2020

First let me say I know that there are many people who adore this series, and I respect that. For your own peace of mind, and mine, maybe stop reading now. For I did not find A Song of Ice and Fire all that I was lead to expect it to be.

Disclaimer: The following review is highly subjective and contains spoiler

For the first two hundred something pages of "A Game of Thrones", I was thrilled enough to buy the boxed set. If I hadn't, book three, "A Storm of Swords", would have been the last for me, and possibly I wouldn't even have finished it.

So, what was my problem?
Great expectations, so to speak. From what I had heard about this series, it was better than Tolkien and had basically none of the typical stereotypes of the fantasy genre. It was supposedly well-balanced (something that always appeals to me as a pen and paper player), well-written, and flawless... Nope, it isn't.

First of all, I expected a great fantasy epic in the league of the Lord of the Rings, but for quite some time I got a historical fiction series which transplanted the War of Roses and other bits of British history to an imaginary world. The fantastic elements seemed more decorative than a necessity to the plot for quite a lot of the time. Yes, the dragons were said to be important for the overall great plot of Targaryens returning to power – but as far as the books reach now, their maximum use was to set the occasional enemy or shepherd boy on fire and otherwise be kept locked up. And yes, there is the whole Bran plot line. But so far there hasn't been anything useful coming of that, or even any explanation for the rising enemies, white walkers, or Coldhands who seems one of those but actually helps the heroes.
None of the fantastic elements feel as if there is an actual system of magic with rules and regulations behind it all. They seem to be put in place mostly for showy effect. If otherwise, I guess one of the two (said to be) following books will have to focus on that, and nothing more, to make it comprehensive.

The other book, then, will have to deal with wrapping up the stories of characters not accounted for by Bran's or Daenerys' more magical plots. As of “A Dance with Dragons”, they are scattered all across this fictitious world, without much connection and not exactly quick ways of transportation. Arya will take a few years to become the super-assassin she seems intended to be. Sansa is still busy being object of desire/ward of Peter Baelish in that remote valley. The other potential dragon rider, John Snow (who so obviously is the late Ned's nephew by his sister and Daenerys' also late father – gosh, they'll have so much to talk about once they're married as brother and sister should be!), is kind of dead or dying – which, of course, is nothing that ever kept anyone from mucking about in Westeros, is it? And then there is Cersei, and Tommen, and Jaime and Brienne, and, oh yes, Rickon Stark who supposedly also wanders about still somewhere, and the Ironborn, and Theon.
I don't quite see how Mr Martin'll do it in two books without pulling some cheap tricks. And neither does he, it seems, when you look at the publication dates have come and gone...

Then there is this whole topic about female representation (which seemed to me bound up in clichees from the 1950s, such as a lack of brains, self-discipline, and independence – even Brienne of Tarth regularly needs men to save her from her enemies) here, and sexual encounters which so often are strongly initiated (not to say: violently forced) by the men. I'll leave it at that, or else this will turn very long and ranting.
In the same field, somehow, there is the gods. This is so blatantly directed to show that Christian monotheism is the right thing that I wanted to scream at points: Who is the only God here who gets things done? Not the old heathen tree gods, not the newer, more civilized Seven – but the one God of Light. Anybody else reminded of some guy with a typical halo whose followers had a nasty habit of burning people at the stake for a while?

So, to cut a long rant short:
A Game of Thrones was a historical novel with some fantasy stage props, but it wasn't a bad read at all.
A Clash of Kings was my favourite part, with less action, but more general development story-wise.
A Storm of Swords was a bloodbath where I felt that even the author sometimes forgot where he was headed, with all the rolling heads and hacked-off limbs, and so forth.
A Feats for Crows was like reading about people doing everyday housework while a radio in the background lets you know that there are interesting things happening elsewhere – which you don't get to hear about, though.
A Dance with Dragons was not quite as bad, but it definitely had too many characters just moping or being indecisive which lead to an (unnecessary) lack of development in the greater plot line.

Having begun to watch the TV series now, I can see where the adoration in many cases comes from. This adaption is much improved due to strict editing, and if you have the TV characters in mind while reading the books, they might even overlay their shortcomings (of intellect in female characters, for example) in print.

If you haven't read this so far and haven't watched the TV series, but would like to, do not expect as much of it as you will have heard people praise it for. Make allowances for lengthiness and clichees. Then you might be able to enjoy this more than I did.

This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.



730 reviews501 followers

December 7, 2016

I'm going to start my review of this 5000+ page, still-in-progress monster by saying something that will probably piss off a lot of fantasy fans. High fantasy, as a literary genre, badly needs to be reconstituted. For over 50 years now people who write in this vein have been held in the thrall of writers like Tolkein and C. S. Lewis, writers who for all their imaginative prowess, were far too obsessed with cheap religious parables (Aslan=Jesus, etc.) and linguistic dicking around (made up languages) to really create and focus down on actual human characters. They fell so in love with the archtypes and mythos of their world(s) that they forgot the humans at its core, and quite simply they seemed not to care, as has often been the case with subsequent writers of high fantasy.

We have all read and watched enough media about chosen ones, dark lords, tediously byzantine systems of magic, creepy sexual bonds with dragons, etc to even pretend to be surprised or engaged by this stuff on anything more than a painfully superficial level anymore. That, to me is what makes a song of ice and fire so incredibly refreshing and engaging throughout its many many many pages. Martin puts the people in his world, no matter how awful or broken they may be (and everyone in these books is an awful, broken person at one level or another) at the center of his writing, he makes westeros about them and their struggles, instead of forcing them to revolve around some clever clever tropes that he simply regurgitated from someone else (cough christopher paolini cough). Not only that, but he is able to sketch out descriptions that flesh out his world without burying the reader in tedious, unnecessary details but which still conjure up the dark, sad history of the 7 kingdoms. Honestly, I think his world building has more akin to the 19th century novelists like Hugo and Tolstoy than it does with his more obvious, obtusely prudish fantasy predecessors. And god, can he write women well. More serious literary novelists should take notes on the chapters written from the points of view of Catelyn, Cersei Arya, etc.

The real emotional core of these books, the profound sense of violence and loss that comes with living in such a militantly unfair civilization really comes to the fore in the chapters about women. How many writers of any kind of fiction are able to do that? Not many, and certainly not many of the kinds of fiction writers who would be inclined to thumb their noses at a fantasy epic. In terms of the immediacy of his prose, his ability to orchestrate literally hundreds of characters and seemingly tens of thousands of plot points, all while creating fully realized, fleshed out characters and giving them space to breathe and live within their world, Martin is the single best, most original writer of fantasy fiction currently active. When the dust settles and the series ends, he will probably prove to be even better than the stodgy predecessors he owes so much to. (There, I said it.)



293 reviews9 followers

April 17, 2020

Great story cycles usually come in threes (“The Lord of the Rings,” “Griffin and Sabine,” “The Hunger Games”).

I wish George R. R. Martin, the author of “A Song of Ice and Fire” series, had confined himself to a trilogy, too. Okay, maybe five books, at the most.

Instead, I’m afraid this series which started out so well is going to turn into one of those interminable, overly-ambitious epics that collapse into a big, sprawling mess before finally limping to a conclusion. (Remember the “Earth’s Children” series by Jean Auel?)

At this rate, the successful HBO TV series based on these books is going to overtake the author and his fans will start to lose interest.

I tore through the first three books of this series (“A Game of Thrones,” “A Clash of Kings,” and “A Storm of Swords”). Usually I’m not much of a fantasy-genre fan, but even I liked these first three books.

The stories, which take place in an unspecified time period which seems medieval, chronicle the exploits of the Stark, Lannister, and Baratheon families and the other houses that follow them during their battles over who will rule the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros. In a separate storyline set on another continent, there’s also an exiled princess who hopes to come back and reclaim Westeros.

There’s just enough dragons, magic and sorcery to qualify the stories as fantasy, yet they are also realistic enough to be totally believable. There’s also lots of brutality, gore and sex in them, so be forewarned if you’re squeamish about those things.

The best thing about these books is the rich and complex characterization. The dwarf Tyrion Lannister, the knight Jaime Lannister, and the Lady Catelyn Stark are some of the most complicated, morally ambiguous, yet ultimately likeable fictional characters that I’ve encountered in a long time.

I also liked the positive, diverse portrayal of women in this series. There are several strong female characters who use their wit and cunning to get what they want in spite of the restrictions of their societies.

However, the series starts to bog down in the fourth book, “A Feast for Crows,” and gets worse in the fifth, “A Dance with Dragons.” Just as we get caught up in the fates of familiar characters we’ve come to know and love (or hate), Martin introduces a whole slew of other characters in whom we’re also supposed to make an emotional investment. (We do in some, but not most.) There’s also way too much exposition that doesn’t do much to move the plot forward.

Martin is certainly an imaginative and talented writer. I just hope he doesn’t sacrifice cohesiveness on the altar of creativity. It takes great discipline to know when enough is enough and wrap things up into a satisfying conclusion.

The only modern writer who has been able to successfully create a series of this scale in a timely manner without losing its fan base is JK Rowling with the “Harry Potter” books. And even she almost ran out of steam by the last book.

There’s supposedly two (maybe even three) more books to go in the Ice and Fire series. I sincerely hope Mr. Martin proves me wrong and finishes up this series in the way it deserves.

    adventure fantasy fiction


737 reviews896 followers

May 30, 2019

A Song of Ice and Fire (A Song of Ice and Fire, #1-5) (16)

This leather-cloth-bound box set is without a doubt the most beautiful thing on my bookshelf. The blurb does not lie - size of these books is extremely convenient and very easy to handle while you read. Paper is super thin, so even though books are long they are not heavy. An edition worth of such masterpiece as is A Song of Ice and Fire. I truly hope that Bantam Books will print books #6 and #7 when they are released in the same format so I can add them to this collection.

    5-stars-read bookshelves-owned fantasy


339 reviews5 followers

May 9, 2021


A Song of Ice and Fire is a series of epic fantasy novels by the American novelist and screenwriter George R. R. Martin. He began the first volume of the series, A Game of Thrones, in 1991, and it was published in 1996. Martin, who initially envisioned the series as a trilogy, has published five out of a planned seven volumes. The fifth and most recent volume of the series, A Dance with Dragons, was published in 2011 and took Martin six years to write. He is currently writing the sixth novel, The Winds of Winter. A seventh novel A Dream of Spring is planned.

A Song of Ice and Fire takes place on the fictional continents Westeros and Essos. The point of view of each chapter in the story is a limited perspective of a range of characters growing from nine in the first novel to 31 characters by the fifth novel. Three main stories interweave: a dynastic war among several families for control of Westeros, the rising threat of the supernatural Others in northernmost Westeros, and the ambition of the deposed king's exiled daughter to assume the Iron Throne.

Martin's inspirations included the Wars of the Roses and the French historical novels The Accursed Kings by Maurice Druon. A Song of Ice and Fire received praise for its diverse portrayal of women and religion, as well as its realism. An assortment of disparate and subjective points of view confronts the reader, and the success or survival of point-of-view characters is never assured. Within the often morally ambiguous world of A Song of Ice and Fire, questions concerning loyalty, pride, human sexuality, piety, and the morality of violence frequently arise.

The books have sold 90 million copies worldwide as of April 2019, after having been translated into 47 languages as of January 2017. The fourth and fifth volumes reached the top of the New York Times Best Seller lists upon their releases. Among the many derived works are several prequel novellas, a TV series, a comic book adaptation, and several card, board, and video games.


For the first time, all five novels in the epic fantasy series that inspired HBO's "Game of Thrones "are together in one boxed set. An immersive entertainment experience unlike any other, A Song of Ice and Fire has earned George R. R. Martin--dubbed "the American Tolkien" by "Time" magazine--international acclaim and millions of loyal readers. Now here is the entire monumental cycle:
Winter is coming. Such is the stern motto of House Stark, the northernmost of the fiefdoms that owe allegiance to King Robert Baratheon in far-off King's Landing. There Eddard Stark of Winterfell rules in Robert's name. There his family dwells in peace and comfort: his proud wife, Catelyn; his sons Robb, Brandon, and Rickon; his daughters Sansa and Arya; and his bastard son, Jon Snow. Far to the north, behind the towering Wall, lie savage Wildings and worse--unnatural things relegated to myth during the centuries-long summer, but proving all too real and all too deadly in the turning of the season.
Yet a more immediate threat lurks to the south, where Jon Arryn, the Hand of the King, has died under mysterious circ*mstances. Now Robert is riding north to Winterfell, bringing his queen, the lovely but cold Cersei, his son, the cruel, vainglorious Prince Joffrey, and the queen's brothers Jaime and Tyrion of the powerful and wealthy House Lannister--the first a swordsman without equal, the second a dwarf whose stunted stature belies a brilliant mind. All are heading for Winterfell and a fateful encounter that will change the course of kingdoms.
Meanwhile, across the Narrow Sea, Prince Viserys, heir of the fallen House Targaryen, which once ruled all of Westeros, schemes to reclaim the throne with an army of barbarian Dothraki--whose loyalty he will purchase in the only coin left to him: his beautiful yet innocent sister, Daenerys.

A Song of Ice and Fire, still unfinished by Martin, is frequently cited as one of the best fantasy series ever written. And I agree.
First of all, these books are incredibly complex.
There are more than a hundred characters very important for the plot, and more than a thousand characters that are not ultra-important, but you will need to remember them nevertheless to follow all the side-plots along the way.
Then there are 10 to more-than-20 chapter POVs per book, and most of them are happening at the same time which means you have to figure out the chronology of the plot yourself.
Let's not forget Martin's prose, dry, grey, and focused on detail - something which only one reader in a hundred likes.
But most people complain about the pace of the series - especially the last two books, A Feast for Crows, and A Dance with Dragons - and it can be very, very slow.
Ruthlessly killing off characters when the plot demands it - never mind if it is some minor character no one cares about or , Martin does it without looking back.
The funny thing with A Song of Ice and Fire as a fantasy series is that there is very little fantasy in it. Like, very, very little.


And now something you have all been looking forward to - books rankings!

5. A Dance with Dragons - 4.0 stars (the slowest of them all, with the least plot and weakest characterization - but hey, it is still a very fun and solid read - also, I would say that it has the best prologue and epilogue of all the other books in the series)

4. A Feast for Crows - 4.1 stars (most people absolutely despise this one because there is not Daenerys, Tyrion, and Jon Snow in it, but Dorne, Cersei, and Jaime were more than enough to make me happy)

3. A Game of Thrones - 4.1 stars (it is almost a tie between AFFC and AGOT, but unfortunately the first book of the series is still just a bit better than the fourth - Eddard and Sansa chapters and outstanding plot save it - Arya, Bran and Tyrion chapters were a bit excruciating to read at times, but Martin was still warming up...)

2. A Clash of Kings - 4.2 stars (the War of the Five Kings, part one of Arya's great journey, Daenerys in Qarth, total chaos in King's Landing, and Joffrey's madness conduct this book full of color, richness, and layers)

1. A Storm of Swords - 4.5 stars (this 1200-pages beast of a novel is definitely George R.R. Martin's magnum opus - it is full of action, twists, extraordinary characterization, ingenious plot, and - practically everything one epic fantasy book needs!)

That's it! For any questions feel free to comment or write me a message :)


Gareth Jones

4 reviews6 followers

April 24, 2012

Like most I know, I discovered this series when the HBO television adaption aired on Sky in 2011 and was instantly gripped. Since then I have read all of the books back-to-back and wow... they are AMAZING!

I am NOT a typical fantasy fan... in fact the idea of goblins and wizards going off on some good vs evil quest of grand proportions does NOTHING for me. But this is no typical fantasy novel. The story spans several view-points from across the fictional lands of Westeros and beyond. It is a story where no characters are safe from harm (or death) at any time. Each of the character-arcs are expertly woven and plot developments continually keep you in the dark whilst simultaneously steadily moving toward what can be some really devastating conclusions.

What I love about these books is that every character serves their own purpose, has their own private agendas and are all capable of good and bad to one extent or another... they do what they must to survive, and through their actions I found myself able to relate to and bond with these fictional people, who I have loved, loathed, pitied and despised. These novels are extremely character-centric which means the reader really does become emotionally involved with its characters, and believe me I did!

As with a lot of other fantasy series' ASOIAF is set during a medival time-frame, a time defined by murder, chivalry, classes and war... a lot of war. However unlike other fantasy series' magic and mythical monsters do not play a major role, but instead is allowed to steadily build and spread from the beginning, with beings such as the mystical Others, skin changers, wights, dragons and more. This gives the series more of a realistic grounding, and is perfectly researched by Martin.

The bottom line is that I found this series truly addictive. It was difficult to put down at times and I really cannot recommend it enough. Give it a go... you will not regret it!


Susan K

21 reviews

April 11, 2012

I've been contemplating my response to this series; it's complicated. On the one hand, since receiving the 1st of the series, I've read all 5 published books. On the other hand, I am continually disappointed in the books.
I have not yet seen the vision behind this series; although each POV chapter can "hook" you, I don't believe the author has a clear vision of where he wants his characters to be. There are some truly horrible characters in this series: folks I have absolutely no connection to; folks I abhor. In fact, in some ways this series reminds me of why I detest "reality TV" (survivor; Housewives of....").
I have not yet detected the underlying thread to this series. I am annoyed by the author in many ways: he uses way too many words to tell his story.
I also think calling this series "fantasy" is a misnomer. This series could be better called historical fiction. NOTHING in these books is "fantasy" except for cursory connections to "wargs" "others" etc...this is truly nothing but historical fiction with a few odds & ends added. Everything within the narrative could be framed within what we know about the pre-enlightment period of european history.
I'm so disappointed in this series...and YET: i've read all 5. So obvi, something is connecting. That something is the connection I have to a VERY FEW characters: Jon Snow, Arya Stark,Tyrion Lannister, Jamie Lannister. I want to know THIER story---and so have to wade through a bunch of crap to find it out.
You know, basically I think George RR Martin is a mediorcre (okay, BAD) writer....

Abhishek Tripathi

104 reviews11 followers

January 7, 2022

The five stars are for the series. I enjoyed it thoroughly. Only wishing were the story complete. But don't let that deter you from venturing in. It's a rich world, five thousand pages of fantastic imagination, detailed enough to immerse yourself in completely.

G.R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire is everything that readers - especially those in the fantasy genre - crave for. It's remarkably easy to read, despite its copious length and a mindbogglingly complex plot structure. Martin's language is rich, with vivid poetical descriptions of beautiful alien landscapes, and kick-ass characters with whom you can relate instantly.

The overall mood is dark with grim violence and gory deaths. ASOIAF has its share of warring kings, scheming queens, blundering princes, noble bastards, flashy knights, gritty warriors, fire-breathing dragons, hardworking slaves, the blue-eyed walking dead, gorgeous evil women, and a spicy sprinkling of sex (though the TV adaptation seems to have gone a bit overboard there). In this one single story, you are in for a full spectrum of human emotions; love, violence, and everything in between; heartbreak, ambition, deceit, vengeance.

ASOIAF is what they call a 'low-fantasy' where the magic is not overboard. No flying sorcerers (dragons don't count) or shapeshifting Animorphs, sorry. It's a gritty but amazingly detailed world. Top that up with a civil war for the coveted Iron Throne and you have a heady brew. What more could you possibly want? Other than GRRM to finish the rest of the books. GRRR ...!

Tony Sullivan

Author3 books9 followers

June 4, 2014

From a distance the Game of Thrones/Song of Ice and Fire series looked hypermarketed, blockbusterish, clichéd.

No. Real quality.

Well, the books are blockbusterish in some ways - the pseudo-medieval setting, padded out with extended descriptions of secondary people, events and situations. But the series has attracted readers far beyond fans of this genre, due to the rich characterisations, plot, and imaginative depth, garnished here and there by passages of very good writing. It is further enhanced by the TV series, of which more later.

As Wikipedia will tell you, there are three intersecting themes. The vaguely European realm of Westeros is starting to fall apart as the rulers of various statelets vie for the high throne, left vacant by the fall of the 300-year-old Targaryen dynasty. From the icy north the realm is threatened by wild peoples, and other forces less easily understood. Meanwhile from Essos (the Mediterrean- and Mahgreb-like south-eastern lands) the exiled Targaryen scions, brother and sister, long to retake rule. Soon the brother departs, leaving only the young teen Daenerys to pursue the Targaryen claim.

At first magic is presented only through hints and references, but as the stakes rise a range of supernatural forces and personages step forward.

A notable quirk of this world is the erratic seasons. A ten-year summer is fading, with predictions of an equally long winter to come. It would behoove everyone to prepare well, but instead the warring provinces of Westeros sink down to amazing levels of chaos, carnage and misery.

Yet, the darker the night, the brighter the star. Daenerys swiftly matures into someone intrepid, resourceful, brilliant, resolute, and above all compassionate. She who at first seemed just one more player of the game of thrones looks more and more like the hope of the world. She is sometimes just a giggling 14-year-old, but then, through sheer finesse, she acquires an army. And Danaerys is the only person alive who owns dragons. Three of them: young, but rapidly growing, like her.

Like anyone trying to improve society, Danaerys is quickly set upon from all sides by people seeking to drag her down. And as her power grows she is a magnet for the sinister and the supernatural. Yet she has aid as well.

She is one of a vast range of characters. All the major ones are complex, well drawn works-in-progress: some noble and strong-willed, others vile. A very interesting aspect of the series is the number of characters who are vulnerable or damaged in some way. A dwarf man, an obese youth, a bastard, a crippled boy, a prince trapped as ward/prisoner in another noble's household. As a reader I keenly felt the difficulties and pain they each face due their situations, but never felt that their dialogue or descriptions had been vetted for political correctness by reference groups. Such a welcome change.

This also applies to the women: a helpless captive princess, a female knight ridiculed for her massive muscularity, the queen who bitterly resents life-long gender-based restrictions. The gender issues never feel imposed, they emerge authentically from circ*mstances and setting. The female characters are generally forceful, and some are allowed to do really wicked things (though this is softened in the TV series). There does seem to be a great many prostitutes, lots of under-age (in the books, at least) medieval sex, and many scenes of abuse of both women and men. Westeros is a harsh place. The TV series is R-rated.

Older, non-alpha males are allowed some dignity, as are older women. Beware though - even central characters can die, which adds sharpness to every menacing situation.

The story frequently mines real history for material - for example, a simple but cunning idea of Odysseus in The Iliad reappears, and there is a scene that reminded me strongly of the St Bartholomew's Day Paris 1572. All this reworked stuff enriches the tale.

The TV series cannot capture the full complexities of the story line, but does bring to life the key characters and scenes beautifully. Magnificent casting in almost every case.



34 reviews16 followers

June 25, 2015

There were so many things wrong with this series. The prose was sub-par,and there were too many characters to remember, let alone care about. The scenes in the slave cities felt tedious and unnecessary.It seemed like GRRM dangled us with no true purpose, cutting us off from an interesting storyline and then forcing us to slog through a dull one. One of my greatest gripes were the cliffhangers. I like to see my characters react to a powerful event- I want to hear what they're saying and thinking. I want to experience their terror or elation first hand- at that moment. Instead we hear about the event several chapters- or several BOOKS- later, and often in retrospect, after the characters have settled down and found themselves in an entirely new situation. It annoyed me that the evil queen stereotype appeared not once, but twice- with Melisandre as the real power behind Stannis, and Cersei, who seemed to degenerate in the novels from deliciously wicked, to incompetent and foolish as well.
This is the first fantasy series that I could really love and care about (or, to be honest, actually read). After five books, the characters and setting seem real. The perspectives are unique, and precociousness aside, GRRM does a great job with children and their heartbreaking loss of innocence. The history was powerfully ingrained and informed the actions of the book and the motivations of the older characters. I was not as great a fan of life outside Westeros, with the exception of Braavos, which seemed to me at times an Orientalist mishmash of various stereotypes (the evil slavers, the bloodthirsty horse lords, countless eunuchs, the 'seven sighs'). The use of disparate religions and the characters adherence to them was incredible. I loved the bleeding Weirwood trees, Melisandre and her Red God, and the songs dedicated to the Seven. I appreciate the realism of the book, with the plight of the smallfolk, the greyness of the characters, and the plausible deaths and romance. In this world magic is rarely a glorious solution to problems, but an interesting plot device that often leads to more problems. I also enjoy the magic systems that may or may not be real, such as prophetic dreams or the promises of the Red God. Most of all I loved that I had no idea what would happen next. Rarely do I come across a book so wildly unpredictable. I don't know what the outcome will be, but I can't wait to find out.

    2013 fantasy favorites

Heather Harris

103 reviews13 followers

November 18, 2011

I'm torn on this. I'd like to do 3.5 stars. On one hand, Martin really does have an amazing ability to tell stories. His writing is often very prose-like and reads very easily. He's excellent with details and creating characters that are very believable and easy to get attached to. His characters are very human: some good, some bad, all flawed but very well developed and with motivations. He also tends to kill off many, many characters that by traditional storytelling standards you'd never actually kill (usually due to being main characters). Odd as it may sound, it's actually kind of a nice change of pace; you really don't know who will or won't die, and so it's much more realistic. It also gives the story more weight, as no character is safe, but their deaths still mean something and they aren't just expendable. But on the other hand, Martin puts A LOT of very explicit sex throughout the books. While I appreciate that he doesn't focus or dwell on it, it's still a lot more detailed than I care to know. Cutting away from the scene, leaving things to the imagination instead of specifically telling everything would be preferable. Were it not for the abundance of this, I'd easily give these books 5 stars and recommend them unreservedly to friends. I really dislike how much and how explicit the sex is, hence the lower rating and my hesitation to recommend the series to friends.

Rita van Eck

30 reviews2 followers

April 20, 2015

A great fantasy series that will take over your life. The detail and extent to which Martin has gone to create this world will enthrall you on every possible level. Be prepared to shed many tears for fictional characters and become obsessed with the world of Westeros.


36 reviews

April 18, 2024

Thoughts after my ASOIAF reread (including doing a combined reading order for the last two published volumes in the series this time):
- Multi POV with character work is very well done, the best in epic fantasy I have read so far
- Transitions between chapters/scenes is great
- Immersive world
- Writing is good but some tics start creeping in Books 4 and 5 - their presence is quite inexplicable (in that they could have been edited away) and they persist throughout.
- The pacing (or more specifically plot progression) alternates between very rapid to glacially slow. However, the books remain unputdownable.
- Grumpy Alan Moore described Game of Thrones as a soap opera (unclear whether he was talking about the show or book). I will agree but qualify that this a pretty engaging dramatic soap opera. Good stuff.

I will comment a bit on the structure and individual installments (non-spoiler).
- A Game of Thrones (ASOIAF #1) is a prologue (following the sprawling epic fantasy or soap opera drama analogy)
- A Clash of Kings (ASOIAF #2) can be read as setup for Act 1. This means the plot progression is slower, there is a lot of POV introduction and expansion of the world. Towards the end (last quarter) we start to see all the payoff.
- A Storm of Swords (ASOIAF #3) can be read as culmination of all the setup/payoff for Act 1 while leaving the space open for Act 2. The best installment in the series according to most readers, and I would agree.
- A Feast For Crows/A Dance With Dragons (ASOIAF #4 and #5) was actually meant to be one book and there is a combined reading order online which I followed this time. It works but like Clash, it can be read very much as setup of Act 2 where the world sprawls even more and Martin does something audacious by doubling the number of POVs. It is interesting but at times, it is weighed down by the scale of its ambition imo, also because we don't get to see the payoff.
- In my opinion The Winds of Winter will be said payoff of Act 2 like Storm was for Act 1 and A Dream of Spring will be the Epilogue.
- Elephant in the room: do I recommend the series? Yes provided the lack of conclusion doesn't bother you because it genuinely is unfinished. If it does bother you, I recommend stopping at the prologue (Book 1) or Act 1 (Book 3) until the remaining installments are released.
- which brings me to the second elephant in the room: what are the chances of this series being finished? The combined reading order of Feast/Dance was very interesting in that (on this reread at least) I could see almost exactly where Martin started to fumble. In my opinion, it is very difficult to coalesce the amount he has expanded the world, the POVs, the open questions. However, it is not impossible. It is sad how such a promising series lost its way.

Overall, a very good series whose reading experience is tinged with sadness at its unfinished status.



145 reviews19 followers

September 22, 2022

Okay, this book series is serioulsy the BEST! I'll try to make a "crossword" for the reasons why I loved this series :)

A~ Amazing Plot! Always kept me in agony, and it never got boring!
S~ Stunning worldbuilding. Martin creates cultures, religions, languages, traditions, and he makes us understand all these, whithout even get boring. We all know that many times, worldbuilding seems like a history lesson in some books. But in ASOIAF, we get to understand everything, through the plotline. You can almost hear the Braavosi accent, smell the khalasar, feel the heat of Dorne, and you're not even there!
O~ Of course, great characters! (I couldn't find something for O, so sorry if I cheated ;) I loved and hated characters with such a passion, like they were real. (Oh, no! They don't exist!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) Some of my favorites are:

Lady Nym
Tyrion Lannister
Edd Tollet
Arya Stark
Theon Greyjoy (but only in the last book)

I~ I couldn't leave the books aside! I just wanted to read one more page and one more page! After I finished each book, I wanted to read the next one ASAP.
A~ Amazing quotes! You know, I've got a notebook where I write all the quotes I love from books, and half of those quotes are now from ASOIAF. Here are some I love:

“Swift as a deer. Quiet as a shadow. Fear cuts deeper than swords. Quick as a snake. Calm as still water.”

“Why is it that when one man builds a wall, the next man immediately needs to know what's on the other side?”

“History is a wheel, for the nature of man is fundamentally unchanging. What has happened before will perforce happen again.”

“A day will come when you think yourself safe and happy, and suddenly your joy will turn to ashes in your mouth, and you'll know the debt is paid.”

"Every hurt is a lesson, and every lesson makes you better."

F~ Feelings. Those books made me cry, laugh, scream, yell, weep. I got angry, mad, happy, sad. My feelings were seriously a roller coaster.

    fantasy fiction

Dana Al-Basha | دانة الباشا

2,270 reviews910 followers

Want to read

May 22, 2018

A Song of Ice and Fire (A Song of Ice and Fire, #1-5) (27)

    audiobook from-words-to-screen own

Jonathan Ralph Whittaker

51 reviews

July 13, 2012

I hopefully won't spoil anything for anyone that even bothers to read these reviews, I'm just writing for my own satisfaction and to get my own thoughts of these books out of my head really.

I admit I was drawn into these because of the tv series however despite that I've grown fonder of the books, you can't really put the tv series and books into the same category. The books are so in depth to almost, and I say ALMOST, rival Tolkein (note the R R in both Tolkein and Martin, coincidence?)
the politics, the family feuds, the battles, the grittiness, the sex, just the pure vastness of this series makes this read seem more than a mere novel more like an incredible history lesson.

4 stars because there at times that Martin really is placing a hell of a lot of trust in his readers, drawing out on characters, plot lines, relationships that don't necessarily seem to warrant that much of my attention and yet completely stopping on story lines and characters that I will sit there and re-read half a dozen times over before I continue on, but i guess that's life, the good guy doesn't always win. I just hope to god in Martin's 2 yet to be released novels, he answers my huge list of bloody questions.


3,315 reviews559 followers

July 9, 2018

Modern classic. I can only recommend to buy the whole bundle as you shall read them all. Once you start reading you can't stop. When you read the last volume you will cry out for more. Parallel you will watch GoT. This is an absolute must read!


1 review

October 9, 2012

I could not put these books down. Though 600-700 (or many more) pages each they are absolutely great. I highly recommend them to anyone who likes the time of kings and knights plus enjoys a fantasy twist. Each book had a "stunner" moment and you wonder how the series can go on, yet it does & does so wonderfully. George RR Martin created a cast of characters that are compelling and he expands upon them in different books so the stories are told from, & about, multiple angles and people. Truly a masterpiece.

I wish he wasn't working on the HBO series because he has at least 2-3 books left to wrap up the series, and that is only if he wants to. The rich, complex storyline which weaves between the books could result in 5+ more books if he wants. He isn't a fast writer, there is a large gap between two of the books (around 5 years if I remember correctly). NEEDING to know what happens next is driving me batty.

I've actually read them each twice (so far). :)


Author5 books39 followers

February 9, 2015

5 ADDITIONAL THOUGHTS on GoT, now that I have finished A Dance with Dragons.

10.) I finally forded the Trident, crossed the Dothraki Sea, braved the Brazen Beasts, sang "The Rains of Castamere," and made it safely home to write this review beside the hearth fire, although chances are that in my coffee is an exotic poison.

9.) Reading a series like this or LoTR makes me think that we must be created in the image of a creative God. If one human can create a world so rich and diverse with nothing but his mind, what could an omnipotent being unbounded by time-space do?

8.) The loveliest character still lives.

7.) The most abhorrent characters lives, too.

6.) Hodor.

Thoughts on a Five Book Series. Game of Thrones: books, not HBO series.

1.) Sometimes the series tastes like medicine, sometimes poison, and sometimes sand, but I have a hard time swallowing the medicine, spitting out the poison, or getting the gritty taste out of my mouth. You build up a tolerance though--and speed read. I fly through SANSA but slow down for JOHN or especially ARYA.

2.) I haven't finished A Dance with Dragons, and I'm not sure which characters will be left standing when the book closes. Martin already killed off (several names withheld). He is a fearless writer.

3.) Martin mapped so many characters so fluidly and deeply. I would never play chess against this man. He invents deeply flawed saints, sage madmen, endearing patricides. So few characters seem deeply pure, and while this is disturbing at times, it makes perfect sense why they are who they are. No great redemptive force binds together the fabric of this world--glimmers of hope, but there is no ring to drop into a mountain of fire, no eagles to save us, no Gandalf to rise from the pits.

4.) Connected to #3--"The American Tolkien"? It doesn't feel right to me. Tolkien's characters fight World War II--they fight so as not to be conquered. Martin recreates a Vietnam War, with characters simply looking to stay alive in a jungle of motivations, multiple meanings, and unforeseen skirmishes, ending in what? I'll find out soon.

5.) Recommend? Yes, but you won't find yourself reading this aloud to your children or significant other. It's not the book that makes you say, "Ah, I'm glad I went there tonight!" It's the book that leaves you saying, "I can't believe I went there again. Maybe I'll never return. Okay, maybe one more chapter. As long as it's not REEK. I can't handle him right now."

Riddhika Khanna

125 reviews44 followers

March 18, 2017

Actual Rating: 3.5

A world you can get easily lost in, a world you can easily relate to despite being so different from our current world order. A lot of situations and characters are so relevant even in today's world.

I liked that everyone is a grey character without any rights and wrongs. Well, that is how normal human beings are. I really liked the personality and character development by Martin in these volumes. The POA of all characters seemed fresh and intriguing.

Honestly speaking, I am amazed that all this is a creation of only one head. Martin is a true genius and a very learned history scholar. I read in a documentary that all the events in this series/books have actually happened sometime someplace in history. It is not that unrealistic.

Martin has touched upon various topics like religion, marriage, love, incest, greed of kings, schemes of queens, relationships, emotions, etc. I really liked the flow of the story involving such diverse elements.

The only problem I felt in Martin's writing is that he is a very meandering writer and gives importance to details which are not at all required. The first three books have been a gripping read. I loved the pace of the story and the way it is written. Each chapter ends at a point where you want to know more on what happened next. Reading the third book was exciting and gave me goosebumps.
However, the last two books were very average as compared to the first three. The writing was flat and Martin seemed to beat around the bush a lot. I somehow managed to read that book thinking the next one would be good. Sadly, the fifth book is all the more disappointing.
Dance of Dragons is ruthlessly slow and it seems we are going nowhere with the story. The only interesting part of the story was that of Danaerys Targaryen. Others have been boring.

Martin has taken a hell lot of time in building up characters and situations and still we are nowhere close to the ending or I should say we are nowhere close to any progress at all.

At this point of time, I have no interest in reading the next volume.
As I am still interested in the story and the complex plot lines, I will rather watch the show which has taken over the book series.

Recommendations: Only the first three books of the series are worth a read.

    fantasy war


Author12 books86 followers

March 12, 2012

So...I'm a little late to the Game of Thrones party. We don't have a TV so I was unaware that this was a hit TV series based on a 7-book series. Now that I've read it, I can see why.

It took a while to get accustomed to the POV switching with each chapter, but after a while this blended in and stopped being jarring.

What I like the most about this series is the characters. I love the spit-fire Arya and her dutiful yet somehow willful mother Caitlyn. Jon Snow has so many layers I could read about him for days. Each character has so much depth to them and despite only hearing from some of them only a few times each book, I was able to see growth in them all. That being said, Martin keeps killing off my favorite characters leaving me with ones I'd rather not hear from.

When I picked this set up, I thought the series was four books, so I was really surprised to learn that there are seven books total. To be honest, I'm not sure I'm up for more books. I'm about 1/4 way through book 4, and I'm starting to lose interest. The story lines are slowing down and I'm reading too much about characters moving from this place to that place.

I'm all about plot twists and the unexpected. The red wedding was genius. But some of this is getting a little too out there. Every time a character gets to a situation that might be a good thing for them, something else horrible happens. Now, I understand that conflict drives a story, but as a reader I need to see the occasional good thing happen for a character I like otherwise it's just depressing.

My biggest complaint is that this is not a series of 7 books, but rather one long book broken up into 7 parts. None of the books could stand on their own. None of them have any sense of resolution. Since I'm reading on my Kindle I don't have a good idea of when I'm reaching the end. So the end of each book takes me by surprise. The end of a book should be a surprise in what happens not that the end happened.

Despite what are some major flaws in my book, the story is still enjoyable. I'm just not sure that it's enough for me to finish the story.



17 reviews

August 31, 2012

I read all 5 in a row. Book one is fantastic, and is very well represented in the HBO series. Book 2 is almost as good, maybe I was just a little frustrated with the peril of all the characters. By book 3, I was used to the peril, and the writing kept me enthralled. Book three is by far the best of the series (so far, still waiting for 6 and 7 to be written). Book 4 is a little difficult because you are introduced to many new characters, and become frustrated not reading about some of your favorites from the previous books. Book 5 brings back all your favorite characters, and ties up a lot of interconnections between the different story lines. It's definitely not an ending. Everyone's favorite character, Jon Snow, gets quite a cliff hanger! Had I known, I may not have read book 5 until book 6 had been published. The waiting is killing me!


Author22 books120 followers

September 28, 2013

I’m not sure what to say in this review, but here goes.

This series is excellent if you like:

-Extremely slow moving plots
-So many characters you can’t tell most of them apart
-Watching people you like die
-Waiting for the people you hate to die
-Seemingly endless and, for the most part, pointless sex scenes, references to genitalia, incest, and so forth

Like a lot of people, I got sucked into these books after the HBO started up. I figured, “Hey, why not find out what happens so I won’t be caught off guard next time when a character I like gets his head whacked off?” So, I started reading. And I found out I like a lot of the characters way more in the books than on the show. I also found out that my assumption that hey, the books must be cleaner than HBO was wrong—HBO actually kept clothes on people during some scenes, which I very much appreciate. I hope they keep it up.

Many people love this series, and I can see why – starting off, it has beautiful writing and is very engaging, but later gets bogged down in its own unimportance. If you thought Tolkien overdid it in his slow-moving epic, he has nothing on Martin, who can devote entire chapters to absolutely no progress in the plot whatsoever. I’m a bit of a mover and shaker. I like to read stuff that gets to the point. In some ways, I think Martin should have devoted one book each to one or two characters, and then tied them together in book seven. From an editor’s perspective, it would have made more sense and kept him concerned with a more limited number of characters (such as: The Lannisters, The Starks, Danny/Her Dragons, Arya/the Hound, Sansa/Littlefinger, etc.) For one thing, you wouldn’t have to read the books revolving around characters you don’t like, and for another, you’d actually remember where lesser-seen characters ARE the next time you run across them… unlike in this format, where it can be 500 pages between installments for Arya.

It’s not all bad. Not by any means. He has a good plot… when it’s going somewhere. And a lot of these figures are unforgettable. He also does some nice “shock ‘n’ awe” moments… the best being Joffrey’s comeuppance (which I waited and rooted for endlessly… and am now bitter over the fact that HBO is making us wait for it), Tywin Lannister’s death (… really?!?), and Littlefinger’s unexpected betrayals. The final chapter in the third book is a thing of brilliance. Shame the rest of the novels didn’t hold my interest nearly as well.

I read the first two books chapter-by-chapter (but not word for word, because frankly, I don’t care what each of the castle dinner courses are like, or particularly care about large chunks of information that doesn’t much matter). By book three, I was starting to skim some chapters and skip others. When I realized book four was almost completely Jamie and Cersei, I only read about a fourth of it and then turned it back in to the library. The true tragedy of it is that the third book ends on a brilliant chapter about Sansa, Littlefinger, and snow castles, but we don't get to see much of them in the next book.

As someone who has systematically liked all the characters less and less as the series goes on (apart from Tyrion, Littlefinger, and Sansa) and has, as a result, become less and less interested in their fates, this is well nigh unforgivable. At this point, I don’t care about anything other than who wins the Iron Throne, and the fate of the Stark girls. But I have a sneaking suspicion that in twenty or so years, when the books are finished, I can just look up the information online and not have to bother slogging through the last two volumes. And that’s… not good. But the HBO series should end before then, and presumably have an actual resolution of these events, so maybe I won’t have to wait after all.


212 reviews11 followers

February 13, 2015

I hesitate to write a review for several reasons--the series isn't finished; it's a really complex book deserving a complex review that I'm not ready to write; and R. Sutton said a lot of it already.
But I'll say a few things anyway.

My number one criteria for loving (rather than liking) a book is how well it conveys a sense of place- a quality for which contemporary tastes seem to have little patience. A Song of Ice and Fire, like LOTR, delivers on place. Plus fully fleshed-out characters!! Hurray!

Several reviewers have commented that there's too much about extraneous characters, and that the plot might disintegrate in confusion. In all five books I have found no character or section extraneous. Sometimes the point of the scene was small--or not yet revealed . As I was reading along I might have thought I didn't need to know this, that or the other thing....but Martin has so far picked up so many of these details later on in the story that I have to go back now and check :"what shields were at that tourney?" I think he is in total control of the plot.

I cannot guess where the plot is going and that's a beautiful thing. I'm seriously irritated by the all too common criticism: "I can't tell where it's going." If you knew where it was going why would you bother to read it?

It's a genre-expanding book. I devoured Tolkien when I found him---but that was 40 years ago! Pale Tolkienesque imitators, domesticated dragons, flat characters on pointless quests, and workshopped plots have bored me to tears ever since. Thank Goodness for this renewal of the genre!

    defiesgenre favorites


51 reviews6 followers

June 4, 2012

I loved reading this series and really got into the books after watching the first season on TV... cut to 8 months later and finally finished. The series was great, and the 2nd half of each book full of twists and turns, happiness and anger. I had moments of wanting to throw book three across the room when something very unfortunate happened... but I restrained myself.

My main reason for giving this series a good solid 3 stars is because of the heavy description and character development I had to endure for the first 500 pages of each book. George creates way too many lands and characters which he then spends the first half of every book explaining to us. I believe if he had stuck to the main families: Lannisters, Starks, Targaryans and Black Brothers on the wall, the story would have been much more contained and simpler for us readers to follow.

That's not to say I didn't finish all five and will live in the Game Of Thrones world until book 6 comes out... whenever that will be. Damn the season final for season two was GREAT!


12 reviews

April 21, 2015


Margery Blue

20 reviews4 followers

April 28, 2015

This is my number 1 best series/books that I have ever read!
Still I can't find the words to describe it other than..

-Beautiful writing
-Amazing, complex story
-Very deep memorable characters
-it has everything; Action, Drama, Romance, Magic, and a lot, lot more!

Why have you not read it yet?!
Well you should.

But do not be intimidated by its monstrous size, trust me you wont feel its length ;)

And one VERY important word of advice while reading this is; DO NOT google ANYthing about it, or read reviews, or anything like that, because your more than likely to get an awful spoiler, which isn't very nice when your reading books of this size. I tried googling if this series is going to have a happy ending.. ... And I got a very, very bad spoiler concerning one of my favorite characters -_-

Happy Reading.

A Song of Ice and Fire (A Song of Ice and Fire, #1-5) (2024)


Are there 5 or 7 books in Game of Thrones? ›

The main story of A Song of Ice and Fire is a high fantasy work of fiction that encompasses five books to date. They are the quintessential pillars of the series and the primary material source for the Game of Thrones series.

Why is Got book 6 taking so long? ›

The Winds of Winter delay is due to George R.R. Martin's various projects, including writing for Game of Thrones & other books. Martin has admitted to struggling with writing the long-awaited book, which is expected to be the longest in the series.

Is Game of Thrones book 6 ever coming out? ›

The Winds of Winter is the forthcoming sixth novel in the epic fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire by American writer George R. R. Martin. The novel is expected to be over 1,500 pages in length.

What is the best way to read A Song of Ice and Fire? ›

Reading A Song of Ice and Fire in release order

If you're reading this series for the first time, this is probably the best, safest option — and probably the one you're looking for. Reading these in release order lets the focus remain on the central Song of Ice and Fire story.

Is Game of Thrones hard to read? ›

In terms of readability, A Game of Thrones comes in with a Flesch Reading Ease score of 87. This puts it in the realm of conversational English, so it should be easily understood and enjoyed by most readers.

What is the song of ice and fire book 7? ›

A Dream of Spring (A Song of Ice and Fire, #7) by George R.R. Martin | Goodreads.

How old is Daenerys in book 6? ›

How old is Daenerys in the books? Daenerys is 13 at the start of the series, turns 14 during A Game of Thrones, 15 at some point during A Clash of Kings, and is now 16 by the end of A Dance With Dragons.

Is Song of Fire and Ice complete? ›

However, with A Song of Ice and Fire series evolving into the biggest and most ambitious story he has ever attempted writing, he still has two more books to finish as of 2024. Martin said he needed to be in his own office in Santa Fe, New Mexico to immerse himself in the fictional world and write.

When did Game of Thrones stop using the books? ›

By the end of the hit show's fifth season, showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss had exhausted the source material of the book series. 2011's A Dance with Dragons—the most recent book—ends where Season 5 ends, and the final two books of A Song of Ice and Fire hadn't arrived.

What is the secret of the Song of Ice and Fire? ›

And if the world of men is to survive, a Targaryen must be seated on the Iron Throne. A king or queen, strong enough to unite the realm against the cold and the dark. Aegon called his dream 'The Song of Ice and Fire. ' This secret has been passed from king to heir since Aegon's time.

Why is it called Song of Ice and Fire? ›

As everyone knows, Game of Thrones is adapted from a book series called a A Song of Ice and Fire. There are plenty of ways to interpret this title, but it most clearly alludes to the duality of magic in the world of Westeros.

Why is Song of Ice and Fire so good? ›

The biggest factor in the greatness of A Song of Ice and Fire are the characters. No other story has characters half as good as those from A Song of Ice and Fire. They feel real. They have real thoughts, real feelings, and a real impact on the story.

Was Season 7 of Game of Thrones in the books? ›

The following is a list of differences between Game of Thrones: Season 7 and A Song of Ice and Fire. While all the plotlines in the show are ahead of the point the novels reached, there are still many differences between the episodes and the material source.

How many books are in the throne series? ›

eight books

Does Season 5 of Game of Thrones follow the books? ›

The fifth installment of Game of Thrones is known for its divergence from the books, though many other important plotlines still made it to the small screen. Jon Snow, Cersei Lannister, Arya Stark, and others followed similar storylines.

How many books does Game of Thrones cover? ›

Seasons 1 and 2 mostly covered the first two books, “Game of Thrones” and “A Clash of Kings.” The third and fourth seasons track (approximately) with the third book, “A Storm of Swords.” The show has also taken material from the next two books, “A Feast For Crows” and “A Dance With Dragons.” Those books will also ( ...

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