Short book review: A Game of Thrones

Yay! I’ve finished reading a book for the first time in years! I used to read a lot of books, but during my university years I couldn’t find the time for them (except during summer holiday). But now I do have time and I started reading again and I love it! And I want to talk about it.

This is a short and spoiler-free review of A game of Thrones, the first book of the A Song of Ice and Fire saga.

I’d never though I say this but: I recommend watching the tv-series first. It’s much easier to get into the book that way because it has a lot of different characters and places with difficult names, which are hard to keep track of. The first season of the show is pretty 1 on 1 with the book, but while the show focusses more on politics and shows relatively much violence and sex, the book (while it certainly contains these 3 aspects too) gives us more lore and depth, giving to story a way better fantasy-feel than the show. So if you liked the show and if you love reading, I really recommend reading the book.

That said, the characters and places and lore and history are still a bit hard to keep track of. A Wiki of Ice and Fire was a great help for me, just as this map. The book contains a map, but it lacks a lot of details and it does not contains all the places covered in the book. As for the wiki, when you’ve finished watching all the seasons of the show, you don’t really have to be afraid for spoilers, especially not for the first book (but if you’re a spoilerphobic like me, don’t go looking for stuff form the 4th and 5th book). Reading the lore on the wiki and keeping track of everyone on the map gave more depth to the experience for me.

Have you read a Game of Thrones or seen the show? What did you think of it?


About Tekira

26 year old psychologist, on the quest of finding a job, loves anime and games.

2 thoughts on “Short book review: A Game of Thrones

  1. kees van kempen says:

    I fulheartedly disagree with the remark you should watch the series before reading the books.
    You should never, I repeat never ever, do that.
    You would miss the opportunity to form your own images of the characters as would always link these to what you’ve seen.
    I would hate that.
    Watching the series first is just lazy, put some extra efforts in your reading and there you are.
    Enjoy the books (any book you might fancy) and than maybe, if you like, watch the series they nicked from the books.

    • Tekira says:

      I’d agree with you on any other book series, regarding forming your own images of the characters at least. But Game of Thrones/a Song of Ice and Fire is an exception for me, that’s why I wrote a blog about it. But first I want to say that I wouldn’t call watching the tv show first (in any franchise) lazy. It takes less time and effort, yes, but laziness doesn’t always have something to do with it. Maybe someone just prefers visual media above written media. When I started watching game of Thrones I simply didn’t have the time to dedicate myself to start reading a new book series. I had 3 jobs at the time and other time consuming hobbies. But I was interested in the franchise, so watching the series was a good way to introduce myself to it in the time that I had at hand. Besides, it’s also okay if people won’t read the books at all. Creating a movie or a tv show based on a book (series) only introduces more people to the franchise, even people that don’t like reading! And if it gets more popular, there will be more awesome stuff for sale and you can share your interest with more people! Isn’t it awesome that you can introduce someone who doesn’t like to read to a series that you love?

      I also don’t mind if a tv show or a movie differs from the original written material. I do think that the original is often better, but that doesn’t mean that the show or movie is bad. I try to judge movies and tv-series through the eyes of someone who isn’t familiar with the original books and I see the derived media as an alternate universe. I often find cuts or changes understandable, because you have to adept your script to the media that you are writing for. There are still writers who can absolutely rape a story of course *coughEragoncough*, but I think the writes of Game of Thrones did a pretty decent job until now (I don’t understand why they changed the 3-eyed Crow to the 3-eyed Raven though…). Besides, altering the plot of the derived media also gives added value. Why would you watch the series/read the book if both stories are exactly the same?

      So yea, back to the subject. Pros en cons on reading the books first and then watch the series, or the other way around:

      – the book is better
      Often, that is true, yes. But if you know that the book is better, you probably won’t be motivated to watch the series after reading the book, and maybe you’d miss out on something pretty awesome. Like I said, just that the book is better, doesn’t mean the the series is bad. But that might be hard to see if your vision is ‘clouded’ because of the book. I can only speak for myself, but if I watch a movie based on a book I’ve read, I only focus on the differences and I can’t really enjoy the movie anymore. If I’d watch the movie first without reading the original material, I might enjoy it more and judge it in its own right. However, watching the movie first and then read the book has a downside, which is:

      – Spoilers
      The big reason why I prefer to read books first. Of course this works both ways, if you read the book you will be spoiled in the movie and the other way around. But I prefer to go into books blank. This is also a reason why I don’t mind if the story in the derived media differs from the books.

      – You can’t form your own images of the characters/places/etc. if you watch the movie/series first.
      Also true, and usually I see this as a downside. But it’s personal whether you see this as a problem or not. I can imagine that people who don’t have much imagination won’t see this as a problem. Why I don’t mind this in a Song if Ice and Fire is that the series has soooo many characters. Let’s take Barristan Selmy as an example. He’s mentioned a few times in the first book, but he doesn’t really have an important role yet. Knowing me, I read about him, forget about him, and I’d be confused if I read about him again and I’d have to google him. But now that I’ve watched the series first, I have a face the first time that I read about him and I know who he is and I don’t get confused over all the other characters that are introduced within a short timespan (I’m bad enough at remembering faces and names irl as it is). Maybe you’re someone who doesn’t have trouble with that (good for you!), but a lot of people do.

      So yea, whether you should watch the series first or read the books first is kinda a personal thing, and I can see the arguments for both. I try to refrain from phrases as ‘you should do this’ or ‘this is the wrong way’, and I can only give people advice based on my own experience. But it’s great that we have the choice and that we can all make that for ourselves right?

      I think this is a really interesting discussion btw. I’d like to hear your thoughts on this. Maybe I’ll make a blog post out of this. Is it okay if I use your name and arguments in that? Maybe I just copy-paste this discussion. If I change anything, I send it to you for your approved first of course. If you don’t want that I’ll just write a monologue comparable to this post.

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