Travel Reading: Game of Thrones

We can safely say that George R.R. Martin’s, Game of Thrones books have taken the world by storm, possibly due to the success of the television series but also because they are so well written.

Admittedly and annoyingly, I did discover the television series before the books but in some ways I think it worked out better for me. With my bad memory I was put off reading the books to begin with due to the amount of characters, places and sub-plots that occur.

However, when I landed in Bali George was reading the fifth book and as we sat next to each other, on our little balcony next to the pool, I was unable to concentrate on what I was currently reading due to intrigue. He would sometimes start laughing or look worried as he read each page and in the end I had to borrow the first book from him in order to be able to sit peacefully and read.

Watching the television series first helped me remember who most characters were by putting names to faces. When I read a book, I do normally like to imagine what everyone looks like for myself but I think in this case, with everything that goes on, it made it easier to already have an image in my mind of how they looked and what they wore. There are still some characters that I either confuse with others or forget their purpose but most of the time I was able to keep up with what was happening to who…and a lot happens to everyone!

The book has proven very difficult for me to sum up in a few words and half the time I am unsure as to whether I am thinking about the television serious or the book itself. I found both book and television series to be very similar which did result in me loosing interest towards the end.

The reason the book is so hard to briefly describe is due to the amount of layers each chapter contains. One minute you will be in one part of the world, pouring liquid gold over the silver hair of a man who thinks he possesses dragons blood and with the turn of a page, you will be transported to scenes of a dead mans hand trying to kill a man in his sleep. Each chapter is linked and serves a purpose in depicting what it is like to live within the seven kingdoms, but within each chapter there are side stories that tantalise your imagination and make you want to find out more. Before you can do that the next page is turned and a new chapter begins, set in a huge castle with a moon door in the floor.

Each chapter is titled with the name of the person whose point of view you will be reading from. It allows you to gain a perspective of the events that unfold from a number of different viewpoints. You are therefore never really sure which character to trust because of the different viewpoints and GRRM leaves it very vague. This is one of the reasons you are inclined to read on, to find out if your gut feeling about that character was right. You learn to love, hate or envy each character for their whit, kind heart or pure evil, calculated plans.

Admittedly, some chapters you wish a quick end to, like Sansa Starks. I can’t seem to stand or stomach her girly thought process towards Joffery. I found myself wanting to shake the girl to make her see sense, however towards the end I was intrigued by what was going to happen next to the classic ‘damsel in distress’ part of the story.

Are you surprised that Daenerys is one of my favourite characters? Probably not, seeing as many people have the same opinion. It is definitely the subtle way GRRM has written her thoughts to demonstrate a gradual growth in confidence from a meek little girl to a Khaleesi. It is the whole ‘girl power’ thing she has going on towards the end of the book and the way you are left to feel as though you have grown up with her along the way.

We read about her dreams and gain an understanding to what extent she fears the waking of the dragon, that is her brother. We read about how she cried on her wedding night due to fear of what she was expected to do with a man she could not understand. They do always say to be weary of the quiet ones, the ones that sit and observe. Daenerys sat, observed and taught herself, with the help of Ser Jorah (her knight) and her handmaidens, what it takes to be a true dragon and Khaleesi. I believe GRRM has a great understanding of the way women think and because of that, a new heroine was born.

“Remember this, boy. All dwarfs may be bastards, yet not all bastards need be dwarfs.”

– says Tyrion Lannister in a conversation to Jon Snow.

Two other characters I grew to admire in the books. You feel for Tyrion and the way he is treated by his father but admire the way he copes with it all through jokes and jibes. He is a very interesting and cunning character, one that you would not expect to like but end up liking as you realise that all he seeks is to be loved and accepted.

My admiration towards Jon Snow may be due to the way he looks in the series…(we can all agree that he is dreamy) but also because he is another character that we see struggling with the ‘coming of age’ scenario. This creates empathy as we have all been there, wondering where we belong in the ‘grown up world’. I am still unsure as to what I am supposed to do for a career and how to do it all.

The complexity of each chapter and the way it is written from the points of view of each character. The characters themselves and how each of them evolve throughout, constantly changing your opinion towards loving them or hating them. How in the sex scenes, in most cases, GRRM allows space for your own interpretation by only hinting at what is happening. The way the world is depicted in his descriptive words and how cold you sometimes feel whilst reading chapters about the North. These are all reasons I enjoyed reading this book and it is certainly best read sat on a beach in Bali.

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