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A Song of Ice and Fire
by George R. R. Martin

classifications: Fantasy / Dark / Dramatic

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The A Song of Ice and Fire series (so far) is engrossing, clever, intricate, complex and atmospheric. Full of deep and life-like characters that you will come to love and hate - often both. It also pushed Lord of the Rings off the top slot in the sci-fi and fantasy book list at

It also a series I could not bring myself to finish.

A Song of Ice and Fire begins with the slow breakup of the land of Westeros. The old, mad, king has been overthrown, two of his children fled into exile, but the new regent has enemies closer than he realises. Four, then five kings stand up to contest the once peaceful land - all unaware of the far more dangerous and insidious power awakening in the North.

Intrigue and cunning abound throughout the wonderfully intricate storyline, as the many feudal houses vie for advantage. Treaties and alliances are made and broken with equal rapidity, and often it is impossible to divide the many factions into convenient labels of good and bad.

Each chapter focuses on one character from an eclectic selection, providing an interlaced viewpoint of the many occurences with the land of the Seven Kingdoms. Sometimes it can be difficult to keep track of all the many names and places, though the map and character listing help alleviate this.

As may be surmised from my earlier comments, the world of A Song of Ice and Fire is not a pleasant one. It is full of murderers, traitors, liars, and some truly amoral people. Also, these are often the ones who fair best - the honourable and trustworthy tend to feel the edge of a blade before too long. This is a very bleak place - hope is rare, and never lasts for long.

This is where the problem lies. Despite the undeniable skill George R. R. Martin shows in his writing, and the huge number of aspects to the story that appeal to me, I could never actually enjoy reading it. Intellectually it hooked me completely. Emotionally, however, it was an uphill struggle to turn each page. Eventually, I stopped reading.

The inhabitants of A Song of Ice and Fire will likely stay with me forever; they truly felt alive and real. Their victories became my victories, but their defeats became my defeats - and there were so many more defeats than victories. There are three books yet to be written before A Song of Ice and Fire is complete, yet I can be sure that many more disasters await within their pages. The hooks within my mind that urge me to suffer this journey until its end are insistent, but they are nothing compared to the pain of the journey itself.

spinning-plates (August 19th, 2003, 4:58 am)

This is the only fantasy series I truly enjoy anymore. I urge you push through it, although the third book is the worst of the series when it comes to shocking events. I've never read books that made me feel such a wide array of emotions, and I've never read books that hurt me so much or made me feel so angry with them. I agree, you really do begin to see the characters as real people, and you travel along with them in your journies.

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