If you look at my Goodreads page, I follow a lot of book bloggers, authors, and booktubers. Now they might have different tastes from each other, one reads mostly YA, the other classics and literary fiction, the other high fantasies and romances, and many read just about anything. But they all agreed on one thing: that A Game of Thrones was a 5 star book. So I was pumped. I was so sure that I would like this book. How could I not? It’s my favorite genre, it’s got all the ingredients of a great book and yet here I am giving this book 2.5 out of 5 stars. Before I begin, I just wanted to write that this post will contains A LOT OF SPOILERS SO IF YOU HAVEN’T READ THE BOOK, LEAVE.
I also wanted to link three reviews that mention a lot of things I found problematic with this book and these reviews will probably be way more well-written than this ranty post lol. They’re long so read the first one if anything.
Let me start off with the worldbuilding. Personally, I didn’t think it was that unique or special. In fact, I thought it was extremely generic. Aside from the Dothraki and the “zombie-like” Other, this world is once again like another pseudo-medieval European setting which didn’t even bring anything new to the pseudo-medieval European setting. There is seriously no cohesiveness to this world. One way you have dragons and then the next you have zombies and then you have some faint hints of magic? Now I don’t care if you have dragons and zombies in the same book but I expect some reasoning behind this. I expect these creatures to be formed from this world not randomly placed there for no reason.
And the reason it feels like it was placed there for no reason is because Martin doesn’t create any rules in this world. He doesn’t explain the use of magic in this world, why dragons are here, to what extent does religion play a part in these people’s lives? Rules are important to worldbuilding because they were created to be broken and by breaking these rules you create tension and suspense, which unsurprisingly was not very well-done in this book. I would have rather had a book on the Dothraki culture because he develops that way better than the actual world.
What I especially don’t like is how Geroge RR Martin is heralded for writing such a “gritty” and “realistic” work of fantasy. No, just no. I felt like Martin was trying to hit me over the head with how “gritty” his world is. Just because you have over the top violent scenes and wall-to-wall rape DOES NOT mean your world is gritty. You are pretty much just shocking your audience into thinking your world is gritty.
It was the butcher’s boy, Mycah, his body covered in dried blood. He had been cut almost in half from shoulder to waist by some terrible blow struck from above.
Ok..so he was killed very gruesomely. Omigosh your world is so gritty and cruel. Am I suppose to feel something for a character that was only really mentioned in passing?
Martin also uses rape as a backdrop for a gritty world but it really ends up being misogynistic.
There is no privacy in a khalasar, and they do not understand sin or shame as we do.
Ok, if that’s true, that should be true for both men and women. If it’s part of the Dothraki culture, women shouldn’t quote on quote “understand sin or shame” either. But the rest of the scene just reads like a fetish fulfillment sex orgy. Also, why do these characters talk about “wenches” and “whores” like every single page? Like what could I possibly gain from you telling me that there are wenches and whores ALL THE TIME in your world? You could have used that dialogue to oh, i don’t know develop your characters??
Also, I haven’t read a world with so many vague descriptions of things. When Bran goes to the heavenly oasis amidst rubble and Bran talks about the gods and it was so vague, what gods? how? why? what? when? where?
Not as original as I thought it would be which gets me into the topic of this book as a book of the fantasy genre. I know that he was trying to emulate the real history with the War of Roses so this book reads a LOT more like historical fiction than fantasy. The only thing fantasy about it is really..um..nothing except the Other and the 1 percent magic that exists.
Wow, a whole post on GOT worldbuilding. This discussion is probably gonna be three parts long. I’ll probably talk about the characters next! Tell me what you think about my discussion, what did you think of this book, if you agree or disagree. Let me know in the comments!