ASK Musings

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Fantasy Archive



January 2014



A Storm of Swords

Written by , Posted in Reviews

Five stars.

In my quest to get caught up with the “A Song of Ice and Fire” series before season four of Game of Thrones starts (April 6 – mark your calendars!), I powered through book three in a little over a week. I’d enjoyed book one thoroughly, and liked book two, but book three? Holy direwolves, this book is amazing. For those of you who haven’t yet read the books, I’ll be sure to keep this review spoiler free.


I found I enjoyed this book so much not just because of the quick pace of events, but because what happened really helped develop the characters. I don’t think that it was just plot device after plot device; each bit that moved the plot forward also increased my understanding of the characters – their motivation, their personality, and how some of them may have been too easily thrust into the good and evil roles. To me, some things had been pretty clear through the first two books, but the knowledge gained throughout book three makes me really reevaluate a lot of it.

One area I really appreciated in this book was the writing of the female characters. Cersei isn’t just some plotting manipulator; she’s a mother who is trying to sort out how to deal with this child who is now her king. Sansa isn’t just a simple, sweet girl who is doing her duty; she’s growing up more and more, recognizing the complexities of the world she inhabits. Arya, who has been a favorite character of mine since the beginning (not exactly an original position, I know), grows as well, and I’m intrigued by what will happen next with her. And Daenyers – her maturity and cunning is staggering.

And the men are complex, too. They aren’t just warriors or lords; they have complicated feelings. I am annoyed that Mr. Martin didn’t decide to flip things around a bit in his world – making it a patriarchy seems a bit too easy – but working within the world he has created, I think he’s done a very good job of examining masculinity and femininity and how these people work with what they have to get where they want and what they want.

And to that end, I remain endlessly impressed with this world Mr. Martin has created. I thought I had forty pages left to read, but forgot about the list of houses and the family members he kindly includes at the end of each book. The characters, the histories of the houses and the kingdoms, the religions and customs – it’s amazing to think that this has all come from one man’s mind. I can’t wait to start the next book to see what comes next.



July 2013



A Game of Thrones: A Song of Ice and Fire Book One

Written by , Posted in Reviews



I’ve watched all three seasons of A Game of Thrones and enjoyed them immensely. My husband has read all five of the books; I had not heard of them until the TV show started. I usually don’t go in for fantasy books (nothing about Lord of the Rings/The Hobbit appeals to me), although I did enjoy reading and watching the Harry Potter series. I think I enjoy magic, and castles, and ridiculous concepts of honor; I just didn’t realize that there were books out there that had the things I like without the things I don’t.

I bought the bullet and bought the first book at the airport before leaving on my honeymoon. We were taking five flights total, and while I had a kindle full of fun books to read, I knew that for about 20 minutes at the beginning and end of each flight I’d not be able to access it. So I figured it made sense to have a physical book that I could easily step away from (because I knew what was going to happen next) and that was broken down into such small chunks that I could stop and start without getting lost. This fit the bill perfectly.

I loved this book. I loved the narrative device, I loved the character development, I loved the writing. It’s clearly difficult to form my own visions of people and places now that I’ve seen actors and sets assigned to them, but that didn’t take away from the book for me. In fact, I think it helped me keep everything straight in my mind, at least as much as I could. We learn about so many different people in this first book that I think I might have been confused if I didn’t have the TV show in the back of my mind to jog my memory.

As seems to be the case with most people I’ve discussed this with, my favorite chapters are the ones dealing with Arya, Daenerys, and Tyrion. I like Arya’s spunk, Daenerys’ steadfastness, and Tyrion’s self-awareness and humor. I’m not so much interested in Bran, or Jon, or really any of the other Starks, and Sansa. Oh Sansa. The women in this book are interesting and not one-dimensional (except perhaps Sansa, at least initially); the men are complicated and not all just excited to pick up a sword. And while there were many brutal scenes involving poor treatment of women, I don’t get a misogynistic feeling from the writing. Martin has chosen to set the book in a fictional world but it still has a lot of the same issues (expressed in different ways) as we have in this one. I look forward to reading book two, and anticipate that it’s going to be very hard to fit any other books in between now and when I finish book five.