Reviews from Lord Taylor of Glencoe
This blog will be updated automatically as read-through progresses.
06/08/15: I’m going to stop live-blogging now at the risk of sounding repetitive, and will publish the full review shortly.
05/08/15: “The common people pray for rain, healthy children, and a summer that never ends… It is no matter to them if the high lords play their game of thrones.” Surprisingly, it’s Jorah Mermont that utters the famous line first, not Queen Cersei. And Viserys’ constant rambling about waking the dragon sounds more and more like a creepy innuendo. I do not like him.
10:40: It is genius of Martin to thread the domestic with the majestic, investing us in the characters and they houses thru represent. Ned’s prposensity to invite a different member of his household staff to his top table each night is a life lesson in leadership, and his gentle approach to discipline speaks volumes.
10:18: The Jon/Tyrion bromamce is actually very touching. Their handshake on the wall seemed like a cornerstone moment. It will be interesting to see if Tyrion remembers his loyalty to Snow if it’s needed. I suspect not.
09:37: “And pray that he is the man I think he is, he finished silently, and not the man I fear he has become.” – Ned on Robert, though easily anyone on anyone. Ned’s sparring with Littlefinger was delightful but below it all the same themes of honour versus destiny ring true. Ned appears to be one of the few who pride themselves on integrity and it makes it difficult not to view him as the de facto hero.
08:51: “If he must be alone, he would make solitude his armor.” Jon appears to be taking Tyrion’s advice (as below).
08:32: We reach King’s Landing at last, but through the sojourn of Catelyn. Martin is unfurling his map of Westeros before us but through the eyes of familiar characters. Everything slots easily into its place. As we meet Littlefinger and Varys, their scene with Lady Stark is charged and tense.
03/08/15: So that’s how Littlefinger got his name! Thank goodness I finally now know.
01/08/15: Bran’s dream is a perfect example of the dramatic poetry that is A Game of Thrones. The accessibility of this epic is a constant surprise.
11:13: A two-handed between Ned and Robert boils down to the question that will be posed more than once I suspect: do any ends justify the means? The men represent honour versus destiny. Ultimately, will either out?
10:52: Our first true introduction to the Dothraki people comes at their most brutal, shocking us into the same fear Daenerys has of the “beasts in human skin”. But the greatest surprise is the tenderness Khal Drogo shows her in private. Meanwhile, the discomfort of Viserys is a pleasure to witness.
10:04: Catelyn is very harsh to Jon Snow but for some reason I still like her. Is it because her devotion to Bran offsets it? Or just because we all understand the difficulty of living with her husband’s bastard?
09:51: “Life is so dreadfully final, while life is full of possibilities.” – Tyrion Lannister to Jaimie Lannister. Winterfell is yet more appealing with its candlelit library. I wonder if Martin is deliberately drawing us into it to help us experience the same pain as the soon-to-depart Starks.
09:36: Winterfell sounds like the most amazing place. Through Bran’s eyes we have explored a little of the maze of passageways and secret places and I want to spend hours more exploring. The shock that concluded season 1, episode 1 is all the more emotive in the book; this is a disaster for the character, not just a plot development.
31/0715: Still in the North – exclusively apart from one Daenerys chapter – and it’s giving us a deeper view of the domestic situation in Winterfell. Already, the rift between Eddard and Catelyn is made clear over Jon’s parentage, but also interesting rivalry between Sansa and Arya, and a coation of the underdogs in Jon and Arya. It may be a vast set of characters, but their relationships with one another are well thought out.
30/07/15: “Never forget what you are, for surely the world will not. Make it your strength. Then it can never be your weakness. Armor yourself with it, and it will never be used to hurt you.” – Tyrion Lannister to Jon Snow. This scene sees Tyrion that Jon need not be a bastard, shortly before a shadow makes Tyrion appear tall. I expected Thrones to be dense and complex, but it’s actually bursting with imagery and symbolism. Martin enjoys reinforcing dialogue with significant incidentals.
29/07/15: Juxtaposing Catelyn Stark and Daenerys Stormborn gave us two things. First, backstory into the usurper and the usurped; Targargen versus Baratheon. But more, it tells us there is no front runner to victory and there is no horse to back. Every faction has their own claim to the Iron Throne and choosing a side will be a difficult task.
19:58: Enter the Starks. The males of the House are introduced together (sans Rickon, in mention only). Jon Snow comes out best. It’s a poetic chapter that establishes Ned’s integrity, and Jon’s selflessness. A little of the House’s internal structure and place in the Seven Kingdoms is outlined, but really it’s a personal chapter that is near-parable with the direwolf sequence that can’t make you not love Jon.
18:57: The prologue is out of the way and it sets the bar high. The creepy first scene follows three of the Black Watch north of the Wall and encountering the undead. Martin’s voice is brilliant. He doesn’t linger over detail, but drinks it into the narrative. For the short time we know these characters, we learn something of their back stories, their attitudes and even the significance of some of their dress. Nobody looks set to be just functional: this world is alive with rich characters.
27/07/15: So I’m approaching this the other way round from normal. I’ve already watched the show and now I’m ready for the books. With this one, that feels like the right decision. ASOIAF is renowned for being sprawling and complex, and if it lives up to that expectation then some streamlined context from the TV series might stand me in good stead for following the various threads. I’m very excited to find out more about the characters and history and to dive into a deeper, richer content than the screen version can provide. I have extremely high hopes.