Tag: george r r martin

Review: The Mystery Knight

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This is another short novella by George R R Martin, first published in 2010.

Set in the same world as the ‘Song of Ice and Fire’ books, this story is a sort of prequel, taking place well before the events of the main series.

This little book continues to tell of the adventures of Ser Duncan and his trusty squire Egg as they wander the seven kingdoms as hedge knights.

Ser Duncan still can’t joust, but he still won’t admit it, and enters himself into a jousting tournament and ends up having to forfeit both horse and armor. In the process of recovering them Duncan and Egg stumble into an evil plot that might plunge the kingdoms into war.

This book continues in the same lighthearted vein (for Martin) as the previous novellas, and is an entertaining read. The character of Ser Duncan is further developed in this book as he faces a challenge more serious than a honor duel.

This book can be read as a stand alone novel. Knowing about the lore of the setting helps, but not strictly necessary.

I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to enjoy an afternoons fun reading, even if you are not a fan of fantasy.

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Review: The Hedge Knight

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This is a short novella by George R R Martin, first published in 1998.

Set in the same world as the ‘Song of Ice and Fire’ books, this story is a sort of prequel, taking place well before the events of the main series.

It is also far more light hearted than the main series, with no grand politics or the fate of entire kingdoms hanging in the balance, and no great war going on in the background. Appropriately enough for such a tale, it is set in the last long summer in a time of plenty, when the realm was at peace, and the Targaryen kings ruled.

This book tells the story of Ser (Not really) Duncan, the squire of a hedge knight who had died recently, and who came up with the bright idea of putting on his dead masters armor and faking his way into a great tournament hosted by the king.

At first his ‘pretend to be a knight’ plan goes well. He even finds himself a squire of his own and is welcomed among the nobles and warriors. But an altercation with a royal soon results in his having to choose between a duel or being branded a criminal, and our fake knight soon finds himself having to backup his knightly boasts.

But our hero is just as brave and honorable as a real knight and is more than ready to face the challenge before him. There is just one problem, he cant joust to save his life.

This was a fun read. Not just because it was light hearted, but because it offered a glimpse into life in the seven knigdoms when it wasn’t gripped by war. It is written from the point of view of the main character, in the same way Martin’s other books are, and this protrayel made me love Duncan.

Another fact that made the book so funny was that anyone familiar with the lore of Martin’s world would know that the Ser Duncan the fake knight in the book is Ser Duncan the Tall, who later became the Lord Commander of the kingsguard, the most elite group of warriors in the kingdoms. To see him here at the start of his life as he fakes his way into knighthood is quite entertaining.

You don’t have to read any of Martin’s other books to enjoy this one. This is a complete stand alone novel.

I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to enjoy an afternoons fun reading, even if you are not a fan of fantasy. This is a good book that can capture anyones interest.

Review: A Feast for Crows

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This is the fourth book in George R R Martin’s ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ series, first published in 2005.

This is a good book, I couldn’t call it great, maybe because the series is getting rather long, or maybe because of it’s pacing.

This is also not a kids book, well above the pg-13 range.

You are going to have the read the other books if you want to understand the story of this book. This is not a standalone book.

The civil war that started in the first book is finally petering out, and the ones left standing are facing a kingdom in ruins. Winter is just around the corner, and people are facing starvation. Meanwhile while the war might be ending, the lords and ladies are not letting up on their power struggles, even if the kingdom is in dire straits. At the wall, Jon struggles with his new found duties, made all the harder by uncooperative subordinates, and in the east, Daenerys learns that conquering a kingdom and ruling it are both equally difficult challenges. Back in the capital, power is now in the hands of the queen, and she does a great job of making everything worse.

In this book Martin also introduces us to a new kingdom, Drone, and how it is affected by the ongoing civil war. He also introduces the Seven Kingdoms equivalent of crusaders for the first time, religious fanatics who are not loyal to a king or queen but to the church. They have the potential to be just as potent a force as any noble house in the future.

The pacing of this book is much slower than in the previous books, and it sometimes feels like filler material. A dozen little plot points move here and there, and no major conclusions. After the sweeping battles of the previous books, the political moves in this one aren’t as gripping. Hopefully, the next book makes up for it.

I would recommend this book to any fan of the series and anyone who likes reading fantasy books. This book, and this series, will have even the most veteran reader of fantasy hooked.

Review: A Storm of Swords

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This is the third book in George R R Martin’s ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ series, first published in the year 2000.

This is a great book, just as much a page turner as the previous ones.

You won’t be able to understand the events of this book unless you read the other two however,while you might still enjoy the story, you will miss out on the plot.

It is also not as much above the pg-13 mark as the previous two books, but still has plenty of scenes that aren’t for kiddies.

This book continues the civil war that started in the first book, though there are not as much battle scenes. The story is told mainly through the view points of Jon, Tyrion, Daenerys and surprisingly Jaime. In the far north, Jon strrugles to stop a wildling invasion, and in the capital, We watch Tyrion’s fall from power and position. Meanwhile in the east, for the first time Daenerys becomes more then a pawn in others games and enters the game as a player. And finally Robb proves to us that being a great general with the political savvy of a (Rather thick) log is not enough to make a good king.

This book continues the Martin tradition of gripping characters, total lack of plot armor (Anyone can die) and sudden plot twists. Martin seems to delight in changing the game at the last second and snatching triumph away from his characters. But this is what makes him such a good story teller.

In this book he also offers insight into characters we may have judged in the previous books, showing that there really are no heroes and villains in this story, there are only people who were shaped by their circumstances.

I would recommend this book to any fan of the series and anyone who likes reading fantasy books. Trust me you won’t be disappointed.

Review: A Clash of Kings

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This is the second book in George R R Martin’s ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ series, first published in 1998.

Again, this is a great book. Just as gripping as the previous one.

It is also way past pg-13, even more than the previous book.

This book can be read without reading the previous book, you can get a general idea of what is happening, but it’s best if you read the books in order.

In this book the civil war that started in the previous book really takes off, engulfing the whole of the Seven Kingdoms (They are roughly the size of South America). The book shows us the struggle through multiple storylines, four in particular. In the capital city of King’s Landing, Tyrion struggles to hold the city together and prepare for the upcoming battles. In the Riverlands young Robb proves himself something of a military genius, winning battle after battle. At the wall, Jon finds his first mission turning into a hair raising infiltration. Meanwhile in a far away continent, Daenerys fights to protect her newborn dragons. Martin manages to juggle all these individual stories and mesh them together into a single plot near perfectly.

Martin also introduces us to new characters, fleshes out existing characters, and writes awesome battle scenes. Once again he tells the story, even the battle scenes, through the view point of the characters. This is what made the story such a fun read.

The plot of this book moves at a much faster pace than in the previous one. And it has plenty of plot twists. This is not the kind of story where the harebrained scheme of the hero always succeeds because he is the hero, plenty of plans fail, the characters make plenty of mistakes and pay for them dearly. As I said before, no one in this story has plot armor, anyone can (And do) die, so don’t get too attached to any one character.

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoyed the first book, or to anyone who wants to read a good fantasy story.

Review: A Game of Thrones

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A Game of Thrones is the first book in the seven book series titled ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ by George R R Martin. Published for the first time in 1996, it has won awards all over the place.

This is a great book, the only criticisms that I have about the series don’t come up till much later. This particular book is great.

Unfortunately it’s also a ways above pg-13, so this is not for the kiddies.

The story tells the tale of the continent sized kingdom called ‘The Seven Kingdoms’. A medieval world with knights and castles all over the place. The book follows the history of the kingdom from the point of view of various characters, usually members of the nobility and the ones moving said history along. The primary noble family he uses for this are the Starks, a family that rules over the cold northern lands of the kingdom. This being a fantasy world, there is magic in it. But the magic is shown as distant and borderline superstition. We the reader are given an inkling of a magical disaster that will soon come, but the majority of the story goes on with no magical help whatsoever. This means that the characters must use their wits and skills to overcome their problems rather than wait for a magical solution.

Martin uses a small army of characters and multiple storylines to tell this story (Three by the end of the book) but he doesn’t bog the reader down by making them struggle to remember the characters or slog through the storylines. In fact, he keeps the characters memorable and storyline engaging right until the end. This is what made the book such a hit with me.

Martin does a really great job with his characters, he gets into their mindset and portrays how a person living in a medieval world world would think and act. This is a refreshing change from the authors who try to impose 21st century morality on fantasy worlds. This might put some people off, but for me it makes the characters more real.

Another thing you will need to do to enjoy this book is understanding that there is no main character per-se. No hero who will save the world from the coming darkness and get the girl on the side. This story reads like a true history of a fictional world, and the motives of a of of the characters are selfish. They might save the world if pressed, but they will make sure to get something out of it first. So be careful about getting invested in anyone character. No one has hero status and the plot armor that comes with it. Any one can die. Good and honorable doesn’t always win the day either, in fact they are usually the first to die.

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys fantasy fiction. Whether you are a new reader or a veteran who has slogged your way through uncounted Trilogies and Decalogues, this book will have you hooked.