Recently I finished the five books of A Song of Ice and Fire that are currently available. It took me about a month and a half, but I did it. The first thing that I have to say about this series is that each book is extremely long. The longest is about 1500 pages! I like long books, but I did have trouble concentrating at times, and I did end up reading quite a few other books as I was making my way through these ones.
Overall, I think that A Song of Ice and Fire is a well-written series with quite a bit of detail to each and every character. I think that George does the best job with Daenerys, Arya, and Tyrion…incidentally they are 3 of my four favourite characters. The other one isn’t a POV character, its Ser Jorah Mormont, so there isn’t as much detail with his parts as I would like there to be. I think that he does a great job with connecting readers to the characters so that they have some sort of reaction when there is a major development in their part of the story, regardless of whether they are killed, injured, or something great happens for them. My faovurite instance of this is the situation with Daenerys in Astapor in book three, A Storm of Swords. I’m not going to go into details in order to avoid major spoilers, but this scene really shows how “badass” Daenerys is and is a major leap for her as a character. There is another situation that I loved in A Storm of Swords that almost had me cackling in glee out loud (I didn’t, but I did have a massive grin on my face for quite awhile after).
I would classify this series as medieval fantasy, owing to the locale in which it’s set, the knights, the culture, and in particular the war over the throne of Westeros. I quite enjoy books and television shows in this kind of setting, in particular Lord of the Rings, but for me A Song of Ice and Fire doesn’t hit that literary sweet spot for me.
I do like the series, including its aforementioned well-written nature and details, as well as the believable characters and consistency throughout. I can imagine the setting and characters clearly in my head, which is a good thing in my book because it helps me connect with the story.
There are a couple problems with the books though. One is that it is quite complicated and sometimes hard to follow since the POV changes every chapter and the events could be happening either simultaneously, before the previous chapter, immediately after, or an undisclosed amount of time afterwards. It does get very confusing when you’re trying to remember not only what is happening with each character, but when and in what order.
The other big issue I had with the books was the amount of graphic sex scenes. I will admit that in some cases these scenes are useful tools, and I am not against using them in writing when it’s called for, but there were quite a few cases where I just felt that it was unnecessary and didn’t add anything to the plotline. The other part to why I have a small issue with this is that nine times out of ten the graphic nature is directed towards describing a woman’s breasts or actions towards her cunts, choking her while naked… you get the picture.
The only other part that I didn’t care for, although I completely understand why it is the way it is would be how George decided to split A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons (books 4 and 5 respectively). Apparently while he was writing book four it got incredibly long and he was forced to cut it off and essentially split it. But he decided to only feature one half of the characters in book 4 and then the other half in book 5. I didn’t care for this mostly because the parts that I really liked were in book 5 (apart from one in book 4) and so I had to read that before I got to where I really wanted to be. I would have much preferred him splitting it in half where he didn’t get through as much for the characters but still had all of them in each book. I can think of a number of decent ending points for most of the characters for book 4. I do however, understand his reasoning after seeing the author’s note that he left.
To conclude, while A Song of Ice and Fire does have its flaws, it is still very well-written and if you enjoy the kind of fantasy novels that are set in a medieval environment and incorporate both magical and non-magical components, it is definitely worth a read. Just make sure you have the time first!