I've been having a tough time reading fiction lately. I keep walking away from books, going back to them, and kicking myself for having started them. Game of Thrones has been one of those experiences where I sorrowfully regret never getting those hours of my life back, ever again.
After throwing up my hands in the air at watching at most five minutes of the first episode of the HBO series, I should have known better than to pick up the book. Any book, movie, or TV series that uses sex to titillate the reader to keep on reading is definitely a lost cause. I suggest as evidence the Mayfair witches books by Anne Rice.
I'm not sure what kind of sadistic buffoon creates so many characters (to easily confuse the reader and force them to refer to the list of family trees appendices) and treats each of these fictional characters with utter disdain.
I keep debating whether the author's goal was torturing the reader or his characters. I walked away from this first book feeling like he wanted to make a dent in both objectives. I was left with utterly no interest whatsoever to pick up the remaining books in this series. Let me know if you figure out who he was trying to torture the most.
The characters who really have potential are thrown aside at some point or other as if nothing of value could ever come from them. As evidence I offer you Arya, the orphan. What about Bran the invalid? Good grief.
As a reader, I always look for a character to side with, a character to really like, and a character to hate. Here, I stopped rooting and caring pretty early because when there's the idea of making incest seem perfectly normal, or when the Lannisters grab Ned in the tower, I experienced more suspense and interest in trying to figure out what the author's whim was at the turning of the next page, than where the story was going. Talk about the blind leading the blind.
I've always felt that complex books are best served by stereotypical characters one can feel safe to expect and/or root for: a bad guy you can hate, a bad guy you can like, a good guy that's too goody-two-shoes, and a good guy who walks the line between good and bad. You could even add an actual hero or antihero, or several, just for spice. What we have here is a bowl o' brown: pinch your nose and swallow it all down without thinking what's really in it.
The characters I had stock in were Ned, Drago, Daeneris, Catelyn, and Tyrion. I'm not sure whether I'm more furious that Ned died a pacifist weakling, or that nothing truly important came of Tyrion. The potential was astronomical, I cringed at each bad turn leading us down the path to what happened in the storyline.
My suspension of disbelief was down to minus 10 by the time Daeneris hatched the dragon eggs. I think Sensa's storyline did in any sanity left in the book by this time. It took me too many chapters to figure out whether Ned was killed or not when the Lannisters done his people in at the Red Keep. Good grief! Talk about things going to hell in a handbasket from zero to sixty!
Even storylines you had grown to believe in, such as Cersei and Jaime, drop the bottom out on you.
The only positive I walked away with from reading this book is the innovative use of character view points as each chapter. This technique helps the reader sort of get into the characters' heads and advance the storyline from various angles. If it wasn't for this approach, I think everyone would have dropped the book after a couple of chapters. It's a trick to get you started reading, hoping and swearing that it will go somewhere. Alas, I feel like I was left off at a dead end.
I'm not quite fuming, but definitely sorely irritated at having picked this book up. I looked up the Wiki of Ice and Fire to find out where Tyrion's storyline gets to in the series. I was sorely disappointed to see him going nowhere. A hand to Joffrey and married to Sansa at some point. Really? I happenstance looked up Daenerys and Catelyn and was dismayed. The only comeuppance I was glad to find out about is Joffrey, alas he should have suffered more.
To summarize my opinion of this book and the author, using language that fans of the series can understand: may The Others piss on it.