The Greatest Series You’ve Never Read

26 Apr

by Savannah J. Foley

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GAME OF THRONES. The title is in the air. The four-book-long (and soon to be five) series called A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE from George R. R. Martin was recently turned into a (fairly fantastic) HBO series, and since then everyone’s been talking about the books: when is the next one coming out, why has it been so long of a wait (7 years!), the subculture fandom, and even the people who stalk Martin to complain about him not writing.

For a series so huge, you’d think that we’d all have read it already, or at least have heard of it. But until a few months ago I never had. How can that be possible? I’m an avid reader. In high school I read two books a day! I’m a fantasy fan. I hung out with people who are fantasy fans, as well! WHY didn’t anyone tell me about this fantastic series sooner?!

That’s the point of today’s post. If you’ve never heard about GAME OF THRONES, or if you have and are curious to learn more, or even if you’ve heard and think it’s not for you, let me tell you about it and hopefully convince you to run out right NOW and buy the book!

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First of all, the series is classified as high fantasy, but it is NOT boring, dusty, or nerdy. It’s beautiful, violent, sexy, surprising, and witty. When I first heard the generic description: multi-POV, war-based, 700 pages, etc., I thought to myself ‘Greeaaat. This is going to take months and I’ll have to skip a lot of chapters.’ Not to offend, but I was expecting Tolkien.

Boy was I wrong. I could (and have) sat and read all day, as fast as I could, absolutely dying to find out what was going to happen next. The multiple POVs was rarely taxing or boring; most often I would be exasperated that the next chapter wouldn’t continue where the previous left off, yet at the same time thrilled to return to a previous character. These books are an excellent example of multiple POVs done right.

As for the plot itself, again, the basic description did nothing for me: a clash of great houses, all trying to claim (or reclaim) the throne of the Seven Kingdoms. Meh. But then I got to know the characters. The deal with this story is that, for all its sweeping plot, it’s a character-driven story. I care what happens because these characters are fascinating and entertaining. They plot and love and lose their tempers, both betray and are betrayed, sacrifice and thieve. And I was rooting for them at every turn. The most interesting about this multiple perspectives is that we follow people on all sides of the clash, and can’t be quite sure who we want to win.

Is it the Stark family, protectors of the North, whose six children all claim direwolves as pets, scattered to the four winds and trying to find each other in a maze of battles, imprisonment, and uneasy alliances? Arya, the little girl who passes for a boy to stay safe, wielding her own sword and fighting with rocks when she has to, Sansa the beauty, caught in a court of lies and cruelty, trying to survive without being forced to betray her family, Bran, the young boy who slips into his wolf’s skin, Robb, who might be king if he can stay alive, and John Snow, their father’s bastard child, sworn to chaste and life-long service on the Wall, a gigantic barrier barring the North from the South, keeping both wildlings and the mythical Others at bay.

Or are we cheering for the Lannisters, wed to the royal family? Cruel, conniving, incestuous, and murderers, yes, but what about Tyrion, the black sheep of the family, a sarcastic, whoring dwarf alternately trying to protect his family from themselves while holding the kingdom together and wading through the web of lies and secrets of the past. I love Tyrion; he’s tortured and witty, brilliant and jaded, yet oddly naïve in the matters of the heart. Every time I get to read another of his chapters I nearly burst in excitement, because I know it’s going to be packed full of plot development.

Then we have Daenerys Stormborn, blood of the dragon. Sister of the murdered former King, exiled beyond the sea as a baby, and recently married to a horse-riding barbarian king, she is the rightful heir to the Seven Kingdoms, but struggling to raise her army to return and claim her throne. At fifteen she becomes a queen of barbarians, but the only way to victory is through tragedy, black magic, vast, conquering armies and the rule of threes: Three loves, three betrayals… and three dragons.

In this world, when winter comes it stays for an unknown number of years, but always longer after a long summer. And it has been a very long summer. With the throne up for grabs and five contenders for King (or Queen), the world ignores a plea for help from the Wall. The ancient legend of the Others is proving true: undying snow mages who make the dead walk and only arrive in the dark and cold. And as the Stark family motto says, Winter is Coming.

 ~~~

 If you haven’t yet, you MUST read this series. And then watch the HBO show, because it’s fabulous as well. A word of warning: I had a hard time getting past the prologue in GAME OF THRONES, mostly because I didn’t have a grip on the world yet, but you need to read it because it foreshadows something really important. Additionally, there’s a tragedy that happens early on, but you need to keep reading past it. Just trust me. 🙂 Give yourself five chapters and you’ll be hooked. I promise.

~~~

Savannah J. Foley is the author of the Nameless (originally known as Woman’s World) series on Fictionpress and is signed with the Bradford Literary Agency. Her website is www.savannahjfoley.com, but she updates more frequently on her livejournal. She is currently working on editing Nameless to go out on submissions. You can read an excerpt from Nameless here.

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36 Responses to “The Greatest Series You’ve Never Read”

  1. Susan April 26, 2011 at 11:07 AM #

    BEST. SERIES. EVER. EVER!!!!!!!!

    So glad you posted about this because I think EVERY writer should be required to read SOIF–it’s a PhD on characterization.

    My favorite character? Jaime. Never–NEVER–will there be a more satisfying character arc (imo, of course). The Hound comes in at a close second…

    Um, and can we say resonance? I’ve never read a series with as many “HOLY CRAP! NO WAY!” moments–moments you should’ve seen coming but just didn’t. SO AWESOME.

    • savannahjfoley April 26, 2011 at 11:18 AM #

      You’re absolutely right; when I read around Chris he’s always rolling his eyes around me because I’m always gasping and whispering, ‘no way! OMG NO WAY!”

    • TymCon April 26, 2011 at 11:39 AM #

      Love the Hound.

      KINDA SPOILER

      I love his final scene and the scene with Sansa in the battle of the blackwater (could’ve got name wrong)

      • savannahjfoley April 26, 2011 at 11:40 AM #

        I love the Hound, too. I love how he shows up unexpectedly 🙂 I haven’t seen his final scene yet, if it takes place in the fourth book. Just started it last night.

    • savannahjfoley April 26, 2011 at 11:41 AM #

      I think Tyrion is my favorite character, but book 3 really turned me around about Jaime. I’m wondering if I hadn’t misinterpreted him earlier on by judging him as a stereotype.

      Also, omg I hate Cersei but I love her as a character. She’s soooo… she’s like a terrier, she tears off on emotional tangents, and just assumes things that happened. She’s kind of incredibly characterized.

  2. Kat Zhang April 26, 2011 at 11:27 AM #

    Oooh, I’ve got to read this now. I admit I never did because it didn’t sound like my cup of tea, but if you love it so… 🙂

  3. TymCon April 26, 2011 at 11:41 AM #

    Love that series. Its very dark.

    I’m on Daenery’s, and Tyrions side.

    Well the person I mainly rooted for was Robb Stark (cough, cough)

    • savannahjfoley April 26, 2011 at 11:43 AM #

      I wanted Robb to win because I want the Starks to be the good guys, but when you think about it he really didn’t have a legitimate claim /at all/. Sad it turned out how it did, though. I think Daenerys should win, but I want Tyrion to live.

      …Wouldn’t it be great if John Snow married Daenerys?

      • TymCon April 26, 2011 at 3:05 PM #

        Direwolves+Dragons=Badass.

  4. Meghan Schuessler April 26, 2011 at 2:08 PM #

    I’d never heard of this series before the show was promoted on HBO either. I watched the first episode and really enjoyed it, but I wasn’t sure if I wanted to read the books or not. Starting a series where each book is 700-800+ pages long is quite a project! But I saw the 4 book set on sale for under $20 on amazon yesterday, and I finally caved & ordered it! I can’t wait ’till it gets here and I can start reading 🙂

    • savannahjfoley April 26, 2011 at 2:09 PM #

      Omg no way!!! That’s an excellent deal; I’ve been paying like $10 a book through my Nook.

  5. Marina April 26, 2011 at 3:19 PM #

    I have the first book, 50 pages in, but I have to read for school and I started Jane Eyre!! GAH! So many books so little time!!
    But I started watching the series never less, and I’m hooked, although I wish I read the books first, I want to watch the series with everyone. I wanna ride that train.

    • savannahjfoley April 26, 2011 at 3:21 PM #

      Oh please, please read the book first!!!! Try to stay ahead of the show in any case.

  6. Lene April 26, 2011 at 5:10 PM #

    Awesome series. My best friend kind of forced me to read it cause she was so smitten with it that she couldn’t stop reading.The evil thing bought me the whole series for Christmas so I couldn’t avoid it.And I have to say it got me hooked even if some of the POV characters bore me to death. The hbo series is awesome so far!! Let’s hope the fifth book comes out as scheduled!!

    • savannahjfoley April 26, 2011 at 5:12 PM #

      I was impressed by the number of POVs that DIDN’T bore me though! I’m on the 4th book, which I hear adds a lot of POVs we’re not as attached to, but I’m enjoying it so far.

  7. Ella April 26, 2011 at 6:34 PM #

    Read Game of Thrones a while ago; decided to stop after finishing the first book. I enjoyed it and the realistic feel, but I’d hate to get hooked and spend ten years waiting for the story to conclude. >_> I’ve also heard the series declines later on…but I definitely liked what I read so far.

    Daenerys is my favorite. I think it’s a mark of Martin’s characterization skills that she has so many Mary Sue traits and yet still manages to kick ass.

    • Savannah J. Foley April 26, 2011 at 6:58 PM #

      I know, it’s going to completely suck after this summer when the 5th book is released. And the author has forbidden anyone to continue the series if he dies, so…

  8. brandimziegler April 26, 2011 at 6:55 PM #

    It sounds epic. And overwhelming, but mostly epic! Like you, Savannah, I can’t believe I haven’t heard of this either but I’ve been hearing a lot about it lately. Okay, okay I’ll go get the 1st book. Thanks for enlightening me!

    • Savannah J. Foley April 26, 2011 at 6:59 PM #

      There are a looooot of characters, but surprisingly I felt able to keep up with them. Go go go get the 1st book! I heard there’s a 4-for-$20 special at Amazon.

  9. maybellestyle April 26, 2011 at 9:08 PM #

    I just ordered Book #1 on Amazon and am expecting it this week… so excited! I’ve heard many good reviews, and my friend has already coverted a good group of people into G.R.R. Martin fans. Looking forward to this! I’m deinifltey interested in the multiple POV too.. I’m always amazed when writers can handle such complexities so effectively.

    • Savannah J. Foley May 2, 2011 at 9:46 PM #

      It’s definitely amazing. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

  10. Elizabeth April 26, 2011 at 10:50 PM #

    I’ve had the first two novels sitting on my book case for, uh, two years now and only gotten about twelves pages in.

    I suppose I’ll try again though, lol.

    • Savannah J. Foley May 2, 2011 at 9:47 PM #

      Definitely try again! The beginning put me off but I’m glad I powered through!

  11. Lis April 27, 2011 at 3:04 PM #

    I’m currently rereading it in anticipation of the fifth book. I heard about it years ago but the title (A Song of Ice and Fire) really sucks in German and the covers look like Highlander romances, so I never got around to read it. But I picked AGoT up a year ago at a library (not knowing it wasn’t finished) and I think my grades might have dropped a bit, but so worth it.
    Yay libraries!

    • Savannah J. Foley May 2, 2011 at 9:48 PM #

      What is it in German? Probably the reason I never picked it up after just like seeing it in the bookstore or something is because the covers are really plain… and huuuge fantasy books with generic covers don’t really do it for me, lol.

  12. Ashley April 27, 2011 at 9:33 PM #

    To the ones above who said the Hound is your favorite character in the books, let it be known that Sandor Clegane is MY favorite character. Hands off. 😉

    Oh by the way, love his actor. 🙂

    • Savannah J. Foley May 2, 2011 at 9:49 PM #

      You’re welcome to him, lol 🙂 I love Daenerys and Tyrion chapters the best. I also have a soft spot for Sam, but I think that’s cause he reminds me of Stanley from Holes.

  13. Angela April 30, 2011 at 5:36 PM #

    Unfortunately, I started to watch the series on HBO. I’m not apt to read the books now once exposed the series. So
    far, I like what I see. I know the books are better (as in
    most cases). Thanks for the interesting post.

    • Savannah J. Foley May 2, 2011 at 9:50 PM #

      You should definitely pick up the books sometime though. The series is doing an EXCELLENT job of condensing everything, but there’s so much you’re missing. Also some stuff had to get changed. For example, Kahl Drogo did NOT rape Daenerys!!!! They had rather a lovely first time together actually.

  14. Audrey May 1, 2011 at 3:04 PM #

    Oh man, after all these positive comments, I think reading this is a must. I can’t believe I’ve never heard of this before the TV show! I guess I don’t read many non-YA epic fantasies, but it’s like a rite of passage… ish, eh? I’ll be requesting this one at the library for sure.

    Abd the HBO series has kinda grown on me, it started out really… weird. But now I’m itching for the next episode.

    • Savannah J. Foley May 2, 2011 at 9:51 PM #

      I was really happy with the series but I can understand how it’d be weird if you’re not familiar with the books. Lol when not in book format the plot’s kind of… not meant for hour-long episodes, lol.

  15. leslie July 20, 2011 at 7:04 PM #

    I absolutely LOVE this series!!!

    I ended up watching all of season 1 in one sitting!

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