Seriously; Have You Even READ Game of Thrones? OR How One Book KILLED My Reading Habit!

Winter is ComingI have a confession to make…  And I fear that my nerd/geek-cred may be on the line.

I don’t want to hand in my card, but…

I believe ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ is not only less than perfect, but nigh unreadable.  I’m sorry!  I really am!  I just don’t get it.

I have always been a reader.  I own a sizable library!  I’m obsessed with absorbing as much information and as many stories as possible!  Hell – I actually enjoy The Silmarillion!  I just can’t read this particular series.

I’ve tried.  Oh, Gods, have I tried!  I received a paperback copy of ‘A Game of Thrones’ about this time last year.  I had just finished reading the majority of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories, ‘And Another Thing‘ (an awesome sequel to the Hitchhiker’s Guide series), and my 12th semi-annual reading of ‘The Lord of the Rings.’  “why not?” I said to myself.  It’s popular enough…

I haven’t read a book since.

I’m about halfway through it, and I just can’t bear to pick it up!  The narrative is so slow and so fractured.  If I happen to come across a section I like, it’s another 100 pages before I get to see those characters again.

After awhile, I just have to ask myself – why do I care about these events?  These people?  Well.  I don’t care.  That’s the problem.  Do I just not have enough patience?  Am I broken in some way?  Have I finally found a book that is too smart for me?  Or could it be that George R.R. Martin has failed in some way?

And then there’s the spoilers.  If you are that one person who hasn’t read, seen or had GoT spoiled for you in some way, do yourself a favor and skip ahead to the next paragraph.  There’s a fairly well-known trope in film and television.  If Sean Bean is in your show, he is going to die.  Without fail.  Sean Bean dies.  When I saw that he was going to star in a new series on HBO, I was like “Finally! Sean Bean will live!”  It’s have the reason I was reading the book.  Sean Bean plays the badass Ned Stark!  And then I was at a party.  I was in the midst of a great discussion on the feeling of peril in fiction.  The gist of the conversation was that if there is no risk of loss in the narrative of a book/film/video game then it loses a great deal of value.  And my buddy quips:  “Yeah, of course.  Ned Stark has to die.”  goddamnit.  More recently, there was the Red Wedding.  I’m fascinated, because this is at least partly based on events from my own family history.  (Note well: Do not cross Clan Crichton).  But I didn’t want to hear about it from everyone!  Why continue?  The *risk* of peril – of uncertainty – is gone!  Added to the fact that these books are just so ponderous, I give up!

Have I made the right decision to give up halfway through the first volume?  I’m still going to watch the series at least!  I figure I can catch up before the next season.

Why did you keep reading?

Should I force myself through the rest?  Does it get better?

If I walk away from Game of Thrones, what do I read to recover?

Please let me know what you think in the comments below.

While you’re hanging around, don’t forget to download our latest podcastSubscribe, too, if you are so inclined.


Since posting this, I have read 100 pages of Neil Oliver‘s ‘A History of Scotland‘ and it is fascinating!


13 thoughts on “Seriously; Have You Even READ Game of Thrones? OR How One Book KILLED My Reading Habit!

  1. I think the books were great. The space of each character’s chapters only made me want to read more.

  2. Some writers have certain ways they write that don’t mesh with all readers. I also got halfway through game of thrones and put it down because reading became an time consuming effort. Is Martin a bad writer? I don’t believe so, i do believe that at times an authors writing style needs to be built up to. You had just read books written over 60 years ago, some over 120 years ago. I suggest read the first book of the sword of truth series then try martin again. If you can’t take his style still then sadly it wasn’t meant to be.

    • I don’t think it’s style. I think it’s poor planning and bad story-telling.

      Too many plot lines, spaced too far apart with too many characters.

      Which would be fine…

      But there’s no central narrative hook that draws me in and makes me emotionally invested in those characters.

      You want a complex masterpiece? Something that will make you think and make you care and change your life? How about Dune? Now THAT’s a book!

  3. I loved the books and I got fully absorbed when I was reading. Sure, there were some characters I didn’t care about as much and those chapters dragged a bit but I devoured the books.

    In 2004 or so I tried reading the first book and I couldn’t get into it. For many of the same reasons you mention, but when revisiting it several years later I couldn’t put them down and now I’m annoyed I have to wait so long for the next one. Eventually the stories do end up weaving together somewhat.

  4. I love the books. Sometimes he does describe to much. Some characters are not as appealing as others, but then again, in real life, neither are people. Overall the only complaint is that sometimes there is too much description (especially about food) . Oh and one more: some characters could have spared themselves a lot of trouble if they had explained their actions or ommited their actions, like Ned shutting up instead telling Cersei he knew about her and Jaime… so stupid.

    • One thing… I don’t mind long descriptive passages. I love The Lord of the Rings!

      But I feel that there is purpose to Tolkien’s narrative. He is sharing a love of the earth and of nature. He is creating this place and making it real. It feels like his writings are history books of a real place called Middle Earth.

      With Martin – I just don’t feel it. I don’t see the purpose. Or at least, I think he sacrifices a compelling narrative in the pursuit of trying to create a Tolkien-esque place.

      But Tolkien had 1 story. At most it split up into 4 threads (Frodo’s, Merry’s, Pippin’s and Aragorn’s). 400 pages into A Game of Thrones, and I still can’t find a unifying narrative to care about. Not one that justifies 400 pages! /rant

      • Yes, there are indeed loads of characters and it feels that these long descriptions are perhaps too much when there already is so much information to absorb. I admit I ocassionally skip over a few lines if I see he is going on about the food, or the stones and the hills and the colour of the sand and how the pebbles bounce off the edge of the wtv.
        I think that in the case of the people that liked the books it was mostly a combination of a great story with some great characters, some of which they end up caring deeply about. Of course in your case this “caring” part never happened, so why should you bother with the rest? It’s perfectly natural I guess. I don’t think you should force yourself to read anything, I hate doing that, I don’t enjoy the book as it should be enjoyed, and it is a tiresome job.

        Have you seen the series up to season 3¿

      • Haven’t even seen a single episode yet.

        I was waiting until I had finished reading (not going to happen now).

        I’m going to try to catch up before the next season starts.

      • Ah ok, I was asking because if you had watched an episode or two you would have probably grown fond of some characters quite easily 🙂

      • The character’s are great. Even from the first half of the book, there’s a few I really dig.

        It’s the presentation that’s driving me away.

  5. I read the first book and for the most part enjoyed it. The thought of picking up the next one though was painful. I think his writing style would be better suited to a longer run of shorter books telling the same story. If the first book had been 3 and they kept to that length in telling the story I would be more inclined to read them. As they are I just am not interested enough in the characters or story to invest the time or effort into books that long. What i do not understand is why did he not brake it up? There is not any clear resolutions to any of the main story lines other then Ned’s death at the end of the first book. What would it hurt to split it? Even publish it by characters stories or just by family. I would read the Lanister series and the Stark series but the chaos of the structure he uses is not appealing.

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