Tag: A Song of Ice and Fire

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Book Review: A Clash of Kings – George R. R. Martin

At a time when A Game of Thrones is a hot topic, I really want to keep the fervour going because it is SO WELL DESERVED! As some of you may know, I have been re-reading the books since around December last year. My reading schedule meant that I couldn’t fit the whole series in before the TV show, but never mind! It doesn’t hamper my enjoyment of it at all! Are you reading the books or watching the last season?

Today, I’m reviewing my recent re-read of A Clash of Kings.

 

A Clash of Kings

Goodreads – A Clash of Kings

A comet the color of blood and flame cuts across the sky. Two great leaders—Lord Eddard Stark and Robert Baratheon—who hold sway over an age of enforced peace are dead, victims of royal treachery. Now, from the ancient citadel of Dragonstone to the forbidding shores of Winterfell, chaos reigns. Six factions struggle for control of a divided land and the Iron Throne of the Seven Kingdoms, preparing to stake their claims through tempest, turmoil, and war.

It is a tale in which brother plots against brother and the dead rise to walk in the night. Here a princess masquerades as an orphan boy; a knight of the mind prepares a poison for a treacherous sorceress; and wild men descend from the Mountains of the Moon to ravage the countryside. Against a backdrop of incest and fratricide, alchemy and murder, victory may go to the men and women possessed of the coldest steel…and the coldest hearts. For when kings clash, the whole land trembles.

Here is the second volume in George R.R. Martin magnificent cycle of novels that includes A Game of Thrones and A Storm of Swords. As a whole, this series comprises a genuine masterpiece of modern fantasy, bringing together the best the genre has to offer. Magic, mystery, intrigue, romance, and adventure fill these pages and transport us to a world unlike any we have ever experienced. Already hailed as a classic, George R.R. Martin stunning series is destined to stand as one of the great achievements of imaginative fiction.

 

My Thoughts…

Where book one of the Song of Ice and Fire series sets the scene for a long haul conflict that spans the remainder of the series, A Clash of Kings is the true beginning of the conflict. A Clash of Kings introduces a number of new characters (and dragons) to the game, including new chapters from the perspectives of Davos and Theon. The growing war over the true heir to the Iron Throne drives great change into the lives of many. Every character has a unique storyline.

It isn’t something I noticed until I went back to the beginning, but the complexity and sophistication of the character relationships and narrative develops gradually throughout the books. It was only making the jump back from A Dance with Dragons to the beginning again that I noticed how simple things were in the early days… by comparison anyway.

Even though the complexity increases, never have I found each character arc difficult to follow. Each character perspective is re-visited frequently enough that we don’t forget where they are and what they are up to. Geographically, the narrative is far more diverse than A Game of Thrones. However, as we are building on a sturdy foundation of geography, history and lore already established, the progression feels natural, not confusing.

I can talk about the love of my series all I like; in the grand scheme of things, my review is unlikely to make a difference about whether someone picks up the series or not. Arguably the TV series has been the greatest influence on book sales, with 8 million copies of A Game of Thrones being sold following the airing of the first season (source: Forbes). It’s a topic that a lot of people are talking about right now, and as a lover of the books and the TV show, jointly and severally, I am proud to be a part of the community.

 

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Sunday Summary

Sunday Summary – 7th April 2019

Don’t the weekends just come and go so fast?! It only feels like 5 minutes ago since I was writing last week’s Sunday Summary post. I hope you have had a good week, whatever you have been up to!

Me? Well, mine has been quite a busy one. It’s rare for me to post four times a week, but that’s exactly what I have done! I published April’s reading list at the beginning of the week; I am taking part in a lot of blog tours, so the official list is dominated by ARC’s. As it happens, I am going to have more time on my hands than usual this month in terms of reading. I didn’t want to commit to reading more though, because I’ll probably balance my time with other little projects. Plus, I also have the freedom to pick up any book I like. Reading list posts are great motivators; I have proven I cannot do without them – but they can also feel a little restricting sometimes.

In addition, I have also published my review of The End of Magic by Mark Stay and a Q&A post with him. There is a chance to enter yourselves into a giveaway for a signed copy of the book, but you’ll have to be quick as it closes at 11:59 pm local time tonight.

 

Books Read

It’s been a pretty good week of reading here, which I’ll admit I am surprised about. I thought my blog post schedule might knock out some of my reading time, but I managed to work around it quite well! As promised, the first couple of days of this week were dedicated to finishing Arbitrage by Colette Kebell. I work in an industry that overlaps with the subject content of this novel, and I actually learned something new from it. Every day is a school day, right?

Next, I moved back to reading A Storm of Swords. I have been reading it for weeks now, just because it is so long. Guys… I did it! I have finished it! It was a long haul, but I got there in the end.

The advantage of reading really long, epic novels is that once you pick up a smaller book, you find yourself a third of the way through it without you even realising. That’s exactly what’s happened with my next read, Legends of Persia by Jennifer Macaire. I achieved that in one sitting too. I’m quite proud…

I’ve also kept up with listening to my latest audiobook, Scythe by Neal Schusterman. I didn’t know how I was going to deal with the comedown from Jay Kristoff’s Godsgrave, because damn that shit is fantastic! I am really enjoying Scythe as well though! It’s different, but that’s why I like it.

 

Books Discovered

 

I have not added any books to my TBR this week because I have been really good.

Who am I kidding?! Truth is, I’ve just been really busy – busy at work, personally, blogging, reading and playing Minecraft in my downtime, I haven’t been looking for new books. That’s an honest answer!

 

Coming Up…

I’m pleased to say things are going to slow down from the breakneck speed of last week. It’s fun, occasionally, but that’s not a blogging schedule I can keep up with reliably.

My blogging schedule is going to be thrown off a little bit as a result, because I have blog tours coming up on Sunday’s for the next couple of weeks. I’ll still be posting three times, but effectively I’ll be posting twice in one day – my review in the early morning and my Sunday Summary will drop in the late evening. Having a few days grace is going to work to my advantage because I have some catching up to do with a proofreading project.

My first review post is for Arbitrage, the ARC I finished up early this week. That post is being published on Thursday, so I hope you can check that out! My second review, on Sunday, is for my current read, Legends of Persia by Jennifer Macaire. What are you looking forward to next week? What will you be reading?

Sunday Summary

Sunday Summary – 31st March 2019

I spend every Sunday with my mum and dad (that’s if they aren’t away on holiday), but this was made all the more special as it’s Mother’s Day today! She was treated well by both my sister and I, have no doubt.

I was grateful to get out of the house. This weekend has been tough. I have alluded to a neighbour I have had trouble with previously, and some issues are re-surfacing. He is very, very deaf and I have already complained several times about the volume of his TV. I have spent most of the weekend with headphones in (not necessarily attached to my phone or playing music) just to block out the noise. I am playing something classical quietly just so I can concentrate.

I’m not just irrationally angry about the volume of his TV. There is far more to the situation than that, but it was the straw to break the camel’s back, so to speak. Needless to say, the landlord has got a very long, teary email explaining everything that has happened to read tomorrow morning. Numerous apologies for the outburst too, but I needed to vent. I pity the poor man…

Now, on a cheerier note, what have I managed to get up to in between pulling my hair out?

On Tuesday I took part in my second blog tour of the month – Psychotopia by R. N. Morris. In that post, I share my thoughts about the book, as well as provide links to a giveaway. The prize for the winner is a copy of the book, so if you haven’t already entered, please follow the link above to find out more!

The second post of the week was a Throwback Review to a book I read before I began my blog. Up until this week, I had only reviewed books I read and enjoyed. My review of The Darkness Comes Before isn’t of that ilk though. I explain why it wasn’t for me.

 

Books Read

I have spent the week doing my best to make as much progress as I can with two current reads – Arbitrage by Colette Kebell and A Storm of Swords by George R. R. Martin. Last week I had barely started the former book, which I am reading for a blog tour next month. Now we stand at a much healthier 75% and I aim to finish this in the next day or two. Due to its length, A Storm of Swords has taken longer to tick up the percentage. Weighing in at around 230 pages, I am much happier with the 20% I have managed to read this week, compared to last week.

In addition to the reading, I have also finished listening to Godsgrave by Jay Kristoff. I’m a little saddened that I have to wait for Darkdawn, but it won’t be long until that’s published! Instead, I have started listening to Scythe by Neal Shusterman.

 

Books Discovered

So today, my parents gave me a one of their little voucher stickers from the Monopoly event they are doing at the moment. You’re probably wondering why I’m even mentioning it here, unless you have gotten one yourself. This year friends, they are offering vouchers for Kindle books! My parents, knowing me all too well, handed it to me in case I wanted it.

The voucher entitles you to either 3 out of 10 titles, or alternatively 2 months of Kindle Unlimited subscription. Personally, I have never used Kindle Unlimited. I have a library card after all; I’ve never really felt the need to subscribe for it. Instead, I picked some of the titles on offer to keep.

 

Coming Up…

As if it is April tomorrow! I can’t believe it! As ever though, I’ll be commencing the month with my Reading List. This one is going to be a busy one as I have lots of blog tours coming up!

I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a couple of posts later in the week. I have been working with Mark Stay, the author of The End of Magic to bring you a review of his book and an interview. I’m waiting for a final thumbs up to post these next week, but I’m optimistic this will go ahead.

Sunday Summary

Sunday Summary – 24th March 2019

Hello my bookish friends! I hope you’ve had a lovely weekend. What have you been reading? I’ll get onto my bookish adventures in just a moment, but first, let’s talk about the blog posts I’ve published this week.

I began the week by looking at the next five books in my TBR to decide whether they should stay, or go. I like writing Down the TBR Hole posts because more often than not, I forget what is on my list. Even now I am re-considering books that I added to the list a WHOLE YEAR ago. Reading tastes change, so a spring clean is never a bad thing!

On Thursday I published the first of two blog tour posts this month. Life and Other Dreams by Richard Dee is a really compelling read and I recommend it to anyone who likes science-fiction novels. I was also astounded at the number of page views I have gotten out of it – it’s a new record for Reviewsfeed! If you haven’t checked out my review yet, it would gladden my heart.

On a slightly non-bookish topic, before we get down to the usual business, I received something really exciting this week! After doing some copyediting/proofreading bits and pieces here and there, I have signed up to a correspondence course! My materials turned up this week and I am really keen to get stuck in. If I pass (fingers crossed), I will be looking to do a little bit of work freelance. It will be slightly embarrassing if I fail this now, won’t it? Well, there’s my motivation not to fail, haha!

 

Books Read

I’ll be the first person to admit that I’ve had procrastination-head on this week. I don’t like to make excuses, but it’s better than not saying anything. That sounds like I am just fobbing you off. Truth is, I’m a little worried that something might be happening in the near future at work. I might be COMPLETELY wrong (and I hope I am), but I can’t shake the gut feeling I have. It’s been distracting me a lot, and instead of focussing on books I have turned to another hobby of mine; gaming.

It’s nothing fancy, but home is home

I do still have bookish mentions though, because whilst I haven’t read as much as I usually do, I still have. The book I have made the most progress on is Godsgrave by Jay Kristoff. I have gotten into the habit of listening to this in the car on the way to work in the morning. I’m so glad to have gotten back into audiobooks again. Every time I come back to them I curse myself for the break of habit. I actually posted about this last week and I have noticed I used the image of Nevernight instead of Gosdgrave. Apologies!

I wish I had made more progress with A Storm of Swords, but I don’t think reading 80 or so pages is a terrible effort. Okay, I know I can do a lot better than that. It’s better than nothing though, yes?

Lastly, a brief mention of the next book I have picked up, as I have only really read the first chapter. I am reviewing Arbitrage for a blog tour next month. As I already have a lot on my plate next month, I am trying to get ahead. Is it possible to be “getting ahead” when you have so much to catch up on? Aghh…

 

Books Discovered

In slightly better news, I have some exciting Audible purchases and some book mail to share with you all! On Thursday, in addition to my correspondence course material, I also received some awesome book mail! Kindly provided by Gollancz, I have received a copy of The War Within by Stephen Donaldson.

Earlier today I got to spend some of my Audible credits in the sale! Doesn’t everyone love a good deal? I spent one of my credits on Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo. I had a chat with a blogger I follow who has recently read this. I’m interested to see what I think of these books to compare with her thoughts. I also spent my second (and last) credit on a pre-order of Darkdawn by Jay Kristoff. I’m a little bit gutted that I am going to have to wait a couple of months to listen to this, truth told. Variety is the spice of life though, so they say. I’ll just have to listen to something else in the meantime.

 

Coming Up…

 

I’m having a little bit of a blogging marathon tonight. As soon as I publish on this post I’ll be drafting the next one! My blog tour post for Psychotopia goes live tomorrow, so I need to get typing fast!

As I desperately need to catch up with some reading, I think my next post will come quite a bit later in the week, Thursday realistically. It’s been a while since I have written a Throwback Thursday mini-review, so perhaps I could publish one of those. It’s an ideal way to discuss books I read before I started my blog nearly two years ago.

 

Top Blog Posts of the Week

 

alittlebutalot – NYA Lit Fest

Sunday Summary

Sunday Summary – 17th March 2019

What a week it has been! I have been so busy that I feel like a lot has happened. Things have been manic at work as I have been involved with testing a system upgrade. That’s boring news though, so no more work talk! I’ve also had quite a few lunch plans and such this week, and lastly, I went to the closing night of Les Misérables last night. I don’t often make those kinds of trips out, but I really enjoy it when I do!

It’s a good job I only committed to one blog post this week. I think I would have struggled to keep up with my unusually active social life/event calendar. The expression “when it rains, it pours” springs to mind. Taking a break from review posts to talk about how I got into the blogging scene was refreshing. I also enjoyed the opportunity to take a look back at how far I’ve come. I know there are many veteran bloggers out there that will probably laugh at my next statement, but I think it’s true. Two years is a long time to be blogging – and apparently, a lot can happen in that time. I started out a total amateur, but it’s fair to say that I have found my voice now.

 

Books Read

I picked up where I left off last week reading Life and Other Dreams by Richard Dee. I have a blog tour approaching for the book REALLY soon, so this was my priority. Despite the busy schedule, it didn’t take all that long to read this book. The pace of the book is just right and I found it easy to sit and read undisturbed for longer periods of time than I get with other books. It was as much a pleasure to read as it will be to feature it on my blog.

I have devoted the rest of the week to reading as much of A Storm of Swords as I can physically stomach (in between sessions of Minecraft that is – I’ve become a little bit obsessed!) I absolutely adore this series and I cannot get enough of it. It’s a good job they are so long really. I’m always sad to get to the end.

I have been so intermittent with listening to audiobooks lately, but this week I have resumed them once again. I used to get ready in the morning listening to them, but I’m not really awake enough to do that anymore. I don’t know what’s happened to me, but I can’t get up in the mornings like I used to. It’s been going on for months now. Instead, I have taken to listening to them in the car on my drive to work and home again. That alone makes up about an hour a day.

 

Books Discovered

Earlier this week I was in my local Waterstones. My mission: to get some super cute little baby books for an expectant work friend. One sings “The Wheels on The Bus” if you scan a QR code. I’m sure she’ll thank me later.

Or, maybe not! Haha!

You can probably work out where this is going. I came out with a little something for me too. I’m working on building my paperback collection of these, so why not get the next one? That’s what I reasoned at the time – so I did it!

 

Coming Up…

I am back to my usual blogging schedule this week. I have had a wee bit of a breather to let my hair down (and get some reading done too, obviously…) so time to jump back in! I’ll be sharing another Down the TBR Hole post early in the week, as I have my blog tour stop for Life and Other Dreams on Thursday. I hope you have the time to check these posts out!

In terms of reading, I have now received an ARC I have been waiting for. This week’s focus is to read Arbitrage by Colette Kebell and continue on with A Storm of Swords and Nevernight.

 

Top Blog Posts of the Week

 

ityreadsbooks –Book vs. Ebook – Which is better?

Facing the Story –Studious Saturday: exploring bookshops in Glasgow

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Book Review: A Game of Thrones – George R. R. Martin

How does anyone even begin to write a review of the first book in such a popular series? I have read A Game of Thrones no less than three times now, so I am as best equipped as I am going to be!

Goodreads – A Game of Thrones

Long ago, in a time forgotten, a preternatural event threw the seasons out of balance. In a land where summers can last decades and winters a lifetime, trouble is brewing. The cold is returning, and in the frozen wastes to the north of Winterfell, sinister and supernatural forces are massing beyond the kingdom’s protective Wall. At the center of the conflict lie the Starks of Winterfell, a family as harsh and unyielding as the land they were born to. Sweeping from a land of brutal cold to a distant summertime kingdom of epicurean plenty, here is a tale of lords and ladies, soldiers and sorcerers, assassins and bastards, who come together in a time of grim omens.

Here an enigmatic band of warriors bear swords of no human metal; a tribe of fierce wildlings carry men off into madness; a cruel young dragon prince barters his sister to win back his throne; and a determined woman undertakes the most treacherous of journeys. Amid plots and counterplots, tragedy and betrayal, victory and terror, the fate of the Starks, their allies, and their enemies hangs perilously in the balance, as each endeavors to win that deadliest of conflicts: the game of thrones.

Goodreads

My Thoughts…

There is a perfect balance of diplomacy and war, court intrigue and scandal; politics and religion and conflict and magic. It has all the elements of great fantasy novels, brilliantly written and interwoven to create the driving force behind the tale towards its yet-unknown conclusion.

I can come back to this book again and again and never be bored, and that owes to the sheer depth of the narrative. One of my favourite elements of A Game of Thrones is that there are many clear, distinct chapters from a wide range of characters. As much as I say this, it was the character-neutral prologue and the chilling, deathly magic of the Others that sold A Game of Thrones to me all those years ago.

It would be a failure on my part not to acknowledge the rich history of the fantasy world. Before the series has even been concluded, there are a number of books which delve only into the history of the world without touching on ‘current affairs’. With other book series, I have gotten the sense that background detail and setting builds and becomes more sophisticated as it develops. These pale by comparison to A Game of Thrones. From the get-go, the background context of each place, family (past and present, major and minor), events and magical races have already been developed and in existence long before the first words were committed to paper.

It is as if the lands of Essos and Westeros have not been conjured out of the mind of a literary genius… but rather that they have always been there, just waiting to be discovered.

I can’t say I would ever care to visit though…

As rich in detail as the books are, I didn’t find the descriptions or contextual details overwhelming. Each and every one of these books is substantial, so there is no need to rush in providing the detail. In reality, there is so much detail that even the most die-hard Game of Thrones fans would struggle to remember them all to a letter. Often, contextual details are cleverly repeated in a way that refreshes the reader without making the narrative clunky or repetitive. Without these references, it would be easy for anyone to get lost.

I am in a position in which I can look back on the first book of the series, having read them all to date; in fact, I have recently begun a re-read of A Storm of Swords, book three of the series. By comparison, this first book is ‘simpler’ than the rest. I would argue that a lot of the character interactions and their consequences are yet to develop. In this sense, the book makes for an ideal introduction to the start of the epic conflict of the five kings (and one queen).

The perspectives we live this magical tale through are an experience in themselves. The characters and their take on the world are completely unique to one another. What impresses me the most, the variety of the characters that George R. R. Martin successfully navigates around the chessboard of life coming a close second, is how consistent the characters are. They are all shaped by the influences of their family, their history and own personal experiences. Juggling so many characters, you would think it very easy for the lines to blur between them. I would like to suggest that at this stage I know many of the characters almost as well as my own sister. I haven’t ever identified an inconsistency in them. Ever. That, my friends, is bloody amazing!

To top it all off.. dragons! Need I say more?

The Song of Ice and Fire novels are truly an experience to be had… so get out there! Watch the show or read the books, whichever your preference. To those that stay away from it because of the hype and fandom, don’t avoid it because it’s too ‘mainstream’ and because not gushing over it makes you ‘cool’. It’s popular for a reason; you are the ones missing out.

I feel like I have barely scratched the surface… and yet to continue I would find myself prattling nonsense, or repeating myself. For someone who didn’t even know how to begin, I haven’t done too badly!

Words cannot truly express just how much I love this book and the remainder of the series. The only way to know whether you will enjoy it or not is to try for yourself.