The 'Game of Thrones' Book Club: Join us!

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By all accounts, the books in George R.R. Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire” series are sweeping, indelible works of fantasy on par with The Lord of the Rings or The Once and Future King. They also, however, range in length from 674 to 1216 pages — which is the main reason I’ve never sunk my teeth into them. Until now.

I’m one of those annoying people who usually tries to read the book before seeing its cinematic adaptation. So even though I’m dying to see Game of Thrones, HBO’s awesome-looking TV show based on “A Song of Ice and Fire,” I can’t in good conscience watch it without first getting through A Game of Thrones, the first tome in the series.

The show premieres on Sunday, April 17, which gives me about three weeks to make my way through the encyclopedia-sized Bantam trade paperback edition of the book. I’ll be posting my impressions about what I’ve read on Shelf Life each Monday until the first episode airs, as well as my final thoughts on the book as a whole on April 18 — and I’d love it if some of you read along with me. Don’t let the book’s impressive girth intimidate you; according to my Martin-obsessed big brother, once you get into the story, you’ll be turning pages quicker than Tyrion Lannister. (The character Peter Dinklage plays on the show is a bookworm, right? I’ve really got to start reading!)

So, what are you waiting for? Go grab a copy of A Game of Thrones and meet me here next Monday. We’ll be discussing the first third of the book — up to around page 228 of the Bantam, or the chapter that ends with, “He wondered if he would ever see Benjen Stark again, to tell him.” (Er… spoiler alert, I guess.) I can’t wait to finally see what all the fuss is about.

Comments (67 total) Add your comment
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  • Charlie’s Angel

    I’ve read the first book already and a little ways into the second book now. But I’ll definitely come back to talk about it. This is a great idea. thanks!

  • Vohdre

    You’re gonna like it. I’m going to come back to Shelf Life every week just to get your impression.

  • Patrick C

    It should definitely be fun seeing someone’s first take on the series.

    If anyone reading this are old Ice and Fire fans, and have read all the books multiple times by now, feel free to check out my reread of the series (where spoilers will abound) at: southofthewall.blogspot.com

    • Jamie

      1. I have 5 keys and I know what they all go to. I know, a miracle right?2. I own 3 doamin names and I think I know what they go to as well.3. This year, so far 38 books. My favorite was 31 Days to Blogging About a Dog Named Mojo or something like that. It was good though. Nonfiction-Godspace by Doug Pollock or When Helping Hurts by Steve Corbett

  • Armando

    I bought the book a few weeks ago and got about 50 pages in and put it down. Until I could dedicate serious time to it. Looks like this is the perfect opportunity.

    • Jaime Lannister

      In about 20 more pages, I’m going to show you the things I do for love…..you wont be putting down the book again after that.

  • Armando

    Hillary, are you on twitter?

    • Hillary Busis

      As a matter of fact, I am — @hillibusterr.

    • Jennifer

      I haven’t read the books either so i don’t know which chreactras become or remain important. I don’t deny that the soft core porn was intentionally put in for titilation, but i thought there was also a good measure of cleverness in the writing of the scene. As well as the exposition relating to Catelyn and the two suitors it also served to keep the sex worker Ros (?) involved in the plotting, showing us in particular that she had arrived safely at King’s Landing. There was also the amusing “metacommentary” on the nature of pornographic representations after Little finger’s critical appraisal of the faux moaning so common in contemporary porn. What i really enjoyed about the scene though was ( as seems common for me with this show) the metaphorical content of Little Finger’s instruction’s to the sex worker’s on how to seduce clients it referenced his relationship with Ned Stark. Ned’s almost inflexible code of honour and his belief in service to the moral right is so special/important to Ned (like his prick that he’s been playing with since he was a boy) he couldn’t help himself but believe he was able to engender honest behaviour in Baelish Eddard knew the man’s nature when he arrived at King’s Landing but given time and skill on Little Finger’s behalf, believed he had won Little Finger “over inspite of himself”. Like a trick though, Ned has been decieved.

  • rich

    great idea

  • mondo182

    I started the first book for the first time about 2 weeks ago after letting it collect dust for a couple of months. I’m ashamed I held it off for so long. It’s ridiculously addicting once you get a grasp of all the characters. I’m almost done (87% — bought a Kindle a week ago thanks to this getting me back into reading). You won’t be disappointed. I already picked up the rest of the books available in the series and pre-ordered the 5th book a few days ago. Can’t wait for the HBO too!

  • mondo182

    *HBO (show)

  • WordSlinger

    I am currently just about to finish the first book, most likely today or tomorrow, so this is perfect timing. I have the same ‘annoying’ quirk about reading things before seeing the adaptations, which is why I still haven’t seen ‘The Time Traveler’s Wife’

    • Hillary Busis

      WordSlinger, my advice for you is to pick up Audrey Niffenegger’s book as soon as physically possible—and to stay away from the drippy movie adaptation altogether.

      • Robbi

        Listen to Hillary – she’s a smarty pants : < )

        OK, since Books is why I LOVE EW, I decided to go all in. Got my hands on a copy of Game of Thrones and I'm already 100 pages in – it goes fast!

  • JLC

    When the series was announced, I picked up the first book and plowed into it. Then I learned that even though he started the series in 1996, he still hasn’t finished it (and there are some even hardcore fans who doubt he ever will). Though I liked what I read, I just couldn’t see putting the time in and never learning how it ends.

    • hutchy

      the end of book 3 ends in a spot where you will be perfectly fulfilled and comfy if nothing else ever gets written, just as an fyi

      • T2

        Um…speak for yourself hutchy!

  • Ty

    I recently reread it for the first time in years. Loved it all over again. Currently about 70% in the second book now (kindle user also). I will definitely be checking in on Mondays to get your impression of the story.

  • APFW

    You will not be disappointed with the books, although long they are a very easy and enjoyable read. I am waiting for the fifth book to be released.

  • MSW

    The books are incredible with lots of twists and turns, so while I think this is a good idea I hope you keep it spoiler free for those who haven’t read the books yet.

    • Lorena

      Fantasy has never been my genre, but after reading your mtonines I was curious enough to go looking for it and figure out what it’s about. Every time I would see the books there would only be the second and third parts, but last weekend I finally scored (the last on the shelf) first book. I like books where women get to wield swords. Of course it is pretty hefty so I don’t know when I’ll start it, but it sounds like it’ll move quickly once I do!

  • Cassie

    The books are great. Long, but so hard to put down.

  • crystal

    I’ve read the first three. Excellent reading, but not for the faint of heart or eyesight. In a similar vein, I’m reading The Way of Kings right now. Also commitment reading but hey, I had a tonsillectomy today. I’ve got time.

    • Osama

      Before I say anything else, let me state this. I love the show. I am oseessbd with it. Ok on to my issues. I think at this point, my biggest complaint with the show is their handling of Daenerys. She is NOTHING like in the books. Every definitive scene that we experience her in how she grows, how her relationship with Drogo develops, how she begins to believe and know she is Khaleesi, have been completely destroyed. Where she is in the show right now, by this point in the books, we know Dany is a force to be reckoned with, and her growth and development make sense. In the show, she is still this unsure little girl who is victimized at every turn. This is not Daenerys. Like the scene in this week s episode for example. In the books this is the first time we see her stand up to Viserys. There were two instances in that scene that were changed that drastically change the tone of the scene, and their relevance to Dany’s development. Why the writers are choosing to do this, only they know but I sure hope that we start seeing Dany come into her own because she is one of the main characters of these books, and she just doesn t feel that important to me in the TV show, even though she is getting the screen time. Another big beef I have is Drogo. In the TV show he is nothing more than a rapist barbarian, and in the books, he is so much more. He is actually one of my favorite characters, and it makes me very sad that he is not getting the treatment he deserves. The lack of importance given to the relationship between the Stark children and the dire wolves is also bothering me a lot, but I understand that there is only so much you can do here. Now -this week s episode. For a third episode I thought it did its job. It wasn t as fast paced or intense as the first two, but we were introduced to some of the major players at King’s Landing. I think one of my favorite scenes was Arya and Syrio. It felt very authentic though I disliked the fact that the scene with Ned and Arya that eventually leads up to Arya and Syrio was completely changed. Maybe I m being overly critical but for me, it is these nuances that the TV show seems to be skipping, that make these books so fantastic. Catelyn s arrival to King s Landing comes to mind. One scene that I loved but again, had issues with (I m such a complainer lol) was Tyrion and Jon Snow when the boys are putting their swords away. It wasn t a big deal to me that they removed the black smith all together, and gave Tyrion the lines instead, but this scene was important because it made Jon realize that though he is a bastard, he still has it better than most, if not all of the boys at the Wall and this was not as potent in the speech that Tyrion gives Jon. I have so much more to say, but I will keep the rest simple. The casting for Petyr Baelish is perfect. Renly left me a bit unsatisfied, Varys is perfect and I will leave off with the question I have been asking myself in each episode WHERE IS GHOST?????? (sorry if this is all over the place. wrote this at work. don’t tell on me)

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