This is an excellent book to listen to. Worth every penny. The story and narration are second to none. You won't be disappointed. Don't expect to get by just listening to this one though, you'll be downloading book II almost immediately!
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I picked this up with a few other audio books for my summer vacation. I knew that HBO was putting a show together, but other than that I had no idea what I was in for. I was a little hesitant about the fantasy genre to begin with, but wow was I impressed with this. I burned through it and went right onto the next book in record time. Martin fleshes out a gripping tale that is bursting with intrigue and excitement. Roy Dotrice lends such a wonderful performance that I've told friends not to bother reading it because it just couldnt compare to the audio. Its no surprise that HBO followed Martin's story so closely that I even recognized full segments of dialogue lifted right from the book. Pick this up and you wont regret it.
I rarely write reviews, but this book requires a statement to clarify my 3 stars. I LOVED the writing of this book. Martin does an AMAZING job with the prose, and it is by far the best written fantasy book I have ever read. The characters are deep, the sotryline complex and the twists unexpected. I also loved the narrator, he was outstanding. Which made is doubly frustrating that they went away form him in later books.
BUT (and its a big but), I just could not enjoy the book. I am not a fan of dirty realistic fantasy generally, and of this kind in particular. There is not one character in the book who is heroic, not one to root for or get behind. Dont get me wrong. I dont want bubblegum sword and sorcery. I love heros with flaws. I love seeing character overcome (or not) those flaws. That is what makes a character heroic (or tragic). But the flaws in Martins characters are so overwhelmingly powerful as to detract from their good points and the rest of the story.
The Starks, who are in theory the protagonists, exhibit such moronic behavior (some of which is done just to further plot in my mind) that it simply makes me unable to feel anything for them. Similar issues arise with the other factions.
Martin wanted a fantasy series which reflected the post modern ideal, where there is no good and evil. The problem is that by doing so in such a convincing realistic way that this is no longer really a fantasy series in my mind. It is simple political drama with sword instead of guns. You could have just as easily set this in Africa or Asia in the 21st century.
If you can get past or enjoy the kind of grit Martin is writing, you will LOVE this book. If you can accept that they replaced the narrator (look at the reviews for book 4) you will love the series.
Coming off of listening to (or at least trying to listen to) "Wizard's First Rule" by Goodkind, this was like a breath of fresh air. I absolutely love the narrator! Others have mentioned his awkward pauses in sentences and I agree - there are a few times when it does seem the narration is disjointed; however, his voices and voice-acting are incredible (even though everyone sounds about 80 years old). He remembers the nuances of each character voice he has used and you truly can recognize who is speaking once he takes on their voice.
The writing style is excellent! My favorite author is Robert Jordan, but Martin is definitely a close second. If you're looking for a similar epic listen with great voice acting, take a gander at the gargantuan Wheel of Time series by Jordan.
From the very beginning George R. R. Martin gets your attention. He will make you anxious, sad, absoultely enraged, and happy. He is so descriptive. He has a great imagination. I am not completely finished. I have four hours to go, and I have found this audio to be almost addicting. I need to find out what's going to happen next. I will say, it seems like no one is safe in this story. Now about the narrator... He has made this so visual for me. I'm a visual person anyway, but he has taken it to a whole different level. He is really good. I would rate him up there with Simon Jones (and anyone that has listened to Simon Jones, knows he is hard to beat!!! I'm not saying he's better than Simon Jones. I am just saying that Roy Dotrice is very good and brings this story alive.) I would recommend this adults. I feel like some of the content is definitely not meant for young childern. I have a 10 and 12 year old, and I would not let either one of them listen to this. I'm not really sure what age I would allow probably 17/18, but I am a fairly protective mother. It's not that this book has a lot of profanity... It doesn't, I think the f' bomb is dropped two to four times. This is just my suggestion, which is the teacher and parent coming out in me, I would listen to it first and then make the choice to let your child listen to it. You can of course do whatever you want to do. With all of that said... This is a very good book!
I adore George RR Martin's books and couldn't wait to hear the reading. Unfortunately, listening was an endurance test for me. While the reader is a very, very skilled actor whom I greatly admire, I struggled against my pet peeves. When he would laugh, a deep rattle would often rise from his chest, unlikely for an eight year old Sansa! His sentences would sometimes end with the clicking of teeth, which really distracted from the story for me. If you are able to overlook or not be bothered by such things, by all means, dive in. In every other way it is a skillful read of a great book.
Unfortunately, Roy Dotrice makes this book harder to follow than it needs to be. A great book. A horrible narrator. Audible, please get John Lee to read this book!
I got interested in this book because of the HBO series. Whereas I found the tv series somewhat tedious and kind of hard to follow, I absolutely loved this book. I really enjoy how the author focuses on one character at a time and presents the issues and problems from that character's viewpoint. I found myself really rooting for the characters. (If you enjoy more nuanced characters and not sure who to root for, this is not the type of book for you. While there are a few characters whose side you're not sure, it's pretty clear from the beginning who the good guys are and who the bad guys are.) The narrator does a really good job with the voices and cadence of the story. I can't wait for the second one.
I determine how riveting a book is, if at the end of my long workday and the end of my commute home, I'm not ready to jump out of the car until I listen for just a few minutes longer. Even more so, that I plug in my iphone and set it into the cradle of my alarm clock, setting the timer for just another 15 minute listen before going to sleep. A Game of Thrones is that riveting and more. This "ain't no girly book" by any means and you have to be prepared for a little gore and more than a few shocks.
Quite possibly in the same class as the Tolkien Trilogy or Dune. A big, multi-volume story with well-developed characters, and tough, plausible story line development, well seasoned with bits of fantasy.