I gave this book high scores because it has been one of those that hooks you good. Every chapter leaves you hanging as the next introduces you to new characters or takes you to place and happenings of characters you've already met. There are far reaching threads that begin to unravel, people do surprising things; braves crumble and cravens find courage; powers fail, while new darker ones come to life. A kingdom united becomes a kingdom in tumoil and men rise to triumph while a darker force has its will too. I do caution however that the writing is definitely for mature persons or persons not easily offended by violence, rape or even incest. These are offensive things and some persons may not be able to appreciate the development of characters if bothered to much by bloody battles, the raping of the conquered, whoreing, or incestual relations between brother/sister. The narrator is exceptional and does all three books available here. There is another book coming: A Feast of Crows and I heard Roy Dotrice will be narrating that one as well.
I have been pleasantly surprised by this book. While it does move along rather slowly, the characterization is some of the best I have ever come across in a fantasy novel. Each character is a believably unique blend of strengths and weaknesses, and over time you really come to care about them. It's true, bad things happen and some characters die. It's also true that there is some rough language and crude behavior, including rape, murder and incest. But this is what makes the drama that much more compelling. After all, this is supposed to be a medieval setting. Unlike the typical fantasy novel where you know the hero is going to triumph over the dark lord in the end, here you really feel like there is something at stake in this story. I really enjoyed this book and I'm looking forward to the next in the series.
The reader, Roy Dotrice, is the best audio book reader I have heard thus far. His different voices, accents, and character mannerisms keep this massive book flowing. For me, he set a standard of how an audiobook should be read and has tainted my opinions of other books that I have listened to.
The story presented here is massive. Many characters, many events, and much visualization. From this book, you can truely get to know the characters, the cities, and the lore of this vast world created by George Martin.
I read the reviews about the reader not being good and the names not being pronounced well. But I disagree with that assessment of this reading. I think this book is excellently read. The voices are well done and interesting. It did take me a few chapters to understand the shift from one character to another. Once I understood that, it was very enjoyable, I actually waited for a shift.
The storyline in this book is very realistic, so realistic in fact, that I found it painful in many places. Martin didn't write a "good guys always end up on top" book. There were times that I needed to stop the book and catch my breath - since I didn't want the things that happened to happen. But it is as it would have happened in real mediaval life. I also enjoyed the very complex political undertow that was happening.
It took awhile to get into this book but if you like the fantasy genre
once you have all the characters straight this will be hard to shut off. I found myself rooting for the heros and wanting to see the demise of the antagonist. I recommend this book and will be getting the next book series.
I am looking forward to next in the series. I hope that having the first book in the series will lead to the other two in the line being made available as well. Great reader!
Unless you are British, Dotrice ruins this book. I could not get more than two hours into the book before I had to turn it off. It's like being lectured at by the most stuffy professor you have ever met. His manner of narating, long pauses followed by rapid fire speak, with deep stuffy accent, is too much to take. Too bad, I really wanted to listen to this series.
For anyone who enjoys authors like Robert Jordan, Tolkien, or L.E. Modesitt Jr., this book is meat and mead. The dark realism of Martin's setting is detailed, but not boring. The characters are very well developed and very unique. A bright point in this story is Martin's ability to make the reader feel for the characters. My only complaint is that Martin seems to rush through the first half of the book naming places and people and gives very little substance regarding where they are or who they are. Also, I too had trouble with Roy Dotrice's narration at first, but once I was used to it it only added to the mood of the story. I give this book five stars, and will be adding a hardcover copy to my ever-growing library of books I love.
I read this book and then went on to read the next two in the series. I thought they were so good that I went back and read them again. This is the best fantasy that I have ever read and I will now be buying the audio versions.
Perhaps it's the reader; perhaps it's the author's pace--either way, I found this book tiresome. I kept waiting for it to get better, but it never happened. The many plots were predictable. I wish I could say there was a character within the book that I admired, but I couldn't find one. I can not recommend this book.