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.
©1999 George R.R. Martin; (P)2004 Books on Tape, Inc.
"A truly epic fantasy....The novel is notable particularly for the lived-in quality of its world, created through abundant detail...for the comparatively modest role of magic...and for its magnificent action-filled climax....[Martin] provides a banquet for fantasy lovers with large appetites." (Publishers Weekly)
"Fans of epic fantasy should appreciate this lavishly detailed sequel to A Game of Thrones." (Library Journal)
"Dotrice's range of vocal tones, from gravelly and commanding to silkenly dangerous, creates a mood of insistence that holds the listener captive throughout the epic story." (AudioFile)
"Grabs hold and won't let go. It's brilliant." (Robert Jordan)
I love the "Song of Ice and Fire" series so much that I have read the books three times and now have listened to the audio books as well. Martin is very skilled at drawing you into the story; he moves the plot(s) along at varying paces, sometimes slow, even plodding and sometimes he hits you over the head with a war hammer. At it's heart, the story is one of schemes within schemes, Machiavellian intrigues, lust, murder, greed, envy, deception, betrayal and all the other good human virtues :-). The fantastical elements within the story don't overwhelm; they merely add another flavor. Although as the plots of the first books unfold, the power of magic is growing, as supernatural events seem to be increasing in power and frequency. This will be even more apparent in the third book, "A Storm of Swords". Roy Dotrice is amazing as the reader for the audiobook. You may know him as Mozart's father in the Movie "Amadeus". Dotrice does a brilliant job of capturing the personalities of old crones, young children, gruff knights, pitiable beggars, and a host of others. Nothing beats a long drive and these audiobooks to keep you company. What am I saying, I listen to them at home as well because I don't want the story to end. I can't wait for the next audiobook, only so I can enter the world again while I wait for "A Feast for Crows" to get published. If you enjoy Tolkien, Robert Jordan, or other epic fantasy series, you will fall in love with this. It's simply the best series being written today, and deserves a place in the short list of great epic fantasy tales.
George R. R. Martin continues his epic tale filled with greed, passion, intrigue, and war. If you are a veteran of A Game Of Thrones then you'll have learned to expect the unexpected; surprising plot twists and turns and a sort of literary brutality with the fates of his characters put Martin well above the fluff-writing fantasy authors infesting bookshelves today. You'll go through the full gamut of emotions before you're done and, tired and weary, you'll be left wanting more. The narration by Roy Dutrice is phenomenal--his myriad voices and accents and seasoned, gruff voice is perfect for Martin's grim, realistic writing. Now, there are many people who don't like Martin's penchant for making the "good" characters suffer for their ignorance and lack of ruthlessness. There are many people who don't like Martin's realistic take on villians and how bad people with lots of power can do really bad things. There are many people who don't like seeing the characters that they've invested their emotions in get killed or have worse happen to them (yes, worse.) If you are one of these people. then go read something else that will fill your hearts with kittens and butterflies and chocolate chip ice cream. To everyone else: Strap yourselves down because you're in for one heck of a ride.
I've gotten drawn into this series well enough that I'm most of the way through Book 3, but by the end of this, Book 2, I was feeling a little like I wanted 80-something hours of my life back. I do enjoy most of the story lines, but I find the plot arch so brutal in its scope, I am not sure I can hold out for another 4 books or whatever to find out if whichever of these characters finally survive will get any kind of justice in the end.
The good characters generally have horrid lives that only get worse and worse (with occasional moments of hope that are often soon dashed!), while the bad characters rarely get any sort of just rewards. And in a normal novel, you only have to wait 10-20 hours or so to know the ending, but this saga is so vast, you will not get any such satisfaction. You will wait years to know for sure if the poor characters you've come to love will suffer anything but awful fates, and while I'd like to believe--since this is pop fiction--that the author won't let us down in the end, I am not so sure after seeing several central and beloved characters killed to serve the larger plot.
I know people are wild about this series in general, but as a non-fantasy reader I'm not sure if these are genre-transcending books. More like, they're good fantasy books that appeal to fantasy readers more than they will appeal to a general audience. I bought the books after reading so many positive reviews, and after several recommendations from friends. Speaking as a non-fantasy reader, I do really enjoy that there's not a great deal of magic or non-human characters in the stories, while there is enough to create an interesting atmosphere. The world-building is very skillfully done.
However I don't know if I have the fortitude for much more bloodshed, beheadings, and killing off of characters who never get to see any kind of justice for all their suffering.
This was a tough one for me, in spite of the valiant efforts of Roy Dotrice. After the excitement and intensity of the first book, I figured there was enough momentum to propel the entire series - but this one took a very different direction. Game of Thrones was a very unpredictable, genre-bending fantasy/noire that threw in every curveball it could, then Martin decided it would be fun to watch everybody in Westeros slow wayyyy down and play a game of Settlers of Catan. You would think 7+ major parties vying for the throne would be exciting to watch. . . but I assure you no. Let's see - Tyrion traded 6 armor and 2 sheep for wildfire. Theon rolled the dice, then traded 3 iron for 1 rusty crown. This really is how the book plays out - except that it adds about 100 new characters, only 3 of which maybe matter. It's also hard to analyze just 1 book in the series, as I understand that we're building toward something - maybe in the bigger picture of the series it's not as big a deal... but slogging through these 1,000+ pages (37 hours) felt like pushing a safe across a sandbar, so my answer as to whether I will continue the series will have to be "Eventually."
While I have enjoyed the series immensely, I am periodically put off by Roy Dotrice's portrayals of some of the characters. He does many things so well including consistent and distinct voices for each character and keeping Tyrion and The King slayers voices different but similar (they are brothers). But often he portrays young people and women with voices that sound so unrealistic that I find it disturbing and distracting. Teenagers are often made to sound much older and most older characters sound toothless. I am about to try the fourth book in the series and hope that the narrator, who did Pillars of the Earth, is an improvement, though I suspect from the preview that some of the subtle tones of Dotrice will be sacrificed for more of a "reading" than a portrayal. Stay tuned.
Great story but the narration is really distracting. The narrator makes everyone sound like a dim-witted toothless old man, even the women. I listened less and less and ended up just reading the book since the audio took so much away from my enjoyment of this excellent read.
I focus on fiction, sci-fi, fantasy, science, history, politics and read a lot. I try to review everything I read.
I am writing this review based on the first four books of this series overall.
There is a LOT going for these books, good character development of many strong, interesting characters (every one with their own fortes and flaws), a superior writing style with interesting vocabulary and a lack of clich??s and many of the other faults found in most fantasy novels. The majority of the chapters are good, a few chapters (at least one per book, excepting book four) are among the best to be found in the genre. Yet I did not come away pleased. The story moves from one complication to another, one interesting character to another (some of the characters have a half-dozen or more names/personae), but there is little resolution. Some sub-plots come to an end, but there is not a resolving. The story seems to have become more a fantasy soap opera than a novel; a well written and compelling soap opera, but a soap opera never the less. The only technical flaws that annoyed me were a few minor anachronisms and some grating crows and half-wits. The narrator for the first three books had VERY strong character voices (which might be too much for many). The narrator of the forth book erred in the other direction (in a book with so many characters character vocal differences can be a good thing). Somewhere in between would be nicer. This was much more of a saga than an epic, more good writing than literature, more a series then a story. I will not be listening to any more unless I hear that they finally and successfully resolve. The first book was the best of the four, with the next two being nearly as good, the fourth was much weaker.
I am not as enchanted by this series (I'm about to finish book 2) as most people seem to be. It's good. The characters are interesting, bad guys are very bad and good guys VERY good with a couple of gray people to add spice to the mix. If you are looking for a long, complex series to fill the hours for quite a while, this is a fine choice. But "Lord of the Rings" it is not, nor even "The Wheel of Time." The whole thing is really about war and power and skulduggery. Which, if you like that, is fine. I am more into character development and interaction than endless power plays with the expected back-stabbing and chicanery. And eating. I am a writer too and I know filler when I read it. Every meal is described in absurd detail. Spicing, sauces, even cooking methods. Geez, enough with the food already. It goes on for literally hours in each book. I am not that interested in the quality of their cuisine and if I wanted to watch the cooking channel, I would do that!
It's readable. It has fine narration. There's a lot of action and interesting situations. I will eventually listen to the whole series I am sure, but I'm not in a big hurry to know how it turns out because I simply don't care enough, nor have I gotten sufficiently attached to any character or characters to become deeply involved. And oh yeah, Mr. Martin has a nasty habit of killing off anyone I really like. This is not a cheery tale and the good guys frequently lose. Kind of grim actually. I stick with my initial assessment. Good. Not great.
I hated the way the narrator used the same voice for multiple characters, fell in and out of accents and changed the tone of his voice in weird places. It was so distracting, I only suffered through it on my commute to work because I loved the book so much. Roy Dotrice was just awful!
Epic, intrigue, adventure
The author does a great job of getting you emotionally attached to the characters.
Inconsistent voices for characters. Everyone sounds like an 80 year old man.
Great book and story. The Roy Avers narration is much better.
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