As we all know, George R. R. Martin’s series A Song of Ice and Fire has become one of the most highly viewed shows on television: A Game of Thrones. While the show has an extremely wide audience, how many of those viewers thirsting for action and blood are actually going to read the book? Probably not many because of the length and time it takes to read, not to mention the tediousness of the text. But should you take that time and effort to read the series?
I will be relatively brief with A Game of Thrones and A Clash of Kings and focus more on A Storm of Swords and A Feast for Crows. Before anyone says, “Wait, what about A Dance With Dragons,” well I hadn’t read it when I first wrote this review.
If you don’t have the time to read the series but you really, really, REALLY, want to, I would say skip A Game of Thrones and go directly into A Clash of Kings. A Game of Thrones is extremely similar to the first season of the television series, and you won’t be missing a whole lot if you watch season one and jump right into reading book two. The differences are very minor and subtle that it doesn’t matter much. Reading the first book would really only give you a feel for Martin’s writing style and how each character is presented in a chapter. You don’t get to see the perspective’s of most of the ruling people, but second-hand perspectives, such as Davos Seaworth in A Clash of Kings for the reader to see what Stannis is up to. The only big difference in the first book compared to the show is that Robb is not as big of a character as the show has made him out to be. The reader only sees him from outside perspectives, such as from Catelyn or Sansa’s point of view. A note on point of view: while each chapter title is a character and each chapter is from that character’s perspective, it is THIRD PERSON perspective.
Moving on to A Clash of Kings. I really don’t want to waste my time with this book, and with that said, maybe you shouldn’t either. This is where the books and the show start to be more noticeably different (such as Arya at Harrenhal with Tywin…in the book its Lord Bolton, not Tywin, and her adventures and exploits there are very different). For this book, though, if you REALLY don’t have the time, skip it. Watch season two and skip book two because it is so dry, bland, and boring that you will be itching to get to book three, but you’ll take years to get to it because of book two’s slow pacing. I have noticed this patter with many “second” books in numerous series’.
A Storm of Swords is where major differences begin to occur, such as Robb’s wife, Jane, who never left Riverrun and was never at the Red Wedding. This book was great and became both seasons three and four. A lot happens and there are some very peculiar plot variations in the book that were left out of the show, such as Bearic Dondarian’s gift of everlasting life to….well, if you don’t know who got his powers, READ IT. This was the most interesting of the books, featuring perspectives from various characters that we both like and dislike.
A Feast for Crows is interesting because it is a split story-line in terms of time events between A Dance With Dragons. Book four mostly features King’s Landing people such as Jamie, Brienne, Cersei (the first time we see her point of view), and random people such as The Drowned God, or The Princess in the Tower (there is also Samwell, Arya and Alane). While people seem to think this book won’t be that great because there’s no Daenerys, Jon, or Tyrion, it is actually one of the most interesting books in the series. There are major variations from the show and this book is definitely worth reading. The things that happen to Brienne and Podrick are vastly different, yet somewhat vague and unreal, like, did that actually happen? We do see bits of some of our favorite characters, though, through the scope of others, such as Samwell being told to become a Maester by Jon and to take the wildling prince baby so that he cannot be a sacrifice for the Red Woman.
I won’t be talking much about A Dance With Dragons until I read it, but in conclusion, YES you should read George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, if you have the time. If you don’t, skip books one or two (or both) and dive straight into three. Three and beyond are worth reading and you should take the time to explore the original text in comparison to the popular television series. Some of the events in the novels are vastly more interesting and have been left out of the television show, for better or for worse.