on 21 April 2012
Like most I know, I discovered this series when the HBO television adaption aired on Sky in 2011 and was instantly gripped. Since then I have read all of the books back-to-back and wow... they are AMAZING!
I am NOT a typical fantasy fan... in fact the idea of goblins and wizards going off on some good vs evil quest of grand proportions does NOTHING for me. But this is no typical fantasy novel. The story spans several view-points from across the fictional lands of Westeros and beyond. It is a story where no characters are safe from harm (or death) at any time. Each of the character-arcs are expertly woven and plot developments continually keep you in the dark whilst simultaneously steadily moving toward what can be some really devastating conclusions.
What I love about these books is that every character serves their own purpose, has their own private agendas and are all capable of good and bad to one extent or another... they do what they must to survive, and through their actions I found myself able to relate to and bond with these fictional people, who I have loved, loathed, pitied and despised. These novels are extremely character-centric which means the reader really does become emotionally involved with its characters, and believe me I did!
As with a lot of other fantasy series' ASOIAF is set during a medival time-frame, a time defined by murder, chivalry, classes and war... a lot of war. However unlike other fantasy series' magic and mythical monsters do not play a major role, but instead is allowed to steadily build and spread from the beginning, with beings such as the mystical Others, skin changers, wights, dragons and more. This gives the series more of a realistic grounding, and is perfectly researched by Martin.
The bottom line is that I found this series truly addictive. It was difficult to put down at times and I really cannot recommend it enough. Give it a go... you will not regret it!
on 29 August 2012
For all Game of Thrones or Song of Ice and Fire fans this is the set to get. First of all great service from Amazon, it came a day earlier then expected, which was fantastic. The story, itself, is brilliant; there are a tone of great characters that develop superbly in a gigantic, fantasy medieval world called Westeros, ( a very authentic map of Westeros is actually included in this set if you buy it in papaerback and it's easily nice enough to be framed if you're a massive fan) the story lines are very exciting and there is always a good fear for the characters as Martin doesn't mind killing them.
However if you are new to the series I'd recommend you pick up the first in the series, A Game of Thrones, or watch some of the TV show before buying this to see if the series is definitely to your taste. A lot of people complained that there is too much sex, swearing, detail and that their favorite characters were killed off. If you don't like any of that in the your fiction then I wouldn't suggest the series to you. If, however, you love that sort of stuff in your fiction, like me, then I urge you to go read A Game of Thrones right now or try and catch the TV show.
The books themselves are a lot better quality then the previous paperbacks. Before I bought this set I already owned all of the books but they were very used, small fat things with tiny print and the hardback of the fifth title was very, very heavy and after a while a nuisance to hold, if you have kindle those issues are not a problem but a lot of people have been annoyed with the kindle edition so I wouldn't recommend that unless the kindle edition is significantly cheaper. These paperbacks are taller, slimmer and the print is easier on the eye then older editions.
Also the fact that the newest book in the saga, A Dance with Dragons, is split into two parts; Dreams and Dust and After the Feast is an advantage for the majority of Ice and Fire fans that didn't like A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons as much as the first three. The latest two books in the series were not as well liked because Martin put half the characters in the fourth book and the other half in the fifth book and they both carried on directly after the third book in the series. The advantage about the fifth book being split is that you can read book 4 and 5 part 1 together so you won't go to long without half the characters and come Part 2 After the Feast all the characters are back together in the same book again.
Lastly some readers were irritated at the the box, mines okay, but it's just okay, nothing special. Many faults were that some boxes had split and a few customers experienced difficulty putting the books back into the box, honestly I wouldn't worry about it too much because Martin plans to release at least two more books in this series so the box isn't vital. On the whole, though, this set is outstanding, I would definitely recommend this box set to you if you're a fan of the books and/or the TV show unless you can get them cheaper separately and aren't worried about the map. Thank you for reading my review, hope it was helpful.
on 18 June 2014
Amazon - WHAT HAVE YOU DONE!!!
The individual purchases of ASOIAF have X-Ray enabled - Of all the books ion Kindle this is a series of books that ABSOLUTELY needs X-Ray to keep track of all the very many characters and locations in these books.
But because you purchase 5 books in one order - nope no Xray an incredible disappointment.
Also the Books all come out as One book with a few thousand pages and NOT as 5 distinct books, or even in Kindle terms 10 Kindle books.
Bizarre and bemusing that they dropped the ball here, this of all books would really benefit from an e-book functionality and Amazon blew it.
Great book, sucky implementation - just plain lazy Amazon - you get a D- here - must do better.
******* BETTER SOLUTION found
Buy all seven Kindle books, yes seven - Book 3 and Book 5 are sold as two Kindle Books each, go figure - ALL 7 can be purchased for £13.58 over HALF price and you get all the books as individual books AND you get XRAY - So for half price you get a much better ebook - go figure Amazon.
on 7 June 2012
These novels are amazing, I cannot recommend them enough. Well thought out and detailed characters, with compelling story arcs, the pace is not rushed nor overly long. If you like the TV series, these books are much more vivid and detailed.
The only drawbacks are with the kindle version which is expensive and of poor quality.
As well as being expensive (under the agency model used by Amazon to allow publishers to set prices, which is currently under investigation as to being anti competitve) the Kindle version is poorly structured (all books are in a single file and the left/right navigation jumps to the start of each book rather than each chapter) and there are typographical errors.
Often you are left wondering what a word like "ndes" means when in context it should have clearly been "rides". I had hoped this was an isolated instance but have counted at least three in the first third of the second book. (I purchased the five book kindle version after reading the first in paperback)
If we are paying a premium price for a product that costs virtually nothing to distribute, they could at least ensure that the quality was the same as their printed material.
Love the books (so far), love my Kindle, disappointed with this Kindle version.
on 11 September 2013
As for the actual books. Mr Martin is a good story teller but he isn't Tolkien. I don't believe he can get away with the description of every meal his main characters eat in the detail he does. Whole paragraphs dedicated to menus. Too much.
The story line is very interesting but the double and triple crosses are a nightmare to read. The amount of characters is a bit overwhelming to say the least and the plotline is so dragged out, it feels like an American series. What he has got through in five books I feel he could have got through in three books.
Saying that, I will be buying the next two when they eventually come out but its not a series of books I would read again.
Worth reading if you are a fan of the 'American series' as it does give a valuable insight into the main characters.
on 28 October 2015
Oh, now this is an odd one. First impression: The books are smaller than a paperback or a hardback - more like a Kindle in height. They are in a presentation box, which is all very nice for a series that is unfinished. The covers are soft and bendable, yet covered in a faux-leather covering that make them like a thick version of a pocket bible. Presumably you could take a copy with you if you were travelling. The covering is nice, but be warned, they can dent around the edges easily, as my copy upon arrival showed.
The content of the books are exactly as you would expect, albeit in smaller print. It is the full text but no additional extras.
So, in summary, it's a nice enough set, though at $70/£50 it is a lot of money for an incomplete set. Transportable but perhaps too expensive to transport in your pocket. For the Game of Thrones fan of the books who has everything else, perhaps.
on 7 September 2012
This isn't going to be a popular review with the diehard fans, but it's an honest one and I hope it may be of some use to those who haven't yet got into this series.
We bought this boxset on the understanding that it was "complete", e.g. the series comes to some kind of conclusion. It isn't complete in any sense, and doesn't even attempt to come to any form of conclusion (so why issue a boxset?!).
I also bought it under the impression that (having read the first three books before buying it) George R.R. Martin was an accomplished author who could keep you gripped longterm. He isn't, at least not in my case (or my partner's).
I was brought the first book as a present by my stepson last year. It was one of the best things I've read in a very long time and had me engrossed from start to finish, I read the lot in three nights, and it's not a lightweight volume. I was so impressed I rushed out and brought the second, not so great, but still a good read. Got a bit worried when I read the proposed "trilogy" had billowed out into six volumes and that the author had taken a couple of decades to write that much, but when the characters and plot were so good who cares? The longer the epic the better, right?
By the time I was half way through the second volume my partner was reading the first and she was also hooked - "such a great writer" we said to each other, a fantasy based (loosely) on the Wars of the Roses and Shakespeare's historical plays, "so gripping, can't wait to find out what comes next". My partner's favourite character was Arya, mine was Jon, but so many great characters - who can't like Tyrion? We've never both liked a book so much.
Feeling a little jaded with the second book I pressed on to the third and was pleased to find it actually started to pick up again - there it goes, you feel, Mr Martin has got into his stride again, now we're moving! Except it's the last of the good stuff - what you don't realise at that point is that from here on it's virtually all downhill into a never ending mire of: maim and disfigure old character, kill off old character, insert random new character much like the old character, but rather less charming, insert random sex scene and/or Elizabethan feast complete with recipes and/or boringly repetitive "humourous" song and/or boring and repetitive recitation of who killed who in some battle (not described), randomly maim and disfigure new character (Mr Martin likes gruesome facial scars nearly as much as he likes incest and Elizabethan food it would seem), kill off new character, bring back old character in some completely pathetic, predictable and implausible way, maim and disfigure old/new character.... and so on and on and on...
By the time you get round to finishing the last book in the boxset (book seven? it feels more like book 110), if you're anything like me, you just don't care any more, it's all so samey, so repetitive, so... dull! I've read them all up to the end of this boxset and Mr Martin claims he's going to wrap the series up in two more books, or maybe a couple more? But, you know what, I really don't care, the "cliffhanger" endings are getting tired and I really, really don't like ANY of the characters any more. Sad ending to something which started so promisingly.
My partner gave up at around the same time I did, although she was only on the fifth book (?) - the one that is almost entirely about new characters and doesn't really have any connection with the rest of the series until you're about halfway though and then you realise it's not going to contain ANYTHING at all about your favourite characters anyway! The strange thing is she didn't know I was fed up with the books until we discussed it one evening and both found out we felt exactly the same about them.
End result is this boxset is going to the car boot sale and we won't be buying any more (or watching any more of the series on SKY - which is incidentally not bad - it's got a great cast of actors, but does play around with the plot a bit - changing the sexuality of main characters and throwing in lots of gratituous sex scenes, for example).
IF you want to read about late Medieval skullduggery of the kind written about by Mr Martin in his more lucid and entertaining moments I'd recommend any of the many fantastic historical books available about the Wars of the Roses (York and Lancaster = Stark and Lannister, not too subtle really). IF you prefer a moving and inspiring fictionalised account of the same events look to Shakespeare. IF you want a cook book of Elizabethan recipes buy one, there are plenty. IF you want good fantasy fiction with perfidious nobles, bloody battles, Dragons and/or Undead there are plenty of better (more disciplined) writers of such out there (you could try the Lord of the Rings by J R R Tolkien, for example), and IF you want erotic fiction (porn?) involing siblings and/or older men and young girls there are better sources for those too - I'm sure!
In a nutshell if you're the kind of person who thinks neverending Soap Operas with the same old plot repeated over, and over, but with the odd new character and bit of sleaze, all wrapped up in a rather weak (at the end) "Medieval" fantasy you'll probably love this series and treasure it for ever. On the other hand if you're not that kind of person you probably won't want to bother.
on 2 October 2012
Well first of all I had assumed I had the complete story in the box set. It takes a long time to discover you're no nearer a conclusion at the end of book five than you were at the end of book one. People are still lost, hiding, killing each other, growing dragons, running from the terrors North of the wall and so on.
Over five books this gets very repetitive. The author has two (only two!) mechanisms for keeping you interested. The first is each book is split into different chapters where you get a different character's point of view and it pushes their story on a little bit. Then at random intervals, usually at the end of the book, some character you thought was intrinsic to the ongoing plot is surprisingly killed.
This is a kind of Sword and Sorcery version of the Thomas Covenant books, where you're hugely frustrated but keep reading them anyway and heave a huge sigh of relief when you finish one. I've struggled to the end of book five, but won't be buying the next book whenever it appears. It's a bit like the Dune series once Frank Herbert was dead, it started off well but each successive book was less exciting than the previous one, more of a chore to read, until eventually you reached a point of not caring what happens to any of the characters.
In conclusion there's probably a damned good trilogy in the whole idea, shame George R.R. Martin didn't have the discipline to find it.
on 14 May 2014
I read all 7 books in one go and did enjoy reading them. But got to the 7th to find the end hasn't been written yet and probably wont be for another 2 or three years.
Whilst I did enjoy reading them there was more than one occasion when I wanted to give up. The characters do some really impossible things and I couldn't help myself but notice things "that you just wouldn't do". There were so many in the first three books I really struggled to continue, the next three were better and the last was just as bad as the first. I really only continued because id bought the set.
I doubt ill buy any more.
Conn Iggulden is a much better writer, his "Lords Of the Bow" "Wellington And Napoleon" series makes him look like Shakespeare in comparison.
on 4 June 2012
1. The Series, Itself - FANTASTIC
Martin writes a gritty fantasy epic, that truly IS epic. Raw, dark, honest, but full of liars, this series will shatter any notion you have that fantasy is for kids, or that adults cannot have their pleasures. Martin does not shy away from butchering his characters, yes even the main ones, and this lends a sense of urgency and real alarm to the series. Find yourself liking one of his characters? Watch it, that character could be next. Meanwhile, the dishonorable and "evil" in the series really seem to get away with their acts. While the series is not without the comeuppance of evil, get used to darkness thriving, as Martin does not pull his punches. There's a reason HBO has been successful, and a large portion of that reason is the source material.
2. The Kindle Edition - JUST FINE!
I've seen complaints about the Kindle edition being horrible, from the formatting to the fact that it's 4 books squished into one. I have seen nothing that convinces me that the Kindle edition is anything less than perfect. Yes, there are 4 books. On the Android versions of the Kindle app, there is nothing to distinguish the books on the progress meter. I am 31% of the way through the series, and I don't know when this book ends and the next begins. On the Kindle, itself, however, there are marks where each book ends and the next begins, so you can more easily see where you are in the 4-book series. However, there is a total Table of Contents (ToC) just after the cover of the Kindle book, so you can quickly jump to the beginning of any of the books.
The formatting, also, receives no complaints from me. I don't see how there could really be a problem...there are words, which are strung together to form sentences, which are likewise strung together to make paragraphs....what's the problem? New chapters start on a new "page".
And with the kindle edition, you can bookmark and highlight the book to your heart's content. Honestly, it really is the best of all worlds.
That being said, the paperback series is currently being sold for less than the Kindle version of the same product. This is seriously annoying, as the Kindle edition does not have the overhead of paper, the printing process, etc...This is more a complaint about the pricing of kindle books by publishers than a complaint about this particular book, however.
Verdict: Awesome series, in an awesome format. I love not having to carry around multiple books when I'm getting close to finishing one. I also love being able to read on multiple devices, and having the latest page read sync to each device. All standard features of a Kindle book!