Actual rating: 3.5 stars
Okay, firstly, I COMPLETED A 864 PAGE LONG NOVEL!
That really was a monumental task, believe me.So, a fair warning: The review is a bit long and winding and mainly consists of me jotting down my chaotic thoughts.
Now, I know every nitty-gritty, fallacy, quirks, pros/cons have been already discussed regarding the series. So, I'm not going into a huge synopsis, just a short one:
The novel is set around the land of Westoros, which is divided into numerous kingdoms, governed by a ruling family. All these families are under the central rule of whoever sits on the Iron Throne in King's Landing. He is the king of Westoros. So, that is what it all revolves around: the formidable Iron Throne.
I'll come directly to the points that rankled me in the book.
First and foremost, the icky sex scenes AND the plethora of casual rapes.
I mean, I know the book is set in medieval times, but it still got on my nerves. Especially the Targaryen House. The girl, Daenerys, is 12 when she gets married and 13 when she gets pregnant. I'll cover the age stuff later, but just read this:
He always took her from behind, Dothraki fashion, for which Dany was grateful; that way her lord husband could not see the tears that wet her face, and she could use her pillow to muffle her cries of pain.
What the fuck is that? Obviously the girl is in pain and needs her husband to stop. But does he? Nope. Instead he ignores her all day long and only acknowledges her existence when he needs to satisfy his sexual needs.
What kind of marriage is based on that
sort of relationship? The even more horrifying aspect of it is that IT IS PORTRAYED AS LOVE AND NOT RAPE.
The whole sex ordeal for Daenerys gets easier for her with enough 'sessions' and familiarity.
She began to find pleasure even in her nights, and if she still cried out when Drogo took her, it was not always in pain.
How demeaning and disgusting is this? What is that supposed to mean? It is the growing 'romance' between husband and wife the fiend and his sex slave?
This is repugnant.
And it's not even like Dany's husband, Drogo, is going out his way to brutalize her. It is just the way the society is. It is commonplace and fucking normal there.
The Targeryen House has this saying/aphorism that says goes something like everything significant has to be done under the stars
. So, public sex is the norm here. The commoners, the king himself, everyone indulges in it, anywhere, everywhere.
And now the rapes. My God.
This Targeryen House is fucking gaga over horrifyingly nauseating rapes. When they win battles and plunder the city, the spoils of the war are the women girls. It's their reward for fighting for their khal
. The women are raped by numerous soldiers publicly. And God forbid if they cry out because if they do, they are threatened to have their tongues cut.
*shudders in horror*
Secondly, the misogyny.
This had to be the first book I've ever read that disparage women to such extents.
The women are gentle beings (read: brainless creatures) who are too stupid to understand war tactics.
The women are just present in the book for sex and babies. Period.
Women can't be leaders. They are too soft-hearted.
The very dialogues that the male characters sprout are horrendous.
"Oh, Cersei is lovely to look at, truly, but cold... the way she guards her cunt, you'd think she had all the gold of Casterly Rock between her legs. Here, give me that beer if you won't drink it."
What? Really? I don't know what to say to this except how fucking sexist that is.
Khal Drogo smiled. "See how fierce she grows!" he said. "It is my son inside her, the stallion who mounts the world, filling her with his fire."
God! I HATE THIS MAN. Now, he is crediting Dany's growth as a women to his 'son's fire'. WHAT THE FUCK? WOULD YOU STOP?
Thirdly, the violence/barbarism
I couldn't stomach half of the descriptions and rituals panning across this society.
Example #1- The Targeryn House (Argh! I hate the entire house. It is a riot of barbarism) has another utterly ghastly tradition. The Queen, our Dany, is supposed to eat the heart of a stallion ,RAW, the Khal kills. If she does that without choking the couple would be blessed with a boy. And if she can't manage that then "the child might be stillborn, or come forth weak, deformed, or female."Did you notice the sexism here? Because I fucking did. A female child is clubbed together in the category of stillborn child. I CANNOT EVEN
Coming back to the point, that ritual is... stupid? Pointless? Barbaric? Animal Cruelty, if nothing else?
Example #2- Dany's pervy, abusive, brother, Viserys, who was the one who sold off Dany to the Khal death was a macabre.
The Khal poured scorching hot, molten gold on his head, because he was always prattling about owning a crown.
Careful what you wish for, huh?
And fourth, the writing
Martin's writing hugely comprises of sexist dialogues, long, drawn-out descriptions, and irrelevant details of 'manhoods'. It is not even necessary. Like he is describing a person and adds Between his legs his manhood swung long and heavy
. REALLY? Why is that necessary?
Some lines were repeated countless number of times and grew banal and repetitive.
"I'm ninety and I remember very well. I remember what to do with a woman, too. That wife of mine will give me a son before this time next year, I'll wager. Or a daughter, that can't be helped."
Is that really necessary? The crudeness of the dialogue is disgusting.
Seventh: The Age factor
Everyone, and I mean everyone is so young.
Dany, 12, sold off to Khal for marriage. Pregnant at 13.
Robb Stark, 14, leading an army at war.
Jon Snow, 14, pledging to protect the Westoros against the Others.
Joffrey Baratheon, 12/13, vested with so much power and doing such heinous crimes.
Sansa Stark,11, betrothed to Joffrey.
I don't whether that is child abuse or shows that children are capable, smart people, not less than any adult.
Now, I can imagine many of you cringing and vowing never to pick up the series. Just hold on a minute.
There is a reason why, after all this horror, I gave it 3 stars and not 1. That is because, as repulsive all the above stuff is, Martin creates strong, realist, feminist characters too.
My favorite character. She is spunky, outspoken and a total badass at 11. And it contrasts sharply with her naive, cliched sister Sansa. When Sansa is obsessing over dresses and betrothals, Arya is busy with swords and defense.
That man is awesome. As blunt and crude he is, there is this certain respect I have for him. He is a dwarf, the black sheep, of the Lannisters and is looked down upon wherever he does. He is ridiculed, mocked, but takes all that in a stride. He is sarcastic, acerbic and doesn't hesitate to tell you exactly how he thinks you are.
"Most men would rather deny a hard truth than face it."
Now, the world building.
Many have complained about the vague nature of the world they live in. Well I didn't have any problem with that. The important stuff was explained and that was enough for me. The heart-rending betrayals, the quiet loyalties, the unflinching decisions, the deaths. These are the things that form the essence of the book and it is mighty addicting.
Game of Thrones encapsulates a intriguing mystery, a medieval albeit dysfunctional society, and an all consuming bloodlust and powerful vengeance.
Conclusion: Game of Thrones
was a good start to the series. The players have been cast, the stakes are high and the allegiances are still uncertain. It's a compulsive read that will surely get you hooked.
If you can stomach the gore and carnage, it's a riveting read.