Rating: 4 Pierogies, homemade even
Review: I finished that darn book! After a very tiring day yesterday, I plowed through those last 50 pages, had a good sleep, and am now ready to GO today!
I feel silly reviewing this book, because I think I'm the last person on the planet to get around to reading it. It is also very hard to give a concise definition about what it's about. It's an epic--how do you define The Odyssey or Lord of the Rings? It's a huge book with a huge cast of characters and a huge number of things happen.
When you have this many main characters, it might be easy for the reader to lose track or get confused. Martin is skilled at placing tiny unobtrusive reminders throughout the book, so that the reader can effectively and effortlessly keep track of all the pieces in play. I liked the mix of names in this book.
Often a book will either have all fantasy names, or all common names. Martin mixes it up and puts a little of both. The only name I got hung up on was "Cersei" (if this is not familiar to you, see Circe). I understand the value of giving a character a recognizable name. The name itself is weighted with connotation, which gives the author a shortcut for having to describe the character's personality in detail. However, I got hung up on the issue of WHY WOULD ANYONE MARRY SOMEONE NAMED CERSEI? Would you marry someone named Freddy Kreuger? Although that kind of obliviousness seems par for the course for Robert Baratheon.
The characters were easily divided into "likeable" (Daeneyrs, Ned, Tyrion, Bran, Jon Snow, Arya), "horrid and mean and dislikeable" (Cersei, Jaime, Viseyrs, Joffrey, possibly Sansa although she quickly becomes more likeable at the end), and then there was a group that wasn't particularly likeable or dislikeable, but more neutral (Catelyn, Robb, Khal Drogo). What most impressed me was that there were so many main characters with distinct personalities, but I never felt like I lost track.
I really liked the book, but I'm not dashing out to read the next one. I am sure I'll read it eventually, but I'm not in any hurry to pick it up. I'm interested in finding out what happens to the characters and the Seven Kingdoms, but the book did not end on such a cliffhanger that I'm dying to find out what happens right now. I've been told the action slows down considerably in the following books.
Also, I really don't care for super long books (Game of Thrones is 800 pages). I prefer to read books under 300 pages, for the satisfaction of starting something, finishing it, and moving on to the next thing.
I am, however, eager to see how HBO translated this saga for television, so I've got to get out and get those DVDs!