A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin

409207  Title:  A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire #1)

  Author: George R. R. Martin

  Genre: Epic Fantasy

  Format: Mass market paperback, 807 pages

 

 

 

First of all, I need to warn you that this is a re-read, meaning that when I read it I paid more attention to the details that I had had before. I first read GoT 3 years ago, after the show had come out, and I proceeded to devour all five books in an instant. Obviously, I didn’t paid much attention to details has I should have, and because of the translation (I only had the books in Portuguese) I think I lost a lot of vital information. Before re-reading the book, I thought that it would take me ages to do it, because I already knew the end, but the opposite happened; I read it in a rush because all of my old “friends” were there waiting for me, to help me remember why I love George Martin so much. So here I am, 3 years later, re-reading the whole 5 books, in English, and praying that when I finish them, Mr. Martin will have the next one ready *fingers crossed*.

Before reading my review you should be aware that trying to describe and explain this series to someone who doesn’t know them is a little bit like trying to describe the world without spoiling it: almost impossible. So what I may write probably make any sense, but believe me this is a masterpiece that you need to read.

For those of you, who don’t know this series (where have you been living??) they’re about a fictional world much similar to ours in the medieval time but with a tad of magic and uncomprehending mystery. In this volume we stumble upon an apparently strong kingdom where peace prevails (as much as it possibly can). The book starts with the death of Jon Arryn, the Hand of the King, that makes the king, Robert Baratheon, have to travel North and ask Lord Eddard Stark to take Arryn’s place. Eddard Stark, aka Ned, is one of my favorite characters ever due to his conviction that what is right must prevail. When Ned travels South to take his place as Hand of the King, we start getting the feeling that not everything is how it is supposed to be… First we have the Lannisters, the family of the queen, ruthless, wealthy and very arrogant; Queen Cersei is one of those characters that you just love to hate, all her stuffy pose and fake smiles. Then there is the Imp, Tyrion Lannister, the dwarf brother of the queen (personally I would just give him the kingdom and be done with that), always underestimated and mocked because of his disabilities, he becomes one of the most smart and interested figures of the family(and of the realm). And to finish we have Daenerys Targaryen, the princess who ran with her brother Viserys to the Free Cities after Robert Baratheon took the throne form her father 15 years ago, and who now poses a threat to the throne; because of the show I forget how young she is in the book, what makes me admire her even more, this is a character that after so many years finally decides to take “the reins”(literally) and really own her life (if you already read the books you will understand me). These are just a small fraction of the crucial characters introduce in this volume, believe there are much more important ones who you will fall and love/hate. I can’t tell much more without basically taking all the fun from the story, but one thing I can tell you: “when you play the game of thrones you win or you die”.

Just for those of you who already read this masterpiece: because this is a re-read I decided to make some notes of important events that I never really gave much thought. First of all we really get to see how much Sansa lives in the clouds, with her dreams of beautiful knights saving her from the could of the North, and that as long as she has her prince everything will be all right. Really I just want to punch her in the face and tell her to wake up, because guess what: you get your father killed. Then there is the whole story behind Jon’s mother, who I really never gave much thought, but after this re-read I really can tell that I agree with popular opinion of who she is, there are just to many hints about it. And last but not least, there is Catelyn, a character that I really never gave much though about but that now has my full attention, she is a kickass woman, and Sansa should really follow her steps. So here they are. my thoughts about this book, at least the ones that I can put in words… because really there isn’t enough time for me to really dissect this book (there are 4 more waiting for me in the shelf!)

★★★★★

Rita Viegas

PSA: Two new K.J. Parker Stories and a New Trilogy!

I will not stop proselytising the religion of author K.J. Parker until her books are read and appreciated by millions of readers worldwide. Fine, maybe not millions of readers, but K.J. Parker is an author that is so criminally underappreciated by genre readers that were I a conspiracy nut, I would angrily shout that there are malevolent forces at play here. That I have only started reading Parker’s work in the last month is irrelevant, or it makes my case even stronger;  it is enough time to come to terms with the sheer amount of intellectual power and dry humour she brings to the table in her books.

Devices and DesiresAnd as so, I have taken up the task of recommending her fiction to those who care to listen. It’s the best and only thing that I, as a reader, can do to positively impact an author that I care about. (Unrelated addendum: Why is it that we don’t see millionaires financing the careers of authors they like? Is patronage a thing of the past? If so, why)

Those who want to start reading her work, two new stories have been published online by both Subterranean Press, whose Subterranean Online has published a wide amount of Parker’s stories, and that has come to an end, and Beneath Ceaseless Skies. Almost all of her shorter fiction has also been recently collected in the Academic Exercises anthology, which I hereby bet with everyone that it will win a bunch of anthology awards (the World Fantasy Award is a given).

Additionally, and far far more exciting, the first details of her newest trilogy have finally surfaced. Slated for a February 2015 release, The Invincible Sun looks like it will be the first K.J. Parker novel to be featured in the world that she has been building throughout her shorter fiction. For those new to her work, The Invincible Sun is the name of the God and main religion in this world, the only world by her that features overt magical elements. If it proves to be the case that the book’s story will indeed be set in this world , The Invincible Sun will be the first K.J. Parker novel to feature her original magic system. The creation of The Invincible Sun is the subject of her stupendous story “The Sun and I”.

As you can tell, I am beyond excited for this new trilogy and everything that this author does next. Give her work a chance, you will not regret it.

What We’re Looking Forward To In October

What We’re Looking Forward To is, as the name indicates, a monthly feature where we talk about what books we’re most excited to check in the coming month. 

From João:

There has always been in me a potent interest for everything war related; I blame it on growing up imagining armies of orcs and men battling on the fields of Pelennor. The synopsis of the latest Greg Bear book, War Dogslooks immensely interesting, and it reminds me of Haldeman’s The Forever War,   and, more recently, of Will McIntosh’s Defenders.

War DogsThey made their presence on Earth known thirteen years ago.
Providing technology and scientific insights far beyond what mankind was capable of. They became indispensable advisors and promised even more gifts that we just couldn’t pass up. We called them Gurus.
It took them a while to drop the other shoe. You can see why, looking back.
It was a very big shoe, completely slathered in crap.
They had been hounded by mortal enemies from sun to sun, planet to planet, and were now stretched thin — and they needed our help.
And so our first bill came due. Skyrines like me were volunteered to pay the price. As always.
These enemies were already inside our solar system and were moving to establish a beachhead, but not on Earth.
On Mars
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I have never read any genre fiction from China, and since Cixin Liu‘s The Three-Body Problem appears to be one of the great works to have come out of that scene, now published in English through Tor, and translated by the amazing Ken Liu, I am l0oking forward to give this one a shot.

The Three-Body ProblemThree-Body Problem is the first chance for English-speaking readers to experience this multiple award winning phenomenon from China’s most beloved science fiction author, Liu Cixin.

Set against the backdrop of China’s Cultural Revolution, a secret military project sends signals into space to establish contact with aliens. An alien civilization on the brink of destruction captures the signal and plans to invade Earth. Meanwhile, on Earth, different camps start forming, planning to either welcome the superior beings and help them take over a world seen as corrupt, or to fight against the invasion. The result is a science fiction masterpiece of enormous scope and vision.

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This one is bound to arrive in my doorstep at any moment. I am a bit apprehensive because I am very sensitive to non-standard narration techniques and might give up on the book because of it, but Lavie Tidhar‘s The Violent Century has an incredible review buzz around it and the premise is right up my alley. Very excited for this one.

The Violent CenturyJohn le Carré meets Alan Moore’s The Watchmen in this stunning novel by one of science fiction’s most original voices.

For seventy years they guarded the British Empire. Oblivion and Fogg, inseparable friends, bound together by a shared fate. Until one night in Berlin, in the aftermath of the Second World War, and a secret that tore them apart.

But there must always be an account… and the past has a habit of catching up to the present.

Now, recalled to the Retirement Bureau from which no one can retire, Fogg and Oblivion must face up to a past of terrible war and unacknowledged heroism – a life of dusty corridors and secret rooms, of furtive meetings and blood-stained fields – to answer one last, impossible question: What makes a hero?

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From Rita:

Although I haven’t yet read The Mark of Athena and The House of Hades, I’m really looking forward to read The Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan. It’s the conclusion to a great story, and I just cannot let Percy go… (but I’ll have to wait until the edition of the House of Hades with the cover I love is released so that I’m able to finish the series).


The Blood of Olympus
Though the Greek and Roman crewmembers of the Argo II have made progress in their many quests, they still seem no closer to defeating the earth mother, Gaea. Her giants have risen—all of them—and they’re stronger than ever. They must be stopped before the Feast of Spes, when Gaea plans to have two demigods sacrificed in Athens. She needs their blood—the blood of Olympus—in order to wake.
The demigods are having more frequent visions of a terrible battle at Camp Half-Blood. The Roman legion from Camp Jupiter, led by Octavian, is almost within striking distance. Though it is tempting to take the Athena Parthenos to Athens to use as a secret weapon, the friends know that the huge statue belongs back on Long Island, where it “might” be able to stop a war between the two camps.
The Athena Parthenos will go west; the Argo II will go east. The gods, still suffering from multiple personality disorder, are useless. How can a handful of young demigods hope to persevere against Gaea’s army of powerful giants? As dangerous as it is to head to Athens, they have no other option. They have sacrificed too much already. And if Gaea wakes, it is game over.

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After reading The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare, I decided that I just had to read more things from those two authors. After some research, I found The Couldest Girl in Coldtown and it seemed the perfect thriller to read over the winter.

The Coldest Girl in ColdtownTana lives in a world where walled cities called Coldtowns exist. In them, quarantined monsters and humans mingle in a decadently bloody mix of predator and prey. The only problem is, once you pass through Coldtown’s gates, you can never leave.

One morning, after a perfectly ordinary party, Tana wakes up surrounded by corpses. The only other survivors of this massacre are her exasperatingly endearing ex-boyfriend, infected and on the edge, and a mysterious boy burdened with a terrible secret. Shaken and determined, Tana enters a race against the clock to save the three of them the only way she knows how: by going straight to the wicked, opulent heart of Coldtown itself.

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is a wholly original story of rage and revenge, of guilt and horror, and of love and loathing from bestselling and acclaimed author Holly Black.

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And George R. R. Martin does it again. The World of Ice and Fire promises to deliver a book full of “new history”, amazing illustrations, and, let’s hope, some hints of plot development. The pre-order is made, and now all we need is to wait.

The World of Ice and FireIf the past is prologue, then George R. R. Martin’s masterwork—the most inventive and entertaining fantasy saga of our time
—warrants one hell of an introduction. At long last, it has arrived with The World of Ice and Fire.

This lavishly illustrated volume is a comprehensive history of the Seven Kingdoms, providing vividly constructed accounts of the epic battles, bitter rivalries, and daring rebellions that lead to the events of A Song of Ice and Fire and HBO’s Game of Thrones. In a collaboration that’s been years in the making, Martin has teamed with Elio M. García, Jr., and Linda Antonsson, the founders of the renowned fan site Westeros.org—perhaps the only people who know this world almost as well as its visionary creator.

Collected here is all the accumulated knowledge, scholarly speculation, and inherited folk tales of maesters and septons, maegi and singers. It is a chronicle which stretches from the Dawn Age to the Age of Heroes; from the Coming of the First Men to the arrival of Aegon the Conqueror; from Aegon’s establishment of the Iron Throne to Robert’s Rebellion and the fall of the Mad King, Aerys II Targaryen, which has set into motion the “present-day” struggles of the Starks, Lannisters, Baratheons, and Targaryens. The definitive companion piece to George R. R. Martin’s dazzlingly conceived universe, The World of Ice and Fire is indeed proof that the pen is mightier than a storm of swords

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The Godless by Ben Peek

The Godless

The Godless is not Ben Peek’s first published work, but, as his fantasy debut, it is a new step in the Australian author’s career. The Godless is set in a fantasy world where a calamitous war between the gods has left them for dead, or dying. In the aftermath of that world-changing event, the god’s bodies have begun leaking remnants of their powers into the world, creating new Immortals – humans with powers, feared by many.

It is on the literal back of one of these gods that the city of Mireaa, a huge trade city, was built. Much like a cairn, Mireea finds itself in the midst of a siege by a warring neighboring nation which the city may not be able to stop. It is in this setup that The Godless introduces us to its three main characters. Ayae, a cartographer’s apprentice, discovers early on in the book that she cannot be hurt by fire. Buelaran, saboteur, leader of the mercenary company Dark, has been hired to infiltrate the besieging army and cause as much harm as he can. Zaifyr, a man covered in charms, both feared and detested by Fo and Bau, two powerful Immortals living in Mireea, knows more about the world’s history that his apparent young age lets on.

The Godless is nothing but epic, and as the first book in the Children series, with a world and history much larger than can be put into 400 pages, it feels like a book whose purpose is to setup the events that are to come in the following books in the series. It could be said that more important than the besieging army story, it is the characters that Peek here introduces that are the true focus of the book, as more words are spent establishing each character’s backstory than they are advancing the main story forward. However, the strategy’s purpose is made clear as you progress through the book, and it is sure to pay dividends in the proceeding installments in the series when all the threads are knitted back together.

That is not to say that the book does not have its issues. The sudden changes in time, without warning or notice, more often than not ended up breaking my reading flow and forced me to backtrack several paragraphs because I couldn’t mentally place the action in its correct time and place. This isn’t much of a problem later on in the book because you learn to expect these changes, but in the beginning it can become quite tiring. It also doesn’t help that the book is divided in several small chapter, each with a different character viewpoint, which makes it harder to settle into each character’s mindset. Again, this is more of a trouble in the beginning because the characters are new and you have nothing with which to anchor their viewpoints.

In all, The Godless succeeds in what sets out to do: it establishes the world, its characters, and the context with which the later book will work with. While it may have some problems, it is interesting and compelling enough to keep on reading, and by the end of it you cannot but wait to find out what happens afterward.

What We’re Looking Forward To In September

What We’re Looking Forward To is, as the name indicates, a monthly feature where we talk about what books we’re most excited to check in the coming month. 

From João:

This is, by far, my most anticipated book for 2015. I have fallen in love with Ken Liu‘s short fiction ever since I read his multiple award-winning story Paper Menagerie – which you can read here, – and The Grace of Kings, his novel debut, promises to be one of the best this next year. The novel will be published by the new imprint SAGA Press, and you can get a taste for it in his story None Owns The Air, published in Lightspeed Magazine, which is based in the same world.

The Grace of KingsTwo men rebel together against tyranny—and then become rivals—in this first sweeping book of an epic fantasy series from Ken Liu, recipient of Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy awards.

Wily, charming Kuni Garu, a bandit, and stern, fearless Mata Zyndu, the son of a deposed duke, seem like polar opposites. Yet, in the uprising against the emperor, the two quickly become the best of friends after a series of adventures fighting against vast conscripted armies, silk-draped airships, and shapeshifting gods. Once the emperor has been overthrown, however, they each find themselves the leader of separate factions—two sides with very different ideas about how the world should be run and the meaning of justice.

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K.J. Parker is one of those authors that is constantly featured on every underappreciated authors list and I have yet to see a negative thing written about her writings. I am expecting great things from The Folding Knife.

The Folding KnifeBasso the Magnificent. Basso the Great. Basso the Wise. The First Citizen of the Vesani Republic is an extraordinary man.

He is ruthless, cunning, and above all, lucky. He brings wealth, power and prestige to his people. But with power comes unwanted attention, and Basso must defend his nation and himself from threats foreign and domestic. In a lifetime of crucial decisions, he’s only ever made one mistake.

One mistake, though, can be enough

 

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I am cheating a bit here since I have already reviewed this book on this blog, but City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett is poised to be one of the most talked about books this year and I will be very surprised if it doesn’t do spectacularly well both critically and commercially. You have to check out this book.

City of StairsThe city of Bulikov once wielded the powers of the gods to conquer the world, enslaving and brutalizing millions—until its divine protectors were killed. Now Bulikov has become just another colonial outpost of the world’s new geopolitical power, but the surreal landscape of the city itself—first shaped, now shattered, by the thousands of miracles its guardians once worked upon it—stands as a constant, haunting reminder of its former supremacy.

Into this broken city steps Shara Thivani. Officially, the unassuming young woman is just another junior diplomat sent by Bulikov’s oppressors. Unofficially, she is one of her country’s most accomplished spies, dispatched to catch a murderer. But as Shara pursues the killer, she starts to suspect that the beings who ruled this terrible place may not be as dead as they seem—and that Bulikov’s cruel reign may not yet be over.

From Rita:

I first heard of The Iron Trial after some of my favourite booktubers went to BEA and received an ARC. Although I have never read anything by Holly Black, I have heard very good things about her writing… and well I really, really like Cassandra Clare books. Now that I have my copy (thanks to Netgalley) I’m just going to have to devour it, because who doesn’t love a book about mages and magic school?


1395846739000-IronTrialCover

From the imaginations of bestselling authors Holly Black and Cassandra Clare comes a heart-stopping plunge into the magical unknown.

Think you know magic?

Think again.

The Magisterium awaits . . .

Most people would do anything to get into the Magisterium and pass the Iron Trial.

Not Callum Hunt.

Call has been told his whole life that he should never trust a magician. And so he tries his best to do his worst – but fails at failing.

Now he must enter the Magisterium.

It’s a place that’s both sensational and sinister. And Call realizes it has dark ties to his past and a twisty path to his future.

The Iron Trial is just the beginning. Call’s biggest test is still to come . . .

 

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Marissa Meyer is one of my favourite authors, The Lunar Chronicles is one of my ultimate favourite sagas and I just can’t get enough of it. So, obviously, when I heard of this companion I was in heaven! You’ve got to love a good villan, and Levana fits the profile perfectly…


22489107In this stunning bridge book between Cress and Winter in the bestselling Lunar Chronicles, Queen Levana’s story is finally told.

Mirror, mirror on the wall,
Who is the fairest of them all?

Fans of the Lunar Chronicles know Queen Levana as a ruler who uses her “glamour” to gain power. But long before she crossed paths with Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress, Levana lived a very different story – a story that has never been told . . . until now.

Marissa Meyer spins yet another unforgettable tale about love and war, deceit and death. This extraordinary book includes full-color art and an excerpt from Winter, the next book in the Lunar Chronicles series.