Again, I tried reading “A Dance With Dragons” by George R.R. Martin. It is book five of an interminable series called “A Game of Thrones,” the most violent, grim, and repetitive — and long — series ever written. It makes “Lord of the Rings” look like a short story.

Originally, I gave it three stars, but I’m dropping it one. I disliked the books and hated what little I saw of the television show. The books are dark, long, and monotonous interspersed with periods of horror.  The series may go on forever, but I will not be there for its conclusion.

The first time I encountered a 40-page description of the food at a royal banquet and drifted into a coma, I thought “Hmm. Filler.” Shortly thereafter,  Mr. Martin began to knock off any character to whom I felt anything resembling affection or empathy, leaving only the characters I would have happily killed on my own. That didn’t give me any warm fuzzies either.

To enjoy a story, I need to feel some kind of positive relationship with at least one character. In these books, I dislike everyone and relate to no one, I lose interest through boredom, but the distaste comes first. Reading a very long series when there’s no character I like or respect is like going to a  big party that goes on forever … but you have no one to talk to. I don’t usually go to parties for exactly that reason.

Science fiction/paranormal/fantasy/alternative reality fiction is my favorite reading arena, the one in which I spend most of my literary hours. The problem is not a lack of familiarity with the genre. I just don’t like this series.

It is long and slow. The plot never seems to advance. The situation never changes in any substantial way. Just one set of machinations replaced by another in an endless cycle of nastiness, back-stabbing, murder, and intrigue. I guess I need more than plotting and murder to hold my interest.

Does its placement in an alternate reality improve the story? Not for me. These days reality is alternate enough.

This is a popular series. I own a bunch of volumes because I optimistically assumed I would like it. Big mistake. I was glad the series ended although I was part of a very small minority who was relived it finished. Apparently, people enjoyed it. Why? I do not know. Good acting doesn’t improve and the storyline. Ironically, this was a series that apparently followed the original books pretty well.

Garry and I watched the first quarter of the first show. It was enough. The rest I learned about on talk shows. And of course, by reading a couple of the books hoping that I’d discover I like them.

I didn’t happen and I’m pretty sure it never will. Oh well.

Categories: Book Review, Books, Literature, Marilyn Armstrong, Publishing, Television Review

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30 replies

  1. LIke a zillion other folks I liked Game of Thrones. – the TV version. Martin does have a gift for storytelling and inspired dialogue – despite the swearing. And I also bought that book collection off Amazon. I just couldn’t read it. Could not compel myself to work through it.
    Otherways I did read all of The Lord of the Rings. Tolkien being a great writer.
    We have watched the Witcher – so far. Not reading that either. The computer games have been brilliant – but I never finished them either.


  2. I read the books. All of them. Even though it was monotonous and I had to concentrate really hard to keep up, I stuck to it as I wanted to see what happened with the children.

    After buying all his books and spending so much time on sub-par stories and development, he announced he was suspending his writing in favor of making millions from a TV show. He made his money from the readers of his books, and he sold out to TV.

    I stopped reading whichever book I was on (the dragons were killing people already) and I refuse to watch his TV show. He made enough unearned money from me – I drew the line.


    • The repetitiveness drove me nuts. Long, dull descriptions of even the most common events. Dinners, clothing, rooms. Filler. Another way to make the books cost more. I think we paid for them by the page. I really thought I was the only one who plodded through a couple of them before realizing I wasn’t enjoying it at all. I’m really glad I’m not alone!


  3. I have not read the books or seen any of the TV series, for this I am grateful.


  4. Wow, I’m really surprised by this. I loved this series. I feel the opposite way. I thought his imagery and character development rivaled Rowling. I have always enjoyed this genre, and I found that he was able to plot twist with the best of them.


  5. I presume far more people have watched the series than read the books. Presumably enough people of influence read the books for them to end up as a very expensive to film series. Cyberspouse watched it by dubious means on his computer screen then it did end up on our television set somehow. A friend lent him the DVDs of the first series so I could catch up – I avoided getting around to it. What bits I’ve seen don’t appeal at all.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Too much death and torture and in the books, SO much filler. Really. I counted. Forty pages of descriptions of a state dinner. I love the genre, but I expect there to be more going on than descriptions. I was lucky. Garry didn’t like it either so we didn’t have to argue about it.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. I have written before about my loathing for Game of Thrones, it seems to me to be like so many modern films in that it starts with a scene of mainly dialogue then all of a sudden there is a violent fighting scene and it then moves on to another location with more dialogue. Harry Potter seems to follow the same format, the only difference is that Game of Thrones has the extra gratuitous sex scenes with are missing in Harry Potter. I think I’m getting too old for modern films!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I’ve never read the books or seen the TV show despite the hype about it. A friend who often recommends books or TV shows thought the show was great but from the descriptions of the violence, I knew I would not like it so I didn’t even bother. I need to feel empathy for at least one character in a show or I can’t watch it and I didn’t feel that I would like any of these people from the descriptions of the plots that I read.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I had slogged my way through the first book, skimmed the second, ignored the third and fourth, tried the fifth. I was alternately bored, revolted, nauseated, angered, frustrated … and then bored. When the show came on, Garry was curious, but I warned him. “They are going to kill anyone you like,” I said. “Brutally and horribly.” We watched about 10 minutes of it and he said, “OK, that’s enough for me.” We never went back.

      Liked by 2 people

  8. I read the first two books, but really only because I could say I read them, tried them and everyone was talking about it. I watched a couple of episodes on the TV, but it did not capture enough interest to read all the books. It just didn’t do it for me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I slogged through the first two books. I kept thinking I was supposed to like them, but I didn’t. I even tried a later book (maybe they improved?) — but they didn’t. The books were SO long with endless descriptions of things I found dull, followed by violence and a lot of cruelty. I thought it was ugly. When the show came on, it was on for about 10 minutes and never was seen again. I was glad when I realized I was not the only one who felt that way. It seemed for a while like I was the only one who didn’t like it.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. It is my preferred genre for fiction too. I bought the first book when it was released, a couple of decades ago… long before it hit the big time. I couldn’t connect with it either and never bought the second book. I tried watching the series, as people I love and respect think it wonderful… but it didn’t grab me either, so I didn’t watch the rest.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It was the violence of the TV show that got me … and the endlessness of the books and that he killed anyone I liked. Garry wanted to give the show a try, but we didn’t get even halfway through it. I got a bunch of them when they first came out very cheap. I tried. Back to Terry Pratchett!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I have a problem with the way both sex and violence are so needlessly graphic in film and on TV these days. Both are, for me at least, better suggested rather than shown in detail… but even the BBC stated that they hae to show one or both every fifteen minutes to keep their audience. Which leads me to wonder what we are becoming… and question the fact that TV and film encouraged this voyeuristic taste for graphic sex and gore in the first place, pandering to the less wholesome side of human nature. Both have a role in our lives, but one should be a private communion, the other not glorified.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Add this to the very long list of things I don’t understand. I always found romance and suggestions of sex were more enticing than the full details they show now. And I hate violence, especially when it’s a great way to avoid having to create characters with real personalities and motives. As soon as a character became interesting, he/she/they were going to die, usually in a particularly violent and cruel way and probably in public. Even simple TV shows are like that these days, or at least a lot of them are. I truly don’t get it. Even though I know it’s not real, it’s still sickening.

          We watched “Kate and Leopold” last night. Somehow we missed it when it came around in 2003. It’s Meg Ryan and Hugh Jackman with a time travel theme and a happy ending. We went to bed smiling.



  1. BYE BYE GAME OF THRONES. THE PARTY’S OVER – Marilyn Armstrong | Serendipity Seeking Intelligent Life on Earth | Fantasy Gift Resources: Books, Art, Music, News

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