A Game of Thrones is by far the boldest book that I’ve chanced to read. It is also the best book I’ve read when it comes to the usage of detail.
The motivation to read the book (or the knowledge of its existence) came from the noise the viewers of the TV series made. I was severely warned that it was brutal, bloody, and disgusting at places. Fortunately, I wanted to take a break from the casual novels I read.
The problem any new reader would face reading this book is its familiarity among people, thanks to its blockbuster TV adaptation.
People let out spoilers as easy as death in Game of Thrones.
‘Eddard, Hand of the King *******(random number of stars to confuse reader),’ was the first spoiler I heard. That pretty much kills the reading, I thought. People also started suggesting that I watch it on TV and not ‘waste’ time reading it.
It’s best to read the book in the dark, I’d say!
On what is so good about the book, I’d say it’s the boldness. I don’t mean the incest, the gore, or the killing. It’s the boldness GRRM shows when he kills important characters.
How many writers have the guts, or the strength, to part with their characters?
LOTR, for example, made heroism seem like a walk in the part, at least comparatively.
Just fight, fight, and you win at last! You won’t die, I guarantee! ?
That’s where GRRM has outrun a plenty of other writers. He is brave enough to lose some characters for the sake of his story.
I absolutely loved how GRRM skipped through scenes as fast as he could. To think this little detailing, and the fast pace the book moves at, had made the book 800 odd pages long, I wonder what would have come of the book had Tolkien got the same seed (gardening seed of GRRM). He’d probably have written twenty mighty volumes of Game of Thrones, rich with family details, reaching the hundredth father of every lineage, describing every handful of sand on the planet, not to mention the pedantic detail on the position of the sun, stars, and the moon every two paragraphs. I haven’t even mentioned the songs. Thank the Gods it’s only GRRM!
However, the GRRM universe isn’t a feminist’s paradise, nor a place for the weak hearted. Child marriage, marriages of convenience, and inhumane treatment of women (people, in general) are everywhere to be found.
Summing it up, I’d say ‘The Lord of the Rings’ was Tolkien trying to portray the land of his imagination amidst a turmoil, whereas ‘A Game of Thrones’ is George RR Martin trying to portray the turmoil amidst his land’.
Reviewing the work of a legend, who single-handedly uplifted the fantasy genre into mainstream status, and his magnum opus would not be the right thing to do. So, I’ve decided not to review it but write down an extract of the experience I had reading the book. By this way, you might come to know of my taste and also enjoy the fact that it is ‘spoiler-free’.
The Sunday Times famously said thus: “The English-speaking world is divided into those who have read The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit and those who are going to read them.”
Some months ago, I belonged to the second category of this classification. The huge following that this book has gained over the half-a-century after its publication made me buy an edition which also included ‘The Hobbit’.
Wanting to go chronologically, I started with ‘The Hobbit’. I did toil reading it, mainly due to Tolkien’s style of writing, particularly his penchant for pedantry.
However, I went ahead and started with ‘The Lord of the Rings’ since it was said to be more serious and mature.
Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, being the first Volume of LOTR
The beginning chapters of the first Volume of LOTR, ‘The Fellowship of The Ring’ (remember, LOTR is a single book in three volumes and not a trilogy as most people believe), felt surprisingly engaging. But, by the time I was halfway through the book, I had taken much more time than I’d taken for any other book – two weeks. I did not want to go further at all. Since I’ve never stopped a book midway and because of the belief I had in LOTR’s following, I continued. By the end, the book had gained sufficient momentum and I started liking it. There was, however, this one tragic incident, for the Fellowship, which as I had expected, did not turn tragic later. The company’s choice of words gave away the twist. I specifically liked the ending of the book, which came as something completely unexpected. That was what I’d later go on to realise as a typical Tolkien ‘blue-bolt’, which one simply does not expect due to the preformed notion that Tolkien doesn’t bring anything into the story more dramatic than the waxing of the moon or the blowing of the Middle-Earth wind.
Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, second Volume of LOTR
Then I made the biggest mistake of my ‘reading career’ (This, I had assumed halfway through). I picked ‘The Two Towers’.
For an unbiased reader, going by goodreads.com, this books is a bit better than the first one (2% better approx). I couldn’t but take weeks and weeks reading it. The book takes a serious and much grimmer turn to bring in the mood for battle. I could see a few hundred pages passing my eyes without even the slightest bit of comprehension. By the time Book 3 (first book of ‘The Two Towers’) was over, LOTR was gaining momentum on me once again.
There was a sole bright spot in this Volume (for me) which was when Gimli says, ‘Where on ‘Middle-Earth’ is this place?’. Well, that might not impress every reader but it did impress me. That reminded me of the entire canvas of Tolkien’s narration and the depth to which he had imbibed the story (some places make me wonder if he actually went there or something). The ending again was just fantastic, again a ‘blue-bolt’. This was when I realised that all those seemingly meaningless things that took place all the while in the beginning, actually, had some motivation and substance.
The Return of the King:
I did not know even then that this book would go on to become one of my all-time favourites. The phrase, ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover’ can be modified to suit LOTR as ‘Don’t judge a three-Volume book by its first two Volumes’. ‘The Return of The King’ literally changed every bad thought I had on the book and its storytelling. It was the pinnacle of Tolkien’s characterisation, heroism, fantasy and unpredictability.
There was this mind-blowing part in this Volume, where a Hobbit gets saved from the brink of death and the first thing that he says is, ‘I’m hungry. What time of the day is it?’ I started laughing there. Every word that a Hobbit utters happens to match Tolkien’s description and our mental idea of Hobbits, or any other Middle-Earth species for that matter. People might have found a few Hobbits, a couple of Elves and a dozen Dwarfs had Tolkien’s research-and-reference material for the book been checked. I mean… that is where he stands, that’s what defines him: The originality, the novelty in characterisation that a whole lot of writers can only dream of achieving.
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of The King, third Volume: LOTR
There was also another impressive moment where Gandalf faces something terrifying and Tolkien narrates the morning crowing of a cock matching the sound of blazing horns. Another Goosebumps moment.
The actual end of the book comes half a hundred pages after the reader guesses the story is over and it is just the homecoming remaining. Tolkien also makes the climax point to the rise of Men in Middle-Earth (i.e. Earth of some thousand years ago).
The ending might sound predictable, unpredictable, out of the world, catastrophic or nonsense depending upon the reader’s taste and anticipation. I certainly did not think it was out of the world or bad either.
A few days after reading it, today, I wish something had gone terribly wrong, costing a few more important lives here and there. That thought, however, did not cross my mind when I was reading, which was possibly due to the tense and troubled setting that the story was in.
Depends whether you agree to this question: All’s well that ends well?
The names, the family history and the languages are discussed after the end of the story which I gladly skipped. However I did find a timeline of events that extends beyond the end of the story and explains how the Fellowship actually left Middle-Earth, which you shouldn’t miss. The Appendices of the book can give you an edge if you wish to become an authority in one of the numerous fan clubs that this book has all over the virtual and physical world.
Summing it up, I’d say:
“An experience of a lifetime awaits you!
Just get yourself your bottles, a few days’ time and some food to sustain the most epic of battles!
I remember starting this blog only to write book reviews. This was primarily because, the more I reviewed, the more I’d have actually read. It was my own way of motivating myself into reading and not while away my leisure time on Facebook. However, WordPress proved too versatile and diverse and I couldn’t just stick to book reviews. I wrote all that came to my mind and all that DailyPost posted. Now, I think I should get back to the foundations of my blog by reviewing ‘The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring‘.
Plot (No Major Spoilers):
Bilbo Baggins, the timid Middle-Earth hobbit, passes his ring to Frodo, his adopted son, who has to journey far and wide to prevent the war that threatens to break out. He is accompanied by his house-help, the loyal Samwise Gamgee (Sam for most part of the book). Later, Peregrin Took, a.k.a Pippin, and Meriadoc Brandybuck, Merry for short, join him in his dangerous road to Mt.Doom. The four rush for Bree, where Gandalf had asked them to come for counsel. There, they add to their company Strider (Aragorn), the Gondor king-in-exile. They ought to reach Rivendell as soon as possible to decide where they will go thence. Evil follows the company and, most importantly, the One-ring all throughout their deadly journey. In Rivendell, the nine-strong Fellowship is formed with Frodo as the ring-bearer. The council decides that the best way to see the Dark Lord Sauron off is to destroy the One-Ring at Mount Doom even though the task could be the most perilous one that anyone’d have ever taken. At the very end (of the book), Frodo is given two choices by the Fellowship, either to go with them to Minas Tirith to fight the Dark Lord with an army or to get to Mount Doom to destroy the Ring. Frodo improvises one option and takes it, despite the danger he foresees.
Why you should definitely read this book:
It is on every ‘Top 100 books’ list on the planet
The writing, though too descriptive for beginners like me, might please every literature loving reader
Tolkien, with his revolutionary storytelling, keeps surprising with unexpected turns in the tale
The creativity of Tolkien that extends to drawing, poetry and map charting is worth having a look on
You’ll have plenty to quote after you’ve done with this book
What I loved :
It was unlike anything that I’ve ever read. Tolkien’s text lets us visualise the whole landscape, the mind of the characters and the tension that runs all throughout Middle-Earth. The characterisation is something that inspired me. I’d want to write some character traits the next time I try writing a short story or something. The timidity of the Hobbits, the bravery of Men and the Elfs and the wisdom of Gandalf show us the diversity of the Middle Earth species and Tolkien’s imaginative prowess.
What I did not love :
The detail. Why does Tolkien have to mention the shape of the moon, the length of the shadows and the hunger of the company again and again and again and again ?
This book is not what you should read when you’re travelling and isn’t your bedtime book either. It takes a lonely environment, a backpack of eatables and a full day’s leave to read it with the focus that this magnum opus deserves
On ‘The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001 Movie)’ by Peter Jackson:
The story of the movie is quite different and the development is faster than the book (Though the running time is 3 hours and 20 minutes). It was a very visually appealing and pleasing movie with a matching cast. However, I felt the improvisations were bad as they seemed to mock at my anticipation.
[Note: The movie is considered one of the best movies ever made and has won a plethora of awards including the Oscars. Opinions vary, again!]
Your views are encouraged. You can choose to agree or disagree with my opinions. I’d be glad to know what you thought of the book.
Please suggest me a good book if you have the time!
The gentlemen stood blank. Their device had picked the first signal in ten months. Too Late. Things were falling apart. They hoped this wasn’t bad news.
The Officer scratched his head in confusion. ‘The signal is from his gadget. No doubt. But Sir…’ He recollected his thoughts and continued. ‘This does not completely match his gadget’s signal transmission range. Though most of the received signal is in the range, the rest looks like it has been added which could mean interception and decryption of his messages before they reached us. And curiously, the presence of these additional signals is uneven’.
‘Then how did our device detect an out of range signal’, the first gentleman quipped.
‘Well… It falls within our tolerance range sir. Not too off the mark’, The Officer answered, quite ridiculed by it himself.
The Officer continued, ‘So the interceptor possibly didn’t know that our device had a transmission band?’
The first gentleman spoke again, ‘Rubbish.Anyone intercepting this signal would have unmistakably identified the uniformity. So we assume the other option’.
The second gentleman completed, ‘The interceptor wanted to establish his presence‘.
‘Try finding what the additional signal corresponds to’, the first Gentleman said. Though this had turned out to be one tight mission with very little time to spare, the three men in the room were immensely educated to not make blunders out of rush. They liked to play things slow and, more importantly, safe.
Though the signal contained plenty of these off-the-mark ones, the Officer selected the first one and clicked icons so fast that it seemed random. Now he had better riddles to solve. ‘The message is 8 words of text with two pictorials in-between Sirs’.
There was a moment of silence. The last thing they wanted to see was their dead ‘leader’ and a threat message. The message wasn’t any better though.
“If you call it then I’m ’s Observer “.
The first scientist, the physicist, was the only one to decipher the two signatures instantly. If he hadn’t, he had no eligibility to stand in that innovative place. ‘Galileo’s and Newton’s’, he thought about the signatures. Yet, he didn’t want to make mistakes of memory.
He waited as the Officer searched for the two signatures and found matches instantly. The other two looked lost.
‘The Interceptor knows a lot. A hell a lot about us’, the second Gentleman, the All-powerful, thought.
The Officer started aloud, ‘There is something else. The message came farther from where he was sent’. Just plain faces this time. They were just recovering from the message and this one hit them off guard. ‘Now show the other part of the message supposedly from the President’, said the first gentleman, the Professor.
‘Not a message sir, more of an essay. Five pages of text. And Sirs, the in-between signals are clearly poetic’, the Officer said.
‘Poetry?’ The physicist vented. He knew poetry was definitely the President’s favourite piece of art. He suddenly felt a surge of hope. ‘Was the President too pleased with the proceedings? But then, it shouldn’t have been in the out-of-range part’ he thought.
‘He was well informed that the messages had to be short. This can’t be from the President. Even at an utmost emergency he’d simply follow the protocol’, the All-Powerful said with a voice that flickered between trust and suspicion.
‘I’m afraid’ The Officer murmured without taking his eyes off the gigantic screen. The second Gentleman’s gaze flickered through the page of text spotting a poetic part in the middle before it finally hit the first line.
‘Holy Shit!’ the All-Powerful cursed for the first time in a decade.
The three lost even the slightest hopes they had. They felt like staring at a sky high white wall.
‘So five pages is all we’ve got?’ The All-powerful enquired suddenly feeling it was not enough.
‘We had only two pages of data ten minutes ago. It is being sent in parts’ The Officer said still petrified by the first line.
‘So what do we do? Keep reading an encyclopaedia of text? Don’t we have action waiting to be taken’ The Physicist’s ego protested.
‘Is there an alternative?’ the All-powerful erupted. He was too preoccupied to be at his dignified best.
After a few exchanges of looks and fear, the three, with no other immediate alternate, stared at the screen. The Physicist felt a blood curling chill all of a sudden. He cursed himself. ‘You enjoyed the Nobel. Now take its complimentary.’
I lay with no recollection of where I was. A troubling feeling of hallucination gripped my thinking. As my eyes adjusted to the high contrast of the orange-ish sky above, I doubted my vision. My eyes saw the two sources that supplied this place. Astrophysicists would call this wonder a Binary System. ‘A system of two ‘suns’ orbiting their centre of mass’ reminded my mind. I painstakingly lifted my head pushing my hands on the ground which felt more like rubber. My eyebrows hindered most of the view. Even then, ‘The place’ looked sylvan and breathtakingly colourful. It was a garden of colourful flowers I hadn’t seen anywhere my entire life. My head fell back to the ground. My body felt numb. Before I closed my eyes, to the best of my memory, I saw a small bright fly.
There on the bare floor,
Slept your dear hero,
Not in the comfort of his room,
Not with his Earthly mind,
But In some land far away,
Far from his legendary memory,
Farther from his homeland,
In the Traveller’s Inn,
Which you call Galileo.
An ocean of thoughts, dreams, sounds, hatred, violence, stars, planets, Physics, happiness and arrogance flipped like the pages of an album. I woke up to a melodious sound. The sound of rushing wind. This time I was sure I wasn’t dreaming. The hallucinating feeling was gone.
I tried to stand up, my body resisting the sudden work my muscles were required to perform to get me upright. The floor’s softness kept poking my curiosity. After a few steps of laboured walking, I yielded to my desire to try jumping on this rubbery ground. This is one hell of a dream. The jump immediately took me some 10 feet upward. Air borne, I wondered what units people used on this planet for distance. The possibility of not landing on the ground loomed large. Midway down, I let out a loud cry. The cry gave me a feeling that I was indeed enjoying. I wondered if any Earthian physicist, Newton in particular, could ever be trusted in this strange place. My nose touched the ground 5 seconds later. I fell flat on the ground, face down, completely unhurt. I tried it a few more times, shouting an extra decibel each time. Adrenaline consumes glucose. I may need it later. This activity better wait.
I went down on my knees to examine a curiosity invoking multi-coloured flower. The stem was as slender as a rose’s.On it stood a flower, which looked dense and heavy. I touched it. This could only be felt. Not described. I pulled the plant up with the fear that it would indeed trigger a Hydrogen Bomb. Even that wouldn’t surprise me given the things I had seen the past few minutes. There are only two possibilities. Either I’m dreaming or… I’ve gone nuts. The plant had stood on the ground. It had stood on the ground. I meant what I said. It had no roots. The VIBGYOR of the flower was why I was examining that in particular. Otherwise, I’d have gone for those black ones or better, the shining gold ones.
All of a sudden, a strange fragrance took hold of my olfactory. The smell grew larger each passing second. I had the feeling this would suffocate me to death. A few choking seconds later, the smell seemed to have got to the acceptable range of my olfactory. The fragrance reminded me of a song people loved in my world. I felt a sudden warmth. Warmth I had never felt before. My shoulders felt easier. Her hands had eased them. I turned to see her.
Struck by her immense beauty and the depths her eyes took me, I wished this dream continued at least for a few more days. She then leaned onto my shoulder. The first women I’m ever touching. She guided my hand onto her waist. It was the endorphins this time. I knew what next to do. Walk. I see movies.
They walked like the hopeless Romantic,
Though he felt like a lost lunatic.
In this dreamy a place,
They walked with the slowest pace.
Two stars are less calm a sight,
Than a full moon on a breezy night.
‘Haven’t you still not got back your memory? What is the last thing you remember?’ she asked me rapidly.I gave it a thought. I could remember graduating from college, then, receiving my first salary, almost dying at the hands of Tuberculosis and finally, Riya’s death. I was sure that was my last memory. Before I could speak, ‘So Riya’s… is all that you remember?’ she asked.As if all this mind-reading, rubber flooring and the twin stars weren’t enough, I understood the language unmistakably. It was my mother tongue, Tamil. Her voice brought back memories of a jungle safari I undertook, when, I couldn’t place. The waterfalls, the lovely spotted deer, the smell of pristine greenery and the chilled body of dead Pinto, my cat. We walked for a few more moments as slowly as I could because I kept thinking about my last memory. Riya’s death was the last chronologically. But I had a feeling that it happened long ago.
I was completely unsure why I didn’t ask her questions. I must have asked her a million by now. She felt home.
‘Don’t wanna ask me where you are, who I am, what you are doing here and why you are bald?’. I checked my head and looked at her.
‘Well. To begin with, to answer where you are, you are at Atuka. It is a planet by the way. To be precise, it is some other planet other than the Earth. If some fellow Atukan asked me where he was I’d have said “The Windfield” though I don’t even have to ’. As my ears listened, my eyes were busy studying her. She looked completely Earthian and was wearing a saree with a few bangles on her right hand and simple ear-rings hung from both her ears. That should have been why I felt home with her.
‘To answer who I am’, she continued ‘I’m just one of the 1.5 billion Atukans, and am a descendant of migrants from Earth. Well, a lot of species, races and life forms live here. A total of 53 unique ones so far. As to what you are doing here or why you are bald, I have no idea and you should tell me that. Ya. I know you have forgotten a lot or maybe even the reason why you came here but just try.’ My memory felt intact and perfect except when I tried to think past Riya.
‘You said you are a descendant of people from the Earth’ I pressed. She answered ‘Yes. I am. My great grandparents were offered a place here and that was too much to refuse even back then. They hated the Earth because science was unwelcome there. Religion eclipsed Science. They had migrated some 400 years ago. You guys didn’t know things like ‘codes’ that decide who we are and that they are they are passed through parents.’ ‘We now know that and we call your ‘codes’, Genes’ I thought. ‘Ya. Genes you call that this late?When my grandparents came here, Atuka was doing ‘assisted Code enrichment’by which we disabled or created new sections of codes and improved ourselves. My Grandfather said he hardly had an IQ of 150 when he came here. When my father conducted those IQ tests, I scored 320’. She said with a matter-of-fact tone.‘What is 13301 times 11056?’ I asked. ‘One four seven O five five eight five six’ she said almost instantly. Though I did not have a calculator to verify her answer, I knew that was right, because the answer was a turning point in my life (on Earth) and I’ll never forget that. It was, by the way, my first lesson in failure.
‘Is that how you are able to read my mind?’ I asked. ‘Most Probably’ she said and I could detect something absurd in her. I might not have an IQ of 320 but I definitely knew something was amiss. That was my instinct, something that DNA will never explain. ‘Human instincts have to be trusted’ is what I’d always tell myself when I faced dilemmas in my life. I never did that and that was the primary reason for my miserable life (Yeah. On Earth). ‘For a change’ I thought and asked her, ‘Are you capable of reading any life form’s mind or is it just humans’. ‘Humans, I do well. Other species I’m not very familiar.’ She said now sounding in control. It was the better-luck-next-time moment and I had to stop it there.