The One In Which I Confess

I could have, and I should have, and I would have. I really would have. But I didn’t. There. Now you know. I did not like Game of Thrones.

I wanted to. I have been looking for a new series to dive into, and Game of Thrones was primed to fit the bill. When I finish a book I love, there is nothing better than the knowledge that there’s another one waiting right there in the wings, another opportunity to immerse myself in that world and meet the characters I have come to love. I’m not just looking for a good read, I crave all the trappings of a rabid fandom, too. I want to type on message boards in the middle of the night, attend midnight book releases where I may or may not show up in costume.

Trelawney. Don't say you're not jealous.

Trelawney. Don’t say you’re not jealous.

I want the whole enchilada. All of it. Game of Thrones was my next hope. Several books to read? Check. More to come? Check, check. Fans out the wazoo? Triple check. So I gave it a go. And then a second go. And now I’m done.

Why didn’t I love it? I wanted to. I really did. But this series has more flaws than I can overlook, not the least of which is an insufferable author who has as little respect for his fandom as he does for the characters he writes. When an author laughs scathingly and says he should make them wait 20 years for the next book, I lose a little interest. But it’s about more than the author.

Martin writes cardboard characters. I guess he has to because he’s going to kill all of them, but it’s hard for me to engage with one-note wonders. I hate spoilers. Hate them. I don’t even read blurbs on dust jackets. But when I finally gave up on this series, I collected spoilers from lots of sources. Turns out, some of the characters are not as one-dimensional as they seem at first. And I might have even liked them eventually. But it shouldn’t take an author 1500 pages to show me. What if Han Solo and Greedo had dropped their breadcrumbs 10 lightyears apart when they made their trail in the woods? Their dad would never have found them. Wait. Back up. Hansel and Gretel. There we go. When it takes too long to develop characters, I get really bored.

I don’t have to like all of the characters to enjoy a book. ***Spoiler*** Draco Malfoy was an irritating prat for five-and-a-half books in the Harry Potter series. BUT he was a great foil for the protagonists. His interactions with the other characters evoked something, be it laughter or outrage. He made me feel something. Heck, I don’t even have to like the protagonist to enjoy a book. I could not STAND Lincoln in Rainbow Rowell’s Attachments. He was a spineless little clownfish. Every time he looked out into the world and appeared like he was about to mature a little and stand on his own , he’d dart right back into that anemone. I did not like him. You know why? Because I know people just like him! He was a real person. He made me angry. He evoked emotion. By and large, Martin’s characters don’t.

Yep, this is Lincoln. Will I ask her out? No. I'm gonna move out... Nah... Photo credit amazonaws.com

Yep, this is Lincoln. Will I ask her out? No. I’m gonna move out… Nah… Photo credit amazonaws.com

There are too many characters, as well. There were four characters whose story-lines I kind of wanted to follow. That sounds like a lot, right? But they represented less than 10% of the population of the first book. I didn’t even encounter many of them in the second book, or their chapters weren’t big enough to matter. I tried skipping the characters I was bored by and just reading the ones I liked, but that meant skipping the majority of Clash of Kings. Too much work.

There’s almost no subtlety. Martin’s bad guys are mustache-twirling evil dudes. They’ll tie that damsel-in-distress right to those railroad tracks. But there’s no hero, either. Not only will the train run her the heck over, it will cut her into three equal pieces, and it will take her two weeks to die. Wow. Didn’t see that coming. Not the first three times, anyway. Eventually it becomes predictable. Imagine the very worst thing that can happen to a character. Then multiply it by five, and you’ve got Martin’s plot-line. Basket of puppies? Don’t look now, but those puppies are going to get put in purses and carried around by rich ladies. Poor, poor dogs. Are there little babies? No, not the babies! Is nothing sacred? Martin would write them having to watch six hours of Baby Einstein before being fed M&Ms and getting dropped back off with mom and dad. There’s your plot twist. You thought it was the kids who were being punished, didn’t you?

There were good parts. I loved the Others. I couldn’t wait for them to take over the whole world, actually. I liked Dany. Her storyline in the first book was the best part. She was the one character that was truly developed, and I was taken by surprise by how things turned out with Khal Drogo. I wanted to like the dire wolves. I hear they were pretty awesome later on, or at least had a great story. But again, there was too little of any of these to keep me engaged. If anybody wants to email me the story of the wolves or what happens with Dany, I’m game. I am just not invested enough to find out for myself.

What series do you absolutely love? I’m up for something new.

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37 thoughts on “The One In Which I Confess

  1. Remind me if I forget, but I’ll email you some series recommendations later today (not sure if you’ve read them or not.)

    I think it’s fine to not like GoT. They’re not for everyone. (I’ve been stalled on the 5th book for ages. I pick it up, read a little, put it down. It’s not grabbing me at all.) I would never shame anyone about not liking something. People that do that deserve throat-punching.

  2. I really like the series–but I came to it through the HBO show. I watched the first season and then read the books, and I think that probably helped a lot.

    Although Martin desperately needs an editor. “Show, don’t tell” is great, but you don’t have to show me the same thing six times. I think he’s a really good storyteller, but very long-winded.

    • Very. Very. Very long-winded. If he cut his work by at least 1/3, I might have stuck with it. And I’m not afraid of tomes. Two of my favorite books number over 1300 pages each. But Martin’s books were a snooze-fest for me!

  3. Martin is a different writer, not for everyone and I think for many of us (women) he is unusually offensive all too often. I read the original books many years ago when they were first released and I had a rule to not put books down once I started them. I tried them again when the HBO series started, different reaction now I won’t finish them.

    • I agree he’s not for everyone. Definitely not for me, and it’s a tad disappointing. Like going out with the most popular kid in school and finding out they’re really, really, really not all that.

  4. I read all five books,although I did end up cursing the 5th one and slamming it across the room into the wall. Self-indulgent is Martin’s middle name. I do enjoy the tv series, some of the changes they have made, the actors, and the sets. It’s okay not to like books that have become famous. For instance, I have read “Catcher in the Rye” twice. The first time I thought it was okay but not worth all the hoopla. The second time, I was bored and barely finished it. Tastes differ tremendously, even with best sellers. A trilogy I recommend is “The Cornish Trilogy” by Robertson Davies. Penguin published all three books under one paperback cover.

    • Oh, that sounds GREAT! I’ll look into that immediately.

      I sometimes love books that are super-popular, sometimes I don’t. When I don’t, I’m left feeling like I was missing something. What do other people see that I don’t? “Divergent” was like that, too.

      • You’re not missing anything when you don’t follow the herd to “the latest and greatest.” Some truly are great books – well written with highly developed characters. Others … not so much. Many sometimes neglect to use critical thinking and mindlessly follow a trend. You are a terrific writer which means you are also a discerning reader. Trust yourself.

      • Thank you for that, Sammy!

        I don’t mind following the herd sometimes in case I miss something really fantastic. I was pressured to read Harry Potter. I can’t imagine at this moment not having experienced the series with my kids. I was hoping this one could be my guilty pleasure. Ah, well. So many books out there! I will find the next great series!

      • I don’t tend to be a series reader. There was one that started with a book called The Outlander that was quite fascinating. I read three of the books (they are long) and then called it quits, but a friend raved and read every one. Might be worth a look.

  5. GOT is definitely not for everyone and it isn’t without flaws. I think your one misinterpretation though was that all the bad guys are evil mustache twirlers. You probably don’t see it in the first book, but on the contrary most of them are really turned around on their heads. In the first book you grow to hate the Hound, but later he’s revealed to have a complex background and isn’t the blindly observant muscle behind the king you first think he is. I found myself rooting for Cersai or at times and hating her at others. The thing I like most about the books is there are no favorite or specially treated characters – they all have the same shot to live or die. If you only read the first book though, I can see where you’re coming from because they are a little more flatlined in that one, which is what I think Martin was wanting us to think before he turned them all on their heads. That said, there’s definitely some boring storylines too and some definitely have some pacing issues. Anyway.

    One of my favorite series that I think doesn’t get enough attention at all is the Cloudmages series. Really developed characters and interesting use of magic. Ignore the terrible terrible covers (I have a theory that sometimes the worse the cover, the better the book will be).

    http://www.amazon.com/Holder-Lightning-The-Cloudmages-1/dp/0756401526

    • I will definitely check out that series!

      Martin was quoted recently talking about “the characters you love to hate.” I didn’t hate any of them. I wish I had. I’m glad it pulls together in later books and that so many people get enjoyment from the series. I had so hoped to be one of the fans!

      • Yeah, I always feel bummed when I don’t like a series that’s been raved about too. I read about seven of the Robert Jordan books before I threw up my hands and gave up. A lot of people love them and there were parts I really enjoyed, but in the end the flaws outweighed my enjoyment despite the fact that I really wanted to like them.

  6. While I don’t agree with some of your comments on the Martin’s work, there is nothing wrong with not liking a series, no matter how popular it is. I can’t stand the Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordon or the Avalon books. Neither series hooked me and it felt like a chore to read them.

    I do like the Game of Thrones series both the books and the show. The world is complex, but it has hooked me. It doesn’t everyone and I think there would be something wrong if it did.

    If you are looking for a light-hearted series – check out Victoria Laurie. She writes the Psychic-eye mysteries as well as a few others. There are thirteen books so far in the series.

  7. Now I am glad I haven’t read GoT. I do enjoy the HBO show though. At least I have until now.

    What I really wanted to comment on though was that fabulous Trelawney costume! I swear, I had only scrolled down enough to expose the upper half of the picture and, without having read the second paragraph or the caption, I shouted “Trelawney” in my head! Uncanny, well-done!

  8. This may be silly, but I got way into “The Underland Chronicles” by Suzanne Collins. If you’re looking for a way to reconnect with your childhood — but in a slightly darker, yet easy to read way — check them out.

    I AM in the middle of the third GoT book. And by middle, I mean the first third.

  9. I like the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon. She is coming out with a new book for the series this year, I believe. I have never tried to read Game of Thrones – I do watch the TV show, but I just came into it this year so I missed a lot in previous years.

  10. Maybe this is why I’m still stuck on book 2. I do enjoy the TV series & sort of enjoy the books but they are a bit of a struggle. I’m with you on Harry potter. The only other series I’ve read recently are the true blood books… Any they are so cheesy.

  11. Isn’t JK Rowling writing a new series for adults under the pseudonym, Robert Galbraithe? “The Cuckoos Calling”

    Regarding series—-I love them, but seldom find an author worth following. The one author I wanted dearly to write another book (and another, and another), died before she even finished her first book. Mary Ann Shaffer’s “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society”. She did such an amazing job of making the landscape and the characters seem so real. I actually missed the characters when the book was over and would find myself wondering what they were up to—-like they were out there somewhere, leading real lives.
    Two book series: Cold Sassy Tree and Leaving Cold Sassy by Olive Ann Burns.
    Glass Castles and Half Broke Horses by Jeannette Walls.

  12. Can I confess, I haven’t even tried to read Game of Thrones? Appreciate the heads up. Will now take it off my Maybe, Someday Read List! Have you read Jennifer Roberson’s Sword series? Not as lush a series as Harry Potter, etc. But great characters and themes.

  13. The Outlander series by Diana Gabeldon is wonderful – and the books are HUGE, so it takes some time to read each one, which I love. You didn’t mention if you are a fan of a particular genre, but it you like incredibly funny action/mysteries – then try the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich – she’s up to book 21 now and there is no end in sight. Another good mystery series (but more serious) is the Anna Pigeon series by Nevada Barr

    I’ve been an extended urban-fantasy kind of mood – so I’ve really enjoyed the Spider series by Jennifer Estep (the main character is an ice/stone elemental assassin). Also the Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs is fun and deals with shape shifters, werewolves, vampires and the like. I also like the Dark Swan series by Richelle Mead and The Hollows series by Kim Harrison.

  14. I couldn’t do it either. HBO show, books. Both left me cold. I’m embarrassed to say that my teenage daughter.has gotten me into young adult novels. Recent books I have enjoyed include just about anything by John Green, Eleanor and Park, and the Pure series by Julianna Baggott. YA books are so much better than they were when we were YA.

    • Do NOT be embarrassed about liking YA! I read all kinds of things, and John Green and Rainbow Rowell are among my favorites!

      And you’re right. There’s so much more depth to the stories today. I grew up with Lurlene McDaniel. “A Fault In Our Stars” is much, much better.

  15. Admittedly, I was pulled in with the first season on HBO, but then I loved the books. Loved. Them. I found the character development great, and was totally swept up in the stories… That said, all of your points made sense to me. Even as a fan, I saw the flaws. But really… tell us what you really think! 😉 (love this review)

  16. Hi! 😀 I am new here so I don’t really know what to recommend since I am not familiar with your book taste yet. But if I were to recommend any book/series at a drop of hat, I would totally go with Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone YA trilogy. Or maybe Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series, if you enjoyed Harry Potter. 🙂

    Anyway, I first got into GoT because of HBO. For me, it was the best thing that ever happened to Television and I find myself actually looking forward to new episodes week by week and feeling a little lost once the season is over. I tried reading the first book and sadly, I couldn’t get into it too. Maybe someday I’ll pick the books and read them, but that’s not before the TV series is over.

    I think it’s fine not to like what everyone is raving about. Hype isn’t always a good thing. Hope you find the series that would be for you!

  17. Pingback: Things I Would Rather Do That Re-Watch “Secret Life of Pets” | Becoming Cliche

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