(There are no spoilers in this review)
A lot of you must have seen the hit TV series – Game of Thrones, and most people who see the TV series absolutely love it. I’m a big fan of the TV series myself, and it is easily the best thing I’ve ever seen on TV.
A lot of my friends who have read the books and watched the TV series tell me that this is one of the rare instances where the TV show is as good as the books so I was never that keen to read the books. That along with the fact that I don’t read a lot of fiction never got me started reading these books.
However, a couple of months ago I had a long plane ride ahead of me and I decided to pick up the third book of the Game of Thrones series, and without doubt, this is the best fiction I have ever read.
Which book to start with if you have watched the TV series?
Since I had watched the television series, and I knew that there are a number of books in this series, I wanted to pick one up that started off where the television series left. In order to do that you have to pick up the third book in the series named – A Storm of Swords, and start reading it somewhere in the middle.
The television series doesn’t follow exactly the same sequence of events as the book so at first it was a little confusing but I skimmed through the parts, which were familiar, and at about 80% of the third book, you come to a point where all events are new.
I was also a little confused as to which book to buy because the TV series is called Game of Thrones with multiple seasons as is common for any TV show.
The series of the books however is called “A Song of Ice and Fire” and within this series there are five published books and two unpublished ones.
Here are the names of the five published books:
- Game of Thrones,
- Clash of Kings.
- A Storm of Swords,
- Feast for Crows and
- Dance with Dragons.
Game of Thrones Storyline
The storyline of Game of Thrones is set on a planet which has unpredictably long summers and winters, and the period would be the equivalent of the medieval period on earth when there were kings, knights, castles, sieges, and so on. There is an element of magic in the story but not too much.
George RR Martin is the author of this series, and in an interview he said that magic is like salt in a stew, if there is too much salt then that is all you can taste so there has to be a balance and I think that’s a great analogy. At no time does the story become unbelievable or over the top, and most of the time you don’t even think about the magical elements as over the top even though they always have a strong bearing on the story.
What is so great about Game of Thrones?
The great thing about Game of Thrones is the conflict and unpredictability. The storyline is great, and there is nothing predictable about it. There are no heroes in the story, and the leading characters can be killed off any time. There is no clear distinction between good and evil except for a handful of characters, and there is no guarantee that the good characters will live, or even if the bad characters will live. There are plots within plots and secrets within secrets. The storytelling is amazing, and at times, it reminds me of the Mahabharata, which has got some incredible stories as well, and each story leads to another story.
Difference between the TV series and books
The TV show has a lot of nudity and violence, but the books are even more graphic. I think both are optimal in their setting. If the TV series were to follow everything in the book then perhaps it would become too graphic to show on television.
The characters are usually younger in the book, and that’s definitely no doable on television. You don’t want your heroes to actually look 16 years old.
The biggest difference to me however is the pages and pages worth of dialog that the characters have in their mind which tells you who is thinking what. This can’t be shown on television and I feel even though the TV series does a great job of showing character’s motives and thoughts, a lot of things can simply not be captured on television that are the characters are said to think to themselves in the book.
The books are longer of course, the last book is over a thousand pages, and it takes hours to read through it, the TV series is shorter with just ten episodes per season so television in this case is definitely less of a time suck than the book.
If you like reading novels and fiction then this is definitely worth a read for you. These are all very long reads though, and take hours to finish so if you want something quick or can’t spare the hours it requires to complete a book then you can just enjoy the TV show.