The ugliest map I've ever seen.

Review of A Song of Ice and Fire

A great deal of what I’ve written thus far has been in preparation for this review.  Unfortunately for me, its subject cannot be properly critiqued in a single article.  For quite a while I was at a loss for how to start this review, and no part of this has been easy.

The Map of Westeros

The ugliest map I've ever seen.I’m a graphic artist as well as a writer, and my first thought upon opening the book was, isn’t that nice; the author let his child draw the map for his book.  To my surprise, not only was the map not the work of a small child; someone actually got paid to render a map that looks like it was made in Microsoft Word.  It is among the worst vector work I have ever seen; shapes aren’t properly closed, straight lines and unnatural-looking curves abound, and the simplistic texture used for the ocean is just ugly.  I could talk about this all day, and I might write another article on the subject of the map, but at the moment I’m here to discuss the “novel” itself.

The “Plot”

Considering what I’ve said thus far, it should come as no shock that I’ve nothing but disdain for George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series and the HBO series it spawned.  I watched four seasons of Game of Thrones, constantly perplexed by the amorality, plodding structure, and lack of vision, and I knew I had to speak out against the sycophantic praise of Martin’s work.  Now, you could say that A Song of Ice and Fire/Game of Thrones does at least have a plot, but of course you also could say that the Star Wars Prequel Trilogy has a plot, and you’d be about as accurate.

The “plot” in Game of Thrones is more a loose sequence of inane events surrounding equally inane characters than an actual plot.  Yes, things happen, but nothing really has any importance.  Each episode begins with an amazing title sequence and ends with credits, but very little of substance—if anything—happens betwixt the two.  In fact, by far the main reason I kept watching the show for so long was because each episode began with the title sequence; that was before I realized I could just get the first season’s soundtrack and endeavour to forget that the show itself had ever existed.

The Source Material

As books are more my area than television, I had intended to re-read the “book” and to critique that directly, but the “book” is even worse.  It is so bad, in fact, that I cannot review it in its entirety.  Instead, I will touch briefly on the subject of the “book” but focus on the television adaptation, which at least fits its medium slightly better.  Notice too how I’ve been writing “book” in quotes; this is because it feels far more like reading a television script than an actual book.  Therefore I will refer to it henceforth as the “source material” rather than such a misleading word as “book” or “novel.”

After the lazily designed map, the first thing I noticed about the source material was its lack of any table of contents.  After a boring prologue featuring some of the worst punctuation I’d ever seen in print, a trend that persists throughout his work, I discovered that the chapters are marked by neither title nor number.  Instead, they begin simply with the name of the point-of-view character, meaning that chapter headings repeat, making it even more difficult to find one’s place after closing or dropping the volume.  Not believing an author would make things so difficult for his readers, I desperately checked the back of the volume for a table of contents.  Of course, this being A Song of Ice and Fire, I found nothing of the sort.

Oh, but I’m not done yet…

I’ll leave the article here, but I’ve not even scratched the surface of this thing.  I’d rather just forget that A Song of Ice and Fire had ever even existed, but it’s too amoral and sickeningly offensive for me to do that.

3 thoughts on “Review of A Song of Ice and Fire

  1. I have never seen the show but I did read a couple of paragraphs of the first book and it didn’t just “not grab me” – I found it mind numbingly boring. It put me into a coma immediately.

    I feel confused and disturbed also that GoT seems so popular. Although with all the nasty stuff going on in the States right now maybe it shouldn’t be surprising.

    Thanks for being a voice of reason. Carry on.

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