Tag Archives: epic

#21 A Clash of Kings – George R R Martin

5 May

A Song of Ice & Fire – Book 2 of 7

A Clash of Kings - George R R Martin

A Clash of Kings – George R R Martin

Goodreads rating: 4.37 (208,000+ ratings)

My rating: 7/10

Why it’s on the list: I finished the first book last year, and want to continue the series and finish this book before I watch Season 2 of the TV show.

First published: November 16th, 1998 by Bantan Spectra

Genre: Fantasy/Epic

Following immediately on from A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings is revolved around a Civil War within Westeros, with multiple Kings in battle for ‘The Iron Throne’ – Joffrey Baratheon, current King of the Iron Throne; Stannis Baratheon, King in Dragonstone; Renly Baratheon, King in Highgarden; Robb Stark, the King in the North; and Balon Greyjoy, King of the Iron Islands. Unbeknownst to these men, there is a 6th person vying for power – Daenerys Targaryen, The Queen in the East who is the last Dragonborn, who has 3 dragons, and wishes to  her team of warriors across The Narrow Sea to conquer Westeros.

Whilst all these houses are battling for power – whether it be in war, or with damaging words – the men of the Night’s Watch are protecting Westeros on the Wall from the terrible creatures who live North of it.

It sounds confusing – and there’s no doubt it can be – however, like the first book, it’s told in chapters from the perspectives of 9 different characters:

  • Tyrion Lannister, the uncle of King Joffrey, and also the Hand of the King, a treacherous position to be in since previous Hands have been killed.
  • Lady Catelyn Stark, King Robb’s mother
  • Ser Davos Seaworth, loyal knight to King Stannis
  • Sansa Stark, eldest daughter of Catelyn, sister of Robb, and is currently betrothed to King Joffrey
  • Arya Stark, daughter of Catelyn and sister of Robb, escaped from the clutches of King Joffrey’s mother Cersei, and is presumed dead
  • Bran Stark, son of Catelyn, brother of Robb, current Lord of Winterfell and crippled
  • Theon Greyjoy, son of King Balon, and formerly in service to the Starks
  • Jon Snow, King Robb’s bastard brother, part of the Night’s Watch
  • Daenerys Targaryen, Queen in the East

Also like the last one, there is an extensive list of all the different Houses and characters at the back of the book, and how they’re all related, which is also confusing given the amount of incest in this book! It’s full of what you’d want in an epic fantasy novel – love, murder, betrayal, humour, violence, revenge, and sex.

The other great thing about this novel, was the new sides you get to see of the characters. In the first book I hated Tyrion Lannister, and thought he was vile, but I love him in this book, and as you’ll see below, he has some fantastic quotes. On the flip side, I had no issues with Theon Greyjoy in the first book, but now I hate him!

It’s a great story, and a good follow-up book to A Game of Thrones, however I don’t think enough happens in it, but it’s definitely worth reading. I’ve read some things that you don’t need to have read the first book to understand the second, but that’s 100% wrong. I believe if you don’t read the first book, you’ll be completely lost and you would’ve missed out on some really important facts.

Notable quotes

“Those are brave men. Let’s go kill them” – Tyrion Lannister

Did Ned Stark dress you like that? Was it his pleasure to garb you in velvets and silks and make you his own sweet daughter?” – Balon Greyjoy to his son Theon

“I won’t cry. I won’t do that. I’m a Stark of Winterfell, our sigil is the direwolf, direwolves don’t cry.” – Arya Stark

“She wore a gown of pale purple silk and a moonstone hairnet that had been a gift from Joffrey. The gown had long sleeves to hide the bruises on her arms. Those were Joffrey’s gifts as well” – Sansa Stark

“His lips look like two worms fucking” – Theon Greyjoy

“I’m sorry for your loss as well, Joffrey.
“What loss?”
“Your royal father? A large fierce man with a black beard; you’ll recall him if you try. He was king before you.”
– Tyrion Lannister to Joffrey

“Did you think I was as blind as Father? Who you lie with is no matter to me… although it doesn’t seem quite just that you should open your legs for one brother and not the other. Be gentle, Cersei, I’m only jesting with you. If truth be told, I’d sooner have a nice whore. I never understood what Jaime saw in you, apart from his own reflection.” – Tyrion Lannister

“When you tear out a man’s tongue, you are not proving him a liar, you’re only telling the world that you fear what he might say.” – Tyrion Lannister

“Tears are not a woman’s only weapon. You’ve got another one between your legs and you’d best learn to use it. You’ll find men use their swords freely enough. Both kinds of swords.” Cersei Lannister

“He speaks more gently than Joffrey, she thought, but the queen spoke to me gently too. He’s still a Lannister, her brother and Joff’s uncle, and no friend. Once she had loved Prince Joffrey with all her heart, and admired and trusted his mother, the queen. They had repaid her love and trust with her father’s head. Sansa would never make that mistake again.”  Sansa Stark

“Tell me, at what moment during all of this do you stop to BLOW YOUR FUCKING HORN?” – Theon Greyjoy

“Jaime reached for the flagon to refill his cup. “So many vows… They make you swear and swear. Defend the king. Obey the king. Keep his secrets. Do his bidding. Your life for his. But obey your father. Love your sister. Protect the innocent. Defend the weak. Respect the gods. Obey the laws. It’s too much. No matter what you do, you’re forsaking one vow or the other.” – Jaime Lannister

-H-

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#4 Fall of Giants – Ken Follett

3 Dec

The Century Trilogy – Book 1 of 3

Fall of Giants - Front Cover

Fall of Giants – Front Cover

Goodreads rating: 4.14 (35,000+ ratings)

My rating: 9/10

Why it’s on the list: About  5 or so months ago I was looking for book recommendations (Around the same time I started The List), and a good friend of mine recommended it to me. When she first sent me the synopsis I said no straight away, because it sounded long, rambling and boring. But once I saw another summary I decided to read it, and I’m so glad I did.

First published: September 28th, 2010 by Pan Macmillan

Genre: Historical Fiction, Epic

Fall of Giants follows five interrelated families from America, Germany, Russia, Wales & England and is set between 1911 and 1924, and covers huge events including WWI, the Russian Revolution, and the struggle for women’s suffrage. It is full of love, scandalous sex, betrayal, war, loss, hatred, family ties, loyalty (both to family and country) and aristocracy.

When I first bought this book, I couldn’t believe how HUGE it seemed. But thankfully, it’s broken up into chapters that have small ‘mini-chapters’ within it, which makes it much easier to tackle. The story is so easy to get lost in, and the great thing about it is that you can totally relate to the people and their stories, even though it was set almost 100 years ago.

Cast of Characters - Fall of Giants

Cast of Characters – Fall of Giants

I found myself much more interested in the fate of the English, Welsh and Russian families than the German or the American, however they really are all interrelated and woven within each other that you can’t have one family’s story without the rest of them. Although the chapters jumped from one country to another, it was really easy to keep track of the families thanks to the handy index at the beginning, listing all the families, their acquaintances, and real historical figures from the time, as you can see in the photo to the left.

Every night when I’d read in bed, I felt like I was losing myself in a totally different world, and once I’d finished the book I felt like I was saying goodbye to old friends. I think whenever you feel like you’re going to miss a book and its characters, you’ve found a gem.

Bits & pieces

  • Fall of Giants was checked by eight historians. [Source]

-H-

#2 A Game of Thrones – George R. R. Martin

22 Nov

A Song of Ice & Fire – Book 1 of 7

A Game of Thrones - Front Cover

A Game of Thrones – Front Cover

Goodreads rating: 4.42 (286,190 ratings)

My rating: 9/10

Why it’s on the list: Because it’s AWESOME, that’s why… No, it’s on there because I wanted to read the books before watching the TV show. I like to visualise the characters and the settings without the influence of a TV show.

First published: August 6th, 1996 by Bantan Spectra

Genre: Fantasy/Epic

Where do I begin? A Game of Thrones is set in a fantasy world, where seasons can last years, and there are continuing feuds between the Noble Houses of Westeros (family dynasties) – of which there are 9, the guards on The Wall in the North called the Night’s Watch who protect the seven kingdoms from the mystery and terror further North, and the Free City of Pentos in the East. Winterfell, in the North, is where it begins, and throughout the book it switches from different perspectives of different characters. I was as confused as I’m sure you are. Thankfully, in the edition of the book I had, there were maps in the opening pages, and in the back pages were summaries of all the Noble Houses, as well as the sub-houses, and who was who in each.

The North & The South

The North & The South

The Land Beyond the Wall & The Land in the East

The Land Beyond the Wall & The Land in the Eas

Houses Appendix

Houses Appendix

Each chapter is from the perspective of a different character. There are 8 characters whose point of view we get to see, the majority of them part of the Stark family, who rule the North and are based in Winterfell. I found this the best (and only plausible) way that this book could have been written. With the sheer amount of Lords, Ladies, Kings, Queen, Knights (or Sers as they’re called), servants, Maesters and children, it’s hard enough as is to keep up with who’s who and who hates/loves who, that the separation makes it much easier.

A Game of Thrones is such an epic book, that there is no simple way to explain the story without giving too much away, or confusing you into not wanting to read it, but the main themes in it are betrayal, power, family, class systems, coming of age, justice, & gender. Women’s roles in this world are medieval to me, although when I was writing this, I realised that there are plenty of similar goings on in the 21st Century. Girls are betrothed to men they don’t know, baby girls are seen as a disability – boys are the desired child, and so on. However, Catelyn Stark, and her daughter Arya, defy these traditional roles – of course, making them (particularly Arya ) my favourite characters (as you can see by her prominence in the quotes I chose below!). Well, apart from the direwolves, which in my mind are THE CUTEST THINGS EVER!

I will warn you though, there are some disturbing moments in the book, especially some passages involving rape. However, I believe these parts are necessary in the story to give you a sense of a woman’s worth in some of the lands, particularly those to the East.

Notable quotes

“I’m Arya Stark of Winterfell, and if you lay a hand on me my lord father will have both your heads on spikes. If you don’t believe me, fetch Jory Cassel or Vayon Poole from the Tower of the Hand.” She put her hands on her hips. “Now are you going to open the gate, or do you need a clout on the ear to help your hearing?”Arya Stark

“My words lied. My eyes and my arm shouted out the truth, but you were not seeing.”Syrio, Arya Stark’s Sword Teacher

“The Night’s Watch is a sworn brotherhood. We have no families. None of us will ever father sons. Our wife is duty. Our mistress is honor.”Benjen Stark

“Your crimes will be washed away, your debts forgiven. So too you must wash away your former loyalties, put aside your grudges, forget old wrongs and old loves alike. Here you begin anew.”Lord Commander Mormont

“My mind is my weapon. My brother has his sword, King Robert has his warhammer, and I have my mind… and a mind needs books as a sword needs a whetstone, if it is to keep its edge.”Tyrion Lannister

If she choked on the blood or retched up the flesh, the omens were less favorable; the child might be stillborn, or come forth weak, deformed, or female. – Passage from Daenerys’ chapter

Past reviews

“an absorbing combination of the mythic, the sweepingly historical, and the intensely personal.” – Phyllis Eisenstein, Chicago Sun-Times

Bits & pieces

  • Took Martin 5 years to write A Game of Thrones
  • The series ideas began when Martin was a child, and involved a Turtle kingdom, with Lords, Kings & Knights.

-H-
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