Fri
Mar 18 2011 12:54pm

A Read of Ice and Fire: A Game of Thrones, Part 1

A Game of Thrones by George R.R. MartinWelcome, one and all, to the brand-spankingest new blog series on Tor.com, A Read of Ice and Fire!

Please join me as I read and react, for the very first time, to George R.R. Martin’s epic fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire.

Today’s inaugural entry is Part 1 of A Game of Thrones, in which we cover the Prologue and “Bran,” because it turns out Mr. Martin is not into chapter numbers. Or non-repetitive titles, either. I’m a bit nonplussed by this, but I imagine you guys are all smart enough to figure it out as we go, and we’ll all survive somehow.

For what it’s worth, I highly recommend you follow this by reading the actual chapters, since my summaries for the chapters are not going to be as detailed as the ones for the Wheel of Time Re-read tend to be. Just a heads-up.

Previous entries are located in the Index, or rather they will be once there’s, you know, more than one entry.

And that’s about the size of it, so please click on for the post!

Before we start, a note on spoilers: There are no spoilers for the series in the post itself except for the actual chapters covered, for the very good reason that I am reading the series for the first time in this endeavor, and thus have no spoilers to spoil you with.

As far as spoiler policy in the comments goes, here’s the deal: The Powers That Be at Tor.com have very kindly set up a forum thread for spoilery comments. Any spoileriffic discussion should go there, where I won’t see it. Non-spoiler comments go below, in the comments to the post itself.

I ask that everyone be decent human beings and honor this spoiler policy so I don’t have to stop reading comments altogether, because I like hearing what you have to say. Okay? Okay!

So there’s all that. And now, off we go!

 

Prologue

What Happens
Two men of the Night’s Watch, Will and Gared, ride through the woods with their new commanding officer, Ser Waymar Royce. Will is a former poacher, Gared a grizzled veteran; neither of them have much respect for Royce, an arrogant eighteen-year-old lordling. They have been tracking a group of wildling raiders beyond the Wall. Will and Gared are both uneasy, sensing something wrong in the woods, but Royce only makes fun of them for it. Will tells Royce again of how he had found the wildlings’ camp, with its inhabitants dead, sitting or lying where they had fallen, but Royce doesn’t believe him, and insists on seeing the campsite for himself.

Will leads him there, leaving Gared behind to guard the horses, but when Will and Royce reach the site, the bodies are all gone. Royce sends Will up into a tree to look for a fire, and once there Will sees shapes moving in the trees; it suddenly grows much colder. Then, Royce is confronted by one of what Will calls “The Others”; five more emerge to watch as Royce duels with the first. Royce holds his own for a bit, but then is wounded by the Other’s strange crystalline sword, and on the next pass Royce’s sword shatters. The rest converge on him and slaughter him as Will watches from the tree, and then disappear. Will climbs down and picks up Royce’s shattered sword, thinking to take it back as evidence, and turns to find Royce’s mutilated corpse standing over him. Royce begins choking Will to death.

Commentary
Frozen zombies, by George!

Er. Literally, in this case, eh?

Well, that’s certainly starting off your epic fantasy series with an extremely creepy bang, I’ll say. This whole scene was straight out of a horror movie.

A good horror movie, mind you. The writing did a superb job of immediately putting the reader in the moment, and conveying the eerie, ominous atmosphere of… um, wherever they are.

Okay, I looked it up on the map, and it turns out they are in… The North.

Helpful!

But at least that explains the cold:

“I saw men freeze last winter, and the one before, when I was half a boy. Everyone talks about snows forty foot deep, and how the ice wind comes howling out of the north, but the real enemy is the cold. It steals up on you quieter than Will, and at first you shiver and your teeth chatter and you stamp your feet and dream of mulled wine and nice hot fires. It burns, it does. Nothing burns like the cold. But only for a while. Then it gets inside you and starts to fill you up, and after a while you don’t have the strength to fight it. It’s easier just to sit down or go to sleep. They say you don’t feel any pain toward the end. First you go weak and drowsy, and everything starts to fade, and then it’s like sinking into a sea of warm milk. Peaceful, like.”

Brr. I felt cold reading it, and my apartment is overheated at the moment.

So I’m guessing from this introduction that we are not in for a whole lot of happy fun times in this series. Of course, I’d pretty much known that already. I’ve managed to avoid spoilers on the specifics of ASOIAF, but I’ve caught more than enough in general about the dark grittiness and the wanton character-killin’ and so forth. Which is fine, as long as I don’t know ahead of time who gets killed. Or maybe the more relevant question is who stays dead, eh?

Overall, nicely done, with just enough worldbuilding tidbits to pique the interest without drowning you in exposition. Little bits like this one:

[Will] was a veteran of a hundred rangings by now, and the endless dark wilderness that the southron called the haunted forest had no more terrors for him.

And fortunately I don’t have to remember any of these characters, except possibly Gared, because they’re all dead. Although, I’m not sure if it counts when they haven’t stopped moving afterwards. Eeek.

Speaking of which, the description of the frozen zombies were really well-done, but I particularly liked the description of the main Other guy’s voice:

The Other said something in a language that Will did not know; his voice was like the cracking of ice on a winter lake, and the words were mocking.

And his sword:

No human metal had gone into the forging of that blade. It was alive with moonlight, translucent, a shard of crystal so thin that it seemed almost to vanish when seen edge-on. There was a faint blue shimmer to the thing, a ghost-light that played around its edges, and somehow Will knew it was sharper than any razor.

CREEPY. And, awesome. So far, so good.

 

Bran

What Happens
Seven-year-old Bran Stark rides with his brother, Robb Stark, and his half-brother (and bastard) Jon Snow to watch his first execution. Robb had told Bran he thinks the sentenced man is a wildling sworn to Mance Rayder, the King-beyond-the-Wall. The beheading is carried out by his father, Lord Eddard Stark of Winterfell, with the greatsword called Ice, and on Jon’s advice Bran forces himself not to look away. The head rolls to Theon Greyjoy, Eddard’s ward, who kicks it away with a laugh. As they head back to Winterfell, Bran speaks with his father, who tells him the man was actually a deserter from the Night’s Watch, and explains to him why the Starks always carry out their own sentences.

Jon and Robb find the corpse of a direwolf, bigger than Bran’s pony; Theon comments that it has been two hundred years since a direwolf has been seen south of the Wall. It transpires that the direwolf was a bitch, and had whelped a litter before dying of wounds inflicted by an antler lodged in her throat; Bran does not understand why that makes the men in the party afraid. Theon wants to kill the pups as well, but Bran protests fiercely, and Robb agrees. Eddard is unwilling at first, but Jon points out to him that the sigil for the Starks is a direwolf, and there are exactly five pups in the litter, one for each of his living children; Jon excludes himself from this count. Eddard regards him thoughtfully, and tells Bran and Robb they may keep the pups only if they feed and train them themselves. As the party is riding off, Jon hears a noise, and goes back to find a sixth pup, an albino, which he declares belongs to him.

Commentary
Oops, I guess I don’t have to remember Gared either, since I’m about 97% sure he was the guy who just got his head chopped off here. (The executee is described as missing both ears and a finger, which are the same extremities Gared is described as having lost to frostbite in the Prologue.) Man, that sucks, Gared, sorry. Beats being a frozen zombie? I guess?

Also, I am such a girl sometimes, because: puppies!

Okay, puppies destined to grow up to be giant, scary, probably-slavering monster-wolves, but hey. Puppies! Highly Symbolic Puppies, while we’re at it. Which of course is the best kind.

Anyway. So: Stark, Winterfell, Greyjoy, Snow, Ice…. I am maybe just possibly sensing a theme here, with the names. WHAT CAN IT BE. Also, like fragments like this:

The late summer snows had been heavy this moonturn.

Summer snows? Ye gods. So, what I’m getting out of this is, it is fucking cold in this part of the world. Clear copy, thanks.

I can’t help but think that must have an effect on the people who live there, and all the dialogue in this chapter seems to back that up:

“The blood of the First Men still flows in the veins of the Starks, and we hold to the belief that the man who passes the sentence should swing the sword. If you would take a man’s life, you owe it to him to look into his eyes and hear his final words. And if you cannot bear to do that, then perhaps the man does not deserve to die.”

Eddard’s philosophy on carrying out his own sentences is remarkably like his name and his world: cold and harsh, but clean. I’ve certainly come across worse ways to be. Same thing goes for taking a seven-year-old to an execution; that might be cruel in a softer setting, but it’s immediately clear that in this world, no one gets to be a child for very long if they want to survive. Not a place of luxury, or leniency, at all.

Although, even so, I was frankly startled when Jon Snow’s age was mentioned as being fourteen. Fourteen!

Speaking of which, the main effect this chapter had, for me, was to instantly identify Jon Snow as the most interesting character in it. Bran is cute and all, but is too young to have much going on in the character department yet; Robb seemed generic, Theon’s a jerk, and Eddard is Inscrutable Lord Guy, but you can tell even from Bran’s immature perspective that Jon is pretty kickass, especially for a fourteen-year-old. And, of course, the outsider character is almost always automatically the most interesting, if for no other reason than that they tend to have much more baggage than the other characters. But Jon seems cool; I just “met” him, and I’m already rooting for him.

Therefore, I’m very happy he got a puppy. The special, albino/outsider/different puppy, lest we forget. I’m sure that’s not fraught with meaning at all.

Also, there’s this, when Bran is thinking about the stories he’s been told about wildlings:

They consorted with giants and ghouls, stole girl children in the dead of night, and drank blood from polished horns. And their women lay with the Others in the Long Night to sire terrible half-human children.

I really really hope that this is all tall tales, but I have a distinct feeling that it isn’t. Not all of it, anyway. Ew.


And that’ll about do it for this entry! I hope you have enjoyed, and I hope that you will join me for the next installment next Friday. Cheers!

133 comments
Marcus W
1. toryx
Yay! Welcome to the world of A Song of Ice and Fire.

Now I just have to wonder, Leigh, if you were able to stop after reading those first two chapters. I know that in my own re-read, even knowing what happens next, I wasn't able to.

It sounds like you're enjoying it so far, for which I'm glad. And also, the puppies. They slayed me from the beginning. Who can't love puppies? Especially the kind that are going to become giant monster wolves.
Richard Boye
2. sarcastro
Okay, two things Leigh.

1) Kudos for noticing that the derelict that was executed by Ned was the same guy from the prologue.

Judging from my experience in the ASOIAF forums o'er the years, a lot of people miss that.

2) hold on to your hat, kid. I am very excited about this blog read-along thingy (it's not really a guided re-read, since you are new to the series) - you definitely needed to set a spoiler policy though (will spoilerific comments get nixed?)

okay, maybe three things - over in afgrrm, back in the dusty halls of old usenet, we did a chapter-by-chapter re-read of the series and thought it useful to give each chapter a gore rating, a comedy rating and of course a sex rating.
Mikey Bennett
3. EvilMonkey
just when I thought I'd get my first first post....

Anyway as we can see it's a cold cold cold world out there and once again I am estatic that you get to see it for the first time. B-E-A-Utiful!
Antonynus61
4. Antonynus61
Dont fall in love with the puppies =/

I want to say a bit more but you havent read that far so I will just say the Starks are having a happy fun day
Olaf Keith
5. hayholt
Nice summary. And I envy anybody who has the chance to read AGoT for the first time, just as I envy anybody who reads The Lord of the Rings for the first time. And you are right about Jon.

By the way, I am doing my own re-read (sort of) as I am slowly listening my way through Roy Dotrice's unabdriged audio recording of AGoT. Very good for long commutes!
Antonynus61
6. Dietes
I'm so excited to be rereading this with you, Leigh. Wheee!

I have a question that I'd like to throw out to you and to the
other readers: how many of you read the appendices before finishing
the book? I, being a pathetic and obsessive nerd, usually read them
early on (usually after greedily drinking in the maps.) In the case
of GOT, an early reading of the great houses in the back of the book
(particularly their sigils) clarified why so many of the Winterfell
men felt saw an ill omen in a direwolf with an antler stuck in it's
neck. Whaddyou all think?
lake sidey
7. lakesidey
Subwoofer! Where are you? Come on over....there's PUPPIES!

Welcome to Westeros, Leigh. Glad you're liking the ride so far. And hang on to the edge of your seat...there ain't no ninny seatbelts here!

(....and yes, I admit to being curious too - were you actually able to stop after 2 chapters? If so you have remarkable self-control...I bow to thee and all that)

~lakesidey
Antonynus61
8. SunnyReads
Leigh - I'm a little envious of you, as I wish I could read Game of Thrones for the first time again!! I just recently broke down and read the series a few months ago and loved it, so seeing it new through your perspective will be fun!
Enjoy!
Rob Munnelly
9. RobMRobM
Very nice Leigh.
- Yes, it was Gared.
- Nice pick up on Others voices and swords. I didn't recall that specific info from past readings. Tres cool.
- You didn't comment on why the folks in the party were afraid re the antler in the throat. "Highly symbolic puppies" is right. Eye out for relevant antlerian symbols in upcoming chapters.
- Rest assured you aren't the first to enjoy Jon Snow out of the gate.
- You noted Jon's young age and the seven year old being taken to the execution. Fair warning more to come re things going on with other youngish folk throughout the books.
- Re cold weather as a theme, take another look at the first sentence of the prologue. EDIT- Actually, I meant the Bran chapter, with its end of summer reference (i.e., Winter is Coming).

Rob
Olaf Keith
10. hayholt
I first read the AGoT over ten years ago, so I don't clearly remember if I read the appendices first or not. But since I like such appendices in big, fat fantasy I just might have. But the special signficiance of the antler probably escaped me anyhow. Just as I did not notice on my first read that the guy who was beheaded in chap. 1 was actually Gared from the prologue. I only caught that on a re-read.

I would also assume that the weather descriptions probably confused me as well. The seasons in Westeros are most certainly different to ours.
Andrew Belmont
11. rosetintdworld
I am SO excited about this, Leigh. I follow you religiously on WoT, and have just actually finished A Game of Thrones for the first time. So we are embarking on this series pretty much simultaneously. I haven't started the second book yet, but I think we're both in for a treat.

I will just put myself out there and say that I am eagerly looking forward to reading you apply some of your fabulous commentary on gender and sexuality to Martin--I hope it is not a spoiler to say that I think you will have A LOT to say about Daenerys's chapters. I am eagerly awaiting next week.

(As for these chapters, J0n Snow is indeed awesome.)
Brandon Daggerhart
12. BDaggerhart
I'm hoping that following this with Leigh gives me a better opinion of the book (and series) overall - because I greatly disliked the first book when I read it. It could have been my age ( I read it when it first came out and I was 16), and I just wasn't prepared for it, but quite frankly, I had, at that time, read plenty of more mature reading, and still didn't like Game of Thrones. So anyway, all that being said, I'm looking forward to following this, as it will give me a way to re-introduce myself to the series after years of ignoring it, and maybe I'll be inspired to read the rest of it once this book is done.
Todd Tyrna
13. Ezramoon
Awesome , I'm very excited for this!

I'm also a 1st-time reader and this will be great fun reading what you have to say every week!
tatiana deCarillion
14. decarillion
Mentioning the titles of the chapters in your post MIGHT be spoilerish for people. After all, if the chapter has someone's name, it's a sure bet that person is still alive--for now LOL
Mark Lawrence
15. incurablyGeek
You've piqued my interest (as well as the HBO promos) so I shall now have to go to my local B&N and purchase these for an upcoming, month long trip. I'm going to enjoy reading along with you.
Rob Munnelly
16. RobMRobM
One curious point re the HBO series and associated promos - they chose to execute Will rather than Gared.
Antonynus61
17. Kadere
"Bran is cute and all, but is too young to have much going on in the character department yet"

This made me lol.
Antonynus61
18. EmeraldroseBVerfGE
I had these books about 5 years ago and never made it all the way through GOT. I do recall loving the Starks and Jon. I will be following and then decide whether or not to re-read/read them.
Antonynus61
19. Fenric25
Great readthrough so far, likewise wondering if you could only stop after the first two chapters (I certainly couldn't, nor could anyone else I know who has read the book, usually loaned by me, of course). Interesting that you didn't comment on the bizarreness of their weather patterns in terms of temporal lengths-the line "It was the ninth year of summer and the seventh of Bran's life" tells you that there is definitely something strange going on with the weather in Westeros...

Also-commentary on age of children characters. GRRM has said a few times that he'd wished he'd upped their age a bit more when writing the books, and that they have done so for the TV series. Robb and Jon are both 17 (played by men in their early 20's, of course, this being TV and all), Bran is 9 or 10 (can't remember which), their sisters Sansa and Arya are 13 and 11 respectively, and the youngest child, Rickon, has been upped to 6 (according to a video). As a result, a few other character ages have changed, IIRC-Ned Stark is in his early 40's now, for instance. Hope this isn't considered too spoilery or anything, just an interesting comparison between original source and adaptation, IMO...

Anyway, loved the first reaction to the book, can't wait till you read the rest, see how many times the books get thrown against the walls and picked right back up again...:)
someone else
20. Naraoia
And so the ride begins. This is gonna be interesting ^.^ Glad you're liking it so far!

GRRM's take on climate annoys me, to be honest. It's cool and magical and all, but man, does it strain suspension of disbelief.

decarillion @14: rofl
Tricia Irish
21. Tektonica
Antonynus@4: LOL....The Starks on a happy family outing.

I have no time to do my own actual reread, as I am in the middle of packing and moving after 25 years of accumulation. 15 boxes of books to the library and 25 to the new house.....and there's all the rest of the crap stuff. Argh. I'm too tired at night to read more than 10 min.
That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.

So....It's nice to have you doing this Leigh! And I'm glad you are enjoying it so far. Good catches on the symbolism. And yes, Jon Snow is kick ass. ;-)

Thanks for the spoilerific thread on the Forums too.
Chris Long
22. radynski
Welcome Leigh!

I LOVE the first official chapter of this book. It does such an amazing job of setting up the characters of Eddard and Jon, and does so through Bran's point of view. Just brilliant writing.

Eddard's talk with Bran is so perfect, and then Jon sacrificing himself to give everyone else a puppy was really great too. I loved Jon immediately for that. And then the happy surprise at the end, and Jon's declaration of "I think not, Greyjoy" *chills*
Marcus W
23. toryx
Already, I can see the spoilers creeping out. *sigh*

RobM @ 16:

Hey! That constitutes a spoiler, sir. At least, for those of us who haven't been hanging on to every promo so that we can have some surprises when watching the show.

Naraoia @ 20:

GRRM's take on climate annoys me, to be honest. It's cool and magical and all, but man, does it strain suspension of disbelief.



As GRRM has been known to point out, 'tis fantasy. That's one of the problems with science fiction and fantasy being such close cousins. Too many of us readers of both take things too seriously. Personally, I like it his way.

I just accept it, the same way I accept the existence of dragons in fantasy.
Steven Halter
24. stevenhalter
Hi, I read A Game of Thrones last October on a beach in Jamaica so I was warm at least. I'm only 1 book ahead of you Leigh, and plan on holding off on the second book until the read gets there. That will make this reread an interesting and different experience than over on the Malazan reread where I'm one of the "old hands."
I thought the prologue was really interesting with the talk of the Others and wildlings and the Wall. The lordling was dismissive of them, so it seemed like they were at least rare. The descriptions were indeed chilling.
In chapter Bran, we get a view of the children and Eddard. We also get some intriguing bits like the sword named Ice -- ""The blade was Valyrian steel, spellforged and dark as smoke."
That immediately raise questions like what (where, who) is Valyrian? And, oh there are spells involved somewhere.
These two chapters were both interesting and engaging starts.
Justin Epstein
25. RedFlag
I read the first book long ago, and never moved onto the other ones - can't remember why at this point. So this blog has motivated me to jump back in on my own read/reread. The tough part will be the 2 chapter/week pace.

I too latched onto Jon as the most interesting character. There are a lot of things about him in this first chapter that made me mentally slot him into the "lead character" role: There is the tension in his status, since he his the son of a lord and is somewhat accepted as a member of the ruling family, but on the other hand isn't fully part of that family. The way he handled finding the puppies and his advice to Bran make it very easy as a reader to sympathize and like him. Plus the "teenager growing into an adult" is a very common choice for the protagonist of a fantasy story.

I also liked the introduction to the Stark family. Their interactions give you a general idea of each character, but are also are a nice way to show what their world is like.
Genevieve Williams
26. welltemperedwriter
Welcome to aSoIaF, Leigh! It's been a long time since I read Game of Thrones, so I'm enjoying your summaries as reminders of what happens in each chapter. The first time I read it I remember thinking that titling each chapter with a character's name was something William Faulkner also did, though otherwise he and Martin don't have much in common, heh.

If anything, I like this series better than WoT, so I may be commenting
more on this blog than the other one. I like my entertainment a bit GRiM (to my husband's consternation) and let's just say that Jordan's got nothing on Martin in that department.

I admit, the frozen zombies freaked me out the first time I read this!
Kat Blom
27. pro_star
Valyrian steel was forged by Perrin...with the help of the Asha'men.

Oops, wrong series ;)

Jon...I heart Jon. But...there will be times you curse his name.

But...yes...Leigh, I'm shocked you could stop after two chapters. I was DEVOURING...sleep madness was happening! And I eagerly await...and fear...your recap of Danerys's chapter. My boss was laughing at my reaction to that one. And I will say no more :)

Also, I think he based Winterfell off Canada....prairieland alberta anyone? ;) and the North north...well...that's northern alberta right there ;) Snow in June? I think so.
Maiane Bakroeva
28. Isilel
Welcome to ASOIAF, Leigh! Hope you like it. Dang, this will probably make me start on my re-read early, like the WoT blog did.

I’ve caught more than enough in general about the dark grittiness and
the wanton character-killin’ and so forth. Which is fine, as long as I
don’t know ahead of time who gets killed.

Let me jump in and repeat - people exaggerate. It is mostly a combination of shock that _any_ major characters could die with the Bobba Fett syndrom - i.e. people getting attached to cool minor characters and then getting disgruntled when those vanish down a toothy maw.
For the most part, if you pay attention to details, you'll be able to see in advance who is for the chop.

As to Jon - he is the character that various fantasy novels and myths have trained you to latch onto ;).
And puppies are awesome, yo. As are slavering huge monster wolves, particularly on those snowy evenings, when you can plunge your freezing feet in their thick, warm fur... ah.
someone else
29. Naraoia
toryx@23: Yeah, I know. Thankfully, the books are good enough for me to grudgingly accept that seemingly ordinary wildlife can survive three-year winters.

RedFlag@25:


So this blog has motivated me to jump back in on my own read/reread. The tough part will be the 2 chapter/week pace.
Tell me about it! I started my re-read on Wednesday, motivated by the blog, like you. After exercising some serious restraint, I'm still past Ned's first chapter. I'd almost forgotten how these books make you read on. The urge is quickly getting out of hand...

Re: Jon, I really wonder how I'll see him on this re-read. In my memory, he's OK, but not the most interesting character by far. That could be because I've been watching others call him generic, boring and/or a Mary Sue over at westeros.org for months, though :D
Will Drewen
30. VaeVictis45
Hello, all.

Longtime follower of your WoT reread, Leigh, though I've never posted before. I'm excited to see what you have to say about ASOIAF, so I figured I'd jump into the discussion myself for this one.

I've been doing my own reread (started back when I heard about the new book and the HBO series) and I think it'll be interesting to be able to see the books through your eyes. It'll be almost like reading them again for the first time!

As for the actual chapters, I don't have too much to say about these that hasn't been already said. I love GRRM's writing, the way he describes things. Sometimes he can seem to drone on a bit, but passages like the ones you quoted there make it all worth it to me.

By the way, one of the most difficult things about this series (at least for me) is to keep track of who is where at any given time. Even after 3 and a half rereads, I still find myself going to the map trying to figure out where things are happening. I guess my point is just advice to keep your finger on the map page, or maybe even go online and print out a larger map. Maybe it's just me, but I find it easier to keep track of events when I know where they take place in relation to everything else.

Anyway, can't wait for next week's WoT and ASOIAF entries!
Sanctume Spiritstone
31. Sanctume
Those ice zombies are such teasers.

I need to find my copies and do my re-reads along!
Antonynus61
32. Hammerlock
Just started my first read on this myself, so I'm not too ahead of you Leigh.

That said, you may want to pick a number of pages to read per entry and try to match that number up with the chapters. There are 73 in total, so the re-read of the first book alone will take the better part of a year if you stick to 1-2 at a time.
Rikka Cordin
33. Rikka
I am so excited to vicariously (re)live through a first read of this book. Just in time for the miniseries too. You're gonna love it, leigh :D

Also. You are soooooo right about Jon ;)
Birgit
34. birgit
I didn't remember that the Others appear so early. I thought the book started with the direwolves.
Antonynus61
35. sandrinepi
This is so perfect! I am just starting a Game of Thrones for the first time too! WIN!
Kat Blom
36. pro_star
sandrinepi@35 - beware. You won't be able to put it down.

After acquiring AGOT (thanks Amazon!) I took the cheapie way and just borrowed the next three books from my boss (thanks boss!)

Yeah...I'd go up to him two days later...."can I have the next book please?"

PS. Anyone who went the cheapie route like I did, Amazon has a smokin deal, all four for something like $25 CDN. It'll ship out on tuesday... :) so...I'll have two copies of AGOT...so who knows, maybe I'll toss one to the library, or see if I can get another friend salivating over this series ;) I'm evil, I know.
Brennan
37. brentodd
I think the "most interesting character" title switches around quite a bit, but Jon is probably the most consistently interesting.
Rob Munnelly
38. RobMRobM
@21. Tek, you moving into an old folks' home?

@23. Sorry about that Toryx. Guess I have been watching the promos too much - the same young guy gets chopped in nearly everyone.

@24. Really goood point re Valyrian steel and spells. One nonspoiler suggestion to all - keep track of potential forms of magic as we proceed.

@28. Yep, it's all unicorns and kittens going forward for most of the characters....more or less. LOL. (Hi Isilel!).

@34. As I noted above, I too tended to gloss over details of the opening chapter.
Mats
39. Schmytz
Thank you for doing this Leigh. I will follow your read with great interest (but only as long as you love the series ;-). It will be a great new way for me to experience this story that I have read so many times. Great timing too with the HBO series coming up. :-)

Now that many years of obsessive fandom have passed I can hardly remember how I felt when I read AGoT for the first time. Perhaps some of that freshness will re-surface as I read your thoughts and comments.

The prologue is great for establishing a sense of threat that you carry with you as you read on, and the way that George subtly weaves together the prologue and Bran's first chapter is a great example of his skill as a writer. Enjoy the read.
Olaf Keith
40. hayholt
I especially like that there is not much exposition in the form of infodumping in these two first chapters , which are crucial to convince new readers to stay with the story. GRRM is very subtle with his worldbuilding and slips the info in among the foreground action/dialogue. It is pure story.
Bill Reamy
41. BillinHI
Leigh, you convinced me to try reading Martin, so I'll be reading along with you. Just hope I can get through it all (gave up on Mistborn partway into the second book, e.g.).
Antonynus61
42. Patrick C
Really looking forward to the reread, and love seeing these chapters from a newbie's eyes. I feel like Leigh's head may explode during the first do Daenerys chapters though!

Several other commentors hit the nail on the head regarding GRRM's worldbuilding. In every chapter there are just subtle, oblique references to the world they are in, and its history (both recent and not). It never feels like an infodump or tedious exposition, it just whets your appetite and fires up the imagination. That's what good fantasy is all about.

And also add me to the list who identified with Jon immediately. He's been my favorite character since the beginning. Not always my favorite POV, but always my favorite character.
Antonynus61
43. Delafina
One of the things that has always most impressed me about Martin's writing is his ability to convey everything that's important even through the viewpoint of a character that, for whatever reason, doesn't understand what's important. E.g. you may have a tween girl who's all excited about what everyone's wearing and doesn't understand the implications of what they're talking about, but without violating the believability of her voice, Martin manages to convey to *you,* the more knowledgeable reader, what's actually happening.

It sort of reminds me of Gene Wolfe's Book of the Long Sun, where the characters are, essentially, neoprimitives who don't understand what their world is, or how it came to be, but despite the limitations of their viewpoints and understanding, we the readers can immediately see and understand the technology that is in effect.
Nathanael
44. gnatnate
Hey, just had to de-lurk to add my voice to all the others... love the WoT reread, and I'm thrilled to see the same treatment for ASOIAF. I first read the whole thing about a year ago, and can't wait to see a new take on it!

(also, to the commenters... are we taking bets yet on how long it takes Leigh to expand the recap sections to WoT proportions? I give it a month.)
Sky Thibedeau
45. SkylarkThibedeau
I was deawn to the tale by the HBO Trailers. I just finished a feast of crows last week. I'm glad youre doing this review for us. I can't wait for the mini series or Dances with Dragons this summer.
Rob Munnelly
46. RobMRobM
To Leigh and other ASOIF newbies - very strongly consider reading GRRM's so called Dunk and Egg stories, set in the same world 80 or so years earlier. Advantages: 1) Awesome stories of a young, low born but intensely honorable "hedge knight" wandering around Westeros and his noble born squire; 2) they don't spoil the current tale; but, conversely, 3) they give insight on the families and histories that shape the current tale. Martin plans on writing more of these stories in his copious free time. One hint - both become historical figures and are mentioned later in ASOIF.

Rob
Marcus W
47. toryx
BillinHI @ 41:

IMHO, ASoIaF is so much better than Mistborn, they don't even belong in the same sentence. Of course, based on the best fantasy of the decade poll, I'm in the minority on that opinion.

I never really identified with Jon, which is weird. He's typically exactly my type of character. One of the things GRRM does really well, (as Delafina mentions) is the povs for the varying ages of the characters. Bran's perspective of Jon is very much a result of his age.

By the way, I agree with RobM's praise of the Dunk and Egg stories. They're excellent. But I'd be careful about reading them right away while you're still getting into AGoT. It can be confusing if you don't already have a strong foundation in the world. That's been my experience, anyway, when recommending the novellas/ short stories to other new readers.
Tricia Irish
48. Tektonica
RobM: You are not nice! ;-)

We are unburdening ourselves of most of (both) our parents' accumulated historical objects, and our kids' childhood drawings and grand essays on the Civil War, etc. Oh, and their stellar artwork. ;-p Thus freeing ourselves to wander the earth and have some FUN! Actually, we're only moving 6 blocks north, as we love our neighborhood and our neighbors, but just need less space and stuff! This is fun! Just you wait, 'til those kiddies flee the nest. Old folks home is the next move....in twenty years or so....

Good suggestion on recapping by # of pages instead of just chapters, as they are pretty short and the read will take a year at this rate...besides...it's so hard NOT to read ahead ;-)
Tricia Irish
49. Tektonica
Double post.
Benjamin Moldovan
50. benpmoldovan
Dunk and Egg stories? Where does one find those? Online? How many are there?
Marcus W
51. toryx
The Dunk and Egg stories are novellas that were published in anthologies. Three of them have been published so far that I know of.

The Hedge Knight and The Sworn Sword were published in Legends I and II respectively. The third is The Mystery Knight and was published in Warriors. All three are available on Amazon.

Edit to add: Legends I and Legends II were edited by Robert Silverberg. Warriors was edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois.
Kathy Keith
52. Babokathy
I am a long-time reader of your Posts, Leigh, enjoying the diversion from Real Life a lot. I have been lurking a long while during the WOT re-read, which is a much more complicated plot full of characters than this series. Thank you for starting this series. There is lots that needs interpreting.

The "Others" are everything that they seem to be. Spooky, outer-spacey and brutally barbaric; oh wait, maybe there are worse things than "wildmen and direwolves" in the north? The anticipation of what is going on north of The Wall does get a grip on you. I was always skeptical of the boys taking all those "puppies" home; if they're so powerful an animal, how could they tame them? This is a continuing theme too. Taming Power.

RobM -- Yes, the Hedge Knight stories are wonderful insight to this world. I especially loved the graphic copy of the Hedge Knight, too bad I gave it away. I believe that these prequel stories can be found in a couple anthology books. I can't wait to see more of Dunk & Egg.

*Babo
Antonynus61
53. Kadere
@50-

There are three Dunk and Egg stories, "The Hedge Knight" is the first you can find it in the anthology Legends, "The Sworn Sword" is the second in Legends II, and "The Mystery Knight" is the third and is in the anthology Warriors. "The Hedge Knight" and "The Sworn Sword" have also been adapted into graphic novels from Marvel that you can find on amazon.
Rob Munnelly
54. RobMRobM
@50. Three D and E novellas. First one in Legends collection, edited by Robert Silverberg. Second in Legends II, also edited by Silverberg. Third in Warriors that came out last year, edited by GRRM and Dozois.

@48. I'm not nice - agreed. Tek, turn up your hearing aid - I said "I AGREE I'M NOT NICE." (lol)
lake sidey
55. lakesidey
@47 Toryx: I would courteously disagree ;) I hadn't planned to start another large fantasy series back then (having just got through the 7 (then) existing books of WoT). But I picked up Legends (to read New Spring and the Pratchett story) and thus got introduced to Westeros through "the Hedge Knight". The rest is a little hazy, but a few months later, I found myself three books into this series. And the (first) long wait was beginning....

I would definitely recommend tHK, at least, to people who are unsure if they want to read this series or not. The Sworn Sword, I would agree with you, is perhaps better read later...

@46 Rob: Shouldn't you be signing off as Robb on this reread?

@36 pro_star: That's dangerous. I did that to about 5-6 friends (lent or gifted them the first book) and they get in touch roughly once a fortnight to curse me for addicting them. And for the fact that they've had to wait so long for their next fix. Most of them are now an ocean's width away, so I haven't actually been beaten up for it, but.....

@several: Yeah, Jon is in many ways (stereo)typically likeable and all that. However, he isn't my favourite in the series - there are at least two I like a lot better (and liked better almost from the first time of encountering them) though I won't mention them for now.

@17 Kadere: Me too! But hush!

~lakesidey
Antonynus61
56. BMike
@44 - I bet that the recaps will not get to be as long as as WoT, for the simple reason Leigh doesn't have the foreknowledge of what's important and what's not.

I'm going to start a pool for how long until Leigh announces she's not reading the comments, ever. Already some major spoilers in here, even though people were clearly trying not to - implying things still counts as spoiling. I'm guessing 2 more posts.
Antoni Ivanov
57. tonka
Yes, I loved Jon after reading the first chapter. The scene with wolves and his actions there are one of the best moments in the series for me. But I am sucker for such things. What can I say.
Someone recommended you read Dung and Egg stories and I cannot but re-recommend it because they are really great. Like totally great! And maybe blog them after you are finished with series proper (*looks around with shifty eyes*)
Rob Munnelly
58. RobMRobM
@56. Leigh just needs a designated comment reader to review and pass on (or not) - perhaps the gals from the GoT anticipation post. I believe Elena Nola is doing that on her newbie BSC Review/Gestalt Mash initial read.

@55. LOL. One of my wife's aunts always persisted in referring to me as Robb, even giving me an engraved beer stein with that on it. Given the weather up here in Boston last winter, I could be Robb Snow....
Rob Munnelly
59. RobMRobM
For entertainment value, it's fun to read A Blog of Ice and Fire - a law student's take on his travels through the first 1 1/2 novels until Real Life got in the way.

+++++++++


You're the new guy, and you've just traveled to a harsh, inhospitable climate to serve on a wall, probably because there are things the wall needs to keep out. Scary things. Things that require this wall to be capitalized "Wall". Things like invincible sadistic ghost-people with unbreakable swords and resurrection powers. Your name "Waymar" ranks among the most non-threatening nerd names ever, on the level of "Milton" and "Poindexter". Yet despite all this, you choose to ignore every piece of advice the clearly more experienced men give you.

I was not surprised when Martin killed off the Royce. He was arrogant in a very annoying way, and committed the cardinal sin of ignoring the wise old guy. Always heed the wise old guy (unless you're six and he's asking you to get in his van). However, I was surprised when Will died too. We were following along through his point of view, so his death set quite an ominous tone for the rest of the book. As for Gared, I presume he peaced out with the horses as soon as he heard the fight.

What exactly is a wildling? I went on Wikipedia and shut the window instantly, because it seemed packed with spoilers. I still don't know for sure. I'm going to assume that it's a wild person or outlaw, just like I assume "Ser" actually means "Sir" and "Maester" means "Master". That or Dr. Aemon is actually Korean.
____________________

After Will's untimely death at the hands of zombie Waymar, we come to the first official chapter, written from the point of view of Bran Stark, son of a Lord. I assume that executee is Gared from the prologue, because there can't be that many earless deserters running around. After the execution, upon discovering the wolf, why was the party so scared of the antler? A giant wolf just gave birth while dead and the antler is what makes them uneasy? Also, this chapter confirmed that Waymar's "for Robert!" was actually a tribute to his king and not, as I presumed, one last shout out to his gay lover back home at Royce Manor.

Things I've learned about the Starks: they name their swords, live in a place where it snows during the summer, and attend their first executions at age seven. I get it George, they are total badasses. When I was seven my parents wouldn't let me cross the street, let alone keep a giant wolf as a pet. Other things I've learned: Theon is an asshole, Jon the bastard has superhuman hearing, and Lord Stark has no executioner on the payroll.

Great chapters so far. I'm very intrigued and I want to read more.
Stefan Mitev
60. Bergmaniac
Jon bored me right from the start, and it got worse after that. He's the stereotypical fantasy character who seem out of place in ASOIF for me. Though in his defence, at least he's less boring than most of his siblings.

Thankfully soon much more interesting characters will appear in the story.

I really like the prologue, though it's somewhat misleading, much more like classic fantasy or even horror than the rest of the first book and most of the others.
lake sidey
61. lakesidey
@59 Robb: (Might as well call you that now!) I discovered that re-read not too long ago, and read through it in one fell swoop. Was most disappointed when it suddenly died (but then, given what series this is, sudden death was always on the cards I guess?)

~lakesidey
Kat Blom
62. pro_star
lakesidey@55 it's a vicious circle. One of the lawyers who once worked here suggested I get it, the boss hooked me up with more books...I just have to continue the cycle ;) Although I'm not sure if one of my pals has forgiven me yet for getting her on WoT...I don't know if I should toss her this one...
Antonynus61
64. KiManiak
Hey Leigh,

Thanks for the post. It’s been a few years since I’ve read these books, so I’m looking forward to your newbie perspective to help remind me of what occurs. This should be all kinds of fun.

As I recall, I had a similar reaction to Jon Snow, Robb and Theon when I first read. My initial feelings regarding Ed Stark were somewhat negative, mostly indifferent; I didn’t have a strong opinion about him one way or the other (that changes!). However, any dad who allows his kids to raise pet wolves has bits of “cool,” “badass,” and “tough mofo” personality traits, in my opinion.

As for your “puppies!” comment Leigh, you know you’re gonna Subwoofer started again…

Add me to the group that wonders if you stopped immediately after the “Bran” chapter. I remember my first time going through AGoT to be rather quick paced.
R B
65. MasterAlThor
Boomchickachickaaaaaa.

Happy to see you start this Leigh. You are in for it now. Have fun, I know I will.

Nice to see some of the brothers and sisters from WoT over here too. I do like the ratings system suggested earlier. We should do that, if Leigh doesn't.

Dragon
Valentin M
66. ValMar
Already got a few extra things out of this read-through! The Gared guy and the symbolism of the antlers. I haven't re-read the series so I expect much of this to come.

Also, I've read about 20 comments so far and have already seen what can be considered as spoilerific comments, to a certain degree. From the sort I expected beforehand.
Valentin M
67. ValMar
Read the rest of the comments, up to my 66. Yep spoilers.
Not blaming anyone, since the "spoilers" may not be really that spoilerific in other series, and things said were inevitable. There so much one can not say. But since in ASOIAF things can surprise you and Leigh knew this, well now she knows that surpises for certain characters will be probably more limited than for others.
This was always going to be the case. Simply unavoidable.
Antonynus61
68. the zedmeister
People, stop telling Leigh what she's right and wrong about, who to get attached to and who not, whether characters become intersting or boring, etc - THESE ARE ALL SPOILERS.

Having said that, I'm going to weigh in on the "is Jon Snow cool or not" debate (ALTHOUGH WE SHOULDN'T DISCUSS THINGS BEYOND THE SCOPE OF THESE CHAPTERS!) and say that I think he's cool. :P
Antonynus61
69. Einar
I remember the first time i've started a game of thrones, i didn't quite like it so much as the Wheel of Time- it's just that books rarely manage to get me hooked from the very beginning. But I've decided to persevere through that one and actually liked it quite a bit (except for Daenerys chapters - she's either an absolute whiner/ whiner pretending to be dragon/ having sex/ getting nowhere at all).

But then I got to the Clash of Kings. it was AWESOME. Seriously, probably in my top 3 book list. (I'm just four chapters in the Storm). Stannis, Tyrion, the Boltons and Theon got me hooked on the series more than Starks ever did.

The bastard of dreadfort is seriously the MOST terrifying character ever written into any book
Antonynus61
70. Lsana
It'll be interesting to see if I can manage to comment on these chapters without spoiling anything later. For now, though, I just wanted to give a little bit of love to Waymar Royce. The attitude in the post quoted @59 is somewhat typical, and given that we see the scene through Will's eyes, is perhaps the attitude we are "supposed" to take. However, it is worth pointing out that of the arrogant lordling, the experienced scout, and the grizzled old vetern, the lordling was the only one with the intelligence to, upon learning that a bunch of people supposidly froze to death, think about what the weather had been. He was the only one to recognize that this was a mystery and try to solve it. So kudos to him.

And as far as the Jon debate, I don't think it is terribly spoileriffic to say that I find him...okay. I don't love him the way most others do, but I don't hate him particularly.
Antonynus61
71. JBrock
GRRM does a great job using different character perspectives to maximize effect, but it can also be used very effectively to place the reader at momentous events, but not accurately convey the importance, or what actually happened, leaving great mysteries in events that the reader witnessed. I can think of a few battles that took a while before the wider results of the fight became obvious. A man in the field doesn't always have a good view of what actually happened beyond the people trying to kill him. Also, if you look carefully at what specific things a character notes about the background and other people around him/her, it can provide insights into the character's motivations and thoughts. Conversely, the character's perspective on life can color the events you read, as well.

Just one bit of advice as you read: no matter how much you think you know about a character, never assume you have them pinned down.
Andrew Foss
72. alfoss1540
Leigh - I'm with you on this as a first read. My thoughts:

1) Murdered by Pirates is Good!

2) The Stark family execution feels a lot like young Thulsa Dum beheading Conan's mother.

3) Bummed when they killed off Will - 50 years of stealthful theivery Night Watch only to be killed by Unnamed ice zombies in the prologue.

I don't have the maps on the Kindle edition (or I can't find them) Will be getting a paper copy.

Thanks
john mullen
73. johntheirishmongol
I remember when I heard GRRM was writing an epic fantasy series, I was so stoked for it, because I had been a huge fan of his ever since I had read Windhaven a group of years before. I didn't mind a little extra grittiness at the time and it certainly opened like it was going to be that.

I still think a lot of the prose is excellent but my issues with the series are all about the lack of focus and consistency. Who's the heros? Who's the bad guy? Is this a series about redemption? It gets to be all over the damn place. If you are trying to add some realism to fantasy, that's ok, but too much realism and there is no real story, because reality doesn't have a start or finish.

The real advantage Jordan has is that he said, right from the beginning, that he knew how it was going to end. He got lost in between some, but knew there was an ending. It seems to me that GRRM never knew where to go with it except in a general way and never had and ending figured out.
Antonynus61
74. echoes
Leigh - I've just discovered you were writing a first-time read here. Awesome. I really enjoyed your post, expecially the "jon is kickass" and "it's damn cold up there" parts.. my thoughts during my first read - i wish i could read AGOT for the first time again :)
Good luck w/ your read!
Ps: are you posting every day? (Well, i guess i'll find out tomorrow)
Antonynus61
75. echoes
I didn't notice you're posting on friday.. nevermind
Antonynus61
76. stargazer
toryx @ 23:


Naraoia @ 20:GRRM's take on climate annoys me, to be honest. It's cool and magical and all, but man, does it strain suspension of disbelief.


As GRRM has been known to point out, 'tis fantasy. That's one of the problems with science fiction and fantasy being such close cousins. Too many of us readers of both take things too seriously. Personally, I like it his way.



And besides, if I can put on my astrophysicist hat for a moment here, it's entirely possible to get climate swings like this in the real world. Stellar oscillations are one easy possibility (some stars vary erratically in brightness on timescales of years to decades.), plus there's all sorts of subtle games you can play with global oscillations, essentially suped up El Niño/La Niña type phenomena.

Plus, y'know, evil magic ice zombies. :-)

I'm just sayin', decadal climate swings are pretty darn plausible compared to lots of what we see around here! Way, way easier to make real life math work out on that than on, say, the supposed orbital dynamics around Rukbat in the Pern books, or that a thousand years of linguistic divergence across the Aryth Ocean merely produced a slight Texas drawl rather than utter incomprehensibility....
Antonynus61
77. omgftbg
Yaaaaaaaaaay Puppies!
Thanks for doing these Leigh; this was a great first post and I'm super-stoked to see this series again through your noob-glasses. Have fun!
Mikey Bennett
78. EvilMonkey
Jon @73

GRRM has an ending. He knows where the story will go. He said so himself. He has planned 7 books and although he's been stuck on the 5th one longer than anyone could have anticipated, he knows what he intends the ending to be.
As far as the good guy/bad guy thing, that's sort of the point. Most fantasy stories have a clear protagonist or group of them and a singular focus, i.e. Saving the World. GRRM does something different by blurring the lines of who's good and who isn't. When I first read this series I gobbled that up, and it still grips me every time I reread it. It may be frustrating, but I am sure sometime in the future we'll get the point. Can't say more for fear of spoilers, just know that it's my kinda book. Dozens of people may actually agree with me.
Yuliana Todorova
79. megera23
Ah, I'm so enious of those of you who are reading the book for the first time. I wish I could delete my memories of it and read it again. :D

I must say that you're quite observant, Leigh. I totally missed the part about Gared the first time. And you're starting to pick your favorite characters already, although it's only been the prologue and the first chapter. But don't worry, we all do/did that when reading the books. Can't wait for your take on the next chapters.
john mullen
80. johntheirishmongol
Evil @77 Sorry, don't buy it. I was fine with blurring the lines of good guys and bad guys. But I just don't believe GRRM. He can post or say anything he wants but the facts simply don't show it.
Alice Arneson
82. Wetlandernw
Okay, people, show of hands - who actually read what Leigh said about spoilers? Do you want her participation in the comments? (In case you don't know: yes, you do. It will be much more fun.) Because if you keep this up, you likely won't get it.

If it hasn't happened yet, don't talk about it - not even in the annoying-little-kid "I know something about that... yeah, that bit right there... it's gonna be important..." way. Half the fun of reading a new book (or series) is picking out the stuff that's going to mean something later, and then later going "Oooookay. Didn't see that coming," or "Oh, yeah! I SO knew that was going to matter!" If you want to post on the recap thread, stop filling it with spoilers! They gave you a nice, new forum for spoilers - go over there and speculate on how Leigh will react to an upcoming chapter, but don't do it here. I know there's not a lot of "discussion" to do when you only have a prologue and one chapter, but really. Get a clue and stop giving them.
pat purdy
83. night owl
The comments cover everything, Not much to add. This will be the second time I am reading these books and I am awaiting the HBO miniseries. I and other followers have been waiting sooooo long for the upcoming book. Can't wait! :-)
Claire de Trafford
84. Booksnhorses
It's great to see GOT with new fresh eyes and rediscover the enthusiasm for the series. I still love it but my first flush of love has kinda died a little due to the length of time between the books (I know he's not my bitch but he is pushing the limits of can be bothered ness imho).

Good catch with the wildling - I only noticed that on read 2. Jon is still one of my fav characters but I think Martin made a mistake with the ages of the children. The puppies are adorable and very symbolic.
Rob Munnelly
85. RobMRobM
Wet @82 - Hey there. Good (and needed) words of caution. Most have played by the rules but a few are oversharing and need to stop. Only three posts in the spoiler thread - two by me - so there's room for growth there.

I hope you read along with the re-read for a few weeks and see if you want to dive in. I know you're hesitant to do so. You will start seeing some chapters with subject matter that will make you a mite bit uncomfortable, but it can be filtered through Leigh. That should help you judge whether the subjects covered will make you sufficiently uncomfortable to continue ducking the crisp writing and intriguing plot, or whether you will plunge on in.

Rob
Ian B
86. Greyfalconway
einar @69, I think you should white out or edit your daenerys comment, its really spoilery this early. The clash of kings characters you listed are kinda spoilery too, since saying you liked them in that book implies they're alive, ruining some plot tension she might get... lol.

Thanks leigh I love your re-reads, you need to do some Gene Wolfe next! =]
Thomas Keith
87. insectoid
Better late than never... here I am!

Hi Leigh! Welcome to the land of Westeros. Great post... but I hope in all seriousness that you got yourself a desk pillow for what's to come. :)

Now, I'm pretty good at keeping my lips buttoned when it comes to spoilers; as it's been many months since I even cracked open one of the books, I'll have forgotten many things. And Babokathy (who hasn't read them for many years) has probably forgotten most of it. ::ducks::

Ch. 1: When I first read this a year or so ago, I was—well, let's just say I was sufficiently creeped out by the Others. In a Nazgûl-like, scare-the-$&@#-outta-you kind of way. ;)

Ch. 2: Gared was the guy who was killed here? Huh... didn't twig onto that my first read through. Also: really, Ned? Taking your young children to an execution? They sure are hard up there in Winterfell.

I also pegged Jon Snow as a cool character from the start. Must be the fact that he's different from everyone else in the family, or something.

Babo @52: You can join the NS Re-read anytime, you know—you just finished re-reading the book yourself. And I won't blame you for giving the Hedge Knight book away; we have too many books as it is. (A metric ton or two, I'd guess. :) )

Wetlander @82: Bravo!! Well said.

Bzzz™.
Antonynus61
88. PK
I loved ASoIaF but GRRM really screwed us over the long wait. I know what TOR is trying to do with Leigh hre. Leigh is doing a fantastic job with the WOT reread and gaining legions of fans (including me).

So some marketing chap at TOR has a great idea. Why not get Leigh to read the series and use her goodwill to lure new readers and pacify pissed off readers like me?

Well, I am going to wait for the series to end before buying any more of ASoIaF books. It is real pity cos I really like the series. Anyway, I do not read any books these days unless I know the series is done.
Paul Boyd
89. GoodOldSatan
Hello all,

Having reread the series from the beginning each time a new book came out, GoT is a well travelled path. Not that I got it all, so I'll read to see what I missed.

Which brings up the whole tone of the conversation here re: spoilers. If this "read" is to be more than just Leigh's chapter summaries, there will have to be some speculation about future (or not yet revealed past) events. And that speculation will either be accurate or not (or somewhere in between). According to the spoiler policy, it would be inappropriate for me to comment even on the speculation as the result would undoubtedly spoil the uncertainty inherent (necessary for full enjoyment) during a first read.

I'm not complaining; I wish I'd had someone to bounce things off as I read these for the first time. I'm just thinking that the spoiler thread will be where all the action is.

Also, @73 IrishMongol, I agree (and, yet, I also agree with the "George R.R. Martin is not your Bitch" post by Neil Gaiman). However, as an early reader of the series, the plot interuptus does detract from the experience. People who start the series now may not suffer the same
ennui as those of us who were "there from the beginning."
Antonynus61
90. dsolo
Good job, Leigh. It's been years since I first read AGoT and I had completely forgotten the prologue (I know, how can you forget frozen zombies). I remembered the chapter starting with the Stark's family outing. The biggest impression on me was the ominous tone of "Winter is coming", especially given that it seems like it's already there. Unlike most commenters, I found myself impressed by Eddard Stark. He seemed grim and honorable. I won't mention my favorite character of the series, as he/she hasn't made an appearance yet.
Kathy Keith
91. Babokathy
Insect @ 86: Thanks for noticing me. You must have entirely too much spare time.

This is so much fun picking up on everyone's fresh observations of this first book. Lots of things I never realised were so important. The ages of children experiencing brutal stuff didn't bother me; after all, Westeros seems like a fairly Dark Ages kind of place, so I would assume a normal lifespan would be short anyway without modern convenience. Small infringments like deserting have to be punished; sacrifice of the one to benefit the most people.

Yes, I missed a lot of content when I read these stories the 1st time. I was on drugs after hip surgery or some such. Like the part where they are concerned about the direwolf and the stag symbolism. Right over my head! I always wondered how the direwolf wasn't the winner of that contest. And 2 people with actual experience north of the Wall just "bit it" so there goes all that helpful knowledge! Thank Goodness for that Appendix: very difficult to keep the families straight, esp. when some people are entered in different families.

I was noticing at the bookstore last night that the trade paperback editions that I have of these ASoIaF are pretty hefty (weight) paper bricks. I thought the whole purpose of having the paper vs the hard bound was lightening them up! Am considering either putting the stories on my Kindle or getting the smaller paperbacks, to lighten up the stress on my shoulders. Are publishers using heavier paper and bindings these days or what???
David Shuell
92. winteriscoming
Nothing feels warmer than traveling back to Winterfell ... the blood of the First Men flows through my veins. Nice commentary ... its always fun to hear someones initial reaction to the opening of one of the greatest fantasy tales ever told. This will be my fifth re-read of the series. Its alway fun to go back and read these books again ... like seeing old friends. Jon Snow easily sits in my top 5 in fictional characters!
Antonynus61
93. Einar
@Greyfalconway

Haha sorry for spoilers - they were spoilers anyways. How do you edit a comment after you've posted it?

About Dany - those are more of an opinion than factish spoiler. Let me demonstrate...

(except for Daenerys chapters - she's either an absolute whiner/ whiner pretending to be dragon/ having sex/ getting nowhere at all)

If you like Dany, you might rephrase this as: (she's a very determined person, great heritage and burden on her shoulders, does SOO many fascinating scenes without sex, always knows what she wants to do and where she wants to get)

So works both ways. Both approaches are true and untrue.

In the case with the CoK characters - yea a bit spoilerish. But I'm sure Leigh WILL hear one way or another that Tyrion is the awesomest character of the entire series.
Antonynus61
94. OldWoman
AndrewB@174
I don't think tht Nynaeve is belittling people because she is an Aes Sedai, I think she is someone who thinks that attitude is what it takes to teach, a sort of tough love, and that it harkens back to her position as a Wisdom. She adopted an attitude to overcome her youth so people would accept her in that position. Now it is a part of her personality.
She is prematurely curmudgeonly.
Antonynus61
95. OldWoman
Sorry. I managed to post this on the wrong thread. Living up to my name. lol
Alice Arneson
96. Wetlandernw
Einar @93 - The point is, stop talking about things and characters that are future to this reread! It doesn't matter what you say about them. The fact that you're talking about your reaction to characters who haven't even shown up yet, and how you perceive them, is by definition "spoiler talk." Stop! And stop compounding it by trying to prove that it's not a spoiler. It is, and nothing you can say will make it otherwise. If you want to talk about things yet to come, go use the spoiler forum. Don't say it here.

To edit your posts, you have to register as a user on tor.com. It's free, it's easy, and it gives you the ability to go back and edit what you should have said differently - or not at all. Unfortunately, what you've already posted can only be edited (or removed) by a tor moderator; if I had my way, they'd remove your posts completely or take out all the vowels.
Irene Gallo
97. Irene
Guys, for spoiler fun, please remember to check out the Song of Ice and Fore Spoiler Forum.
Antonynus61
98. garakds9
First off let me say I loved your recap of the first 2 chapters of the book. Very informative.

My only suggestion would be for you to read more than 2 chapters a week or this is going to take a looooong time to read together as a group at reading only two a week. One poster above said there are 73 chapters in the book. Wow. How about atleast 4 or 5 chapters a week? There really not that big of chapters page count wise.

Anyway. I hope you enjoy the series. It's in my top 5 of all time along with LOTR, WOT, RAH juvenile's, and most anything from Neil Gaiman.
Hugh Arai
99. HArai
Thanks for sharing your insights Leigh. It's always neat to compare what I picked up on during my first read (and subsequent reads) to what someone else sees on their first time through. Hope you enjoy the rest!
lake sidey
100. lakesidey
Aah, I go away for a weekend and there are spoilers, WOT posts, and whatnot.

Goes over to the spoiler-post....

Edited to add: Posting on the spoiler thread is a bit complicated - why does it make me login again?

Also, one hundred, woohh!

~lakesidey
Antonynus61
101. dragondancer
OMG. Leigh is reading ASOIAF. WOT?!
Ah, Leigh, ripe with the smell of summer.
Beware of the darkness within, my pretty.
Winter is coming.
Fer shur.
Antonynus61
102. Elfy
Well, this is coincidental. I just started my own reread of A Game of Thrones this morning in preparation for some book that I believe will be out sometime in July. Welcome to Westeros, be warned it's a little like Hotel California.
Jonathan Levy
103. JonathanLevy
I've read this series twice, but the last time was a long time ago, so it should be fun to read along. Of course, I started reading a week ago and I'm already at the end of the first book... Martin is almost as good as Zelazny in making you turn pages against your will. I think the short chapters help as well.

34. birgit
I didn't remember that the Others appear so early. I thought the book started with the direwolves.
LOL! That's how I remembered it too :)

40. hayholt
42. Patrick C
Re: Worldbuilding
I'm with you guys on the quality of GRRM's worldbuilding. I think one of his more unusual techniques is worth spelling out: his (older) characters live in the past. The events of the last 20 or so years have imprinted themselves deeply on their minds, and they constantly recollect them. They see a person, and remember their shared history, and in passing share it with us. Of course we don't see this technique in these two chapters, but soon we will.

51. toryx
Wow, thanks for the info - I only knew about The Hedge Knight. Gotta do some shopping, I see...

Thanks to others who also answered this question.

RobMRobM & Tek - you guys are funny!
Mo -
104. Astus
I only read the books (well two of them) last year after looking for a new distraction tool for uni. I didn't take to it as quickly as I did to WOT but I felt more drawn in the more I read.

I remember being a bit creeped out by the prologue and how quickly the characters seemed to be discarded. An example of establishing the setting I guess. So after that, I was a bit annoyed by Bran's chapter. Not because of the content but because he was 7. I still have some reservations about how young the characters seem to be, mainly because I can recall myself at their ages (wasn't too long ago!) and I suppose that colours my perception. Gotta keep the context in thought. After all, I didn't have any stinkin' direwolves. :'(
tatiana deCarillion
105. decarillion
I remember reading comments about no specifically good or bad characters, prior to reading the first book. I find this to be ok, though.

Everyone who reads the books has their own perspective on right/wrong; on morality and such. Even given that, most of us probably believe in the same specific things/behaviors that are right/wrong, but there are others—with different frames-of-reference-- who may perceive what is right/wrong in a different light. There are also those who have no moral absolutes and view everything on a sliding scale.

Martin just gives us common ground--the story--and lets us make our own judgments.

Regarding the age of the children—someone already referenced the Middle Ages and the life expectancy of children but there are historical references that show us that children who grow up in harsh times/harsh environments are necessarily shown the ‘dark side’ of life as a matter of survival. They need to know what can/will happen out there.
Antonynus61
106. Gaidin85
I read this and then imediatly thought, "Now I have to re-read ASOIAF again right now." Its okay though, it will only be my third read through. Looking foward to reading this each week.
Marcus W
107. toryx
Lakesidey @ 55:

Apologies for responding so late. I'm rarely around on the weekends.
Anyhow...

Which part were you disagreeing with? That ASoIaF is better than Mistborn or that it might be better to wait before reading the Dunk and Egg stories?

Just curious. :)

My discovery of ASoIaF was exactly the same as yours. I bought Legends for Robert Jordan and Stephen King, and ended up falling head over heels for The Hedge Knight. I finished that story and ordered A Game of Thrones immediately after. In fact, part of the reason I don't like New Spring (and never bothered with the novel) is because I read it just before The Hedge Knight and frankly, it just didn't satisfy me.

In the years since, I've recommended ASoIaF to many, many people. At first, I used to tell them to read the Hedge Knight stories too, just as Rob has been doing. But more than 50% of the readers who followed my suggestion were confused by the differences in the timeline. Some of them complained that they were spending too much time trying to find Dunk and Egg instead of taking the history lessons from the book as they're given. As a result, now I wait until after people have finished the series and start bitching about how long it's going to take for the next book to be published. Then I tell them about the Dunk and Egg stories. That's proven to be very effective.
diane heath
108. jadelollipop
I have the Legend anthologies and enjoyed the Dunk and Egg stories but did not get past The Game of Thrones. I have to check out the garage andd see if my son's copies are still stored here. Otherwise I have to locate and re purchase them.
Kat Blom
109. pro_star
For all of you who gripe about length between ASOIAF books...

Look up the Earth's Children series by Jean M. Auel.

Book 1 - 1980. Book 2 - 1982. Book 3 - 1985.
The fourth book was released 1990. (5 years wait)
The fifth book was released in 2002. ( 12 years wait)
The sixth one is set to be released end of this month. (9 years wait) I think she wins for making fans wonder if she offed herself between books.

And yes, I'm still fleeing the office to go to the bookstore next tuesday when The Land of the Painted Caves comes out.
Steven Halter
110. stevenhalter
The execution seemed a bit arbitrary to me. We don't really get to hear what sorts of questions are asked or what answers are given--Bran is more focused on visuals than listening (he's only 7). Robb does mention that he is a deserter.
Since we know why Gared deserted, it seems like there is probably some crucial intelligence being wasted here.
lawrence henderson
111. justinius23
for want of sounding redundant, th is my first time posting (although i lurk on the WoT re-read). this is just the perfect time for me to start over with this series. could not just stop at the end of the chapters summarised though. went on for another three or four.

had forgotten how readable/great these books really are.

and still holding out hope for this year!
Andrew Foss
112. alfoss1540
ProStar@109 - that's because you are looking for more caveman sex.
Antonynus61
113. Fredweena
I've been lurking over on the WoT reread for a while, and when I saw Leigh was going to read this series, I thought I'd read it with her (although I have read the first two books, about a bazillion years ago. So long it's almost like reading them for the first time). I did manage to stop with first two chapters, and it.is.killing.me!
Barry T
114. blindillusion
Well, this is looking like it'll be an interesting blog. And I'm happy Leigh has taken it on...along with her MOA WOT blog.

As for ASoFI...well, I read through aSoS...and quit. So, it's been over 11 years since I read the material. I recall the characters and many of the plots, but there are still some surprises. As such...well...what can I say, I've never been able to keep with Leigh's pace. I'm currently in the upper 600's somewhere, looking forward to moving on through books 2 and 3. Because, awesome, I will be able to read book 4 for the 1st time.

Looking forward to moving through this material with you guys.... Hopefully I'll even be able to post more often.

Here's to getting in on the ground floor this time.
Antonynus61
115. elenilote
Holy cow Leigh, how great are you! I've read ASOIAF through to the 4th book (well, can't get any further can you) but that was a while ago, so actually looking forward to this (for me) re-read.

@pro_star 109 Maker's breath, a new one? I need a day off to get the copy ASAP... spent a day at B&N when the last one came out and read it in one sitting...
Karen Fox
116. thepupxpert
Hey everyone, I just managed to get my head above water from work, it's been 5 months of madness at the office and whaddayaknow, a GRRM (re)read! I actually got the books as a gift this past Xmas from my sister so I saw the HBO trailers before I read the books but now I've read them all 3x, the last time I picked out my favorite characters and just read their chapters back-to-back, that was very interesting. BTW my favs are Arya and Dany (and her "silver"). Spoilers are inevitable, methinks...
Tess Laird
117. thewindrose
So I am going to go pick up this book and join you all. I know I won't beable to read at the 'read' pace, so I should beable to jump into the spoiler forum soon. It has emoticons:)

tempest™
Russel Maxwell
118. rdmaxwell
It is interesting, Leigh, that I just started the book (after seeing the previews for the HBO series) and have only read about 4 chapters.

One item that struck me was where it said that it was the seventh year of summer.

Other than that--it looks like it will be an interesting read.
Tricia Irish
119. Tektonica
Blind and Wind, Pup and Shalter.....so glad to see you over here. I'm expecting to be more involved after next Wed., when this damn move is over, and I'm camping at a friend's house for 3 weeks with some "free time", while my house is, erm, plastered, painted, cleaned, etc . Fun times!

I've read 'em all, but some time ago....this is a needed refresher.

OMG...NS...Toll the Hounds...reread of Memories of Ice and THIS! Yippee...life is good! (In spite of being temporarily homeless.)
Antonynus61
120. Fredweena
I read the next two chapters in anticipation of the next post. Is it tomorrow yet? I wonder how long I'll be able to stop after 2 chapters..
James Whitehead
121. KatoCrossesTheCourtyard
So I picked up GoT to reread last night while at my sons' swimming lessons and realised that I had enjoyed the book quite a bit.

GRRM is very good with the detail & giving you just enough info to want to keep reading.

I guess certain annoying plot twi... dramatic events ticked me off & that's what has stuck with me.

I promised myself I wasn't going to reread the series; Oh well! Back to the dark side I guess - At least they have better desserts. ;-)

Kato

PS - I agree that keep to a 2 chapter a week pace isn't going to work for me at all.

PPS - Also going to have to keep going to the spoiler site so I don't ruin it for Leigh, et al. Not that I remember enough to do that, mind. ;-)
Tess Laird
122. thewindrose
So I have read the first 2 chapters, and then some;)
I will have to say I am glad to hear they are 'aging' the cast on the HBO series - I don't think in our times many could stomach some of whats to come.
That out of the way - I like how each kid here gets his/her own direwolf pup. I am going to assume that Jon can't talk to wolves though -or if he can he won't take 8 books to accept it;)
(I kid!)

tempest™
Benjamin Moldovan
123. benpmoldovan
As it turns out, I actually own (only) book 1.

As much as certain aspects annoy the heck out of me (suspect much headdesking coming soon), I forgot how good it was, in general.

I also was unable to stop with two chapters. I'm on maybe 10 or so.

Ben M
Maura Gaffney
124. maura
Thank you for doing this Leigh! I've always wanted to participate in one of these re-reads and now I get my chance. This will be a first read for me too.

I hope I get to read the comments, but I'm starting to think as a first time reader it would be best if I stayed away. What are the chances of getting a specific someone who has read the series to mark spoiler comments for a moderator to delete?
James Whitehead
125. KatoCrossesTheCourtyard
@124maura, welcome to the thread. People are being very good so far at policing themselves when it comes to spoilers. There haven't been any "Dude, you're gonna flip when Gandalf tells the guys how he survived the balrog!" moments so far. ;-)

There is a separate spoiler fun thread where those who are going to explode 'cause they can't contain their excitement can go to.

If you're still worried about spoilers, I'd stick to Leigh's post & you'll be good.

Kato

PS - To those who find the Gandalf comment a spoiler; sorry, my bad.
Dawn Burnell
126. DawnB
I feel like such a ninny. I never twigged that Gareth might be the man being executed and I read the series twice. It wasn't until seeing the TV ads for the mini-series that made me go... wait a second. Kudos to Martin for not being overt, but man I feel dumb sometimes.
Vincent Lane
127. Aegnor
Antonynus61,

Bah...only 4 comments in, and already a spoiler. I've never read the book until now, and just finished this chapter, but now I know that several of the puppies die. Not a big spoiler, but its still kind of annoying.

Regarding the reread (or just...read), I caught that it was Gareth fairly quickly when they mentioned the ears and finger thing.
Alice Arneson
128. Wetlandernw
Aegnor @127 - Or possibly, they turn out to be something quite... unlovable? Maybe the puppies kill the little kids or something. I haven't read the books either, but at least there are multiple possible interpretations to that comment. :)
Antonynus61
129. Carolyn h
i'm just really stoked about the idea that I know what's going to happen here and Leigh doesn't. heh, heh, heh
Gregg Sivyer
130. Destroyer
First time reader of AGoT following a recommendation that this was a good series to read over on the WoT re-read, also by Leigh.

I'm stoked...
Cynthia Ahmar
131. tenkuu
Many anime main characters are young, and yes, as young as 14. That's the age of all five of the main characters in my favorite series.
Michael Maxwell
132. pike747
125. KatoCrossesTheCourtyard The Gandalf spoiler is imho a spoiler for all fantasy because Tolkein invented the genre :-} Great to read from all of you I recognize from WoT
Eliza-Rose Lartey
133. lerenardvert
Even though I have watched (and re-watched) all GoT episodes and know most of the trivia/spoilers, I haven't actually sat down with a cuppa to read all of AGoT yet; I guess I know what I'm doing today then!

Also, being new to your works, I love how you do your commentary! It's really down to earth and definitely puts it into perspective - for me anyway.
Antonynus61
134. Thane
@23 Earth enjoys a VERY stable axial orientation. It's entirely possible that the world of Westeros does not (particularly given the lore of a moon that no longer exists). If the planet were to "wobble" in any sporadic manner all kinds of seasonal issues could arise. Remember it's not the proximity to the sun that causes seasonal shifts but the angle of the axis relative to the sun's direct rays. So a wobbly axis could lead to all kinds of summer/winter shifts that are far less predictable than our own seasons.

And that's just one of several scientific justifications for the long summer/winters. There are several others, although I choose to imagine the wobble being the easiest to explain it.

Lastly, this IS a world of magic. So really, all bets are off. I don't find it a stretch by any means to imagine long seasons when I'm also accepting undead and other forms of scientific imposibilities.

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