Game of Thrones, or: Reviewing War and Peace, but with no peace and ten times the war

So … you’ve probably heard of this book, which has garnered some moderate success from an otherwise unknown author by the name of George R. R. Martin. Long-winded fantasy? Who does that anymore?

My wife and I planned two long trips this summer, so we headed to the library to find an audio book that wouldn’t make the dog howl like a direwolf. We were somewhat taken aback by Game of Thrones, an audiobook roughly as thick as the U.S. tax code. It was on 28 disks.


Winter is coming. Maybe they could get some heated cushions for that uncomfortable iron throne.


  Over a two week period we were on the road for 26 hours of driving, and we still had to renew it from the library for another three weeks.

Game of Thrones opens with an execution, and believe me when I say that’s far from the only death to come along. We’re in a world where summers can last decades but winter hits hard, where dragons once flew, and where a giant, centuries old ice wall protects the continent of Westeros from the supernatural dangers of the north. There’s also stuff that’s hard to believe.

Most of the story revolves around the Stark family, led by Lord Eddard “Ned” Stark. Ned is the reluctant King’s Hand–basically the guy who does all of His Grace’s dirty work. He also spends a lot of time warning darkly, “Winter is coming” … one way in which he’s a lot like me.

What could possibly go wrong? In Martin’s world, pretty much everything. Tragedy, misunderstandings, treachery, accidents, war, all while winter nears along with evil from north of the wall. Meanwhile, the former royal family plots to take back what they consider theirs. It’s a lot like my family reunions; it’s also more complicated than the tax code. You can find dozens of maps online, just to show where all the lands and cities are, and character trees to make interrelationships a little more clear. There’s also plenty of nastiness, from graphic violence to child endangerment to incest.

It’s like … modern basic cable.

We’re talking dark, crazy dark (and horribly addictive). Despite one character’s weakness for quips, you can find more feel-good moments in a single page of a Humor Outcast book than in this whole series of five books, which are the length of two dozen average books.

Emily and I were still catching our breaths when she took the audiobook back to the library. She returned with a new book, this time on good old fashioned paper.

Also useful in knocking out burglars.

Yep. Second book in the series, A Clash of Kings. We haven’t seen the TV series, but my biggest warning about the world of A Song of Ice and Fire (which is the name of the entire book series) is that you should maybe schedule some vacation days before you start reading.

HBO covered this book in seasons three through twelve.
Share this Post:

6 thoughts on “Game of Thrones, or: Reviewing War and Peace, but with no peace and ten times the war”

  1. Mark, I love those books. I didn’t know they were also on CD. I have listened to all the Harry Potter books read by Jim Dale, however. They were a great way to keep the boys from fighting in the backseat. The 5th book is 22 hours long.

    1. My wife introduced me to Harry Potter, but we had all the books read by the time our next road trip came around. So far we’ve listened to GoT and American Gods, The Invisible Man, and short story collections by Neil Gaiman and Lovecraft, plus I’ve listened to some non-fiction stuff and Red Storm Rising. It used to be all my driving time was taken up by podcasts, but Emily’s not all that much into them.

      1. Cool, Mark. I actually found listening to the books better than reading them, and I loved reading them. The actor, Jim Dale, does all the voices, which sounds awful but he’s amazing. It made me appreciate JKR’s wry sense of humor more, which I sometimes missed.

  2. I work in a library and we check out these multi-disc doozies all the time. There’s nothing more fun than counting all those cds to make sure they all got back okay. Unless it’s discovering that one of them is missing and phoning the patron to ask him to release it from the car cd player and return it to us.

    1. I’m kind of paranoid about that, because a missing disk was the first thing I thought of when we went looking at our library. I always check just before we turn them back in … especially since I used to work at a video store part time, and we had the same problem with DVD’s!

Comments are closed.