The name of the series sounds poetic, doesn’t it? Do not get fooled by the sweet sounding name. The world of A Song of Ice and Fire, that George R R Martin creates, is far from a perfect fantasy land. It’s thick with political tension, foreshadow of darkness and most of the time outright disturbing. It is also unpredictable, exciting and downright immersive.

As HBO’s immensely popular Game Of Thrones series Season 5 premiered yesterday I thought it is perfect time to mull over the books that the show is based on. In spite of the blood, gore, graphic violence, at times senseless and extreme nudity and sex that remind you of a film more than an HBO drama, this show has recently been named as the most pirated series of all time. Which basically means a lot of people watch it.

So, if you are wondering what is the craziness all about, but want to skip watching the hard to digest show, or simply want to know more than is covered in the 10 action packed episodes per season, you might like to give the books a read.

What’s Good

– Web of politics. There is deceit and beheadings and it spans across 7 kingdoms and more.

– Beautiful names of each of the books that concisely summarize the plot .. Winds of Winter is slated for release.. The last one to have released is called, A Dance with the Dragons.

– Interesting characters. There is the mother of dragons (we are pretty much guessing she is one of the main characters, but you can never be absolutely sure), Danerys Targaryen. There is the honorable bastard boy (I hope he lives till the end, and shortly I will tell you why), Jon Snow. There is the witty imp, Tyrion Lannister, with his own brilliance and heartache. There is the lone warrior girl, Arya Stark, struggling to survive (She will live.. umm am not sure).

Valar Morghulis (“all men must die”.. yes the author created entire new languages).

– Why was I confused if my favourite character would survive? Because.. no one is safe in the world George R. R. Martin creates. The author is notorious for killing off characters when you least expected it. Specially in the first few books.

– Each chapter is from the point of view of a character. The author does a fabulous job in taking you inside the mind of different character. I actually disliked someone, till I read a chapter from his point of view and started rooting for him to succeed instantly.

Valar Dohaeris (“all men must serve”.. this is what you say in reply)

– Lines that turn into legends. Winter is coming. You know nothing Jon Snow. A Lannister always pays his debt. Valar Morghulis. And if someone says this to you, look him in the eye before you bow and say, Valar Dohaeris.

– Strong female characters. Oh they have a lot to do in this world.. From ruling kingdoms, usurping thrones, to fighting with swords or burning people alive.

– Magic, white walkers (zombie like ice creatures) and dragons!

What’s Bad

– This is not a children’s tale and be prepared to be shocked at the cruelty and scandal at the very least. There is incest, savagery and all sorts of gruesome monstrosities.

– Out of 5 books that have come out in the series 3 are more than 700 pages long, 1 more than 900 and 1 crosses 1000 pages. err.. maybe I should I stated this fact at the very beginning to help you decide if you wanted to read.

– The pace of the author has given every single reader a reason for sleepless nights. The latest book took six years to complete! On the bright side, you know that even if you probably take years to complete all the books that have already come out, you might still make it in time for the release of the 6th book.

A Game of Thrones (1996) – 704 pages
A Clash of Kings (1998) – 768 pages
A Storm of Swords (2000) – 992 pages
A Feast for Crows (2005) – 753 pages
A Dance with Dragons (2011) – 1056 pages
The Winds of Winter (???) – ????
A Dream of Spring (!!!) – !!!!!!

– Personally, by the fourth book I have been hopelessly muddled with the different families and names. The country and everyone is in a dismal dreadful state. And things hardly got better in the fifth book.

– Plus, there is the constant threat that your favourite character might have a bloody death. Wait.. didn’t I just say that is a good thing?

– The author had to split the last book into two parts because the number of characters, story arcs and pages got out of hand. So basically, the fourth and fifth book are not chronologically divided, but geographically. This should give you an idea of how complex things are about to get.

– We still don’t know how it will end.. and at this point we are at a state where it is reasonable to question will it be able to end.

From one of the most original thinking authors of present times comes a series of books that has spun off a phenomenon in terms of TV series. It is good old involving story telling. Now that you have been tempted and warned, choose wisely my friend.

Picture Credit Google.