I know. Took me long enough.
The reason for this sudden binge reading, was probably caused by the revelation that usually around this time, around this month, we get word on the next upcoming season of Game of Thrones.
But alas, we have to wait a year – nay! – a year AND A HALF, for HBO’s flagship hit series to return to our screens.
To fill that Targaryen / Stark / Lannister hole in my heart, I took to reading the first book of the series.
And boy, I’m quiet sure where to begin.
(Note: For anyone who wishes to remain innocent of any spoilers relating to both the books and the TV show of Game of Thrones stop reading now. You’ve been warned).
Anyway, in the novel – just like in the TV show – Martin introduces the plot-lines of the noble houses of Westeros, the Wall, and the Targaryens. It is also (sadly) the only book in the series that features Ned Stark, Robert Baratheon, Khal Drogo and Viserys Targaryen.
Because, you know, after that book they all end up dead.
Martin had originally established his series as a trilogy. Now, the series consists of five published volumes, and a two are at the moment in the works (i.e. The Winds of Winter and A Dream of Spring). In addition, there are three prequel novellas, with several more being planned.
In other words, Martin has been working on this epic series (and then some) for years.
And despite the fact that Martin's book series is still on-going, HBO is expected to reveal its ending of the series before Martin’s version hits the bookstores.
Fun Fact: Author Diana Gabaldon – who wrote the Outlander saga – had been writing her series LONGER than Martin has. Her first novel was published in 1991 and her tenth novel will be final conclusion of the series. Now there’s a writer who meets her deadlines.
While reading the first book, I actually began to grow a larger appreciation for not just Martin himself, but for the TV show as well.
For me, I enjoy reading the books more than their adaptations because I get a glimpse as to what goes on inside the minds of all of the characters. In my opinion, it is very rare to see a television show or a movie reflect the story that was originally made for the pages of a novel. Most of the little things I like about some certain characters are lost in translation to the screen. Yet, sometimes the adaptation pulls through, respecting it’s origins from the novel. For the television series of Game of Thrones, they stayed true to Martin’s own words. Perhaps, even a little bit better.
That being said, the show is no less inferior in quality. Visually, it is beautiful to watch. What with the fantastic places, the costumes, the combats, and let’s not forget the dragons! For a show with an estimate of 10 hour-long episodes, the show for the most part keeps itself as book-worthy as possible for its fans while juggling Martin’s vast source material.
At least until the last couple of seasons in which the TV show had to break off from the books and diverge into it’s own intricate plot.
The answer: YES.
Martin creates a very detailed and rich world in A Game of Thrones with very deep characters. And thankfully, the show follows suit.
Now keep in mind, I didn’t read the book first before the TV show. In fact, I watched the TV show first before I actually took the time to pick up the book. And even without having read the book, I still very much enjoyed watching the TV show. I got all the necessary adrenaline rushes, quantum shocks and twists just from watching the show alone.
I mean, who can forget The Red Wedding? Or the Purple Wedding? Or, Oberyn Martell’s duel with The Mountain?
*Sigh* RIP, the Red Viper
The same was applied to the books at well. Each chapter kept me on edge. And even though I had a good idea as to what would happen next, I considered the books to be a type of contextual guide for the TV series.
So if you had already seen the series (so far) and wish to read the books, you definitely should. Granted, even though I had only read the first book that only reflected the first season, I have heard from friends that after season two, the TV and the books start to go their separate ways. Nevertheless, I’m still enjoying the show.
Would I recommend people reading the books before watching the show? I mean, it depends. I’ve thoroughly have enjoyed the franchise since watching the TV show alone, but the books are a great companion if you want to know more about each of the characters. You really can’t go wrong if you start one or the other. It’s all about personal taste.
Read the first book, and if you like it read the rest.
That’s if Martin EVER releases his next book.