|Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister in HBO's Game of Thrones|
I don't really want to do a total recap and spoil it for anyone who has yet to read the book, so I'll try to focus on aspects of Martin's storytelling that I like. His characterization is phenomenal, from the large "leading cast" who provide alternate third-person narratives throughout the novel, to the many, many supporting characters, each drawn in exquisite detail, whether they last throughout the story or disappear after just a page or two.
As blood-and-gutsy as it gets at times, I never feel like Martin as an author has a bloodlust. War is hell, and the Seven Kingdoms are involved in a fierce war, with multiple kings vying for control. Violence is realistic and inevitable. Medieval weaponry delivers brutal wounds and deaths, and then when you throw magic into the mix ... Martin does frequently up the ante by having children like Arya, Sansa, and Bran Stark bear witness to some of the most savage behavior that soldiers indulge in — and not just against other soldiers, but civilians, or as they are called in the series, smallfolk.
|Maisie Williams as Arya Stark|
Just when you think that Martin has introduced more than enough people to keep track of, new and wonderful characters like the brother and sister Meera and Jojen Reed from the swamp lands of Greywater Watch appear at Winterfell to help young Bran Stark find his third eye. Martin also fleshes out familiar characters — we get to know better some previously subsidiary people like Osha, Varys, and Shae.
One of the most complicated characters that I can't help but like is the Hound. I wouldn't call him the Severus Snape of this book, but he is definitely not simply a bad guy, either. As the horrible King Joffrey's right hand he can be brutal and frequently evil-acting — but at other times he is wounded and gentle and even protective of someone like Sansa Stark. No matter what harsh words he may use when he is around her, he is most definitely looking out for Sansa's best interests. Arya Stark has an equally dangerous and creepy but also oddly likable champion, Jaqen H'ghar. These are two characters that I hope to see again in the series.
|Rory McCann as The Hound|