A Game of Thrones: Worth the Read?

Though it took me a while (read: an unfortunately long while) to come to my senses, I am, now and forever, a dedicated fan of HBO’s Game of Thrones series. It wasn’t actually that hard to fall in love with the show, once I learned to expect the unexpected, in terms of severed body parts and full frontal nudity. It also could have had something to do with the fact that I got sucked into watching it somewhere in the middle of season three (thank you, housemates), and spent a good fifteen episodes trying to keep track of too many characters and too many kings. Once I was on board though, Sunday night GoT viewings became the highlight of my week.

When one of my doctor friends mentioned to me several months ago that the books are better than the show, I was intrigued. I’ve always been a person who insists on reading books before watching the associated films, and have (predictably) always found the books more enjoyable. Therefore, it wasn’t totally outlandish that the book series was superior to HBO’s creation.

This was different though, and I definitely struggled to imagine myself turning pages as late into the night as I had kept my eyes glued to the screen. How could simple words on a page match this masterpiece I had witnessed unfolding on TV?? So of course, I had to read and find out for myself. I have only finished the first book in the series, A Game of Thrones, but so far I’m going to have to agree with my doctor friend and say that the books are better.

It’s crazy to imagine, I know. As I was reading, I was trying to figure out if I enjoyed it more because I was already familiar with the characters, and had to do less work at the beginning of the series than I had as I was watching the show. I think that’s still a possibility, but I also think there are some nuances that can be captured in words that tend to fall flat on the screen, or that are skipped all together. All I can say is this: if you think Tyrion is great on screen, you’ll think he’s absolutely brilliant in text. Words are his favored medium, after all.

Maybe I loved it because I tend to enjoy books that favor rich character development over all else, and Game of Thrones has so many characters to consider. Or maybe I loved it so much because the fantasy genre is what turned me into a reader in the first place, and it’s been too many years since I’ve indulged in such a satisfying fantasy series. Either way, I could not be more grateful for my friend’s book recommendation, and I am happily plowing through the series in a race to beat the premiere of season seven (T-minus 90 days!!!) and the presumed arrival of Queen Daenerys and her dragons in Westeros. A lofty goal, I admit—they’re some loooong books—but I think the reward will be well worth the effort.

Image sources here, here, and here.