Book Number 33: The Walking Dead Volume 2: Miles Behind Us by Robert Kirkman & Charlie Adlard

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Next in the series…

The Walking Dead Volume 2: Miles Behind Us by Robert Kirkman & Charlie Adlard

The Walking Dead Volume 2: Miles Behind Us by Robert Kirkman & Charlie Adlard

138 pages
Genre Fiction (Graphic Novel – Horror)
Wednesday 19th November (1 day)
1 evening.

I’m really enjoying this series, although I’m finding it hard to keep track of both stories when watching it with the TV series as well. In this volume, the group move on from Shane’s death, and find Hershel’s farm, where they briefly find some shelter.

As usual, the story is brilliant, lots of tense moments, people finding solace in each other and then falling apart, terrible things happening, and characters desperately trying to survive in a hostile world. Life has become very different for the characters, and they struggle to get through the events that unfold.

The artwork in these books is amazing, I love the style, and spent a long time poring over the pictures and imagery as well as the story. Can’t wait for the next instalment.

Next book: The Walking Dead Volume 3: Safety Behind Bars by Robert Kirkman & Charlie Adlard

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Book Number 30: A Storm of Swords 2: Blood and Gold by George R. R. Martin

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You know nothing, Jon Snow…

A Storm of Swords 2: Blood and Gold by George R. R. Martin

A Storm of Swords 2: Blood and Gold by George R. R. Martin

554 pages
Genre Fiction (Fantasy)
Sunday 27th July – Monday 25th August (30 days)
6 morning, 8 afternoon, 7 evening, 2 night.

This is fast becoming one of my favourite book series, and Martin one of my favourite authors…

This is the second part of the third book, and we follow Robb (King of the North), Stannis and Joffrey continue to fight over the throne, Daenerys increase her army of followers across the sea, and Jon Snow and his struggles with the Wildlings at the Wall.

As usual for Martin, there are some gruesome shocking deaths. From hereon in are spoilers – YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!

Joffrey dies at his own wedding, which in itself was fantastic – the little idiot deserved it. But this in turn then means Tyrion is accused of his murder, and Sansa escapes with Littlefinger to the Eyrie… Tyrion goes from strength to strength, having so much rubbish thrown at him and trying so hard to get himself out of trouble, and finally snapping at the end of the book… delicious. His character is by far my favourite. He is witty, intelligent, and I really feel for him and the way he is treated throughout the series so far.

Daenerys works hard on becoming a strong leader and Queen and building her army of ex-slaves, and uncovers traitors in her midst. (I called it…) Arya travels around with the Hound and their relationship, although strange, was interesting to read. As was Jaime and Brienne’s relationship – another interesting twist. Finally, there were interesting developments at the wall, with the Wildlings beaten, Stannis coming to the Nightwatch’s aid, and Jon Snow given some interesting choices for his future.

As always, this was a great read – I love the way the story is told from different perspectives from different characters, and the story move along with loads of twists and turns. Never a dull moment in Westeros…

Next book: PopCo by Scarlett Thomas

Book Number 26: A Storm of Swords 1: Steel and Snow by George R. R. Martin

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The next in the series…

A Storm of Swords 1: Steel and Snow by George R. R. Martin

A Storm of Swords 1: Steel and Snow by George R. R. Martin

569 pages
Genre Fiction (Fantasy)
Saturday 28th June – Monday 14th July (17 days)
5 mornings, 4 afternoons, 6 evenings, 4 nights.

Awesome next instalment of this series… if you haven’t read any of the other books in this series, don’t start here! If you have, you’ll be pleased to know that in my opinion, the series goes from strength to strength.

If you’ve not read these books, and you like fantasy, you should. They are up there with the best – I would rank J.R. R. Tolkien, Robin Hobb and George R. R. Martin as my 3 favourite fantasy writers by far. If you’ve seen the TV series you know that the story doesn’t pull any punches, and I would say there is more sex, swearing and violence in the books than the TV series.

The characters are complex and well developed, and over the course of the books there is plenty of time to keep them this way. Main characters die, and when you first pick up the books you will probably be a little overwhelmed by the amount of characters, but just let it all wash over you, you’ll remember the important ones, and Martin is very good at introducing characters and helping you remember/discover who they are. The story lines and plots are intricate and intertwined, and have kept me interested throughout, and the technique of having each chapter told by a certain character is a fantastic way of helping tell a story spread across a whole kingdom, and several years.

So, now for a little bit of spoilers… Jaime and Brienne are released by Catelyn to trade for her daughters, Robb marries a Westerling, destroying his betrothal to the Freys, and Arya meets the ‘Brotherhood without Banners’. King Joffrey decides to break his betrothal to Sansa and marry Lady Margaery Tyrell instead. Sansa instead has to marry Tyrion. Jon Snow goes beyond the Wall with the Night’s Watch and hatches a plan to spy on the Wildlings by pretending to become one of them. Daenerys is working her way through Slaver Bay freeing the slaves and building an army.

We learn more about Jaime in this book, he is less of an arrogant prince and becomes more likeable as we learn more about his choices, and he becomes more humble. His relationship with Brienne is something I particularly enjoyed throughout this book. As always Tyrion seems to be the only character with any sense, compassion and intelligence, but still ends up being ridiculed and hated by his sister and father. Arya is becoming more of a warrior and less of a ‘lady’, which I like, Martin writes some good female characters!

So, if you’re working your way through the series, this doesn’t disappoint, if you’ve not read any of these yet, start at the beginning, and enjoy!

Next book: The Manhattan Projects 1: SCIENCE BAD by Jonathan Hickman, Nick Pitarra, Jordie Bellaire and Rus Wooton

Book Number 27: Game of Thrones: A Clash of Kings by George R. R. Martin

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I’m loving this series…!

Game of Thrones: A Clash of Kings by George R. R. Martin

Game of Thrones: A Clash of Kings by George R. R. Martin

873 pages
Genre Fiction (Fantasy)
Sunday 4th August – Saturday 14th September (42 days)
7 morning, 11 afternoon, 9 evening, 2 night.

The second book in the series… I loved this book! I have had a really busy month and I have wanted nothing more than to sit and read this book for hours, but no chance to do so… I had a weekend in Spain and a weekend off in bed and ill, where I did nothing but read this book and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Before you go any further… *SPOILERS AHEAD!*

We follow on from the end of the first book with 5 different kings vying for the top spot, and fighting the civil war… Joffrey, Stannis Baratheon, Renly Baratheon, Robb Stark and Balon Greyjoy. The land is divided, and despite Tyrion Lannister’s best efforts, the land is in disarray with the people divided. We see magic coming into the story much more, with dragons, walking dead people, murderous shadows and more. Across the sea, Daenerys Targaryen is still trying to find an army and passage back to the Seven Kingdoms to join the war, along with her newborn dragons. We see Jon Snow and the rest of the Nightwatch head north beyond the wall to find out more about what is happening there with the Wildlings.

I love the structure of these books, with each chapter concentrating on one character at a time, jumping from different parts of the world to another, and telling the story from different viewpoints. My favourite characters are still Tyrion and Arya, Tyrion is becoming more and more likeable, and Arya is probably the one character I can get behind and root for the most. However, I am starting to like Daenerys more and more… and I love her story, turning from a shy little girl to a Queen. The story of Theon Greyjoy has been fantastic, I wanted to be on his side, I wanted him to do the right thing, and watching him fail, become prideful and jealous of his sister, and lose Winterfell and the respect of all the people there was a brilliant part of the story.

When I first started the first book, I was worried I would not be able to keep up with all the characters, and that their stories wouldn’t be told properly, and that we would miss out on character development. However, I am enjoying these books, with all the different characters and find them all very interesting. Even the lesser characters, such as the Hound, have been developed in this book, and I have found myself jumping from one chapter to the next excitedly turning pages to find out what’s happening!

My only slight issue with this book – I just didn’t believe the Bran and Rickon storyline and knew they weren’t dead. I think because the whole story of Bran’s third eye had been built up, it seemed weird to then kill them off, and I just couldn’t get behind this storyline. But it didn’t last long as we quickly learn the truth, and it was a tiny minor blip in an otherwise amazing story.

Next book: Q&A by Vikas Swarup

Book Number 7: Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin

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It’s about time really…

Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin

Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin

801 pages
Genre Fiction (Fantasy)
Monday 28th January – Saturday 2nd March (34 days)
9 morning, 5 afternoon, 14 evening, 5 night

This has been in my to-read pile for a while now, recommended to me by loads of people – some who had seen the TV show, and thought I’d like it and before then, some who had read the books who thought I’d love it. But I have been put off by Gareth attempting it and saying there were too many characters to keep up, and by the fact that it is an 801 page book and I have had very little free time for reading lately, mainly half an hour before bed…

So I have kept putting it off, until the end of January when I decided to bite the bullet and go for it. I can’t start a book and not finish it – even if I am really not enjoying it, as I am a completist and I like to give things a proper go before I give up on them. But I really needn’t have worried. This book was great!

I love castles, knights, horses, swords, bodices, kings and queens, and magic. So this book was right up my street. I didn’t find the large number of characters a problem at all, I liked this, and although I had to use the appendix at the back for the first quarter of the book, just to check how someone was related to someone else, I quickly got to know the characters well enough. I loved all the political strategy and tactics, the back stabbing, the honourable and dishonourable behaviour and found the actual story pretty gripping on it’s own. Add to that the characters – most of whom were well written and developed throughout the book, and I was hooked. On top of that was the hint towards magic, and then the ending, which… well, I won’t ruin it.

I lived the Lannisters – they are so ambitious and cruel, and add a nice element of the ‘bad guy’ to the book. There’s not much to like about them, especially Cersei and Joffrey, Joffrey in particular… But there was Tyrion, who I couldn’t help but like – a dwarf son of the Lannisters, who is treated as a misfit because of his size, but is sharp and witty. I liked Robert a lot, but found him infuriating, burying his head in the sand, and drinking and sleeping his way round the court, leaving bastards here, there and everywhere rather than paying attention to the problems. Ned and the other Starks were likeable characters, and the mystery behind Jon Snow and his parentage is a nice little storyline that I am still thinking about and hope gets resolved in the next book. Arya in particular was one of my favourite characters, a young girl who hates the court and being a lady, and would rather be out sword fighting with her brothers than trying on dresses and spending time with her sister.

As much as I enjoyed reading about the struggle for the throne beginning in the north and south, I also really enjoyed the story of Dany and her brother Viserys – the two remaining Targaryens, from the old family who used to reign before they were slain and the throne went to Robert Baratheon. As all their family were killed, including the babies and children, Viserys has become very bitter and is planning and plotting in the lands south beyond the sea to come and take back his throne, using his sister as a bargaining tool with the Dothraki people.

There are hints towards magic becoming a more prevalent part of the books, the wall of ice in the north and the strange people who live beyond it, the dragon eggs in the south… (although this part of the book was a bit weird…) and I’m hoping this will come into play more in the series.

I am trying desperately not to give anything away, and if you like this sort of thing – it put me in mind of things like the Robin Hobb Assassins Trilogy – then this is definitely a book for you. I have the next in the series, but I am saving it for Easter when I will hopefully have some time off to really get into it. I am also looking forward to watching the TV version – I have been told it is as good as the book…

Next book: Harry, A History by Melissa Anelli