Game of Thrones is a terrible story. I read the entire first book and watched the entire first episode. I feel fully qualified to pass judgment like a kidney stone.
Failure #1: There is no main character
The point of view and focal characters are constantly shifting. It feels like reading a transcript of a Dungeons & Dragons game. This character did this, and then told this character to talk to that character, who then falls in love with the other character. It’s like eating a series of appetizers. As soon as you get a taste, bam, new character with a new voice. It’s like channel flipping between professional wrestling matches. No progress gets made. Just a lot of people yell and fight. I think what the author was going for, was an immersive world. That was accomplished, but at what cost? AT WHAT COST?
Failure #2: The plot is messy
What goes with no main character? No main plot. Game of Thrones is a murder mystery, episode of Maury (he is NOT the father!), Fantasy Adventure, Romance Drama- and I don’t mean that in a good way. Those elements are present, but they aren’t combined. It’s the difference between a chicken stew and a wet chicken salad.
Failure #3: The narration is grinding
I didn’t like this book, but one particular character made it particularly unbearable. The good guy’s wife goes on vigilante justice adventure to avenge her son. It sounds intriguing, except that she narrates her every step. And her narration matches everything she says, so it’s not like she’s hiding anything. It feels like the author was just trying to slow down her thin story and compensate for a concrete flavored bland character.
Failure #4: The characters are unsympathetic
There’s a rule for Game of Thrones fans: don’t have a favorite character because George R. R. Martin will kill them. The character, not the fans. The thing is, when we humans read stories, we envision ourselves as the main character. We want Indiana Jones to grab the artifact because he’s a good guy, and we’re good guys, and we want good to win over evil. It’s exciting to watch Spiderman kick bad guy butt, because it’s something we all wish we could do. In Game of Thrones, there are no pure “good guys” or “bad guys.”
I found that most of the characters in Game of Thrones died before they could do anything meaningful with their lives. Every page could be the character’s last. It’s just a matter of time until they get their head chopped off or back stabbed. I purposefully didn’t learn a character’s name until a few pages in, because, if they’re going to die soon, what’s the point?
I think there’s a reason that the Harry Potter series will always be better than Game of Thrones. It’s because of who dies and when. Only a couple of important people and only at the end.
Failure #5: The conclusion is unsatisfying, there is no moral to the story
Guess what. People die all the time. That is a fact of life. Some people’s lives are meaningless. Some people get away with murder. That’s exactly what I’m trying to escape from. That’s the whole reason I read books! If you make your book too historically accurate or too realistic, it’s boring and stupid. I will just live life to escape from the book instead of vice versa.