Rating this book required a somewhat unscientific weighting of pros and cons. On the one hand, I devoured this book. Despite working long days in my summer program, I managed to finish it in less than a week (and admittedly, I did sneak in a few chapters when I was supposed to be researching). This story wrapped me up and I simply needed to know what happened as soon as possible. Thus, a very weighty pro for A Game of Thrones is its captivating narrative. The plotting and characters are complex and beg to be known and read. On the other hand, the writing can be awfully atrocious. I was shocked when I read several professional reviews praising Martin's writing because I found the prose to be clunky to the point of hilarity. I read the line "Character X broke his fast" seemingly countless times. My absolute favorite line, both in terms of cringy-ness and funniness, was "his manhood glistened wetly." I never thought of manhoods as glistening, but when they do, do they glisten in ways that aren't wetly? (Maybe they do if you're Edward Cullen). However funny these lines may have been, though, they detracted from the story. Martin overdescribes, so I was tempted to skim entire paragraphs. With a better editor, A Game of Thrones could have been a certain 4-star and a potential 5-star book. At the end of the day, a compelling story with interesting, realistic characters was enough to make this book an enjoyable read for me. I will read the second installment, A Clash of Kings with the hope that Martin learned to write better with each book. Also--on the patriarchal nature of the fantasy world. The misogyny disgusts me but I'm not sure how I should react to it. I cannot decide whether Martin is merely representing the misogyny that would be present in a medieval environment the book is set in or if he is writing a specifically misogynistic book. I was discussing this with a friend and I realized I was asking the wrong question. The question isn't whether the book is sexist even if it's simply describing the way of life in a sexist world, the question is why do so many fantasy authors choose to set their stories in medievalesque worlds where misogyny is the norm? It's likely subconscious, but what does that say about our male authors if they seemingly always choose to set their books in a sexist setting?