Tuesday, March 5, 2013

A Game of Throes (or Those Little Things That Make Me Go Urg!)

As some of you might already know, I am currently reading the A Song of Ice and Fire series, also known by the title of its first book: A Game of Thrones.

So far, I am about halfway through A Storm of Swords, Part Two: Blood and Gold, and I can't take this any longer. I would like to--no, I need to--say something about this series. Not a review, more like a rant or a rave. You see, I need to point out something that's really been bugging me:


The unsurmountable errors.

The never-ending errors.

I was shocked when I read Game of Thrones--and not only thanks to the story or the characters.

Here's the cover for the edition I bought:

Oh, Ned!

Now, some of you might have noticed something above. In the first paragraph of this post, I mentioned A Game of Thrones, only to say Game of Thrones later on. "How's that?" you might ask. I'm complaining about errors when I just messed up the title of the book? Well, it turns out most covers contain the article "a", but the cover of the edition I bought managed to drop the "a" somewhere along the way. Oh well, back to business...

Here's a side view of the book:

Nearing the end, it's almost as if they just stopped caring.

Every single one of those dog-eared pages contains an error. What surprises me most is the variety of errors: from simple typos to confused words to formatting problems.

Here are the most notable examples:

Page 16: "They sooner, the better," Theon Greyjoy agreed. - I concur.

Page 326: They had only three dead; two of Lord Bracken's menat-arms [...] - You don't have enough with the old gods and the new that now you're mixing in pieces of Egyptian goddesses too?

Page 376: He nodded. "Mind you, Princess, if the lords of the Seven Kingdoms have the with the gods gave a goose, it will never come to that [...]" - Have the what now?

Page 451: "Ser Edmure has sent men to every village and holdfast withing a day's ride of the border," Ser Kary! explained. - Triple brownie points for two errors in the same sentence! Sure, I like my dose of Terry Pratchett-esque names, but substituting the name "Karyl" with "Kary!" is a bit over the top. As for "withing"...I don't think it means what you think it means...

Page 528: "But I love him," Sansa wailed, confused and fright-ened. - Welcome to a whole new level of fear: Game of Thrones fear!

Page 542: "[...] Gods knows, we need men of Lord Eddard's ability."

Page 542: It would be mon-strous to strip him of Winterfell and force him to take the black, and yet if it meant his life... - Another dash in the middle of a word. I have the feeling something went wrong during the formatting stage... Plus, double brownie points for two errors on the same page! (See above.)

Page 757: The raven was pecking at an egg, breaking the shell. Pushing his beak through the hole, he pulled out morsels of white and yoke. - This is too much. I have to stop here.

My brain! Needless to say, I was completely pulled out of the story. In case you don't see the last error, let me illustrate it for you:

This is a yoke:

This is also a yoke, found, for example, on flight simulators:

This is an egg yolk:

There's quite a difference! So after reading that sentence, I'm asking myself: did George RR Martin simply make an honest mistake, or does he really not know which is which? And what about the editor(s)? Could nobody avoid this? It might sound like I'm making too much of a fuss over this, but A Game of Thrones is a traditionally-published and widely acclaimed novel, and I was surprised to see the quality is much lower than I had expected.

But that's not all I've seen as I've plowed through the pages of this epic fantasy. Take A Storm of Swords, Part One: Steel and Snow. Here's the cover for the edition I bought:

Beautiful in its simplicity, isn't it? Well, it's anything but simple inside! Check it out! *Gasps!*

Can you see that bit right there? Yeah, there. In the middle. Page after page after page of errors! One right after another! Where was the editor when this was going on? Where was the proofreader? Wasn't there anybody on duty to stop this madness?

Here are some examples:

Page 80: A fire was crackling in the hearth, and sweet-swelling rushes had been scattered on the floor.

Page 211: If he should fall in the fight that must follow, the Wall would be safe for another hundred years, Jon judged. Andif not...

Page 262 -- This page marks the beginning of the folded middle section. The errors here are mainly formatting issues: incorrect paragraph indentation, and, above all, missing quotation marks. So many missing quotations marks!

Now here's where I stop, stare at the wall, and wonder.

As a soon-to-be indie author, I've done my homework. I've read Victorine Lieske's How to Find Success Selling Ebooks, and I'm currently reading Catherine Ryan Howard's Self-Printed: The Sane Person's Guide to Self-Publishing (excellent, by the way!). I've visited countless blogs owned by the most knowledgeable bloggers in the field. I've even (sort of) attended online conferences such as IndieReConI'm perfectly aware that I'm just starting out so I'm no writing--or publishing--wizard. I don't know much--but I do know this: every book that goes into print has to be the best it can be. Writers (especially if we're self publishing) have to:

Make the product stand out.
Make it worthwhile.
And for crying out loud, be professional.

This is why so many indie authors recommend hiring an editor to sort out any possible kinks in the manuscript. "Don't do it yourself" is our official mantra. "Check and double check" is our pre-publishing chant.

So what happened with George RR Martin's books? How come so many errors made it past all the pre-publishing stages?

I'm honestly wondering if anyone has the answer. After so many months of absorbing writing-related information like a sponge, it's surprising (at least for me) to find such a successful book...with so many mistakes. Or is the proportion of mistakes the same as other novels, and I just happened to catch them?

Is it okay to have these mistakes if the story is good? Are they forgivable and forgettable--even though they can pull several fickle readers (like me) out of the story? Are they easy to oversee because A Game of Thrones was traditionally published? Would the general public have a worse reaction if these same typos were in an indie book?

And finally: Is there someone I can write to and warn about the errors and maybe (in an idyllic world) have them proofread the books once more?

All comments are welcome. Happy writing!


  1. You're right to be outraged. The reason books are read and proofread and reread and proofed again, is so that silly little formatting errors and typos don't pull the reader out of the story.

    Would they distract all readers? No probably not, in fact probably not me. I have a tendancy to see what *should* be there, not what is. But if these errors are genuinely distracting you, I think you shoul try to contact the publisher. They might offer you a refund or a different edition.

  2. ROLF. Wow, I didn't know a published book could be so full of errors. I wonder if there's been any effort to correct those problems. I really hope there is or will be. Lol.

  3. I know! I was shocked when I came across all that. I'm reading A Feast for Crows now, and so far, I only found one error (a missing word--I'm around page 200), so that's a relief. :-)

  4. I did a double take when I read the line " have the with the gods gave a goose, it will never come to that" in the same copy of the book, which I received as a Christmas present. I thought it was just me not fully understanding the English language. How could they let something like this go through the editing process?

  5. Saw this post before, but I didn't comment because I'm also reading the series and wasn't at ASoS yet. Now I've blown past it.

    Either I'm completely oblivious to such things, or those errors aren't present in my edition of the book. I have the full Storm of Swords in one volume as opposed to parts I and II. Have any US readers noticed these errors as well?

    It's entirely possible that, like Kids_Table, I see what should have been there instead. But could there also be a difference between publishers?

    1. I really hope these errors have been caught and corrected. Maybe it's just my edition that got away!

  6. Astounding! Absolutely astounding! When you think, one of the main criticisms of self-publishing and Indie publishing as opposed to mainstream, is the notion the self-published and Indie books will not have been edited! You are right to rant. You show amazing patience to have read as much of these books as you have. I could not have. Once the errors take me out of the story a couple of times, that's it! I'm done! If the author and publisher don't respect me enough as a reader to proofread and edit carefully, why should I waste my precious reading time being frustrated by their inconsideration.

  7. I have read the book in both English and Hebrew and a friend of mine has read them in Russian. Unfortunately the number of errors in the other languages isn't smaller. I really don't know why.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...