A Song of Ice and Fire : Chapter ratings

Posted on Sun 10 April 2016 in Analysis

This post relates to Game of Thrones, or more specifically to the series of books the show is based on: A Song of Ice and Fire.

The website Tower of the Hand contains ratings for each chapter in the series of books. Chapters’ ratings are generated by users. Each chapter has ratings from typically around 150 people so there will still be a reasonable amount of uncertainty around each chapter rating, but there is still enough information in here to give us broad ideas about the overall progression in how interesting the books are, the most interesting books and the most interesting POV characters.

Let’s start by having a quick overview of the progression of chapter ratings across the entire series.

Chapter ratings in the entire series

Chapter ratings in all books

This overview suggests that:

  • A Game of Thrones is fairly consistent in its chapter ratings
  • The final quarter of A Clash of Kings is comparatively dull
  • A Storm of Swords gets better as the book progresses
  • A Feast for Crows is not as good as the other books, but it gets better as the book progresses
  • A Dance with Dragons is the most inconsistent in terms of chapter ratings

Having read the books, I’m inclined to agree with the overview provided by the ratings so far.

Let’s break the chapters down by book to have a slightly closer look at the ratings.

Chapter ratings by book

Chapter ratings in AGOT Chapter ratings in ACOK Chapter ratings in ASOS Chapter ratings in AFFC Chapter ratings in ADWD

Chapter ratings by POV character

It can be interesting to break down the chapter ratings by the point of view characters to see how the various plot lines progress in terms of maintaining reader interest.

Chapter ratings by POV character

  • Daenerys : With the exception of one strong chapter, Daenerys’ chapters in the final book are not very good.
  • Ned : As we all know, he was a short lived character, but his chapters were consistently great
  • Brienne : Many people complain about Brienne’s chapters in AFFC. It’s interesting to see that Brienne’s chapters start out being dull, but appear to get more interesting as the book progresses.
  • Tyrion : Goes from having several strong chapters in the previous books to having a weak showing in ADWD. The drop in the quality of his storyline is particularly jarring considering the strength of his chapters at the end of ASOS.
  • Theon/Reek : One of the few consistently solid POV characters in ADWD

Chapter rating distributions by book

Chapter ratings distribution by book - violin

Chapter ratings distribution by book - box

Book mean std. dev.
AGOT 8.21 0.56
ACOK 7.75 0.70
ASOS 7.99 0.63
AFFC 7.55 0.52
ADWD 8.03 0.69

If we rank the books by the average ratings of the chapters in each book, they rank in the order AGOT > ADWDASOS > ACOK > AFFC. The overall book ratings on Goodreads, however, suggest that ASOS > AGOT > ACOK > ADWD > AFFC. Personally, my views on the quality of the books are more aligned with the Goodreads ratings, but it’s likely because the overall experience of a book is not well represented by the average of its chapters.

Chapter rating distributions by POV character

We can also have a look at the distributions of chapter ratings in each book to see which of the POV characters have the better chapters.

Chapter ratings distribution by POV - violin

Chapter ratings distribution by POV - box

The distributions are ranked by average chapter rating, with the highest average on the left. The top few POV characters are all characters with a single POV chapter so far. From the characters that have multiple POV chapters, Ned Stark has the most interesting chapters. It goes some way to explain why he’s such a fan favourite character.

If you have any ideas about what might be interesting to do with this dataset, let me know in the comments. The Jupyter notebook that was used to generate all the plots in this blog post can be found here.