Saturday, September 22, 2012

Game of Tomes

Epic fantasy is so not my thing.  At all.  Elves and dwarfs and impossible to pronounce names like Thworesselynyn = not for me.

But after watching the first season of HBO's Game of Thrones (via Netflix because Husband and I are too cheap to pay for HBO) and Husband telling me how good it is, I dug into the Song of Fire and Ice series.

That was in April.  I'm now almost finished with Book 3.

Why, you ask, has it taken me five months to read three books?  Because they are HUGE.  And the description.  Well, hello description.  If I put that much description in my books, my partials and fulls would come back with the words HA HA WTF? scrawled across the front page.

But - as long as it's taking me to read these books (and despite the ten straight pages of naming every single ship in the bay in Book 2), I'm really enjoying them. 

No, really.  Here's why:

1) Plot twists I could only dream of creating. And that's all I'll say, because almost every plot twist has been ruined for me so far. (Thank you, local newspaper features section. And thank you, Husband, who kept asking me pointed questions about who was doing what.)

2) The characters. The books are told from multiple POVs, which sounds insane. It is, for a normal writer. But George RR Martin must have entire rooms of his house devoted to character arcs.  Pieces of paper taped to the walls, with little strings connecting the intersecting plotlines. Somehow, he's managed to create a whole barrage of characters, each with a unique voice.  They aren't confusing and they don't all sound the same. I'm excited to read from each character's viewpoint. I don't go, "Ugh, not another Sansa chapter." (Although people who have read the books often don't like Sansa. Why? I don't know. I love Sansa. Heck, I was a Sansa when I was a kid. I cannot possibly be the only girl on the entire planet who liked to dress up and not get dirty and dream about romance. There are others out there. They just won't own up to it.)

3) The books read more like historical fiction than epic fantasy.  Minus the made-up places, they could pass for something like Arthurian legend.  And I love (LOVE!) historical fiction and Arthurian legend.

4) Back to the descriptions. Yes, I could've done without the gazillion and two ships named one by one in Book 2, but I like luxuriating in the food and clothing descriptions. They feel like a guilty pleasure. (Seventy-seven courses at a wedding feast? Oh, yes, please tell me every single one!  Nom Nom Nom.)

5) The little nuggets of great writing. Every once in a while, I stumble upon a phrase that is so perfectly written, I nearly swoon. My favorite is from Book 2: "Arya watched and listened and polished her hates the way Gendry had once polished his horned helm." Swoon.

So, yeah, I'll keep reading.  By this time next year, I might be finished with Book 5.


  1. Now I know you're a kindred spirit! I also have read the first three books this year, and have just watched Season One on DVD (borrowed from the library after a long wait.)

    One more thing that I like beyond what you've mentioned: most of the characters are complex, with measures of both good and not-so-good in them. Sansa, for example, goes from being a priss to showing some heavy-duty backbone.

    Also, (much to my sadness, as well as admiration) Martin is willing to kill of major characters in a way which no other writer I know can do. That makes for incredible tension in the reader, since we never know if a beloved character will make it!

    1. So true...I was on the edge of my seat with each book, waiting to see who wasn't going to make it and thinking, "Just not Tyrion. Please don't kill off Tyrion!"