Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A Song of Ice and Fire

I didn't watch Game of Thrones when it aired on HBO. To be honest, I'd never heard of this book, nor of the uber-successful fantasy series by George R.R. Martin, A Song of Ice and Fire. On the whole, I'm not a huge fantasy reader. Other than the Lord of the Rings trilogy, I can't think of any other fantasy series I've ever read in its entirety. Well, except Harry Potter. Does that count as fantasy?

Anyway, it came to pass in mid July that my children were going to the movies, specifically to see a show that I had no desire whatsoever to watch, and I found myself needing to kill two hours before I had to pick them up at the theater at the mall. I took a tour of Target where I spontaneously picked up a copy of Game of Thrones. I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. I headed to Portillo's and treated myself to a chocolate cake shake (okay, it was my birthday, so I felt justified) and cracked open the giant brick of a book.

And now I'm totally hooked. What a fantastic story.

Mostly, I'm in awe of what an amazing writer George R.R. Martin is. His ability to pace such an astoundingly long and epic story with a cast of hundreds is an inspiration. Every single chapter - which is told from the point of view of a different, key character - moves the story forward by leaps but never feels rushed. Specifically, Martin has some preternatural gift of knowing which POV character to use to make the narrative edge-of-your-seat fascinating, and at the end of each chapter, I'm turning pages like crazy wanting to know what happens to that particular person next. But by then, he's already turned my attention to someone else and the process is repeated.

Oddly, as well paced as this series is and as much as I'm always wanting to read more, even into the wee hours, it is taking me FOREVER to get through these books. Seriously, it took me a full month to read Game of Thrones. And that was with reading at least some of the book every single day and buying a smaller, mass paperback copy to take with me on my beach vacation. I picked up the next title, Clash of Kings, immediately upon finishing GoT and have been working on it diligently, yet I'm only about half way through the book.

Part of this slow reading is because the books are long. I'm talking close to 1,000 pages each. And they are dense, with so much information you can't afford to skim. Too much happens in too short of a span of pages. Not that I'm even tempted to skim - the story is great and completely engrossing. Perhaps Martin's descriptions of castles and dark forests get a bit windy, but there aren't too many paragraphs I haven't read every word of.

I'm now wanting very much to see the HBO interpretation. We don't have HBO, and I have no desire to pay for HBO just so I can have access to 10 hours of its programming. It doesn't appear HBO has any intention of putting GoT on DVD any time soon, so I guess I'm out of luck. I'm just going to have to wait.

Then again, it's going to take me a year to read all the books, so it's not like I don't have a way to kill the time until then.

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