Thursday, April 12, 2012
A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE SERIES by George R. R. Martin
An epic fantasy series in which politics and characters are more important than magic and dragons (although that stuff is there too).
Game of Thrones is the reason there haven't been as many reviews as usual on this blog lately. I don't like posting about individual installments in series, but this is a hefty collection of 900-page books to get through. Now that I'm finished with the series, I can let you know what I thought and then give my brain-space back to other books. This is a consuming, addictive story because you just don't know what will happen. Good and evil are not clear-cut, the body count is high, and the plot is delightfully unpredictable. Also, the HBO adaptation of the first book is awesome, if you haven't seen it.
At face value, the Song of Ice and Fire series, popularly referred to as Game of Thrones, is a typical epic fantasy set in a world that is vaguely like Medieval Europe. I like this type of book, but usually relegate it to guilty-pleasure reading. However, Martin's epic is so clever and involved because he doesn't allow the typical patterns of this genre to limit his story. This can be infuriating when he is killing your favorite people, but it definitely kept me reading. The politics are complex and messy, and this is probably the most realistic fantasy series I've ever read.
This book benefits from non-stop action and surprisingly complicated relationships. The characters have histories, grudges, and desires that are not easy to nail down, just like in real life. I was impressed when some obvious villains turned into nuanced, sympathetic characters. On the other hand, I just don't like Jon Snow, who is one of the primary players in the story. Unfortunately, the series feels uneven at times. There are so many characters to keep up with that the sections about the ones I'm less interested in tended to drag. I'm also worried that there is no end in sight. Martin could wrap everything up in one more book, or he could write half a dozen more. Still, I know I'll be reading all of them.
George R. R. Martin's website
I borrowed some of the books in this series in paperback form and read some of them on my fiance's iPad. Most of the Kindle editions are $8.99.
What's your guilty pleasure reading?
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