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Friday, March 2, 2012
A Song of Ice and Fire - George R. R. Martin
With “A Song of Ice and Fire,” George R. R. Martin has created (check that - is creating) a whole new world of adventure, intrigue, myth, and romance. I am eagerly awaiting “The Winds of Winter,” which is the sixth and (allegedly) penultimate installment of Martin’s epic “A Song of Ice and Fire,” which began with “A Game of Thrones.”
Martin has created a myriad of vivid, fleshed-out characters, with an emphasis on “fleshed.” They range in extreme from being honorable to a fault, to almost utterly depraved, and it is sometimes difficult to tell hero from villain. This is not a Middle Earth wherein the lines between the forces of good and evil are (usually) will delineated. The denizens of Westeros and Essos constantly find themselves faced with choices between “right” and “wrong” that fly in the faces of their respective paradigms.
Because Martin tells his story in 3rd person, with each chapter focusing on one specific character’s point of view, the reader is truly able to see into the minds of Martin’s minions, and will find empathy in some characters that they would never have imagined at the outset of the tale. Not all of them, mind you. There are more than a few characters who, the more you get to know them, the more you’ll be rooting for their beheading. His world is so detailed, and involves so many vivid characters, that I sometimes forget who I think I’m supposed to be rooting for. This doesn’t detract from the story at all. It’s just what it is. Fortunately, Martin provides appendices breaking down the different families and coats of arms. I’ve been referring to them frequently.
And Martin will certainly keep you on your toes, too. As I alluded earlier, I’ve read the first five books. Each time I thought I knew where he was going with a character and thought to myself, “okay, THIS is the person who’s going to straighten every thing out,” I’ll read a bit further and say (sometimes out loud), “no way!”
While “A Song of Ice and Fire” is regarded as “epic fantasy,” the fantastical elements of the saga are quite matter of fact (yes, there used to be dragons, but they’ve all been dead for thousands of years - no wait, by golly, there are some, and they can be pretty darn nasty. But right now we’ve got those undead “Others” to worry about - if the dragons ever get here, we’ll just have to deal with it then).
I haven’t seen any of the “Game of Thrones” mini-series. I intend to keep it that way, too. At least until George R. R. Martin has finished telling his tale. Maybe then I will, but right now I’m having too much fun with my own vision of Westeros to go swim in someone else’s pool.
Can you imagine if you had been able to read Tolkien’s “The Fellowship of the Ring” when it was first published, and then had to wait for “The Two Towers” and “The Return of the King,” respectively? Oh, the antici...................pation. I’m not saying “A Song of Ice and Fire” is an equal to “The Lord of the Rings,” but as a reader of books, this could be your next chance to find something special as it’s being created.
Get started by buying “Game of Thrones” at your local brick and mortar bookstore. Invest yourself in what could be considered a classic work some day.
Content Alert: This is a work for adults. If you have kids, and wouldn’t take them to see an R rated movie, then you won’t want them reading “A Song of Ice and Fire.” There is violence, profanity and sexuality that most people, I believe, would not think appropriate for children. This ain’t yo mama’s Middle Earth.
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