2013: A Game of Thrones et. al.

A Game of Thrones; A Clash of Kings; A Storm of Swords; A Feast for Crows; A Dance of Dragons - George R. R. Martin

            So, one (or rather five) of the books I read during the down time was the Song of Ice and Fire series by George R.R. Martin.  My husband and I wanted to watch the series, and I didn't want to start until I'd read at least the first book (book nerd first principles at play here - you always read the book first).  And, of course, once I read the first, I was hooked, and had to read them all.  I was about the last person on earth who reads these kinds of books to read them, so I doubt what I have to say will have much insight, but here goes.  Also, I am going to try to be spoiler free, so that if you haven't read them you can without being ruined.

            So, even though these books are fantasy, I strongly recommend them to people who don't consider themselves fantasy fans (the same goes for the TV series, though we're only in the middle of season two).  They are really more like an alternate medieval history series - yes, there is magic in the story, but is largely secondary to the political wrangling that goes on.  So don't be thrown off by the word dragon - these are books about power and how to use it and how badly it can go.  Similarly, if you are put off (as I usually am) by the way fantasy type books treat women (i.e. badly) these books treat the female characters as real people with real agency.  Don't get me wrong - they are a largely circumscribed by the society they live in to be mothers or whores (with a few notable exceptions), but Martin gets that this is bullshit, and that the way the society is structured is part of the problem.  And lord, there are problems going on - from the very beginning we are watching a tentative time of people descend into warring factions - not to mention that "Winter is Coming" and there may be threats from the North (from beyond the massive Wall built to protect them) that far outstrip the troubles the squabbling war lords have made for themselves.

           The scope is epic, the characters fascinating (and multifacited - you keep learning more about them).  Actions have consequences - people we root for die and suffer, people we hate triumph. They are truly epic and worth the read.

           Not that I don't have quibbles - the decision to spend the fourth book following a whole bunch of characters we barely care about was a bit of a drag - I was very very happy to open book five and get back to some of my favorites.  And it does seems to be a bit of a shaggy dog story - we are very far from where we started and while a lot of plot has happened, in some senses, not much has happened at all.  And if I am to be totally honest, there are some plot points I missed until I saw the TV show and had it explained to me again.  But it's worth it for the world building, and the characters, and scope of it all - I whole heartedly recommend you read the books, and then watch the tv show.  Now I just have to resign myself to waiting for the last two books to appear...

 

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017