A New Addiction

Time for a lighter post folks. It has been a while. I want to do more, but I also want to keep from becoming repetitive with them as well. If you have any ideas for something you would like me to write about, I am always open to suggestions. For this last post of the day I would like to write about something that I am late coming to the table for. It is a series of books I have been meaning to read for a while but only started last month, despite the fact that they practically rule Tumblr and have spawned one of the more entertaining memes on Facebook. The books in question are George RR Martin’s Song of Fire and Ice, starting with Game of Thrones.

As I said, I have been meaning to read them for a little while now. Many of my friends have enjoyed them immensely. People from all manner of backgrounds. People who are old school fantasy fans, and people who never read fantasy. I have yet to meet someone who has read it who did not like them at least a little. Having read the first two, and being nearly two hundred pages into the third, I can see why.

First, and this has been discussed elsewhere, maybe everywhere, is the brilliance of how he manages the story. To the three or four of  you who have not read them yet, he moves about from chapter to chapter focusing on a different central character. It is still a third person narrative, but the only character whose thoughts you are privy to is the one whose chapter you are reading. Getting to know these characters in this way makes it fun to try to guess their motives when they show up in a different character’s chapter.

Second, these characters are well-developed. The heroes are not ever quite as heroic as you would like to believe, and the villains not quite so monstrous. Every one is flawed and everyone is vulnerable. It is impossible to not fall in love with at least one of these people. Which makes it that much more moving if irritating (and at this point the next fact really cannot be a spoiler) when he kills them on you.

Finally, as a student of political science and of the human condition I love the complexity he brings to the social interaction in these books. There is intrigue in these pages that outstrips anything I have ever read before. This is not just one story, but dozens of stories. Maybe even more than that. It is a rich, beautiful and terrifying world that Mr. Martin has created and I am glad that I get to visit it.

Fantasy fiction was my first love. Before comic books even. I read the Hobbit when I was very young, and Lord of the Rings when I was in the sixth grade. I have (as you have heard often) played Dungeons and Dragons almost as long as there has been a Dungeons and Dragons.  So to be drawn into that genre again, after being away from it for so long has been a wonderful treat.

So I suppose I owe George a hearty thank you. He helped bring me home, one of my homes at least, and invited me to make it in Westeros. For a little while I get to be a Stark, a Lannister, a Tully, or a Baratheon. I weep and cheer for Arya, Tyrion, Daenerys, and yes, even Jaime. I get to lose myself in a work of fiction in a way I have not in years, and it has been wonderful, even though I know he’s going to kill them all.


6 thoughts on “A New Addiction

  1. Very nice review. I’m always pleased to hear that people are picking up the books, and you certainly appreciate the things that make the books great: the characters, the complexity, the storyline, etc.

    I only know one person who read the first book, A Game of Thrones, and didn’t like it. (It’s possible they stopped reading after a certain someone died…) Everyone else I’ve recommended the book to, even non-fantasy readers, went crazy reading all the books.

    Hope you continue to enjoy them (and I hope GRRM gets the next book out soon!)

  2. Just started on #5, A Dance With Dragons. Fantastic books. You’ll get a little frustrated when you get to #4 as it only tells the story of approximately half of the characters based on geography. ADWD tells the other half along the same timeline and then merges everyone toward the end.

    And if you haven’t been watching, the HBO series is extremely well done, as well.

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