Tuesday, October 30, 2012

A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire)

It's been ages since I originally purchased this book on my Kindle. I saw the size of the book and when I got my Kindle it was one of the first purchases I made. I figured it would be better to carry it on that slim device than to lug around the rather large book. I wanted to read the book prior to the premier of the show but... well that didn't happen. So my goal shifted; I wanted to read the first book before the second season began and that also didn't happen. Well, I gave it a try at least. I began reading this book in April just after I moved to Virginia and didn't have a job. I would spend my mornings putting out job applications and then by late afternoon I'd sit back and read a little. But the size of this book overwhelmed me, not that I haven't read anything of this size before, but for some reason the slow moving percentage on my Kindle wasn't being very helpful. Then I got my temp job and this book was put down.

Back and forth over the past five months I went. I would read a new book, put it down, then read 50 pages of Game of Thrones. Not only that but with trying to maintain a regularly updated book blog with ramblings about books I've read it's hard to just guarantee a number of days to read this huge book. However, I finished a book and went back to GoT for my few chapter read through and realized I was actually pretty darn close to being finished. Only, like, 200 pages left! So I read it in a flash and loved every moment of it then sat back and wondered why I hadn't just read it in one go to begin with.

Nonetheless, let's talk about the book for the very few people out there who haven't read it. Because, it seems, I am the last person in the world who got around to starting this series. If you've seen the show it's a lot like the book; they did a very good job at portraying the characters and many of the scenes in my opinion. Still, this book is long so obviously it has much more detail and scenery than the show does. If you've seen the show but have not read the book I'd suggest doing so!

While I wasn't keen on carrying around a copy of the book because it was so large I do wish, in a way, that I had that opportunity so that I could flip back and forth between the maps and family trees. It would have helped as the cast of the book is huge and the families are very wide spread and detailed. I have forever had issues of remembering people's names, book characters included, and had it not been for the fact that I had already watched the tv show and had faces to place with the names I probably would have been more lost as to who was who and how they were connected. 

The story is good, the imagery is good, the description is good. This book is good. If you have a fascination with anything remotely like Tudor history, Arthurian legend or the long, detailed writing in Lord of the Rings then A Song of Ice and Fire is perfect for you. Dragons, princesses, secrets and swords fill its pages and often times left my head spinning. This book has a touch of fantasy but it doesn't go overboard. You aren't stuck feeling like you just slipped into the land of the Sugar Plum Fairy or Hogwarts. It's slipped in so casually that you find yourself, whilst reading the book, to just accept what they are speaking of and not think twice about if dragons exist or the dead can rise and kill.

Martin may put a little too much emphasis into certain details but I suspect they all come around to meaning something and he certainly helps you to picture the world he has created. It reads like some fantastic part of history yet the characters are certainly living and breathing at your ear, over your shoulder, while you go from page to page. Often times I'll read books by authors who have long since left this earth and I'm left feeling melancholy. "Why don't people write like this anymore? Why don't they put detail into their books and write so beautifully?" and I think I've discovered that there are authors who write in such ways and Martin is one of them. It's refreshing to be able to read a book so beautifully written and with such perfect detail that is current and published within my lifetime. Could it have been shortened down at some points? Certainly. Every other chapter I found at least a few pages that I could have gone without but what are you going to do? It's not like I didn't already know this was going to be a long book when I began it.

It does have its fair share of sex scenes, incest, and rape so be forewarned of that those of you who like to avoid such plot. But it's relevant to the story, or so it seems... most of the time, so it's kind of worth talking about. Martin leaves a lot of tidbits of information through out the book which you can pick apart in your own time and wonder what it all could mean. Apparently, it's a Thing fans of the series like to do and I can understand why they would when it spans such long periods of time between publications of books. In that regard, I'm glad I waited to pick up the books so that I won't have to wait forever for each book to come out. Granted, when A Song of Ice and Fire was first published I was ten and this was way beyond my reading comprehension but at least now I can take my time, play catch up, and maybe once I'm completely caught up with the books I can join the countless others who eagerly await the next book in the series.

I think what I liked best about the books was that the characters grow and change while you read. Often times you are able to witness how the surrounding events will alter a person or you are simply given privy to details otherwise unnoticed. I started the book with a dead set group of characters whom I liked and ones I disliked but by the end of the book that list had shuffled a little bit. Some of the characters I disliked at first (Sansa, for example) I had begun to like a little more by the end. While I have many other books I have to get through before I start A Clash of Kings I will be happy when I have that opportunity and look forward to it. There are many people out there who love this book and consider it a work of art, the best thing they had ever read, and swear by it. There are others who refuse to speak nothing but negative things about the book - it just did not work for them. For me, I liked it, I enjoyed it, and while I may not be standing on my office's roof proclaiming to the people waiting for their lunches that they must read this book - I still will quietly refer friends to it who are looking for a good tale.