Thursday, July 4, 2013

A Game of Thrones: Introduction

Quite some time ago, I was walking through a local bookstore in Albuquerque when I had the most interesting discussion with one of the booksellers. I was talking about how long it had taken Patrick Rothfuss to write his second book, The Wise Man's Fear, (some four years and some-odd months.) The bookseller, my favorite up to date, had the most interesting of responses, to which I will paraphrase: "You think that's bad, we had to wait five years for A Feast of Crows by George R. R. Martin." To my distress, I had never heard of either the book or the author, at least not in a familiar sort of way that I do with Jim Butcher and his books or Stephen King. Color me surprised that George R. R. Martin was already four or five books into this epic fantasy series and here I was with my head in the sand wondering what the sky looked like. Needless to say, I went out my next payday and bought Game of Thrones, the first book in the series and started reading it that very night.

And ended reading it five minutes later.

I'm not ashamed to say that I never even got a proper length into the book, setting the book down before I had even finished the first page of the prologue. It happens to all men from time to time. Sometimes you start and you just can't finish. Hey, I have a great personality. But beyond that I've read over a hundred books this year alone and not all of them end up making the grade to being written about. But, Game of Thrones is different, as are the circumstances to why I couldn't get into it, as well as the reason I am trying again. There are a lot of reason why I didn't get into the book, most of them simply cosmetic. For simplicity sake I'll just stick to the top three.

#1) Immersion - As I stated in my review of Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence, the reason that I don't review epic fantasy books is because when you read something on that grand of a scale, it becomes harder to immerse yourself in it. So many things are being pushed at you, you are almost literally being dunked into a world of pure imagination, that it becomes more difficult to accept the rules of the game. For me it also becomes more difficult to separate myself from that world. Since the series isn't yet complete that means having to break away once I get caught up and wait for whenever Martin, a man in his 60's, finishes the book or doesn't. That was the same reason I didn't want to immerse myself in the HBO series based off the book: when a book isn't completed yet, they have no idea d who and what will become more important as the books progress. That means they will likely take liberties with character development, making the ending somewhat stunted.

#2) Hook - I didn't like the opening page. I'll admit it. In the opening part of the story, three throwaway characters are being introduced as a way to show the dangers in the North. I got bored reading the first page and that's a big no-no for me so I set the book down. It's as simple as that.

#3) Wikipedia - Great scourge of the internet world, Wikipedia has just about everything you could possibly want to know about the major events and characters of the series. When I couldn't get into the book, I looked up the series to see if it would get more interesting. To my surprise, I found that the elements of fantasy are quite interesting and come into play later on. What I also found was that it is very heavy on the political intrigue, something that bores me to no end. For that reason, I set the book on my "Need to read" bookshelf by my bed and waited until I had the inclination to do more with it. Since then I have picked the book up twice more and got exactly down to the first page of the prologue before I had to set it back on the shelf.

So, why am I picking up the book again? I have to say it is because of the HBO series. Friends and acquaintances have been bugging me for the last two years to watch this show, and now that I have HBO Go, I can finally watch it from season 1. Finding that the show is interesting at later points has grabbed my attention and set in me the inclination to read the book like never before. It's also set in me a distaste for the series that is new, and something I'll talk about briefly since this is just an introduction.

The Song of Ice and Fire series is definitely an "After" story, and that's always been something that has bugged me. Let me explain: have you ever watched a movie, played a game, or read a book where everything that is happening "Now" is something that happened after some great war? Heroes from that war are now leading, magic has disappeared from the world, evil despots are now beggars and exiles? This is an "After" story. Blips and dribbles of the story that happened before are let slip but they lack the true excitement that would be available if the author had written the events themselves. To me, stories like this have always lacked foundation and emotion. It's like finding out that your wife's/husband's cousin has died. You grieve for them for a little while until you find out that they never even knew they had a cousin. It's still sad, but it's so far removed and lacks the true emotional connection that it's more like finding out that your boss has a flat tire as far as knowledge goes.

But despite that, I decided to devote this entire month to George R. R. Martin's Game of Thrones. I'll be reading as much as can in the week and giving my usual opinion-ing about what I thought so far. I know it's a little different than what I usually do, but, the book is so large and the scope is so wide that I think that I can get some good work out of it. Keep track on my twitter page as well, if you want to see where I'm at, as usual. Till then, good night.

1 comment: