“‘Let me give you some counsel, bastard,’ Lannister said. ‘Never forget who you are, for surely the world will not. Make it your strength. Then it can never be your weakness. Armor yourself in it, and it will never be used to hurt you.'”
“A Game of Thrones: Book One of a Song of Fire and Ice” by George R. R. Martin
It should really be of no surprise that my own fantasy works have been singing so much lately when one considers the excellent reading material I’ve been scouring through to inspire me. It’s also a shame that I seem to have put off getting into George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Fire and Ice series until just now; this is what epic fantasy is made of and it’s absolutely brilliant. My roommate has sped ahead of me onto the next audio book, and she’s even already ordered the HBO series on DVD. Me, for now, I’m just content to sit here and glow about the book and everything that it has been doing for me and my own writing.
Spanning throughout several lands across the world, A Game of Thrones is justly titled, as several factions and many players cross the board in a bid for power. In the south, the Lannisters are taking steps to secure the throne; in the far reaches of a barbarian land, the last remaining Targaryens seek strength with brutal nomads. And to the north, in Winterfell, the Starks are caught somewhere in between, thrown into the political games around them not entirely by choice, while, beyond the Wall, something else far greater than the battles fought by men stirs…
A Game of Thrones is exceptionally well-paced for a big heavy fantasy epic; Martin does a wonderful job of making clear, concise characters, rarely muddling us up with too many details, though never sparing us on the rich depth involved in his world. Even his battle scenes are swift, not weighted down with too many details, and you can bet he’s not wasting time on lengthly passages about riding (*cough*Tolkein*cough*Jordan) The story plays out from the perspectives of a handful of main players, from Lord Eddard Stark, his wife, and four of his children, to Daenerys Targaryen, bartered to barbarian by her brother though her own strength builds in her experience, to Tyrion Lannister, dwarfish brother to the twins working their machinations to take over the throne. Each narrative is vibrant with the personality of the character, giving us so many rich perspectives on the situations that have you vying a little bit for every side. While your find yourself with very clear loyalties, they’re often complex, as the real world may be. Part of you wants to root for one faction, while another part of you sympathized with the other, and another part still is cheering for the third element to the game. I love that, in my reading, there is no clear bad guy; even the good guys make bad moves. No one is completely villainized, and those who may seem to be on a pedestal are really just standing on crumbling rubble.
Okay, okay. A good way into the book, I finally did agree with my roommate that Prince Joffrey is completely terrible. But I maintain that he’s the only one. (Yes, those of you familiar, I even have a soft spot for Viserys; bitch is crazy, but I love that crazy is a completely natural response to the position he’s in and his obsessions taking over him).
I cannot express enough how much this book has rekindled in me my love for fantasy. Growing up, it was the DragonLance books and the Wheel of Time that capture my imagination and inspired me to want to write my own fantasy worlds, too. A Game of Thrones is awakening that spark again, and if I can make my Aryneth series as rich, as engaging, as spectacular as A Song of Fire and Ice by even a fraction, I will be happy.
Even better, this works toward my second book in the Tea & Books Challenge, too!
Books read: 8/100.