I first heard of these books through the HBO series, and watched it well before I started reading the novels. I seemed to hear about them everywhere – on twitter, on Facebook, celebrities – everyone seemed to be either reading them or recommending them. Finally it was a post from gnomeangel that encouraged me to finally buy the first book, A Game of Thrones. Her assertion that she wasn’t a normal fantasy-genre lover but had loved the series just sold me.
I am a fantasy reader from way back, as I have blogged about before, but I stopped after I finished university. I am familiar with Eddings, Feist, Williams, Anthony, McCaffrey, Lawhead, Pratchett, Douglass and the rest. But up until last year, somehow I had managed never to hear of George R R Martin, a fact which still amazes me.
This man is a genius. A bloody genius. And skilled in writing in ways I couldn’t have imagined. In addition, the epic scale of the world he has created in these books is just staggering. Sure, fantasy writers have been drawing maps and making up people and cultures to populate them with since Tolkien (and probably before) but it is not since J.R.R. that I have encountered such attention to detail in a world that has such scope.
Every continent has its people and each have towns, leaders, their own culture and customs. In Westeros, each noble house has a name, a seat, a house sigil. Each family has fathers, sisters, uncles, aunts, sons, daughters and wards. How George keeps track of them all is beyond me.
But what I really adore about this series is that it’s solidly for grown-ups. It’s brutal, violent, full of swearing and death and violence. Characters commit the most heinous of crimes and others are noble and honorable. There’s incest and beheading and torture and betrayal. And deceit, plotting, machinations and intrigue of Machiavellian proportions. Love it!
One of the things I did not expect was how the author somehow manages to make me both love and then hate certain characters, and vice versa. As the story progresses, opinions you had formed in the first book are changed, and for some reason you start to feel sympathy for the plight of the person whom you first would have named as your most hated (for me, this was the case with Jamie, Cersei and Sansa). Uncanny.
My only problem now is the latest book in the series, A Dance With Dragons, is the last for now. And when I finish it, I’ll be waiting on tenterhooks for the next one, just like the rest of the fandom!
Season 2 of Game of Thrones will be shown in the US on April 1. Here’s hoping it won’t take long to reach Australia afterwards.