I think there is a tendency for people to dismiss what you find based on the way you came to the material. It really should not matter. The point is you discovered something for yourself.
The “fantasy” genre of literature is something I had pretty much abandoned after high school. I also never had a good reason to return to anything within the genre except for The Lord of the Rings series. So I had not been paying attention to the genre. I am always looking for new TV series to watch and I heard reviews for HBO’s new series Game of Thrones. (I do not have cable so I have to wait for the DVD’s to hit Netflix. So when it comes to TV series especially the ones on cable I am always about 6 months to a year behind in watching them.) The series is based on the books by George R.R. Martin who is a writer I was not familiar with either. I wanted to read at least the first in the series to see how well (or maybe not) the TV series plays to the book. I was curious on how the adaptation may work. However, the DVD’s will not be available until March.
I bought the book and 800 pages of story made take pause. I have not tackled reading a book of this amount in a while. However, I made it a goal to read at least one chapter a day. Side track a moment. It is also a goal of mine to read new authors this year and tackle more from my “To Be Read” pile.
This book took about 2 ½ weeks to read. And it was so worth the time. This book is filled with very intriguing characters. Each chapter is written from the “point of view” of its various characters. There is continuity between them all. It is a long book but it rewards the reader. Every time, there was something of “cliché” moment for “fantasy” writing the author goes the other way. Then I found myself drawn in even more to the story line where it became a book that was hard to put down.
I am not going to write a full review of the details. I want to give you the opportunity to discover it for yourself. I believe this work is worth the effort. I was so taken by the story than the day after I finished this book I immediately picked up the second volume Clash of Kings. It looks like Mr. Martin’s series is going to be with me for the next two months. After that I will need a new author to tackle from another genre. I am open to suggestions. I do not want to get stuck for too long in any one particular genre.
I was thinking why this series has gained some of the spotlight when it comes to our popular culture. First, HBO knows how to promote a series. They are also more willing to take on shows that big 3 networks would not have the courage to show. But then again the FCC has a thin skin when it comes to the few of the “offended”. A series also brings attention to the book it is based on. In this case, I think it is the tone of this book which is capturing the audience. This is a story about the most “seductive and addictive” drug ever known and that is “power”. This story highlights various factions trying to obtain that “power” and the characters that are caught up in that struggle.
This book I think captures some undertones that are going on in the U.S. culture at this time. The first thing is these are characters that swear oaths and go into actions to defend those oaths. We live in a culture where it seems like those who are in “power” are constantly saying “I did not say that. I was taking out of context.” We have too many so called leaders now that hide behind lawyers, insurance regulations and opinion polls. People want to experience people who are the “antithesis” of that even if it is in a fictional setting. Secondly, I also think that our current Presidential Election process (or better yet “farce”) is bringing people to this series. In the story, it is a kingdom being ripped apart by various factions with the goal somehow reuniting that same kingdom as a whole someday. How this series will come to that ending is yet to be known (at least for myself)? It is not healthy for a society to have at least two years of two parties with various factions fighting it out for the job of the President. Two years running for a four year job is not an efficient way to run a society. At least not forward and up. But it seems like a good way to “go into the ground”. Ideology cannot be fought on a daily basis. There has to be some “pragmatics” at work. This book says as much about our present times as it does for the time in which it set.