Thursday 14 June 2012

In which I embark on a new adventure: A Game of Thrones

For the last year, since Sky Atlantic started showing HBO's adaptation of the epic fantasy series, I've been unable to escape reading and hearing about A Game of Thrones. A lot. All the time. From every direction. I've lost count of how many of my friends have told me I should read this series, or have been surprised that I haven't, or threatened to disown me and/or hit me over the head with the Dance With Dragons hardback if I didn't at least give the series a try. But I wasn't sure this was for me. I like my fantasy epics, although I've read less high fantasy in the last few years, but all I knew about A Song of Ice and Fire was that it was about fantasy world politics. And swording. Lots of swording. Lots of death.
But people are dropping references to this series everywhere, and I'm seeing people reading it on public transport, or people are buying it, and I'm starting to think this is a thing I want to be part of. I want to join  see it at work and can't help taking a peek - and read a page or two. This series is calling to me and now I am answering the call. My colleague Maria has lent me the first book, A Game of Thrones, which I will start reading and reviewing shortly. (As it's such a whopper of a book, I may review it a bit at a time, if I have enough to say about it. But not a chapter at a time as I gather there are many, many, short chapters, and that would just be silly.)

I still don't know a lot about this series, am not sure whether I will love it or not. I'm giving it a few days after Lord of the Rings because how can it compare? And I'm well aware that, apart from being epic fantasy doorstops, killing off Sean Bean in the adaptation and being written by slightly curmudgeonly old chaps with two Rs for middle names, these are completely different stories. It's like when people try to lump together Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter, or Harry Potter and Twilight, or Twilight and The Hunger Games - all completely different genres within the wider genre of fantasy. Do not show your ignorance in such matters! Just don't do it. 

All I know, or think I know about A Game of Thrones is:

  • there are swording and politics
  • Pages and pages of family trees at the back of the books.
  • Sean Bean is in it, and therefore dies. (I think I know how he dies, because I may have seen a spoiler clip in one of those The Many Deaths of Sean Bean videos on Youtube, but I don't know who he plays.)
  • George R. R. Martin has no problem with killing off anyone - never mind if you think their survival is necessary for the story, or common decency, or because you like them. Don't trust him with anyone you like.
  • A few character names: Ned Stark, Daenerys, Jon Snow, Joffrey.
  • Everybody hates Joffrey.
  • Someone gives birth to dragons. Is this right? Is this literal or metaphorical, and does it make any more sense in context or have I got completely the wrong end of the stick? Please don't actually answer this. 
  • That is about it.
Right now I'm only committing to reading the first book in the series, A Game of Thrones, because there are a lot of pages to get through, in one book alone, if I don't like it. Two of the books have been split in half for the paperback publication, presumably so that there is a hope of getting to the end of a volume without the book falling to bits. My challenge to George R. R. Martin is this: Make me care. 

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