…Than Never in the Game

Early in the new year,  I was having dinner with friends whom I adore, and it was something about their ecstatic, tandem eye rolls and Oh, my Gods! over the latest season of Game of Thrones that finally convinced me to let go of my resistance and start watching from the beginning. In a few months I had binged my way through the series. And yeah, I’m hooked. Another friend recommend I read the book(s)–ugh! I’m not one to read those doorstopper, fantasy series, but before I knew it I had ordered the expensive, illustrated hardcover GOTs, and today (after taking several breaks to read other books) I finally finished the first volume of A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin, and even though I knew it was coming from watching the show, I was blown away by its operatic, pyromaniacal, dragon birthing climax!

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The book definitely helped me understand the series, and vice versa. as everyone familiar with the series knows, there are many characters to keep straight, and a lot of (ahem) ground to cover. I was grateful for the map many times. But despite the story’s complexities, Martin’s concise writing style and dimensional characters are tethered to a clear logic within the realm of fantasy, so that by the end of the book I really did believe in dragons. I think that’s the key to success in this genre. The world Martin builds works because its opulent impossibilities ride tandem with strict laws and codes, brewed in a cauldron of the most extreme human passions, all of them grounded in reality.

Strange Magic

The magic isn’t easily obtained in GOTs, but remains a dark and mysterious force beyond human comprehension. Maybe it’s the Harry Potter effect (which I confess I haven’t read; I know, I know ) but it seems like every time I make an attempt to pick up a new fantasy novel (particularly the YA variety) some moody teenage girl is waving a wand because she has inherited some nebulous gift that allows her to fly out her window into different worlds and…even though she’s so insecure she can change into a wolf or a sea turtle or a…yawn. Magic that comes so easily and silly isn’t magic at all. It should always be treated with reverence and fear: the darkest force comes with a heavy price. Take that away and you take away all the fun. Martin brought be back in touch with why I loved fantasy as a kid (I confess not Tolkein) but Heavy Metal comics and prog rock epics.  He also tapped me back into the ever-nuturing bloodline of  history and legend : Shakespeare, Malory, Spenser, the Valkyries, and the Knights Templar.

Call me an adult, but I enjoy the grit, the violence, and the sex if there’s a purpose. In GOTs the purpose is power and it makes sense because that’s reality (I think it took on a special significance for me during the current political drama) but within that reality we get guards, knights, squires, kings, eunuchs, fair maidens, evil queens, witches, incestuous lovers, three dragons, a snarky dwarf, and one hot bastard. What’s not to love!

I’d like to think that my late in the game appreciation for GOTs will get me on a fantasy reading bender, but I think George R.R. Martin will keep me busy for a while. Today I bought the second book , and with my mini, white direwolf by my side I’ll carry on through Westeros and beyond the wall. I can’t wait until the new season begins.

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My mini direwolf approves.
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One thought on “Better Late in the Game…

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