This Summer, my two older kids decided to join the swim team at our local pool. Having no idea what kind of commitment that entailed, I agreed, and on the first day, packed a paperback copy of A Game of Thrones into my pool bag — for JUST IN CASE I had a few minutes to read.
Fast-forward almost 3,000 pages…I had no idea that swim team would take up so much time, and that so very much of it would simply be sitting. And waiting. And sitting. And waiting. By the end of the season last week, I had just about finished A Storm of Swords. But enough about the inefficiency of kids’ swimming…time to talk about the game of thrones.
Of course, we watch and love the HBO series. And I had been curious about the books for a while, wondering if reading them would help me understand some of the more complex storylines on the show. I could never keep track of who was so-and-so’s bannerman, and who was king 12 generations ago. But I wasn’t in a huge rush to read the books, because “FANTASY”. I’m not too keen on Tolkien and the like, so I doubted that Martin would have much to offer me.
Boy, am I embarrassed about that assumption.
I’m so glad that I finally dove into this mad, crazy, upsetting, violent, scary, sometimes beautiful, oftentimes hilarious, and all-around amazing world.
And yes, reading the books definitely helped me to understand some of the more detailed plots on the show. But the books are so much more than that. The themes of power, family, honor, and pride are written of again and again, and I find it interesting to follow along to see which characters have which traits, and which characters change over the course of their storyline — both for the better or the worse.
Sure, I have some complaints, but really, they are so minor.
The sheer number of characters is overwhelming. I find myself flipping to the appendix constantly. Who belongs to which house? What’s their sigul? How are they related to other houses? Argh.
And when I’m not looking through the appendix or using wiki to look up the details of a character I’ve already forgotten about, I’m looking at maps. I have no idea where anything is. Ever. I feel like I should already know how close it is from Riverrun to Kings Landing, but really, I have no clue. The maps help. And speaking of maps, why don’t I ever get a map of where the Khaleesi is running around, freeing slaves? I could use a map of her travels, because without one I can’t really grasp the distances traveled by her weary bunch.
However, in general, its been a pretty positive experience. I think Martin is a much more talented writer than I ever would have guessed (seriously, last night when I finished the epilogue to A Storm of Swords, I had goose bumps. That’s some good writing there.). Sometimes I get mad at him (hello, Red Wedding), but other times, I am sort of in awe of his insanity (Purple Wedding? Whee!).
I really enjoyed the first two books, but I think I can safely say that the third was my favorite. The last third of the book was pretty much non-stop batshit crazy, in a good way. I know I’m about to head into the least favorite book of the series, so I hope I’m still as enthusiastic about the Song of Ice and Fire when I finally get around to reading Book 5.