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Reading Game of Thrones

November 30, 2011

A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin, or, more accurately, the whole series of A Song of Ice and Fire, is one of the reasons I decided I was in favor of an e-reader.

Carrying thousands and thousands of pages of epic story around is so much easier when it’s in a slim little device. Although, there is one drawback: the story jumps between different point-of-view characters from chapter to chapter. The sequential paging through of an e-reader format doesn’t allow for peeking ahead when a chapter ends on a dire cliffhanger. Martin is, to say the least, not shy, about killing or maiming characters.

I also wish I could skip a few pages of certain characters’ perspectives. (Theon Greyjoy is odious; and I hope he meets one of Martin’s trademark sticky ends.)

Reading the books makes me even more impressed with the way they’ve been translated into a television series. I caught only a couple of installments, (I don’t have HBO) enough to know that the series is gorgeously filmed, and really well cast. The actors I have seen fit seamlessly into the way they’re described in the books. (I already knew I adored Peter Dinklage. He makes Tyrion even more fun!)

I know there’s a tendency to call any long series with a war and a fantasy realm an epic, but I think it’s especially true of A Song of Ice and Fire. Switching between point of view characters spread out across diverse settings is a good technique for breaking up the action, and keeping the story on a good pace. Especially with the aforementioned nasty cliffhangers and Martin’s penchant for merciless plot twists. (The Starks can’t have nice things. But neither can almost anybody else.)

Something I’ve noticed about reading well-crafted fantasy, especially something of this scope, is the way the rhythms of the language get into my head. “Nymeria.” “Dothraki,” “Tyrion Lannister.”  I like the way the words look on the page, and the way they sound. I’ve been known to be nitpicky about fantasy language-craft, even to the point where it can make or break the way I get into a novel. Martin’s language makes me happy. He’s tied his invented words to a strong sense of sound and place. His descriptions are lovely and clear, easy to imagine.

Of course, it doesn’t hurt that food and mealtimes play a key role in plot and social structure within the story. I have fond memories of the tasty treats Tom Colicchio put together for the Game of Thrones food truck. (Duck! Lamb! Swoon!)

From the dragons’ heads hidden away in King’s Landing, to the immense, and haunting scope of the wall. Easy to visualize. Even without the TV series to shape the picture for me. It’s only a matter of time before I dream a Game of Thrones dream… hopefully just something pretty and atmospheric, rather than a plot-fueled nightmare.



One Comment leave one →
  1. December 3, 2011 8:51 pm

    The television series is actually really good, though I’m not sure how close to the book it is as I haven’t had the money, nor the chance to read it. Thank you for posting a review!

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