The spotlight is shared by Pat Rothfuss and George Martin this week, the former garnering publicity following his recent release of The Wise Man’s Fear, and the latter on the forthcoming release of his HBO tv series. In addition to the barrage of coverage on these great authors, there are reviews of books by great authors that crossed this week: Glen Cook, Peter S. Beagle and Daniel Abraham.
A Dance with Dragons, the long-awaited 5th novel in the Song of Ice and Fire series finally, after 6 long years, has a release date. July 12, 2011. For more details, check out the full Entertainment Weekly report.
The fantasy blogosphere onslaught continues this week, with reviews of books new and old alike, from The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin to A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin. Interviews with Brandon Sanderson and Ursula K. Le Guin crossed this week, and we see releases from top authors Tad Williams, Joe Abercrombie and more. More buildup for the Game of Thrones HBO series with a spotlight at the L.A. Times and a new “artisans” video hitting the web. Even further GRRM news with Bantam purchasing the comic book rights for A Song of Ice and Fire, and cap the week off with a trailer for the new Lord of the Rings video game!
A triage of interviews with heavy hitters this week: Jim Butcher, Guy Gavriel Kay and George R.R. Martin. The Martin interview is a podcast with boatloads of good content. We’ve also got a pair of reviews of Peter V. Brett’s work, as well as a post on one of my secret pleasures: epic fantasy comics. I’ve got graphic novel editions of Feist’s Magician and Martin’s Hedge Knight, so finding quality fantasy translated into comic form is always a fine hunt for me. We cap this week with a hilarious rant at The Rejectionist on my new favorite holiday: International Raistlin Majere Day. Enjoy.
Book review of George R.R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones
It’s not only a pleasure to revisit A Game of Thrones, the first book of George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series, its somewhat of a necessity. With each edition of the growing series averaging between seven-hundred and one-thousand pages, and Martin going on four years between the release of the fourth and fifth novels, its getting a little tough to remember the details of the first novel which was released in 1996. And a growing series it is. The fourth and fifth novels were originally planned as one, but when they grew too large for Martin’s publisher to release as one edition, it was decided the fourth book would be split in two, pushing the total for the series from six books to seven. If you’re not a fan of truly epic fantasy, you can’t say I didn’t warn you: A Game of Thrones defines epic.
It’s also worth noting that for this revisit to the A Game of Thrones and the seven kingdoms, I’ve chosen to go the audiobook route. I find that an audiobook is the perfect format to revisit a book that I’ve already read. I don’t typically re-read books – there’s just simply too much good stuff out there – but an audiobook presents not only an alternative method (I can listen while working, for instance), but an entirely different creative presentation. Reader Roy Avers does a fantastic job of bringing the characters in A Game of Thrones to life, adding a new dimension to the novel, and resurrecting subtleties of character’s personalities that I may have missed the first time around. That said, this review is of the book itself, not strictly the audiobook.
George R.R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones is the quintessential genre novel. It breaks the once thought of boundaries of what an epic fantasy can and should be. Its got an ensemble of poignant moments, matched with robust dialogue. While thick and twice the size of some of the The Lord of the Rings novels, to set a basis for comparison, I was not once left feeling like the pace could be picked up a bit, as I was more than once during Tolkien’s series. While lengthy, every bit of the juicy story in A Game of Thrones is worth your time. Parents should beware, this is not a novel for the children, or the faint of heart. There are adult themes, and a few gruesome moments. However, Martin does not go into extreme detail when the opportunity presents itself.
Set in a world where the seasons are unbalanced, and it has been Summer for much too long, A Game of Thrones takes place on the brink of what the elders believe to be the long winter, which is approaching at a sluggish pace. This land has everything one could ask for in an epic fantasy, from the frost of The Wall and Castle Winterfell in the North, the islands in the East and the West, to the sun-streaked lands of Dorne in the South. Much of A Game of Thrones takes place in the uncharted Summer lands, where the Dothraki horse people roam free. The meat of the novel take place in the heart of Westeros, in the midlands, in the castles of the regal. If high court intrique is your taste, you’ll plenty here in A Game of Thrones.
While the characterization, dialog and setting development shine, the format of this novel is perhaps what is the most brilliant aspect of A Game of Thrones. Martin’s ability to write entire chapters from the point of view of such a vast variety of perspectives is what truly amazes me. He runs the gamut: the middle-aged “king in the north” faced with a proposition of a job upgrade versus more time with his family; his bastard son of fifteen; his wife, the confident, intelligent, strong woman; their son, a boy of nine; two of their daughters, twelve and ten; another thirteen year old girl; an imp; the list goes on an on. The dynamic of seeing a story from this many directions is compelling. The realism that is brought to a tale when an author can tell it in this fashion, and truly, and I mean truly, get into the skin of each of these characters, is something I doubt will happen ever again in fantasy fiction. A Game of Thrones is just simply unmatched.
The end product of an author having the ability to literally transform himself into so many well-established characters is a novel as multi-dimensional as A Game of Thrones. You begin to see the people in this world as real human beings with real problems and real beliefs. The story takes on not one, but a vast variety of plots and sub-plots, each of them more consuming than the next. The way the story lines diverge and inevitably cross paths again weaves a tale that is simply pure genius.
For this, I can give nothing but my best rating possible to A Game of Thrones. George R.R. Martin has truly given us a world and people worth believing. Isn’t this the reason we all started reading fantasy novels so many years ago?
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