For the past month or so, I have been reading George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series. Not familiar? Okay, let me try again.
Perhaps you have (most probably) watched the immensely popular HBO production, Game of Thrones, which sports an AMAZING cast and an even more amazing plot and storyline. If you haven’t watched it, well, you good sir/fair lady, are missing out on A LOT.
Anywho, Game of Thrones gets its namesake from the first book in the A Song of Ice and Fire series, which I discovered after I cried my ass off from the beauty of the show’s season finale (don’t worry, no spoilers here). Sick to my stomach from the idea that I have to wait a YEAR for season two, I set out on a quest to obtain copies of the books, succeeded, and… ruined my life.
It’s like Martin’s (or The God, as I like to call him) books ripped open a black hole from under my feet and sucked me in completely. To call his books page-turners would be an understatement. They transport the reader into an age of enormous castles and sprawling lands lush with detail of either beauty or death and decay. It seats the reader with the lords and ladies as they feast on dishes that are so richly described you’ll hear your stomach grumble while reading. Beautiful isn’t it? Yes. And no.
Therein lies the gem behind the behemoth of a bestseller that is the A Song of Ice and Fire series. Inevitably compared to epic fantasies like Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, ASOIAF lives up to the standards, and then some. Unlike other books in the genre, this one isn’t a fight between good and evil. Far from that, actually. The books shows the reader the dirt and grit behind the coats and splendid armor of the denizens. Whereas LOTR (not that I’m taking away anything from that classic) shows you the epic quest of saving Middle Earth, the black and white of things, ASOIAF shows you all the shades of grey in the game of thrones. ALL OF IT.
If you have only watched the series, then you probably have the notion that
- Jaime and Cersei Lannister are evil
- You don’t like Joffrey, no, not at all
- Tyrion is one of the best characters in the show
- Littlefinger and Varys are conniving sons of bitches
- You love all the Starks, EXCEPT SANSA
- Daenerys and Khal Drogo’s chemistry/love story is to die for
By the end of the first season, you would have drawn a fine line on who’s evil and who you would be rooting for to win the game of thrones. But by the end of the third book (I’m just starting book four) those lines would be blurred as hell, and you’d be doubting where your allegiances lie. The characters are so well-written and well-developed that you would be emotionally investing in them without you knowing it. And the plot twists will kill you slowly, each one so perfectly timed that it catches you off guard and takes you by surprise. Bookgasms, left and right, as The Queen would call it.
The downside? You need a pretty wide vocabulary and a damn good imagination to keep up with Martin’s writing. This is not one to be read by beginners, take my word for it. It’s also pretty lengthy—roughly a thousand pages per book, but it’s worth every page. And lastly, it’s a HUGE DISTRACTION from the things you have to get done. Life ruiner indeed.
So if you don’t mind spending hours and hours on your bed or on a chair, forgetting to eat, sleep, piss, poop, breathe, and socialize, pick up a copy of A Game of Thrones and lose yourself in Westeros.