It probably looks, for those who follow this blog, as if I’ve given up reading, or at least given up reviewing books. But the fact is that I’ve been absorbed in a single book series since the middle of June, and have waited till I read all five books before posting a review.
The series is, of course, George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, well-known for many years to avid fantasy readers and now known to a far wider audience through the HBO TV series Game of Thrones. I’d never picked up the series, having it vaguely confused in my mind with Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series (“Which is the one where the fans dogpiled the author for not writing the next book fast enough? And which is the one where the guy died before he could finish the series?” In case you’re wondering, the George R.R. Martin books are the first of those … GRRM is still very much alive, though not writing fast enough to please some of his fans). I’m a fantasy reader, but a picky rather than a voracious one: there’s lots of fantasy I don’t like and I rarely feel compelled to start a series that’s not even finished yet.
But the buzz over the TV series got me interested. Not that I saw the series; I’m so out of the loop on cable TV that not only do I not have HBO, I have nothing beyond our two basic, static-filled stations, and TV comes to me only months after the fact, in packaged DVD form. But this series was so pervasive in pop culture that I kept hearing about it — online, from people at work, everywhere. Apparently it’s advertised pretty widely too, because when I said I was reading A Game of Thrones, my kids, who watch more TV than I do but certainly have never seen HBO, both said in unison: “In the game of thrones, you win … or you die!!!” They’d seen the ads.
The amazing thing was that everyone seemed to think the series was pretty good. And I love living in an era when it’s possible to make great, believable TV and movie adaptations of fantasy novels. So I got intrigued and thought I’d check out the books, so that if I liked them I could watch season 1 of the series when it came out on DVD.
And I liked them. I did.