Sunday, January 23, 2011

winter is coming!

After months of not having read a book, I finally got back into the habit. One of my favorite things in the world is finding a book that keeps me riveted and so anxious to read more that sleep becomes a nuisance. The book(s) in question this time is George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series. I've wanted to read the series for a while now - it's almost always mentioned in fantasy fans' favorite book lists. And yes, I look up these lists, because I'm geeky like that.

The push i needed to actually start though, was the news that HBO were adapting the books for a TV series. I mean, If it's good enough to be adapted for TV, surely it's good enough to read! And boy, am I glad i read the books.

What struck me particularly about the A Song of Ice and Fire series is how unlike it is to books typically classified as 'fantasy'. Most fantasy books I've read follow this basic storyline: Young Person (usually nondescript, working as a castle scullion/farm hand/stable boy) is forced to go on a dangerous journey, aided by an old mentor (most often of the magical variety), develops awesome skills along the way, battles and defeats Evil Sorcerer/God/King, gains worldwide acclaim and sometimes even a crown.

A Song of Ice and Fire is refreshingly different. For one, there is a noticeable lack of magic. Apart from a growing but largely unnoticed supernatural threat from the cold north and the existence of the occasional mythical creature, the main plots revolve around more realistic scenarios. The story is mostly politically motivated, as suggested by the first book's title 'A Game of Thrones', and involves court intrigues, deception, treachery, powerful families and political marriages. Characters are meticulously fleshed out, and no character is ever forgotten. I should probably add that no character is safe either, which adds to the twists and excitement of the books.

The story is seen through several POV characters scattered throughout the main continent of Westeros and the distant Eastern continent: Adults with a conscience, adults without a conscience, bastard sons, brave children, cowardly men...even silly little girls. But the books are by no means meant for a young audience. Incest, adultery, rape, profanity and all manner of debauchery are heavily featured in the books.

A Song of Ice and Fire is probably one of the best series I've read. The only drawback? Only 4 of 7 planned books have been released. The last published book was A Feast for Crows, released 5 years ago. Allow me to take a moment here to wish Mr Martin a long and healthy life.

Thankfully, there is still HBO's TV adaptation to look forward to. Premiering in April, the first season will be based on the first book A Game of Thrones. From what I've seen in the teasers and behind-the-scenes clips, the casting and production looks pretty good. Check it out! (Oh yeah, i am so pimping this show out)

Winter is coming, yo!

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