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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Game of Thrones - George R.R. Martin

In recent weeks there have been no end of blog posts about George R.R. Martin's iconic A Song of Ice and Fire (which by the way, I've called the Song of Fire and Ice in my head for the last 15 years) - none better than the brilliant duology (Part 1, Part 2) posted by Adam over the at the Wertzone.  With A Dance with Dragons due out in three weeks I knew I had to join the club and starting rereading the series.  God damn I forgot how good it was.

Seriously, I forgot.  Most of the fantasy I read from the ages of 15-20 that I've subsequently picked up in my late 20's and now early 30's have left me disappointed.  My memory of the novels have outstripped how good they aren't.  The incredible work being done today by authors like Joe Abercrombie, Steven Erikson, N.K. Jemisin, and a host of others have far exceeded their predecessors (not in all cases, but still).  So I picked up A Game of Thrones again with some trepidation - would it be as good as I remember?  It was, and more.

Just in case anyone reading this has *not* read Game of Thrones or has not seen the HBO series, let me give a brief synopsis... yeah right.  Go read it.  Stop now.  Go to Amazon or your local library or local bookseller and get it done.  Then come back and read my ramblings.  Back now?  Great.

  1. Bro.  There is some serious foreshadowing in this bitch.  I've read a lot of epic series in my day - name it and I've probably read it.  No one has more command of his world and story arc than Martin does.  I have no doubt that Martin has plotted every nook and cranny of his story and his world from the moment he put pen to paper on a Game of Thrones 20 years ago.
  • Tyrion Lannister is the most iconic character in fantasy.  Gandalf?  Please.  Drizzt?  Pfft.  Pug?  Elric?  Belgarath?  Thomas?  No. No. No.  Tyrion is the cats pajamas, ok?  He's tortured, and callous, but also tries to do the right thing.  Or does he?  Is he only doing what he does to pay back his shitty father?  I have no idea!  That's what makes him so amazing.  That and he's a killer limbo player.
     B. Is Ned an anti-villain?  
So we hear all kinds of talk about anti-heroes, right?  A protagonist whose character is at least in some regards conspicuously contrary to that of the archetypal hero, and is in some instances its antithesis.  Tyrion is clearly an anti-hero, for example.  An anti-villain would be someone who acts contrary to good, but does so with heroic intentions. 
Sure Ned was acting with honor - Stannis is the heir - yet if he had bent either in support of Joffrey or placed himself and/or Renly on the throne he could have stabilized the realm and kept his family alive.  He wouldn't do it and thus brought the evils of war to every doorstep in the realm.  Yes, Ned fits all the heroic stereotypes, but he's not a hero - just as Stannis isn't a hero in the later books.  Martin hammers the notion that honor and justice are not in themselves "good". And boy does he do it well.
Anyway, these are just some thoughts I had after my reread of the first book.  I've already started A Clash of Kings.  More thoughts in the days ahead leading up the release of A Dance with Dragons.

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