I’m not a person who reads a lot of fantasy. Or even really any. At all. I’d tried to read the Lord of the Rings trilogy, but was not successful until I’d seen all of the movies. And even then I had to struggle through the scenes that weren’t filmed.
And yes, as an avid reader and as an occasional writer, this shames me greatly.
My biggest problem with fantasy novels is seeing this world that the author is trying so hard to create. And reading A Game of Thrones has been no different. I’ve consciously put forth the effort,(1) but have had to struggle through some parts.
The trick in fantasy novels, I think, is to create an incredibly rich and diverse world without boring the everlasting shit out of your reader. Tolkien, in my humble(2) opinion, failed. Miserably. Well, half-miserably. He did create an incredibly rich and diverse world.
George R.R. Martin honestly doesn’t do a whole lot better. Half of the book is just about the slowest build-up to anything ever, and half of the rest is battles and war. Though he’s very good about describing how a character looks and dresses in a particular scene, he often leaves me guessing as to the actual scenery. He’s also got a little bit of an edge over Tolkien in that his main characters are at least human, but he doesn’t use that edge to help me imagine the landscape.
Nevertheless, I find myself incredibly intrigued by the story. I have about 100 pages left to read and I’m reasonably certain that I’ll try reading the next book in the series. Probably not right away – I have a few John Green books to tackle – but soon.
And the weird part? It’s that I hope this book is a slow build-up to really cool stuff. I find I care very little about the actual game of thrones. The Starks are boring (except for Bran). The Lannisters are assholes. The Baratheons are inept. I barely even care at all about who sits on the Iron Throne at the end.
But John Snow is cool. And The Wall is cool. And whatever the hell the Others are is cool.(3) And the story of Daenerys and the Dothraki is so freaking awesome I’m willing to slog through three more books just to get to the fifth book, A Dance with Dragons. Which I hope – as the title suggests – is all about Dany.
And so here I am: a person who doesn’t read fantasy novel seriously considering reading four more fantasy novels. It’s dangerous business, reading outside your comfort-zone. You open the cover, and if you don’t keep your head, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.
- I should add that I have not seen the popular HBO series. The goal here was to read a fantasy novel without having someone else’s visuals in my head.
- humble and I-swear-to-you-not-at-all-trolling opinion.
- Though my love-affair with Ben Linus from Lost shows that I’ve long had a soft-spot for Others.