on game of thrones

Like everyone else I know, I’m working my way through George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire. For the uninitiated or uninformed, this is generally understood as Game of Thrones, which is only the first book in a larger series. Game of Thrones is also the title of the HBO series that will probably last at least 3 but not more than 4 seasons.

I read Game of Thrones while watching the series. As an English major and former English teacher, this was unique experience. Usually I watch the theatrical version after I read the book. Or I watch it instead of reading the book.  But in this case, I watched it while reading the book. Each week I’d read a little and watch a little. Sometimes the end of this week’s episode would finish after whatever I’d read, so I’d just skip ahead. Sometimes, I’d have to stop because I didn’t want to ruin whatever I’d might see on the show. I’d recommend it.

I quickly moved on to Clash of Kings, the second book in the series, but I gotta tell you: I was a little disappointed. Martin clearly understands how to create a deep and deeply layered world and he fills it with compelling characters, but at least in this particular book, nothing really “happens”. I’ve heard that book 3, Storm of Swords,  is the best of the series, so for anyone who wants to skip ahead, I’ve taken the liberty of writing a “review”. I tried publishing this on Amazon, but they rejected it. Not sure why. Probably because included a certain four-letter word, but it’s in the book, I swear. Anyway, here’s my review of Clash of Kings, book 2 of A Song of Ice and Fire:

Arya walks north. Makes friends with a strange man who may or may not be a wizard. Catelyn walks south. Makes friends with a lady knight. Then walks north. Gets mad at Jaime. Renly walks north. Hangs out with his brother, then dies. Stannis may or may not be sleeping with a witch. He walks north. Then south. Jon walks way north. Then walks south. Bran still can’t walk, unless he’s dreaming he’s a wolf. Hodor says “Hodor!” a bunch of times. Theon Greyjoy goes east, then south, then north and generally acts like a douchebag. His sister tells him to “talk to the hand”; but not the Hand of the King: that’s still Tyrion. He walks – no, waddles – around King’s Landing saying awesome things and generally being a political genius. But he’s still an ugly dwarf. And he still loves a whore. Sansa whines and cries and hangs out with Cersei, who doesn’t cry, but does whine a lot because she misses her brother and her dad and also because Joffrey is a total pain in the ass. Daenerys is in the east. She walks around with her boobs and her dragons. Jorah has a crush on her. There are two guys with less than 10 fingers. They’re cool but not critical. There’s a big fight to see who gets to rule the realm except, it’s really more like the semi-finals because Robb is wandering all over the north being king, but ravens can’t find him. He never loses battles he shouldn’t lose. He probably would lose if he had to fight Tywin, but he doesn’t because Tywin shits gold. Also, Winterfell falls.

That’s it. That’s the whole story…at least the whole second part of the story. But now I’m halfway through the third book and still – nothing is happening. People are still walking around. Some people are fighting. Some people are dying. And whatshername is still hanging out over there with her dragons.

I suppose in some ways A Song of Ice and Fire is a lot like life, at least in the sense the you never really know what the next chapter holds. But I’m not sure I want my books to be a lot like life. I want my literature to go somewhere and do something. Characters should move into and through conflict in exciting and creative ways. Writers should dazzle me with well crafted sentences while taking me a to a place I’ve never been before.

In the real world I understand that people have to wander and wonder and struggle and fight and suffer. I get that. I accept that I don’t know what the next chapter holds. But I’m not supposed to. That’s not the deal. The deal is, I wake up every day and do the best I can with what I have. And when that gets too frustrating…well, that’s why there’s a market for fantasy novels in the first place.




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