Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin (review)

Title: A Game of Thrones
Author: George R. R. Martin
Illustrator: N/A
Pages: 835
Genre: Fiction
Dewey Decimal: F Mar
ISBN: 0-553-57340-3
Cost: $7.99

In the age of men, there are few giants. George R. R. Martin is one of them.

While fellow authors call him "George 'Rail Road' Martin" and fans call him "GRRM," the man of many names knows what he's doing. I grew up reading Richard Scarry (explaining my verbosity). I then graduated to Franklin W. Dixon and hovered there for years. Until I discovered R. A. Salvatore in 1988. And as a die-hard fan, I placed him on a pedestal so high, he might have been a god.

As I grew older, wiser, and less interested in the cookie-cutter Drizzt novel that reminded me of those simple Hardy Boys books I'd read, I began to search for a new king of the genre. After a few years of floundering, I found many authors that I enjoyed. Some were even better than Salvatore. But none could quite knock over that pedestal.

Until the great bearded-one came. No, not Martin. Rothfuss. As in Patrick "wooly mammoth face" Rothfuss. It was then I realized everything else was crap, or at least smelled like it. Sure, Michael Chabon is a master of words and Joe Abercrombie is a master of swords and John Zeleznik is a master of writing a good story and not getting it published. But among these towered a man named Pat.

Where does GRRM factor into this story? He's like Godzilla if Pat is Mothra. The battle between them would be that epic. And there's another reason they easily fit into the same category (besides the beards), how much time it takes them to write the next installment. I'm sure you can easily search the interwebs and find all the evilness surrounding Pat and GRRM and their delay in writing. But I think Neil Gaiman said it best: "George R. R. Martin is not your bitch." To which I can easily reply: "You are right ser. In fact, I am his bitch."

Yes, I've latched onto the GRRM wagon of fandom and will be eagerly reading his books. Why? Because they are that good. For eight dollars you can buy yourself a trip that leads you on a rollercoaster of emotion. A trip that has real people, real conversations, and a hint of magic. This is a book that you may even want to throw against the wall because it's just that good.

For those of you that are already on that GRRM fandom wagon, apologies for boring you with my raves. For those of you who have never read GRRM, start now. A Game of Thrones will be on HBO soon, so you can double-dip on the goodness. But one warning for you newcomers. Do not, under any circumstances, become attached to a particular character. Of those I've come to like, 75% of them die. Yes, Martin is an evil god, but he tells a damn good story (it must be something with New Mexico making authors evil gods because S. M. Stirling does the same thing).

One parting thought for you newcomers. This is no "beach book." Martin doesn't tell you something for no reason. His words flow slowly, like Shakespeare, so take your time. And when you finish, check out this site as they re-read A Song of Ice and Fire (that's the name of the series, often abbreviated as ASOIAF).


John Zeleznik said...

The master is reviewed. It is known. I am not joking when I say that "A Game of Thrones" is the book that most changed my life. GRRM helped me find my voice and all words I've written since that brutally cold day in December in Oswego, NY when I discovered the book! That was 2000!

TK42ONE said...

Well, he hasn't changed my life, but he has certainly changed how I think of the fantasy genre. I'm not even sure I'd put him in the genre to be honest. He's more in line with what I call literature than fantasy.

dennis said...

Man, great analogies used in this post! The Name of the Wind has been sitting on my nightstand for months now - if Rothfuss is GRRM’s Mothra, I really should get on reading that.

In some aspects I envy your position of having the next three books still ahead of you - take your time (as you alluded to, no rush to get through them before the next book comes out) and enjoy the ride... only a few more deaths to deal with :)

And you are right, GRRM definitely adds something more literary to the genre.

TK42ONE said...

I don't know if it's good or bad that I use analogies all the time, but it helps me remember things.

And no, I'm not rushing into the next GRRM book. As dense as the first one was, I'll need some time to recover. But it is itching in the back of my mind already.

John Zeleznik said...

The next two books will leave you physically and emotionally exhausted.

Anonymous said...

I stopped recommending A Song of Ice and Fire. You will too when you realize ADWD is never coming out. Ever.

Soon you will be one of us...