Saturday, 12 May 2012

A Game Of Thrones by George R. R. Martin Part Two

So this is it - Book one of this series is finished and, as much as I loved it, I can't move straight on to the second book. This isn't because I don't have the second book, I have the first four, it's because the first book asks the reader to give it your feelings and brain power, screws around with both for the entire time you're reading and then hands them back to you at the end as a screwed up, drained mess before daring you to pick up the second book. Now I don't know about you folks but I need time to straighten my head and heart out again and let them fill back up before jumping back in the ring!

What also doesn't help is the fact that all of the chapters (as mentioned in review Part One) are written from the perspectives of different main characters (about eight of them taking turns) so you do end up sympathising with all of them at some point or another which means that a fondness for them all takes root - and this is deadly! Martin's world isn't one where bad guys always get their come-uppance (points if you get the bad movie reference) and the good guys come out on top. No, this world is life, this is reality in a book dealing with the fact that there are real shades of grey and keeping to your honour or doing the 'right thing' won't always get you rewarded.

Unfortunately I can't really tell you much about the plot without giving anything away and being lambasted for even the slightest spoiler so I'm really just sticking to my feelings here.

This book, this series probably, is fantasy writing on a dark, gritty scale. No magic, no foolish wand waving, this is all about creating a believable world with believable, flawed characters. Even the most honourable appearing person is shown to have flaws on some level and it is that sort of thing that will make you keep coming back to the book even after you've had to put it down for making you upset or angry.

The whole setting of the lands and the people in them are believable in that you're pretty sure that's exactly how real people would act given their statuses and situations they find themselves in, they all have doubts and all make mistakes - which is human nature - and it's captured and written down well. This sort of political intrigue and trickery along with the battles and suspense has ruined me for other fantasy books out there as I found myself in a bookshop today thinking 'hmm, doesn't sound as good as...' and putting books back on the shelf!

What George R. R. Martin has created here is something that may come close to my favourite fantasy book, Gormenghast (Mervyn Peake), in it's writing, showing human nature in all it's glory - warts, lies and all - and still managing to have so many underlying story plot threads that are barely visible to the reader and only being hinted at.

I strongly suggest this book to any epic fantasy lovers who want something a bit different from the standard offerings in that section. I will happily be moving on to the second book once I've had enough time to iron my inner self out.


kimba88 said...

ooh dark and gritty i am in. This is totally one my wish list. I am saving for the box set!

Buzz_B said...

I really couldn't recommend it more hun! Thankfully I was given a gift card for a bookstore that also does eBooks & they had a package deal thing for the first 4 as eBooks :)

Ryan said...

I've finished the first two. Like you, I can't read them in a row. I'm taking about 6 months off between books. It's working so far.