Saturday, July 23, 2011

A Song of Ice and Fire

Okay, so becoming addicted to a looong series of fantasy novels a mere two books into my list is a small snag in my plan to read all of these books by march. But I think I can rise to the challenge.

I read the first novel (Game of Thrones) in George R.R. Martin's epic series A Song of Ice and Fire because, like so many others, I fell in love with the HBO TV show based on the books. For those of you who are tv watchers, I would highly recommend it, unless you are particularly squeamish or have a problem watching a lot of naked people. Because, I have said elsewhere, it really is tits and guts all the way down. Also there are dragons.

The books are hefty things, the first one nearly 800 pages, the second slightly longer, but they are so gripping that one barely notices the page numbers fly by. While on a wee holiday, I managed to rip through the second book A Clash of Kings and am at the moment managing to avoid getting straight into part one (yes, there is seriously a two-part book in this series) of book three.

The series is set in the land of Westoros, centering around the Seven Kingdoms and the families within them. The central family of the novel is House Stark, of Winterfell in the icy north. They become scattered across the Seven Kingdoms and embroiled in a huge war over the Iron Throne. There are so many characters with so many strange names that there is a list in the back of each book, with the families, their sigils, and their geographies to keep them all straight. It's like reading one of those epic Russian novels, except it's entertaining.

One thing I really like about these books is that there are lots of excellent strong female characters in them. Make no mistake, a lot of awful things happen to women in this series. The dudes in these books seem to really love rape (the covers should have gigantic trigger warnings on them) and the way it is brushed aside can be very off-putting, but there are some truly bad-ass ladies on the side of light (and quite a few who are pretty darn evil too). Lady Catelyn Stark is my favourite (possibly because she shares my name, we'll forgive the misspelling), she takes rich men captive, fights off wildlings and will walk through fire for her children. Queen Cersei Lannister is definitely one of the bad guys. She kills people and lies and cheats. I hate her living guts, but my goodness is she bad-ass. She, like Catelyn Stark, will do anything for her family and for power.

I would reccomend this series to every fantasy-lover out there, it is truly epic. If you aren't usually a fantasy fan I would suggest having a go at the TV show before reading the series, as it sticks very close to the first novel, taking whole chunks of dialogue straight from the book.

And now, I continue to fight my own battle, the one to stop me from just reading all of them in one go.

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