by Mike Shea on 25 November 2006
There are few heroes in "Game of Thrones", "Clash of Kings", or "Storm of Swords". The few heroes we meet often directly suffer because of their honor. Villains are plentiful, but even the villains sometimes engage in heroic acts.
George R.R. Martin created a world in the first four books of this series. He built a world that is cruel and careless for those that walk within it. He built characters that act as they would, not as he wanted them to act. This isn't a book with a pre-conceived message, meaning, plot, or conclusion, this is a book of real people acting in real situations all within a deep and rich world of fantasy and history.
George R.R. Martin's "Song of Ice and Fire" series is the second best fantasy series I've read since Stephen King's "Dark Tower" series.
I want to give examples of the depth and power of this book but anything I say will steal some of the joy of reading these books. Each of these books are huge tomes. I sit now 100 pages away from the end of the third 900 page tome, Storm of Swords. George Martin, on his podcast, says that the series will go for another four books including Feast of Crows, available now, and A Dance with Dragons, The Winds of Winter, and A Dream of Spring; all forthcoming.
Like the Dark Tower series, these books aren't meant to have a solid beginning, middle, and end. We begin the series deep into an ongoing battle of politics and blood that has raged for decades from roots thousands of years old. The way the story is written, it is clear that the characters rule their own lives based on circumstances and the world around them - not the will of Martin himself.
Martin has built a huge pool table with hundreds of balls and smashed the cue ball into the middle of them. Now he records the motions he sees as a result. He couldn't possibly calculate the end results, he can only capture them as they happen.
Some will compare Martin's books to the Wheel of Time series by Jordan. Such a comparison is folly. Jordan's typical "farmer boy saves the universe" plotline and severe lack of action is a black contrast to the constant action, rich story, and deep characters of Martin's books. The only similarity between Jordan's work and Martin's work is the weight.
I don't know if I will continue to like the series as much as I do now. My wife isn't crazy about the first two hundred pages of Feast of Crows. I have learned never to judge a current work by the skill of the writer in past works. If the Matrix, the Village, and the X-Files have taught me anything, they have taught me to trust nothing.
In the mean time, I plan to curl up with Martin's tomes as often as I am able and I plan to dress warm.
Winter is coming.
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