… This is War.
To quote 30 Seconds To Mars, of course. 😉
It most certainly is, in the freaking masterful epic A Game of Thrones (A Song of Fire and Ice, #1), by the nerdly (it’s a compliment, people!) George R.R. Martin (I’m gonna assume the R.R. is to make the masses immediately think of Tolkien, which is a cheap trick, and actually made me initially think LESS of the series, but no matter). This is the first in an ongoing fantasy series that will potentially contain seven volumes, with five already published. I say potentially because apparently there are a lot of people who think Martin won’t live to finish the series. Yikes. To say this series has some passionate fans, is putting it mildly.
I would say I’m a admirer of the fantasy genre, even though I’ve never read the pinnacle – The Lord of the Rings trilogy. I did read The Hobbit as a pre-teen, which I enjoyed, but it was more due to the pictures than the story (I had THIS awesome, fully illustrated version), and when I attempted to read The Fellowship of the Ring, my brain just gave out. I’d get to the bottom of a page, not remembering what I had just read. Listen, I ADORE the films. ADORE. And one day I plan on tackling the series (it’s in my to-read list!), but as of right now, I am giddy with excitement to continue reading this one. Like, giddy.
Maybe you watched season 1 of the HBO adaptation. Maybe you’ve never heard of this series at all. Either way (unless, of course, you HATE fantasy stories), I highly recommend picking this up. It’s like LOTR, but much easier to digest, and with much more gore, violence, a splash of sex, and layers of treachery unlike anything I’ve ever encountered. The story revolves around an absolutely ASTRONOMICAL quantity of characters and storylines, in the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros. There are kings, queens, knights, supernatural beings, families, prostitutes, dragons, castles, awesome wolves, and somehow, everything is connected. I think that’s what sets this series apart from others: The scope is far larger than I could have even imagined, and it all still ties together. Until you’re reading it, you won’t get it.
Martin may be a shut-in geek, but he gets human beings really well. Like, even women. The series boasts some seriously awesome, strong, flat-out inspirational female characters. Two of the more major players are young sisters, and I can’t get over how fully fleshed out each girl is. They don’t feel like stock girl characters written from an unknowing male brain – they feel like REAL girls. And Daenerys Targaryan (obviously, being an “epic fantasy”, everybody’s got whacked out, mostly unpronounceable monikers) is a fan favorite – her story will absolutely blow you away.
With such a massive cast of characters, I don’t know how he keeps everyone straight, let ALONE give them all unique personalities. Characteristics also line up with whole families: the Starks are loyal, the Lannisters conniving, to name a couple, out of hundreds. I found a quote online where someone said something to the effect of they know more about the history of this world than our own. If I had one complaint, I guess the large quantity of characters would be it. It can get crazy damn confusing keeping all the Aemon’s and Aegeon’s and Arryn’s and about 50 other 5-letter A-names straight. There are AT LEAST 150 characters in the first book. And from what I hear, the scope only explodes outward as you go on. But this is a minor complaint, because I’ve never read anything like this before.
Another unique and one of my favorite aspects of this book is how each chapter is told from the point of view of a different character. This allows you to keep up with everyone, everywhere. There is truly no main character, just a huge list of very prominent ones. But knowing from each chapter title (the character’s name) who you’re going to be hanging with for a half hour or so is a nifty way to tell a story, and really aids in keeping you invested in the grand scheme of things.
I kind of can’t say enough good things about this series, so I’ll shut up for now. I just hope that if you’re interested in any of the above items, even remotely, you’ll pick this up. I’ll leave you with one of many flippin’ awesome quotes:
“Can a man still be brave if he’s afraid?”
“That is the only time a man can be brave.”