Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Characters, Readers Receive No Mercy
from Author George R.R. Martin

The first four books of George R.R. Martin's A Song of Fire and Ice saga
When I read "Game of Thrones," the first novel in George R.R. Martin's five-book series, I knew there would be one startling development involving a major character. This was thanks to viewers' published comments regarding the HBO adaptation of the novel. I don't get HBO, so I was spared the visual enactment. But no one who reads these books gets off easy.

I used to wonder what it would be like to Scarlett O'Hara, or Jo March or Anne of Green Gables. They were pleasant fantasies. But, trust me, I wouldn't care to be any of Martin's characters. Noble or peasant; man, woman or child, good or evil - none of it matters to this bloodthirsty author.

Fortunately, Martin is such a skilled wordsmith that I was engrossed through the last word of the fourth book. Valor and honor receive short shrift at Martin's hands. Heroes are few in number and apt to meet a violent end. There's no cute little Hobbitt on a noble mission, although there is a dwarf who is almost likable at times.

Deception, greed, lust, and gruesome death are present on every page as kings and would-be-kings (and queens) battle for supremacy. Martin takes every sunny day and happy moment and drenches them in boiling oil. Heads and other limbs go flying when the reader least expects it, and screams echo on every page.

I don't know how many times I shook my head in disbelief and say, "He didn't! OMG!" Oh, yes, he did. And still I read on. And still Martin made me care for a character and lulled me into thinking they would be safe. Ha!

The fourth book was published in 2005, and left many story lines hanging. Now Martin has come out with the fifth volume, "A Dance with Dragons," and I'll have to buy it to see who gets the axe, literally, next. There are to be seven volumes by the time the last head rolls. I wonder if there will be anyone left.

These books are not for the faint of heart, but if you can stand the shock and gore, they are the epitome of epic fiction.

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