SPOILER ALERT – DO NOT READ UNLESS YOU HAVE ALREADY READ ALL 5 BOOKS!
First let me say that I am a voracious reader. I stormed through the Hobbit, followed by the Lord of the Rings when I was 13 years old. Imagine my pleasure to discover George RR Martin’s epic series of novels A Song of Ice and Fire! I raced through all five books in virtually no time at all! I found them vastly superior to Tokien’s trilogy in that they contain far more detail of the lands and cultures, as well as far more capriciousness and thus realism in the outcomes of good versus evil. Also, the trilogy is completely sexless; while with Martin’s books this is hardly the case.
At first, I used the Game of Thrones television program to follow who the characters were, since there were so many. The plot unfolds in the land of Westeros, as the ruling king is killed by a boar while hunting drunk, as usual, and all the lords of Westeros vie for the Iron Throne. All this time, we are warned that Winter is coming, this in a land where seasons can last lifetimes and Winters are severe enough to starve entire peoples. The characters are diverse and compelling, as good and pure as can be to as evil and hateful as can be.
One of the leaders from the North, Lord Ned Stark of Winterfell, who is played by Sean Bean on the TV series, was a long supporter of King Robert Baretheon, and figures out that the king’s sons are illegitimate and Queen Cersei Lannister has had them with her adulterous lover, her own twin brother Ser Jamie Lannister [yikes! incest!]. But, the eldest child of this incest, Prince Joffrey Baretheon, rises to power and when Ned is arrested for treason by the queen’s lackey, the prince childishly exclaims “Off with his head!” simply because he can. No one fears to deny him this and Ned is beheaded. End of book 1! Oh my! To make an analogy, this would be like killing off Frodo or Gandalf in book 1 of the trilogy! Who will rise to carry on for the good guys now? [Of course this is a very simplistic view of book 1, since there is so much more going on simultaneously...]
But this is what I love about Martin’s work! It is full of surprises and leaves one guessing at every step! Plus, how realistic is it that the good guys lose? It seems to happen every day in my world. There is a saying: “Only the good die young.” Martin seems to love taking our beloved characters away. He also kills off Khal Drogo, played by Jason Momoa, in the savage Eastern lands, after we have finally fallen in love with him, as had his young female bride, Daenarys Targaryen. But then after he has died, and from his funeral pyre ashes rise three baby dragons; making the books even more alluring.
In the latest book, Daenarys is having trouble controlling the dragons, read: one of them had taken to eating children, and she had kept the two of them she could capture locked up in a palace basement. They escaped, when a rejected suitor tried to steal them. He was “toasted” to death for his troubles. At the end of the fifth book she was riding the “eating children” one [Drogon] and sharing his meals with him as her ancestors did, since she is a dragon-rider. I am so hooked on these books! Plus I really want to know the fate of the current Ned Stark’s bastard at the wall, Jon Snow. Also, I would like to know what is going on with Arya and Sansa Stark who were not updated lately.
Mr. Martin’s tale is so complex now, that he cannot update the entire narrative in one book of over 1,000 pages. Incredible! What an imagination the man must have! I am in awe of his brain and creative powers.
I am also impressed with Martin’s philosophy on life as objectified in these books. It is so complex as to defy description and as such I believe it mirrors true life. If it weren’t for Tyrion Lannister, the dwarf, so well played by Peter Dinklage, I would not see the artist’s hand in this at all. Tyrion survives. Lusty, drunken, scheming, but good hearted underneath it all, Tyrion survives. I think that Martin relates to Tyrion out of the entire cast the most. He is ugly to maidens, but lovable. His entire situation and life is ironic. He is short in stature, but incredibly smart. So many times, Tyrion has escaped the jaws of death so narrowly, it is amazing! He may yet be king! Who knows!
Winter is coming and I cannot wait! I hear book six is expected this fall. I cannot recommend these books strongly enough to any who have not read them. Though I guess I have kind of ruined the plot for you! My bad!