12 January 2011

Welcome Back My Friends!

Well, I've been being hassled by V for a bit to start this whole shindig up again. I haven't neglected the site because I haven't been reading, but rather because I've been writing elsewhere, and it's taken up a ton of my time. But then V pointed out last night that it really hasn't taken up too much time. "You know, it doesn't take that long to write a blog post." And she's right.

So here I am again, after nearly 8 months. And let's just dive right in with a book review, shall we? Recently, I read about the upcoming HBO series A Game Of Thrones. That piqued my interest, but not for the show. Instead, I wanted to read the book. Before I get to anything else, let me say "thank heavens for the Kindle."

The book, in all its 800+ page glory, would have been a pain to lug around. But since I could get it for <$10 and not have a tome with me at all times I dove in. Now, it's been ages since I've read any fantasy. In middle school I got into the Robert Jordan series for a bit, but it seemed to never go anywhere. Aside from that, it's pretty much been Lord of The Rings, and that's it. But every so often, my inner nerd wants to read something like this.

I certainly picked a good book to dive back in with. Martin's opener in the quintilogy (is that a word?) is your typical sprawling fantasy epic, with a cast of characters that would make Wagner proud. It details the tensions between the Starks and the Lannisters, two houses who now swear fealty to King Robert (I liked that bit) after having usurped the previous monarch. When Robert dies, the southern Lannisters take exception to the northern Starks and war breaks out. And this is all set on an island nation (Starks? Lannisters? Island? War of the Roses, anyone?) in which the seasons last for years at a time. Summer is good, and winter is harrowing. 

What comes with winter though is said to be more terrible than anything that the Starks and Lannisters can cook up. In the North, beyond The Wall (Scotland? Hadrian's Wall? Anybody with me on this?), live otherworldly creatures that are terrifying beyond belief. They include the reanimated dead. Oh, and did I mention that the last heir of the previously disposed king is busy hatching dragons in Europ... I mean the land across the sea? Yeah, it's a bundle of fun.

But despite my pithy remarks, I absolutely loved this book. Sure, some of it feels a bit heavy-handed at times, but you always get the feel that there is a history behind what you're reading. The level of detail is stellar, and the book never falls back on magic as a deus ex machina. Instead, magic is something that plays merely a supporting role throughout. I've already picked up the second book, though I'm taking a break before I dive in. It's more than 1,000 pages! Anyhow, I'd highly recommend A Game of Thrones, I doubt you'll regret the time spent. It's a fast read (for its size), and thoroughly engrossing.

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