I’m going to make this quick, because fantasy literature is not my realm of expertise, nor will it ever be.
I decided several months ago that I wasn’t interested in anything Game of Thrones-related. Actually, I decided several years ago that I wasn’t interested in anything fantasy-related. It’s just not my thing. I read the first Redwall book as a kid, and was fine with it, and read the first Harry Potter book and didn’t give much of a shit (ditto to the first HP movie). I just can’t get into fantasy. But so many of my friends, ranging from the fantasy nerds to the TV fantatics to the sci-fi freaks to the bro-y bros (if I’m going to reduce them all to stereotypes), found themselves fully invested in the books or the TV series or both, that I was starting to feel genuinely left out of the dialogue. And there was a great deal of dialogue. Lunch conversation at work was dominated by GoT at least twice a week, party conversation veered toward it no matter how much booze had been consumed, Twitter ran wild with hashtags. It was impossible to avoid, not unlike Breaking Bad is now.
One day, I was handed the first book in the series, with the instructions, “Do what you need to do.” And because the person who handed it to me was not a peer-pressurer, not an OMG’er, but a person whose taste I truly trust, I vowed to jump in, one segment at a time. First book, then first season, then we’ll see.
800 pages later, I wouldn’t call myself a changed person, though I do feel a little hipper. I have a strong desire to watch the TV series now, but a very weak one to continue reading the books, and for a simple reason, really: I love the story, but I cannot stand the language. It’s flowery and long and fake-ancient, and it drives me crazy. Saying “breaking fast” instead of “eating breakfast” does not sound more eloquent to me; it sounds like bullshit. Every character had a minimum of two Y’s in his or her name, rendering most unpronounceable, and I found this also to be bullshit. I am not knocking George R. R. Martin’s writing style here, either. He’s great. I just don’t care for it. I like straightforward text. (See my review of Telegraph Avenue, folks. This is not an opinion exclusive to this genre.)
But even with my constant seething and frustration, I got into the story. (Thus proving my point that Martin is a good writer, if a supremely annoying one.) He somehow managed to get me to switch my loyalty around every 50 pages or so. I started the book liking Ned Stark, then I switched to Arya Stark, then I got sick of her and favored Tyrion Lannister. And none of these people exist! They’re all faker than fake! I couldn’t find a way in to relate to any of them! But I still care, and that’s why I want to pick up the story on-screen.
And now, for my favorite quotes, which also happen to be the maturity low-points of the entire book:
p. 378 // “They say the Hand dreams the king’s dreams, speaks with the king’s voice, and rules with the king’s sword. Does that also mean you fuck with the king’s–”
p. 636 // “Why the realm, my good lord, how could you ever doubt that? I swear it by my lost manhood.”