I finished reading the (currently) last book of George R.R Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series. I resisted talking about them on here until I had finished them all, and now…now I feel like there’s a gaping hole where the characters of Westeros should be. Because up until now, the next book in the series was always just a purchase away. Now…well, I’m going to have to wait.
And bloody hell, Martin doesn’t like making you wait patiently. He throws his characters into fires, then sits back and watches you twist and turn as you try to work out what is going to happen next. All I’m saying is, hurry the hell up and get the next book out there!
Via the series or through the books, the characters in these books have managed to squeeze their way into the homes of so many. And right now, I’m eagerly awaiting the next series to see what direction they take it in, if it stays close to the book (which the trailers do seem to suggest) or shift it slightly away (which, when it’s happened in the first two series’, happens in a way that makes a hell of a lot of sense). It’s taken me ages to read through the seven books (what with Storm of Swords and A Dance With Dragons being split into two), but that’s mainly because I was at University when I started reading the first one and it just took me ages to get into it, what with the lack of time to read.
Now, I read on the train to work, from work, and at lunch, which means I blasted through the last six in as few months.
So, anyway, you can tell that I like the book. But what I really need to address is why I like the books.
Let’s jump in.
For those of you that don’t know (and if that’s you, I strongly suggest you pick up A Game of Thrones or watch the series, like, now) the books are set in Westeros and the lands near it, following strands of stories from a huge cast of characters. Martin leads us through each strand with third person POV, and does it brilliantly. The language matches the characters we’re reading with each new chapter; Bran’s chapters are filled with child-like words and imagery, Dany’s chapters feel like a teenage girl yet to discover who she is, full of confusion and uncertainty in the first books. Jon (who makes me go all fan-girl) has this sense of bitterness yet love towards his family, and it’s clear he feels all too strongly that he’s the odd one out.
These characters weave together at certain points, and flow apart at others. The relationships built between them come through strongly, and you can almost see the webs and lines that connect them all, even as they move apart and end up in completely different places. The style allows you to see just enough to know what is going on, but never the whole picture, and Martin is brilliant at keeping you hooked right up to the end, and after. The cliff-hangers are evil, as you wonder if this or that character will survive, as hints are placed throughout and everything presented feels like one part of a puzzle. More than that, the characters hated and despised in the first few books become, well, pitied in later books. You root for certain characters, want to see others fall, but when those do fall, it’s hard to watch.
Like a train crash.
Martin has a brilliant talent for writing these characters. To me, one of the signs of a great book (or series) is leaving you with the feeling that these events could still be carrying on. When the book is put down, you wonder what is going on in their world, like old friends. And although up until the end you can just pick up the book and carry on, once it’s finished…
Well, you’ll just have to wait.
I would strongly suggest reading these books. They’re moving, exciting, containing adventures, magic, distant lands and interesting characters and, more importantly, freaking dragons. And who doesn’t love a dragon?