I wrote a prior article when I began reading George R. R. Martin’s series “A Song of Ice and Fire” about the creation of an epic. When I started reading “A Game of Thrones” I applauded, and still applaud the method which Martin tells this very complex epic tale. For the so many that have already read these books, and for those curious like me because of the cable series, I will not be re-telling this story.
The first book of this series held my interest and Martin created a very complex world filled with the various casts of humans, with the upper-class royalty or nobles as the main characters. Speaking of main characters, this single book has more characters to me, than it really requires telling the story, but in epic tales this kind of background is important and enriches the story. It’s an effort to keep the characters straight, but it’s worth it. Nothing about this book/series is for the casual reader, and I’m used to plowing through a book in a day or two, this one took me four days of concentrated reading. (Less time than “Freedom” by Jonathan Franzen took; probably partly is my preference for action/dark fantasy, and partly that I think Martin’s story is more entertaining than “Freedom.”) But that’s subjective opinion; not everyone likes dark fantasy, and not everyone likes “blaming on the suburbs” stories.
A note to parents, and the easily offended: “A Song of Ice and Fire” is not a series for small children. Some gore factor is present, and there’s a fair amount of adult material. As an adult, I didn’t find it offensive, and creating families of characters with taboos including incestuous relationships and bastard children bring intrigue into the epic, and one does not need to search long to find such customs in historic cultures. I see so far characters/cultures that remind me of the Huns, the Roman Emperor Caligula, the Byzantines, and Renaissance cultures. Others better at history than I am are likely to find more or different; but really those type of details strengthen the story without the need of absolute accuracy, which is part of what draws readers into the dark fantasy genre.
This book is full of admirable characters, hateful characters, and immature characters that make mistakes. Out of all of them, the dwarf character called “The Imp” is one of the most intriguing and offers a bit of humor to an otherwise serious epic story.
As a new author, I know better than to compare this brilliant, detailed, dark fantasy work to my own books, other than the Gastar series is not an epic. My stories focus on a single character that follows her journey within herself to become part of humanity. However, I enjoyed “A Game of Thrones” (better than the cable series). I believe new authors, especially in dark fantasy can learn from this very popular epic and look forward to reading the subsequent books (between Indie books, of course). Five stars!