Log in

No account? Create an account

Send My Conscience Home in a Taxi

Externalised Memory

Previous Entry Share Next Entry
The Shame of Groans, I mean, A Game of Thrones
I've been diligently reading the five books in the series A Song of Ice and Fire (aka "Game of Thrones"). It's something of a hard slog, each book is about 500 pages long, the last one is over 1000 pages!

I confess I came upon it via the TV series, which is just about in it's third season. This will give you some idea how long the books are - season three is going to be an adaption of only the first half of book three in the series. And I'm not sure I'll watch it, I know all the plot spoilers now. And there's are some remarkable differences between the plot of the book and that of the TV series. Notably, the books are far less violent, and what sex there is is far less explicit. There are also a number of characters who don't appear in the books, or have much smaller roles. For example, Robb Stark's deeds and battles are only related second and third hand.

The author of all these words, George R. R. Martin (not to be confused, as I first did, with Beatles producer George Martin) writes in a really unadorned style, very easy to read, avoiding big words. One suspects he subscribes to Stephen King's style guide. To quote King "Any word you're looking for in the thesaurus is the wrong word. There are no exceptions to this rule."

Actually, I suspect his writing style derives from his work as a television script writer. Not much call for Tolkien or Joycian writing there!

Every book seems to include at least one epic journey. By foot, by boat, by horse, and always beset by difficulties of one sort or another, drawing journeys out so they take an entire book for one character to get from one distant place to another. Worse, in fact, there are four folks who set out on foot in book three and didn't arrive until book five. The world were all this takes place could really use some proper transport infrastructure...

He's also not averse to killing off major characters. Especially in book three, some 40% of the major characters, who one might have assumed would be the center of the whole story, come to sticky ends of one sort or another. I genuinely wondered what the rest of the books would be about without these people! Or, more annoyingly, characters who seemed like they might be important simply disappear for extended periods or seem to slip entirely from importance. It's like he's storing them for later plots, only to decide they're not required.

I'm some 61% of my way through the fifth book, according to my Kobo. Hooray for digital book readers, otherwise I'd be lugging around about 1.5 kilos of books.

I will say this of the TV series: it is extremely well cast. The characters, mannerisms and general appearance of the actors have been really well matched to those in the book. Of course I saw one them on screen before I read about them, so I never formed my own mental image of what they looked like. Weirdly, the only actor I really recognised in the show was Peter Dinklage, a dwarf who I first saw in the cult film "Living In Oblivion". Go watch that, by the way.

And after 20 or so years, five books and so many words, it sounds like Martin plans at least one, possibly two more books. Given that books four and five began as filler, in order to draw the action five years into the future, and they came out in 2006 and 2011, I suspect it'll be long long time before the story is finally concluded.