Friday, June 6, 2014

A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin

Photo: Title Card from the Series, from its Wikipedia page.

Book 1 of the long series was not a disappointment.  This is a helluva achievement in of itself, considering its 807 pages.  But it's even more impressive considering that I, like much of the known cable-connected world, have seen every episode of the HBO series.  Still, despite how incredible the series is (so much so that I am considering starting a blog about it, so look for that if you read my blogs), this book matches the series' awesomeness.

I started reading it because I wanted to see how close the series followed it.  I've also listened to every commentary available on the DVDs thus far (because I'm nerdy like that) and so I know how devoted the series' creators are.  Knowing that, how faithful to the book were they?  Answer: Very.  As in, basically page by page, and often verbatim.

But if you've seen every episode, you might say, wouldn't you be wasting your time if it's so close to the book?  Answer: No, as it turns out.  I thought the answer would be Yes, especially considering that the monumental struggle I had with the Lord of the Rings books.  (Much easier to read if you've seen the movies.)  But reading this was a breeze, despite the length.  Seeing it in words was different than seeing it on HBO.  I didn't see the characters from the series as I read the book.  (Well, except for Tyrion, played wondrously well by Peter Dinklage, who caught every single nuance of movement and voice from the character on the page.)  The book's characters were their own.

Martin is a very good writer; so much so that his turn of phrase was often surprisingly good even though I knew what was coming.  His words often summed up a scene better than the actual image did from the series.  I'm thinking specifically of the very last scene of the book and of one of the seasons, when Dany sat naked amongst the ashes of her dead husband, the woman who helped kill him, his horse, and three live dragons.  The book visualized this very well, even better than the actual visual image did.  (This is aided by the book's inclusion of the dragons breastfeeding with her, which the series did not show.)

The biggest difference: Tyrion and Jon Snow get along extremely well, and are almost good friends in the book.  The series does not show this.

So this is a rollicking good read.  If you were thinking about reading it, but holding off because you've seen the show, delay no longer.

Pick it up.

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