To my very great surprise, my most recent book has been the opening entry in Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, A Game of Thrones. What with my dad so much out of it via his time in the hospital, we needed something to do while visiting. I eventually started reading the series to him, figuring that he’d like it and also that it would give me a chance to catch up in time (well, okay, not exactly, but sort of) for the most recent volume.
But, the unexpected part is where I finished it so quickly. In fact, it read fast, and the politicking is sufficiently pleasant that I didn’t very much mind the relative lack of frozen zombies. (They are, after all, both the point and the pay-off.) But I get ahead of myself. What we’ve got here is a story about the end of the world, not by fire but by ice. Specifically, the undead Others from the polar north are on the verge of emerging for the first time in 8000 years to destroy the world of men. Only, nobody in the world of men is particularly aware or concerned; after all, there is power to be won, and money, and most importantly, a crown.
Westeros is a brutal land, but also an honest one. All too rarely do people get what they deserve; instead, they get what they can grasp and hold onto with their own two hands, and the penalty for a reach which exceeds that grasp can be dire indeed. And so the question becomes, can the honorable old Stark family of the North, the gold- and power-hungry Lannisters, the last daughter of a usurped throne, and all the men of Westeros settle vast gulfs of difference before Winter has come?
Thematically, it shares a lot with Jordan’s series. The goal appears to be to demonstrate exactly how divided man can be from man, and still manage to pull together in time to save the world. He outpaces Jordan in that mistakes have real consequences to actual characters in the storyline, not merely to the faceless masses. Prosewise, his errors are less glaring but nearly as annoying as Jordan’s can be. Or maybe it’s my own peeve, but quite frequently I’ll see the same word twice in a sentence or consecutive ones. Repetitive word choice drives me crazy. On the whole, though, excellent start to a series that appears to be over halfway through right now, and that continues to show a great deal of promise.