Saturday, 2 July 2011

Book banter: A Storm of Swords

I’ve said this before, but today’s post will be a bit different from what I normally do. It will have nothing to do with miniature wargaming, rules nitpicking or anything else of what I set out to do with this blog.

It will be about a book.

Calling what follows a review would be to do actual reviewers an injustice. Let’s call it a discussion, instead.

George R. R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire is well worth a read. I just finished the third book, A Storm of Swords, myself. If you don’t like misery, leave it be. Let it lie and pick up some other book, in which the main characters cannot die, and good always triumphs over evil.

Expect spoilers.

The middle part of the book – you know, that bit between the beginning and the end – is one long chain of misfortune and loss. A ten-year-old girl reaches her mother, after having been captured by – and escaped from – one unsavoury band after another, only to experience the periphery of her murder. That mother first sees her other daughter wed to the dwarf uncle of her husband’s murderer, and her oldest son killed at a wedding feast for her brother.

I could go on.

And on, actually.

Peripheral characters drop like flies. Semi-central characters die by the handful. Even the characters that name chapters are not safe. And those that die and stay dead can count themselves lucky.

I’ll admit it, at times I didn’t want to continue reading. But Martin is a compelling author, and I did, no matter how bad the story made me feel. And when he gives us hope, at the very end, that not everything is depressing, horrifying or doomed, he does it well. And this, more than anything, is the review I‘ll give.

Martin is one hell of a writer. He writes darkly, with little concern for his readers’ emotional well-being, but he does it so incredibly well. His writing would be enough to keep me reading, even without the plot, and vice versa, and this is rare.

That said, I felt terrible for those middle five hundred pages.

If darkness, gloom and psychological horror are your things, read Martin. If not, you may be better off not. Oh, and the HBO TV series. Watch it. Just not with any little ones around.

I’ll try to get you back to your regularly scheduled rules nitpicking soon.

The Old Gods be with you.

No comments:

Post a Comment