Monday, January 6, 2014

A Waiting Game of Thrones

Tonight the ground is under a blanket of snow, and my instant coffee and I are under a blanket of blankets.  Baby, it's cold outside.  Temperature tomorrow doesn't look good, either.  Winter isn't just coming, it's here.

I remember when good old Ned Stark first said "Winter is coming," on a Game of Thrones, the television series.  It's an amazing family motto.  The phrase is truly ominous and full of meaning.  That said, I am beginning to feel that winter in "A Song of Ice and Fire" is dragging its feet.

A Song of Ice and Fire is a fantasy book series by acclaimed author George R.R. Martin.  He has been called the modern Tolkien.  The series has five entries so far, with a sixth coming out in the near future (no date so far).  The books are about rival factions attempting to secure power.  Many of these factions are vying for the Iron Throne, some are only attempting to solidify control over smaller regions, and many individuals are scratching and clawing just to stay alive in the wake of the others.

I'm 282 pages into A Feast For Crows.  I began reading this book because I'm becoming impatient.  Season 4 of a Game of Thrones cannot come fast enough.  I had attempted to read the earlier books, but I became somewhat stymied because the books were very much like the series.  I felt like I'd seen it before, and those books are very long.  Surely, if the first season was basically the first book and the second season was basically the second book, then it stood to reason that the third season would be the third book and the fourth season would be the fourth book.

No.  No, that isn't how it works.  Best I can understand, the third book was stretched out so it could feature in season 4, possibly to give the author more time to work on "Winds of Winter."  I've read some concern in the past that the series may catch up with the books if they aren't careful, and that would be bad because there would be a longer hiatus between seasons.

The gist of my problem is season 3 of A Game of Thrones ends right in the middle of the third book.  So, when I began reading A Feast For Crows, major characters were dead, other characters were thrown to the wind, and there are new characters I'm still not entirely sure about nearly 300 pages into the book.  Also, major details are different between the books and the TV show.  I knew that going into the book, but it still changes my reading experience quite a bit, to have these ideas about the series that aren't fully reflected in the actual material.

A Feast for Crows is slow reading, and metaphorically speaking, it needs more cowbell.  Many of my favorite characters from the series are used sparingly if at all.  Winter is taking forever to get here.  There is a whole lot of gearing up for war and very little actual war.

I love the diverse landscapes over which the story takes place.  I love the vast scope of the book, with all its strange, mighty, beautiful, and terrible characters.  I love the conflict at the center of the tale.  I love the strange dark magic, mysterious myths, and mortal struggles contained within.

It's an excellent book, but it's slow reading.  I miss the characters that compelled my interest in this series.  They're still floating around out there, somewhere.  As far as I'm concerned, winter cannot get her fast enough.  I've grown tired of these Lannisters and their petty paranoia.  Bring on Jon Snow and all the little Starks.  I want to revel in the dragonfire and cower in the wake of the white walkers.

When I finish the book, I'll come back and say more.  And then I'm going to go back and read the third one, because clearly skipping it was a critical error on my part.  Meanwhile, here are some interesting Song of Ice and Fire news items and fun stuff:

Five Game of Thrones Events to Look Forward to in 2014
Winter is Coming:  Government Uses Game of Thrones to Warn Americans About Snow
If Lisa Frank Designed the Game of Thrones House Sigils
Japanese Editions of Game of Thrones are Incredible
English Town Will Change Name to King's Landing for Game of Thrones