A Song of Ice and Fire

Recently I found the love for reading again hence the missing in action from blogging.

I started with a few random books I bought from Popular bookstore. Some trashy romance novels under the Little Black Dress Book label, then 3 more best sellers:

1. My Story by Dave Pelzer – a true life biography of a boy turned man who overcame the traumas of physical and emotional child abuse by his mother to help others in the same situation today

2. Life of Pi by Yann Martel – a classic piece of story telling that leaves you wondering if it is a real life account. Author is a master with the play of words

3. I am Number Four by Pittacus Lore – A teenage novel about an alien race escaping annihilation from another alien race that led them to Earth. Books in similar genre are Vampire’s Diary, Twilight and Hunger Games

After all the reading, I took a break and spent a week completing the entire season 1 of Once Upon a Time. I was pretty much zombie-fied by the time I ended the week.

And then I downloaded the Kobo application and bought myself Books 1 – 4 of the medieval fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin in digital format for only <US$19. That’s a steal by the way.

If you ever came across the books physically, they probably rank as one of the thickest books ever. Thankfully as an e-book, that is not an issue with the reader.

I have been reading the book everyday without fail for the last one month. Sometimes during commute on trains, sometimes while in the privy, sometimes at work when no one is watching and sometimes on bed into the wee hours of the morning and I have just started on Book 4 A Feast for Crows. Damn, this must be one of the most addictive books ever written in history!

What made it so addictive? If I could add my own musings to the thousands who have already read the books  –

a. George R. R. Martin created an immense world of continents, islands, cities, towns, villages, woods complete with unique geographical and political features that some might try draw semblance to our real world. He also didn’t stinge on the number of characters in his story which honestly I have lost count on who looks like what, belongs to which house, serves which Lord and have what history. I have never read a book where an author spends so much time detailing a character only to have him killed in the same chapter. A bit pointless you might say but that is the essence of story telling.

b. The story, but I would rather term it as historical account, of this known world is seen through the eyes of more than 20 characters so far giving the reader insights and motivations of each character. Some are driven by honor, some by love, some by greed, some by fear but either way, everyone of them gives you something to love or loathe about them. Although the reviews suggest that characters like Jon, Arya, Tyrion and Daenerys are the most loved characters, everyone does contribute one way or another to creating the colours of this world. Some times I become so engrossed I feel like I am walking in their shoes as if in a role playing game.

c. Probably another aspect of this book is the reality in which it is depicted that engages the reader. ‘Main’ characters are killed off as part of the plot which totally blows off the mind of the reader. We are so used to having heroes who represent honor and righteousness to go on and save the day in typical stories, that it leaves us stumped when these same people do not prevail. Such is the game of thrones. But that is all part and parcel of politics. But what is even more heart-wrenching is that characters who want no part in the game are somehow affected because of family ties.

d. Because of the detail and extent of sex and violence which is used in the book, it would appeal to the broad range of adult (as in more mature, not sleazy) readers. I wouldn’t exactly recommend children or teenagers to read these books because of the harsh realities depicted and the liberal values about sex and violence. While I don’t deny that life is indeed not a bed of roses, one wouldn’t want their children to grow up thinking that this is the norm than exception. We have evolved into a more civilised society hopefully.

George R. R. Martin has recently published his fifth book in the series called A Dance of Dragons some six years from A Feast for Crows. Honestly I am not sure if I will be able to survive waiting that long if he should take that much time as well for Book 6. In the meantime, if someone would be so kind as to produce a RPG based on the books in the likes of A Betrayal of Krondor, I would be most grateful!

For D&D fans though, you may be happy to know that there is an online persistent world built upon A Song of Ice and Fire available if you purchase the complete set of Neverwinter Nights 2. (I bought the republished NWN complete collection under Hasbro for S$48 at Sim Lim Square).

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