Saturday, January 14, 2012

Game of Thrones

            "Game of Thrones" is an excellent book.  It is well written, with characters that have complexity, motivation, and are both likable and unlikable but at all times understood.  At no point do you feel that someone is taking an action because the story needs them to, but instead that the character in question did this because it is a well thought out (or in stressful situations reflexive) action to take.  Because of a period setting dialogue the humor actually is timeless and manages to break the chains that would hold back comedy of modern times that leans heavily on referencing things, this book will be readable in 100 years, just like "The Hobbit" and be just as enjoyable.

            That all being said, I am rather pissed off at it.

Seriously, there is a lot going on in this thing.

            The book is 800 pages long, has 8 characters used for the sake of point of view (9 if you count the opening action sequence), has a massive number of names mentioned in it that get immediately filtered by the reader because, and I can't stress this enough, nobody outside of the author, George R.R. Martin cares enough to know the names of characters that only serve as window dressing.  If there were a book of short stories that gave each of the named characters time to shine, their own little thing, then maybe I would have the same reaction to reading the name that I do seeing a character cameo in a movie or TV show ("Hey look, it is that guy, who was in that thing; you know, that thing that I like").  But they don't, so it is visual noise, it could just as easily not exist.

            More so I have a problem that goes beyond having too many names, too many perspectives, and the fact that the chapters are unnumbered so it would be nearly impossible for me to go back through the thing taking notes for a more in depth analysis.  No the real problem is that there is no ending.  None.  The book is more than one and a half of any other novel I have ever written, to put that in perspective, the "Hitchhiker's guide to the Galaxy Trilogy in Five Parts" collectively only has 969 pages.  And that trilogy has 5 endings.  the original "Dune" has 412 pages.  "Dune" had three endings, and was still able to have a series that followed in its wake, each subsequent book of varying length, but each in turn had an end.

            You cannot lead people through 800 pages to a cliffhanger, seriously now, it ends mid-WAR.  WAR.  Only one of the main 8 cast members has a definitive character arc, and she is the only character to at no point interact with the other 7 perspective characters, she could have been a separate novel all to herself.  That is an obnoxious way to write.  Not only that but it means that no subsequent book in the series (which will supposedly be 7 in number all of comparable or greater length) can just be picked up and read.  How can you possibly deliver a satisfying ending to a series that will end up in the page count of 5,500-6,000?  How can you possibly give an ending people will not feel let down from?  That is too big a meal, by the time desert rolls around you will be too full to enjoy it.  Hunger is the best seasoning, and these books do not leave one hungry, they mentally stuff you.

Pictured: a mental 5 course smörgåsbord with two courses left to come.

            I'll probably continue with the series in a month or so.  If you like gritty fantasy, where no one is safe, and the bad guys do win from time to time, then by all means, feel free to take on the herculean task of reading these, but know this: the last book has not been written.  And book 6 six hasn't been finished either.  It gets worse: if Martin dies before finishing them, he's ordered his notes and outlines to be destroyed.  He is 63 and one of the books took 6 years to produce... Think age might slow him down?  In other words, that ending that is sure to disappoint, it may never happen.  This could be the biggest literary blue balls story in history.  And I have already decided that I will be taking part in it.

Don't worry, there is no way I could pull a Robert Jordan, on you all and fail to finish my own massive book series that is totally distinct from "Wheel Of Time".

            I'll probably buy the TV show's DVD when it comes out.

1 comment:

  1. Well, now you can disregard my comment in your Top 5 favorite books post. :)