I’ve been working my way through A Song of Ice and Fire, and finally got around to writing about one of them. I’ve never seen the television show, but I had been hearing good things about the series for almost a decade. Once the show gained popularity, I figured I should give the books a chance, that way I could at least speak somewhat intelligently about the characters.
Normally, when I go through a series I wait until it’s almost finished (so I don’t run into a Robert Jordan/Frank Herbert issue). I didn’t know much about these books when I picked up the first one, I just saw that A Game of Thrones came out in 1996, 5 books had been released, and it was supposed to be a 7 book series. I figured that if I worked through the books slowly, then at least book 6 would be out by the time I caught up… then I learned that George R.R. Martin is taking his own sweet time to write the last two books. Now I’m wondering if I should put a hold on reading the rest of them until A Dream of Spring has a release date.
After finishing the first two books, I waited a while before starting this one, and I’m not sure I waited long enough. These books are big and dense, and if I don’t take a decent break from the world it starts to wear on me. It took me a really long time to get through this book, so my break may have been a little too short. It’s not that the book was bad or boring, it just didn’t hold my attention like the first two did. The weird thing is that I think I liked this book better than the first two. This was the first book in the series that felt like an actual fantasy novel. The first two were more like medieval political thrillers with a little fantasy sprinkled in. They could have been written by Tom Clancy without too much change in plot. Again, they weren’t bad, but they weren’t what I was initially expecting either. A Storm of Swords was what I thought the whole series would be like.
This book was also the first time I really felt surprised by events. I had heard of the Red Wedding before starting the book, but it still caught me by surprise. In fact, both weddings caught me off guard. Arya’s story took some unexpected turns, and so did Tyrion’s. I wasn’t as surprised with Jon’s plotline, but Sam is finally growing into a likeable character rather than just a weight that others drag around. By the end of the book, I was even starting to like Sansa a little.
Overall, I like the direction the series is headed, but I do think it could have started moving this way a little sooner. I’ll probably wait a few months before starting the next book, maybe I’ll even wait until next year. If I’m really patient, I’ll wait until The Winds of Winter has an official release date (but by then I may have forgotten everything that’s happened so far).