Well, I started to read A Game of Thrones back when a bunch of fantasy bloggers were raving about how A Storm of Swords lost out to a Harry Potter book for the Nebula in ‘01 or ‘02 and it was a travesty and all this shit, so I went into the Chapters in downtown Victoria, pulled the book off the shelf and read the prologue and first four chapters. Somewhere in the second chapter I realized I found George R. R. Martin’s writing to be a slog, really boiler plate, trope-laden fantasy. The blandest of the bland, the most yawn-inducing and overwrought of a kind of fantasy that I thought had mostly died in the 90s (although I guess the first couple of books must have been in the 90s if A Storm of Swords was ‘01 or ‘02). It just didn’t interest me.
So when everyone went nuts over the HBO series, I was like, “Well, on the one hand, HBO makes good TV. On the other hand, I remember the fucking drivel I had to endure in the first few chapters of that first book.” and I just never made time for it.
But Simon decided to grab the series, and it turns out that it makes for a much better TV screenplay than it does a novel. George R. R. Martin, like the Ronald Reuel he hopes to invoke by his middle initials on the cover of a fantasy novel, is an excellent world builder. I love his world. The Wall and the lands Beyond the Wall, and the Others (or the White Walkers, as they’re called in the show, a name I think is inferior but understandably used given Lost’s success and use of that name for the mysterious foe-faction), these are all things that I think are excellent world elements, to say nothing of the titular “game” played by some of the greatest and cruelest minds of the Seven Kingdoms (and I can’t wait to see a Targaryen re-invasion, not for the dragons and the military, but for the Spider’s moves in the game as they return). Magic returning to a world that doesn’t believe in it is hardly new, but the way it’s presented in Game of Thrones as a TV series, overlaid as this subtle push that bubbles up through the very real politicking and cloak-and-dagger that most of the main characters engage in (or endure or try to make movements against)…it just gives me a pleasant tingle.
However, a good world builder can still write poorly. Or, well, correction…he writes blandly. There’s nothing technically wrong with how he writes, he’s not a Dan Brown. He’s not unforgivably horrible. He’s just nothing new. He’s a dead average, middle-of-the-road fantasy author. Maybe he improves as the books go on, but two chapters after my high hopes from blogger praise were dashed, I had to put the book back on the shelf and go buy another book because it was so eye-roll and yawn inducing (I think it was Chomsky’s Rogue States, IIRC).
That said, watching the series has given me a new mission: I’m going to the library to grab the first two books that cover the first two seasons, then when I’m finished watching the forthcoming third and fourth seasons, I’m going to grab A Storm of Swords and read that, and so on until the series is finished with all the books or is cancelled. I don’t want to spoil the series for myself if the books suck, because the series doesn’t suck, and presents Martin’s world in a much more engaging way. Peter Dinklage alone makes the series worth it. Every other actor could get replaced as the series goes on, and as long as Dinklage is still in it, I will watch it until the end (and if The Imp gets brutalized, I will continue to watch until the end to see the fates of any conspirators in his death). I would honestly rank this as my fifth favourite HBO drama, above The Sopranos, Band of Brothers, Generation Kill and Big Love, but under the undisputed champions of TV-land: Deadwood, Rome, Six Feet Under and The Wire. Well, actually, wait. Was Oz HBO? I’m not going to Google this before I post, so if Oz was HBO, then Oz probably knocks Six Feet Under out of the #3 slot and pushes The Wire and Game of Thrones down a notch.
This has been an opinionated rant.
I’ve watched individual episodes here and there from all throughout the series’ run, but I have yet to sit down and power through it. I should, I always end up busting a gut at Charlie’s lines.
corkscrew!! now. wine..emergency
We are also drunk, and appreciate your punctuation.
- Simon: Put on Wire man.
- David: *nods, puts on 154*
- Simon: *nods back, laughs* He's like, "For this...is for real." That's so awesome.
SEE YOU AT 3 AM
And see you at 3 AM we did. And now you’re sleeping downstairs while I type upstairs. IS THAT CREEPY MARRI?!
this is the coolness that makes people want to dumpster dive with us and move into our place
Yeah man, basically everyone who ever comes over here at some point asks to live with us. Leor (the guy here right now listening to me and Simon drunkrant) included.